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Essay Paper on Political Machines

Being an unofficial political system, political machine founds its activities on the basis of patronage, using the structure of representative democracy. Their important integrating role in American society is clearly viewed through country’s history and successful implementation of its main principles.

The period after Civil War is characterized by consolidation of such powerful organizations as trade unions and political machines. These were the most important establishments with the help of which American workers could make demands and requisitions and feel safety. Precisely this period was the origin of labour relations initiation, which manifested itself in organized actions of public disagreement and organization of American Federation of Labour. By the end of the nineteenth century the dominant segment of the nation’s trade union movement and the local machines affiliated with the nation’s major parties had institutionalized a series of distinctions between the claims workers made upon their employers and the state, the modes of collective action through which they asserted those claims, and the composition of the groups with which workers allied in pursuing their goals in the economic and political arenas.

The main difference between trade unions and political machines consisted in the fact that the electors of this system tended to be unskilled workers, unionized skilled workers and middle-class elements united. The sites of organization were in the neighbourhoods where workers lived at that time, and their mayor demands involved the following: allocation of public jobs among the city’s various ethnic groups and of public facilities among its various neighbourhoods. Public machine in its turn was a solid secure of benefits for its followers that united them for the fight in the electoral arena.

On the national level the Republicans and Democrats were strong parties and rather strong leaders, but on the local level in order to attract more and more votes, they constructed public machines that efficiently provided them with what they needed. The machine politicians who moved to the fore of American urban politics late in the century established their political hegemony by arranging an accommodation among the major political forces in the city. The precise terms varied from city to city, as did the process through which the locally dominant machine became institutionalized. It is not feasible to describe these variations here; the account below will focus upon a single city, New York. However, the events that led to the institutionalization of New York’s Tammany machine were basically similar to those that took place in other large American cities…

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