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During the later nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth century, most large U.S. cities were governed by political organizations called political machines. Political machines were hierarchically organized political parties whose leaders strove to dominate local politics. In cases when one person controlled the party, he was referred to as the “boss”; when several shared the leadership, they were called a “ring.” Beneath the boss or ring were the ward leaders who, in turn, were above the lowest level in the hierarchy, the precinct captains. Examples of strong machines that coalesced in major cities were the Pendergast machine in Kansas City, Missouri; the Cox machine in Cincinnati, Ohio; the Hague machine in Jersey City, New Jersey; the Reuf organization in San Francisco; and the ...

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