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Title: The City That Worked: Machine Politics and Urban Liberalism in Chicago, 1945-1963
Authors: Anderson, Richard
Advisors: Kruse, Kevin
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: African Americans
labor unions
machine politics
municipal government
Subjects: American history
Public administration
Labor relations
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In the 1950s and 1960s the local Democratic coalition led by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley emerged as the last vibrant political machine in the United States. This dissertation uses electoral politics and municipal governance in the archetypal Democratic Party city to trace the arc of urban liberalism in the two decades after World War II. Popular memory of the Chicago machine remains fixated on the late 1960s, when political repression and public corruption made Daley seem to embody all that ailed liberalism. Yet I recover another Daley–a technocratic public administrator whom observers placed at the forefront of liberal governance for most of his career. Chicago’s system of efficient, expert governance earned it a reputation as “the city that works.” I argue that Chicago “worked” because under Daley’s leadership the Democratic machine fashioned a bipartisan, cross-class, interracial, public-private governing regime. Yet the city did not work equally well for all residents. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s African Americans, leftwing labor activists, and dissident Democrats increasingly mobilized to challenge a governing coalition that mostly served the interests of white men alone. This project challenges conventional wisdom about liberal decline and conservative ascendency in postwar politics. “Rise” and “fall” narratives of American liberalism often fail to wrestle substantively with the period in between Roosevelt and Reagan, missing the chance to examine how well urban liberals addressed the interests of Democratic constituencies in places like Chicago and how those constituencies mobilized to reshape liberal policy during the 1950s and 1960s. Contrary to numerous scholars who argue that liberalism unraveled in the 1960s when it suddenly became racist, politically repressive, or administratively incompetent, the history of Chicago’s Democratic machine reveals that it had been that way all along, that multiple strains of liberalism co-existed throughout the postwar era. Particularly from the vantage point of African Americans, liberalism was simultaneously liberatory and oppressive, progressive and reactionary, ambitious and timid¬. At heart, these conflicts constituted postwar liberalism.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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