In 1946, my father's brother Harry got the contract to sell cars to the city, and of course he had to give a kickback to the guys who ran the city. My father was a middleman or something." Sam was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury about the matter. He refused and was found in criminal contempt. "For a while, he was hiding out from the cops in New York," "I was six years old, and once I went to see him in the city, and we saw 'Robin Hood,' with Errol Flynn. The next day, the cops came to my first-grade class to interview me, to see if I had been with my dad. My father's sister, Aunt Minnie, taught at the school. She heard about the cops coming and went straight to my classroom to break it up, so I didn't have to talk."
Frank Hague served as the mayor of Jersey City for much of the early twentieth century.
Frank Hague’s power extended well beyond the boundaries of Jersey City or even New Jersey. Hague’s political muscle reached the highest levels of government including the White House. Considering Hague was a man with a sixth grade education who grew up poor and ended up with the power to make someone a federal judge, a congressman or even a United States senator makes the story all that more American.
And yet while historians have placed Hague in the club of corrupt politicians, such as James Curley of Boston and Daley of Chicago, unlike his peers whose reputations although tainted have been redeemed and presented in a historically balanced way Hague continues to be portrayed as a the quintessential poster child for political corruption.
In his new biography The Life & Times of Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague: "I Am the Law" (The History Press) author Leonard Vernon reexamines Hague s deeds, prompting a new understanding of his life. Vernon makes the point that many writers have taken liberties in describing Hague having presented an unfair portrait of the man. As an example Vernon cites the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, the show that focuses on Prohibition era Atlantic City and the Republican boss of Atlantic County, Nucky Johnson. During one of the episodes Chris Mulkey the actor playing the role of Jersey City mayor Frank Hague ( http://www.amazon.com/
Consequently, The Life & Times of Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague includes far more material than previous works on Hague, and is as much the story of the city Jersey City as it is of the man. Covering the years between 1871 and 1956 (that is, between Daley's birth and death) Vernon shows us a life that in some ways symbolizes the American dream: a boy from a poor neighborhood grows up to wield unimaginable power. It captures the grittiness of Hague's boyhood--the day-to-day of life near the factories and rail yards with its soot in the air and odors from nearby stockyards, the importance of ethnicity in local neighborhoods and the city's seemingly paradoxical combination of parochialism and diversity, dynamic growth and resistance to change. Initiated into machine politics as a young man, Hague quickly embraced the machine's values of order, allegiance, and authority and, above all, the pursuit of power. Later, he ran the city in accordance with these values; But Hague’s was a complicated legacy. While bringing top flight medical care to Jersey City and affecting national politics, he was also held responsible for police brutality and trampling on civil rights. Throughout the book, Vernon reminds readers that Hague’s real influence came from the powerful political machine he created. When he didn't like guidelines from national agencies, for example, he went directly to the presidents he helped get elected. When he got bad local press, people lost their jobs and his neighbors marched in his support. When FDR began his campaign for the presidency he launched it from New Jersey at an event organized by Hague. It's startling to remember that this was simply a local office; the mayor and that the mayors influence affected the entire country.
The Life & Times of Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague shows politics at its deepest level, and each chapter brings new insights into a complex man and the system he created in order to rule the city that made him. The Life & Times of Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague is scheduled for release on November 18th, 20011. The book is available at most chain book stores such as Barnes & Noble or through Amazon.com at
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