Bossism

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Bossism, in the history of the United States (particularly in the Gilded Age), is a system of political control centering about a single powerful figure (the boss) and a complex organization of lesser figures (the political machine) bound together by reciprocity in promoting financial and social self-interest. Bossism was a very large issue in the late 19th century and the early 20th century, where machines such as Tammany Hall controlled politics in their regions through influencing financing of campaigns and influence via owing of favours to arrange patronage public appointments. It has been claimed[by whom?] that bossism reached its pinnacle under James A. Farley when he worked to combine unions, big city machines, Southerners and Catholics to help accelerate the forming of the New Deal Coalition which rallied behind Franklin D. Roosevelt in his election to the Presidency in 1932. It has been alleged[by whom?] that all of President Roosevelt's non-cabinet level (mid-and-lower level) appointments were screened by Farley before they were allowed to be confirmed on the basis of party loyalty due to patronage. Farley's ability to build up the Democratic Party's national political machine coupled with the Solid South, the big city bases and the populist vote made it the most organized and most powerful in American history. Farley had such control and intimate knowledge of the workings of his machine that it was said that he was seen as a prophet by many (including Roosevelt) for reportedly correctly predicting the states he would carry in two consecutive national elections and came close to predicting the margin of votes by which Roosevelt would carry these states.

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References[edit]

  • H. F. Gosnell, Machine Politics (1937, repr. 1968);
  • S. Lubell, The Future of American Politics (3d ed. 1965);
  • E. C. Banfield and J. Q. Wilson, City Politics (1963, repr. 1966)