The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, March 07, 2004

Tom Pendergast: overlooked material

Overlooked by me, that is.

A hilarious piece supplied by a Kossack got me mooching:
Like my grand-uncle, who was Harry Truman's 1st Sergeant in WW1 and later his "fixer" in the Pendergast machine taught me at a very early age:

"The only 'good Republicans' are pushing up daisies."

(A good job for the Dems that not too many swing voters swing by Kos, I'm thinking.)

As a result, I turn up a couple of interesting pieces on Kansas City's one-time leading criminal entrepreneur and syphoner of votes to Franklin Roosevelt, Tom Pendergast.

The first a Kansas City Star Millennium retrospective on KC under Pendergast. The guy was good for business - particularly his own, the Ready-Mixed Concrete Company - but a fair amount of it was with guys carrying violin cases. Prosperity at a price.

The piece is full of plums, including a Walter Cronkite story (degrees of separation or what!). After Pendergast was consigned to Fort Leavenworth, the place supposedly slid from rootin'-tootin' to Main Street: with a Goo-Goo as mayor! Apparently there is a Norman Rockwell painting, a tribute to KC's recovery from the 1951 flood.

(Where Charles Binaggio and Nick Civella fit into this idyll, I'm not clear...)

The second, a 1998 review of Pendergast! by Larsen and Hulston.

The book differs from my general source on Pendergast and his like, Lyle Dorsett's Franklin D. Roosevelt and the City Bosses, on the involvement of FDR in Pendergast's prosecution for evasion of Federal income tax. Larsen and Hulston found evidence that he decided to remain neutral.

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