Urban Regimes and the Policing of Strikes in Two Gilded Age Cities: New York and Chicago

Source: Richard Schneirov, Studies in American Political Development, First View, September 11, 2019
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From the abstract:
Since the 1980s, scholars have argued that during the Gilded Age urban party machines incorporated working people through the use of patronage, informal provision of personal welfare, and limited concessions, thereby eliminating sustained labor and Socialist Party alternatives and keeping workers’ militancy and assertiveness confined to the workplace. That view is challenged by a historical comparison of the policing of labor disputes in New York and Chicago. In New York, organized workers were eliminated from the governing coalition of the Swallowtail-Kelly regime that succeeded the Tweed Ring, and police routinely used coercion to defeat strikes and intimidate Socialists. In Chicago, however, labor and Socialists were part of the governing coalition of the Carter Harrison regime, and the police took a hands-off stance in many strikes. This article explores the contrast in policing and the balance of social forces in the two cities and seeks to explain the differences by examining the political settlements that concluded Reconstruction, the ethnic makeup of each city’s working classes, the different characteristics of each city’s labor movement, and labor’s ability to mount third-party challenges—all in the context of regional variations. It concludes that historians cannot assume that workers were incorporated into machines in this period.