"The Gambler King of Clark Street": The 19th century origins of the city's Democratic machine | Bleader

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"The Gambler King of Clark Street": The 19th century origins of the city's Democratic machine

Posted By on 08.12.09 at 02:21 PM

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Tonight at 7:30 at the Elmhurst Public Library, historian Richard C. Lindberg discusses The Gambler King of Clark Street: Michael C. McDonald and the Rise of Chicago's Democratic Machine. As Mick Dumke points out, it's a compelling new interpretation of the prehistory of the machine:

"Most people attribute the formation of Chicago's Democratic machine to Mayor Richard J. Daley, who perfected the hierarchical spoils system during his 21-year reign. Real political junkies may trace its origins to Anton Cermak, who, as mayor from 1931 to 1933, created a formidable organization by divvying up jobs and contracts among different ethnic groups—or to 'Bathhouse' John Coughlin and Michael 'Hinky Dink' Kenna, two turn-of-the-century aldermen who consolidated their power by hooking up with the operators of gambling dens, saloons, and brothels. But historian Richard C. Lindberg argues that they all built on the structure provided by a 19th-century underworld leader ... patient readers will be rewarded with a colorful glimpse of 19th-century Chicago that reveals quite a bit about why the city is still infected with graft and corruption."

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