City Bosses in the United States: A Study of Twenty Municipal Bosses

By Harold B. Zink | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
BOSS BACKGROUNDS

Cartoon bosses are unmistakably Irish. Nevertheless, of a score of American city bosses who are so well-known that their names are household words throughout the country, New York City, including Brooklyn, has cradled twice as many as Ireland. Ireland can lay claim to but three of the twenty, whereas New York has produced six of them.1 Only five of the score came to the United States from other lands. In addition to the three Irishmen there was one from England and another from Sweden.2 Fifteen first saw the light of day in the United States. As has been noted, New York City heads the list with six. Then comes Philadelphia with two. Boston, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and San Francisco, with one each, bring up the rear.3 Rural sections contributed a lonely two of the American-born bosses in contrast to the thirteen of metropolitan centers.4 Of the foreign-born only one came from a city.5

Ireland can make a somewhat better showing in racial stock than in nativity. Nevertheless, by no means all municipal bosses trace their descent from that isle. Ten of the particular twenty barons under consideration had Irish-born fathers and nine Irish-born mothers.6 However, James McManes traced his ancestry eventually to Scotland and Richard Croker to England and Scotland. Although the fathers of

____________________
1
Ireland gave birth to Croker, McManes, and Butler. New York City claims Tweed, Kelly, Murphy, Olvany, Tim Sullivan, and McLaughlin.
2
Flinn was born in England and Lundin in Sweden.
3
Durham and Vare belong to Philadelphia. Lomasney claims Boston, Magee Pittsburgh, Cox Cincinnati, and Ruef San Francisco.
4
Roger Sullivan was born on a farm near Belvidere, Illinois. "Doc" Ames was born in Garden Prairie, Illinois.
5
William Flinn claimed Manchester, England, as native city.
6
Croker, Kelly, Murphy, T. Sullivan, Lomasney, McManes, Flinn, R. Sullivan, Butler, and McLaughlin. The mothers of the above, except for R. Sullivan, were also Irish.

-3-

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