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 XIV
CONCLUSION

Theodore Roosevelt began to exalt the importance of the official leadership of the state government at a time when Platt's power as the unofficial leader of the state government seemed to be complete and arbitrary. Each of these men became very powerful in his own way, but neither could control the affairs of government outside the limits imposed upon them by the social and economic conditions of the period. The party organization which they led was a delicate mechanism, and the parts were so interrelated that the slightest disarrangement in one of them was liable to wreck the others. The larger society in which the party organization functioned was infinitely more complex and finely adjusted than the party itself. Only as long as the political leaders of New York during the nineties fitted into their time and place situation did they retain their position of ascendency.

One of the conditions of political control over a large area is the existence of local political organizations whose leaders come more or less as a matter of habit to look to the central organization for advice. A state party manager like Platt could discipline some of the local political leaders who did not listen to his advice, but there were others so firmly entrenched in their social situations that he realized it would be useless for him to try to root them out. Successful local chieftains like Barnes or Aldridge were factors with which the central leaders had to reckon at all times. Their contacts with local business men, local labor leaders, and local groups having political influence were

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