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, June 26, 2005

The Lodges and Walsh: a Massachusetts puzzle

A puzzle for those working solely on gratis online material, that is.

Henry Cabot Lodge I mentioned (June 25) as sponsor of the Federal Elections Bill (Force Bill) of 1890. Lodge [1] served in the House from 1887 to 1893, and in the Senate from 1893 to his death in 1924. He represents the Ascendancy in the Bay State, to analogise contemporary Ireland.

The bog-trotters - continuing the analogy - are represented by David Walsh, who occupied the seat of George Hoar (in the Senate at the time of the Force Bill) from 1919 to 1925, then switched to Lodge's after the old man had kicked the bucket [2].

Thus, the Anglos of upstate Massachusetts and the Irish of Boston each had their man in the Senate throughout the inter-war years.

And then we come to John Kennedy and the nugget that started all this. The guy that beat Walsh in 1946 was none other than the junior Lodge, back from the war. And, in a review of Kennedy Versus Lodge: The 1952 Massachusetts Senate Race by Thomas Whalen, it's stated that, in 1952,
Kennedy mauled Lodge in Irish-Catholic areas where Lodge had performed well in the past. Lodge had won 40 % + in most Irish wards in his election victory in 1946 over David Walsh.

Now, I'm not clear whether Lodge's amazing 1946 score in Irish wards was a medal for war service, or whether he performed just as well in 1936.

But I'd have hardly expected the Boston Irish to vote against one of their own, and for an Anglo blue-blood, too!

There is pitifully little on David Walsh online, it seems. Or, at least, the tree will need some more shaking.

  1. Political Graveyard Massachusetts senators page.

  2. In 1924, Walsh lost in the general to Frederick Gillett, then Speaker of the US House, who served just one term in the Senate.

    William Butler was appointed to replace Lodge, but was beaten by Walsh in the 1926 general.

    Gillett was succeeded by Marcus Coolidge (no relation to Calvin, it seems) for a term, and he by - Henry Cabot Lodge Jr, grandson of the first-named HCL.


MA politics in the age of Walsh is pitifully covered online.

The first chapter of John Noonan's The Lustre of Our Country has interesting stuff on religion and politics in the Bay State during the guy's (b 1926) childhood.

On the vendetta between the Catholic church under Cardinal Willian O'Connell and on-and-off mayor of Boston James Curley, for instance:
In 1932, the cardinal's lawyer, Frederick Mansfield, defeated Curley for mayor of Boston and promptly began a lawsuit that succeeded in establishing in a specific case the kind of corruption that Curley had been suspected of engaging in on a wide scale; Curley was forced to disgorge his bribe. Yet Curley was irrepressible and he went on to be governor: the cardinal was far from omnipotent.

To suggest otherwise would be blasphemous, surely?

(Apparently, in a nice variation on the theme, the bog-trotters called poor Protestant swamp Yankees!)

There's also mention of an initiative in the November 1942 election to repeal the Comstock law banning the contraceptive materials. (It failed, of course. It was known as Question One and both the Democrats and blue blood GOP Governor Leverett Saltonstall (later US Senator) opposed it.

Following Griswold in 1965, a bill (sponsored by Mike Dukakis) allowing provision of birth control to married women was finally passed in 1966.

A piece on Curley's first run for Boston Mayor.

And an interesting 8,000 word piece on Calvin Coolidge and race (at the JFK Library site) that casts it nets a good deal wider.

For instance, with current concerns in mind, savour this:
When Senator "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman of South Carolina put a hold on the black physician TR wanted to name customs inspector in Charleston, Roosevelt appointed the man on an interim basis--several times.

A Democrat putting a Senate hold on a Negro! Wow!

(On the Senate floor (on March 23 1900), Tillman was heard to support the institution of lynching:
We of the South have never recognized the right of the negro to govern white men, and we never will. We have never believed him to be equal to the white man, and we will not submit to his gratifying his lust on our wives and daughters without lynching him.

How many Northern Democrats sought to intervene to protest this monstrous claim (monstrous to Northerners even in 1900 - no Landrieu resolution anachronism required here!)?)

And the piece quantifies the contribution to Negro advancement that was the immediate fruits of the election of plaster Democratic saint Woodrow Wilson:
The new Democratic Congress immediately enacted laws barring racial intermarriage in Washington, DC. Wilson went along. Signs bearing the words "whites only" and "blacks only" began appearing above toilets and drinking fountains throughout the city. Jim Crow practices crept into federal agencies. The number of black presidential appointees dropped sharply-from 33 to 9. Blacks only divisions were created, beginning with the Departments of Treasury, Post Office, Navy, and later the Interior, all headed by Southerners.

There's a lot more good stuff, by the look of it: and, unlike Landrieu's self-serving a-history, it's reality-based, too!


The Coolidge piece is the gift that keeps giving. There's the continuation of the famous Woodrow Wilson quote on Birth of Nation: writing history with lightning. My only regret is that it's true.

This from a guy who'd been the boss of Princeton! And poor old George Bush got dumped on for his lack of little grey cells.
In Massachusetts, the Birth was the pretext for a movie censorship bill enacted at the behest of Governor David Walsh and saved from parliamentary oblivion by - Senate President Calvin Coolidge!

The piece suggests that Coolidge had the Negro vote in mind when he worked his little piece of jiggery-pokery. (I'm not clear that he'd already decided to run for Governor at this stage, though.)


Coolidge's presidency coincided with the downslide (from a pretty exalted position) of the Ku Klux Klan, following the conviction of Indiana Grand Dragon David Stephenson for the rape of Madge Oberholtzer in 1925.

The famous March on Washington on August 8 1925 was on Coolidge's watch. (Another march in 1928 illustrated.)

And, having right royally buggered up the Democratic convention, the Klan issue hovered over Coolidge's re-election campaign in 1924:
Sure of the Southern vote and sensing an opportunity to drive a wedge among Republicans elsewhere, Davis challenged the president to join him in denouncing the Klan. With Robert LaFollette mounting a healthy third party candidacy, Davis hoped that he might slip past Coolidge in the electoral college if he could drive enough Midwestern Republicans away from the president.

Coolidge didn't bite, though made speeches to Catholic, Jewish and Negro groups as a silent (what else?) indication of his position.

There was KKK activity in Northampton, MA (Coolidge's home town):
...on St. Patrick’s Day, 1925, a cross was burned across from the B’Nai Israel Temple and the Knights of Columbus, near where the Post Office is today.

(The Klan also figures in a piece on William Allen White's 1924 run for governor of Kansas.)

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