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You are watching: Why did political machines become popular in poor immigrant neighborhoods


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Urbanization was a key part of the momentous transformation of the United States in the late nineteenth century. Cities became much larger as industrialization gained momentum and more Americans moved from rural to urban areas. In addition, thousands of immigrants were arriving in America, and they congregated in city neighborhoods....


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Urbanization was a key part of the momentous transformation of the United States in the late nineteenth century. Cities became much larger as industrialization gained momentum and more Americans moved from rural to urban areas. In addition, thousands of immigrants were arriving in America, and they congregated in city neighborhoods. The influx of so many people into increasingly crowded cities led to a demand for a variety of city services. These myriad services included police protection, schools, sewers, and garbage collection. Machine politics arose because there was a need to organize the new municipalities and provide these badly needed services.

Loyalty was crucial to machine politics, and loyalty was rewarded. Political machines were based on one party"s total control of the levers of power. Key supporters of urban bosses were often given jobs. Not surprisingly, machine politics became closely associated with corruption. However, corruption was not just an urban problem in the United States at this time: it also existed on the national level.

The most notorious political machine of the era was Tammany Hall of New York. Run by William "Boss" Tweed, this unscrupulous machine bribed judges, bought votes, and embezzled funds. Tweed was imprisoned, but he escaped in 1875. One year later, he was caught by Spanish police and extradited to the United States.

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Although the late nineteenth century was the golden age of political machines, they did not die out completely. Chicago, for example, did not have one until the twentieth century. Chicago"s political machine reached its zenith under Mayor Richard Daley.