Politics in the Border States: A Study of the Patterns of Political Organization, and Political Change, Common to the Border States: Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri

By John H. Fenton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
SECTIONALISM AND FACTIONALISM IN MISSOURI

LICOLN STEFFENS, the great muckraker, visited St. Louis at the turn of the century and came away shuddering at the murky quality of both its drinking water and its politics. Forty years later like-minded visitors remained glued to their railway chairs at the St. Louis stop, their destination being Tom Pendergast's Kansas City. In the Kansas City of 1940, the latter-day muckraker found the water clear and clean, but the politics at least as turgid as in St.Louis in 1900.

The political history of Missouri since 1900 has been, to a very considerable extent, the history of the rise and decline of both machines and reform movements in its two great cities.


Political Organization in Missouri

The basic structure of Missouri's political spectrum is similar to that of the other Border States. The Little Dixie section in northeastern Missouri was originally settled by slave-owners, and represents a continuing source of Bourbon Democratic strength. The southwestern Ozark section was settled by hill people from Tennessee and Kentucky and has been a strongly Republican section since the Civil War.1 However, the Bourbons have never been strong enough numerically to dominate the state's Democratic party. But though they have rarely, if ever, exercised con-

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1
See Chapter I for a detailed discussion of the settlement pattern in Missouri.

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