Boss Platt and His New York Machine: A Study of the Political Leadership of Thomas C. Platt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Others

By Harold F. Gosnell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC BACKGROUND

Thomas Collier Platt and Theodore Roosevelt had political relations with each other from the middle of the eighties until well on toward the end of the first decade in the twentieth century. These relations can hardly be understood apart from the social and economic changes which were taking place in the state of New York during that period. Both Platt and Roosevelt took great pride in having something to do with the politics of the "Empire State," the state which surpassed all the other states in population, wealth, commerce, finance, industry, and the arts. 1

The most outstanding social change in the state during the period under discussion was the great increase in population. In 1890 there were some six million people in the state; ten years later there were seven and a quarter million; and in another decade there were over nine million. Thus, in twenty years the state added to its population a number of people equal to the entire population of Switzerland in 1900 or that of the entire United States in 1790. Startling as these figures are, even more striking was the shift of population from the rural to the urban communities. In 1890 sixty-five per cent of the population lived in cities and towns of 2,500 inhabitants or more and two decades later nearly seventy-nine per cent of the population was

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1
There is no satisfactory social history of the state for this period. The chief sources here used are: New York State Department of Labor, Growth of Industry in New York, 1904, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1912; and the Eleventh, Twelfth and 'Thirteenth Censuses of the United States.

-1-

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