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Workers against the CityThe Fight for Free Speech in Hague v. CIO$
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Donald W. Rogers

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043468

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043468.001.0001

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The Rise of Boss Hague

The Rise of Boss Hague

Municipal Politics and Civil Liberties in the Old Era

(p.15) 1 The Rise of Boss Hague
Workers against the City

Donald W. Rogers

University of Illinois Press

This chapter analyzes the mayoralty of Jersey City boss Frank Hague, portraying him not just as an autocrat who trampled on civil liberties, but as representative of city machine politics, municipal law, and law enforcement culture that prevailed before the 1930s. Much like other city leaders, he was a second-generation Irish Catholic boss who blended ward politics with Progressive “coercive moral reform.” Meanwhile, constitutional law under Davis v. Massachusetts (1897), municipal law’s “limits of power” doctrine, and the common law of “illegal assembly” allowed city police broad authority over speech, assembly, and picketing, while public concerns about crime and widespread police lawlessness abetted tough “law-and-order” police action in Jersey City and elsewhere. This old-fashioned legal culture shaped Jersey City’s reception of CIO organizers 1937-39.

Keywords:   Hague, Jersey, municipal law, machine politics, Irish, Progressive, police, moral reform, speech, illegal assembly

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