Effect of Urban Political Machines Upon Immigrants


Ques: Analyze the effect of urban political machines upon immigrants from Reconstruction to
the turn of the century. In what ways was the relationship between political machines and their
constituents beneficial for both?

The political machine was a part of the government which had its own time and took
over when there was an absence of responsible government. This was also in to acknowledge
as well the immense urban problems and the new immigrants’ needs. This opened a way for
the immigrants to get what they wanted and to have a governmental say in what they wanted
and needed.

This ‘political machine’ was headed by a political boss. This organization was a group
with good organization and a group which controlled the activities of a political party in a
large area. This political machine helped the newly installed immigrants in exchange for their
vote come election day. It also gave treatment which was in favor of the government officials
for business in exchange for money. This organization did nothing unless it in one way or
another got something in return for its services. Yet, this organization aided the new
immigrants by provided housing materials, food, clothing, shelter, schooling and other
necessary items. If at one point the given ‘houses’ given to the immigrants by the government
burned down, they were there as fast as the fire fighters to help them in their time of need.
These machines found jobs for those immigrants who weren’t qualified and skilled workers.
The most noted and written about political machine was George Washington Plunkett. He
dropped everything for his immigrants, and even though he was part of the democratic party,
he helped the immigrants which were republican as well, hoping to change their mind to the
democratic ways.

The political machines were helpful on both sides, for the party, and for the
immigrants, because the men did not give anything that was not being paid back. Although
these ‘machines’ might give help with out asking whether the immigrant was of the republican
or democratic party, they in a way always expected something in return, whether it be money
(which didn’t really apply to the immigrants, because if they had money to give, they wouldn’t
need help in the first place) or the insurance of a vote on their side. The machines got these
things by helping the immigrants, and in return the immigrants got the help and support that
they needed from the machines. They got the necessary items and knew each of their political
machine leaders by their names, and knew them well. This was also a way to ensure a way of
vote on the side of the political machine.

In conclusion, both sides of these two political machine and the immigrants both got
what they wanted, yet nothing is given without expecting something in return. The political
machines wanted the immigrants to stay whilst everyone else wanted them to leave during the
depression when there were few jobs around. The reason for this was obvious to everyone,
and they still didn’t want the immigrants to stay, so the ones which populated the most, the
Chinese, were not allowed to immigrate into the US.