Frank Hague, Mayor of Jersey City from 1917 to 1947

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Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague and President Roosevelt
Mayor Hague and President Roosevelt

Frank Hague was Mayor of Jersey City from May 15, 1917 until his retirement on June 17, 1947. His name is synonymous with that early 20th century urban American blend of political favoritism and social welfare known as bossism.

It’s generally conceded that Hague’s influence was a factor in the election of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Many of Frank Hague’s activities were, in a narrow sense, not illegal, for no relevant laws were then in place. Hague ruled during an era of massive social upheaval: unrestrained capitalism, violent labor movements, economic depression, and world war. Organized crime grew ever more powerful. Foreign -isms attempted to gain American support. The social safety net basically did not exist. During this period Jersey City was relatively calm.

Mayor Hague retired in 1947. His nephew, Frank Hague Eggers, succeeded him as Mayor of Jersey City. The public generally saw this “coronation” as a ruse that enabled Hague to retain power while at the same time limiting his exposure to the many irritations – both major and minor – of day-to-day operations.

Frank Hague’s second in command, John V. Kenny, opposed Egger’s intallation by organizing a broad-based coalition. After a heated election, John V. Kenny became Mayor of Jersey City in 1949. John V. Kenny replaced the self-limiting and chauvinistic corruption practiced by Hague with a political machine of unprecedented venality and rapacity. Kenny’s political system retained power until dislodged through a series of Federal convictions in 1972.

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