Richard Daley

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Richard Daley

Boss, Richard J. Daley of Chicago written by Mike Royko depicts the life of Richard J. Daley and his career as the leading political influence in the city of Chicago. Considered by many as the last of the true “Bosses” Daley represented all that was considered machine politics. During his twenty-year reign as Mayor extensive urban expansion, political extortion, and a clear disregard for social justice characterize his administration. Royko clearly presents Daley’s performance as Mayor in an objective perspective identifying his accomplishments as well as his weaknesses. He provides the reader a record of Richard J. Daley the person, the politician, the Mayor and the corruption that plagued his political machine.

Richard was born on May 15, 1902 to Lillian and Michael Daley. He was raised in a flat on 3602 South Lowe in the segregated neighborhood of Bridgeport, on the south side of Chicago. This simple Irish community made up of mostly blue-collar workers exhibited all the characteristics of a small town with “taverns, the funeral parlor, the bakery…” (31). Chicago was home to a diverse collection of ethnic cultures: English, Irish Protestants, Polish, Italian, Jewish and African American. It is this diversity of community and the conflict persistent along the boundaries of racial differences, which Royko suggests, carved Daleys’ resilient personality. His father provided for the family by working as sheet-metal worker, while his mother volunteered at the local Church. Information regarding his childhood is limited, except for the fact that it was “typical and happy” (33). His early education included a strict curriculum provided by the nuns at Nativity Church and part-time jobs selling papers. After completing elementary he continued his education at De La Salle Institute, a three-year commercial high school. His education focused on developing office skills such as typing and bookkeeping. After graduating in June of 1919, Royko mentions Daley’s questionable involvement in the south side race riots as a member of the Hamburg Social and Athletic Club. Considered as the worst race riots in the city's history leaving "15 whites and 23 blacks dead, 178 whites and 342 blacks injured. About one thousand homes were burned” (36). Daley refused to respond to questions regarding his involvement in the rioting, but he could not deny, as Royko po...

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... led by Edward Hanrahan raided a Black Panther apartment in search of unregistered guns. “ When the raid was over they had the guns, and two panther leaders were dead…Fred Hampton…and Mark Clark…” (211).

Royko’s representation of Richard J. Daley provides his readers an impartial glimpse into the obscure life of a true political power. Daley’s genius in gaining control as mayor of Chicago and then sustaining it from 1955 to 1976 characterizes his tenacity as politician. His explicit understanding of machine politics and use of patronage centralized the power of his administration. On one hand his constituents admire him for his contribution toward urban expansion, influence on the Democratic Party, and patronage of friends and family. On the other hand he is resented for his destruction of homes in the name of progress, corruption of local government, and absolute rule over his city. Royko concludes his colorful story on Richard Daley in quoting Alderman Paddy Bauler in his statement after Daley was first elected in 1995 as saying ” Chicago ain’t ready for reform yet, “(214). Royko completes Bauler’s statement as saying " And in 1970, ready or not, it wasn’t getting any.”(214)!
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