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Curley Effects on the Politics of Boston Essay

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Updated: Dec 7th, 2019


James Michael Curley was elected for four times as mayor of Boston. He was also elected as a Governor of Massachusetts. His mission was to care for the poor people especially the Irish immigrants. He distributed wealth to them.

However, he detested the richer citizens and made them to emigrate to the nearest cities and lands. The rich citizens were from England. There were also American’s Yankees and Brahmins (Gamm 10). Despite this, he kept being elected as a mayor for four terms by the Irish immigrants.

He was corrupt and was often charged with fraud cases. Curley saw that the rich in Boston were a threat to him in his political career and made a way to eliminate them by sending them to other places. One way that he used was to introduce different taxation to different groups.

He heavily taxed the natives who opposed his rule and policies. Those that supported or were in favor of his rule were taxed less. This ensured that he got majority votes from his supporters. In short, the number of those that supported him was increased and the number of his enemies was reduced.

The rich and local people always opposed his rule since he was corrupt. He was hated for his policies and the native people worked to ensure that he was not elected.

Boston city was having a lot of Irish immigrants. Their population increased and hence their power. Curley, who was an Irish immigrant, took this opportunity to head over them. One of the effects of Curley political influence was to increase the Irish mob’s power in Boston. This he did by incorporating the mob in the Boston’s defense industry.

The Curley Effect

We can see the Curley effect on his strategy. He increased his voting, political base by caring for the poor Irish immigrants who voted for him. He cared for the poor Irish people because his family was poor. His neighborhood was poor and his father had died while he was young.

He ensured that they were the largest group. He then encouraged emigration of Native Americans who opposed his rule. This reduced the numbers of Native of Boston and hence their voting power. Curley had a deep hatred for English people who were among decent of Boston because of the wars that were fought between the English and Irish people (Gamm 12). This led to discrimination between English and Irish people.

Curley saw them as his enemies and hence sought to reduce their numbers. He didn’t care if the rate of poverty was going to increase due to sending away the rich natives who influenced the economy of Boston. The rich controlled the agricultural sectors, offered jobs to the poor and led in exportation. By sending them away, his economy was slowing down. His interest was gaining political power in Boston.

We can see that the Curley effect produced leaders that practiced dictatorship in Boston. Curley dictatorship was seen when he sent away his political opponents who protested his rule. This ensured that his political oppositions were eliminated. There was an opposition that was weakened. This was as a result of their reduced numbers. Their voting power was reduced.

Another way that Curley influenced the politics of Boston is by introducing different taxes to different groups in Boston (Fiorina 46). As discussed above, he heavily taxed the native people of Boston to encourage emigration of them.

Those who favored his rule and policies were less taxed. Curley made sure that the number of those people that supported him remained higher than the ones that opposed him. This slowed down the economy.

Curley only cared for reelection. That’s why he was elected as a mayor for four terms. The poor Irish people didn’t mind if he was charged with fraud cases as long as he represented them. Curley was known to give even money to the poor Irish people.

Curley brought his effect on politics of Boston by encouraging leaders to rule people who were poor so that they could be reelected while enriching them. Curley enriched the poor by creating and offering jobs to them.

Unlike many leaders, Curley did not want to rule an area that was rich. Many leaders like to rule rich people because they think that they comprise the largest group and they have wealth. However, Curley brought his effect on politics of Boston by increasing his voting power.

Curley’s Political Policies

Curley had policies that favored his Irish people and others that did not favor his opponents. These are the same policies that made the Brahmins, Yankees and English people to migrate (Fiorina 52). One area of his policies where he practiced favoritism was sharing out of public wealth.

There was also giving out of finances. Curley built public buildings for the Irish people. He sold public property like Boston garden so that he could build parks for the Irish people. This act angered the Yankees who protested with a lot of force.

Another example is constructing playgrounds in Irish wards. The Irish wards were Dorchester and Roxbury. He also used public places in favor of Irish people to be used as entertainment places. Scollay Square was turned into tattoo parlors.

Curley created jobs for Irish people by initializing constructions which employed people. A good example is a hospital which he had expanded. It was Boston City Hospital. It was a big project which offered employment to many supporters of Curley (Fiorina 56).

He also made sure that the hospital offered low cost medical services to his supporters. They were given a lot of medical facilities compared to their opponents. Curley made sure that his supporters got the majority of public jobs.

He was also involved with the financial affairs of people of Boston. He increased the wages of those that were paid poorly like police patrolmen. He lowered the wages of those that were paid well like higher officers and doctors.

Curley spoke badly of English people as being hypocritical and not being patriotic. He accused them of exhibiting political chicanery. We can see the Curley’s effects in his policies. His policies favored his supporters so that he could be reelected. His political agenda was to satisfy those who voted for him by constructing buildings for them, creation of jobs, and offering medical services at a low cost.


Curley was a leader who cared for his people that elected him as a mayor for several terms. During his time, he changed the politics of Boston by sending away of his opponents who did not support his policies. This he did by imposing heavy taxes on his enemy, unfair distribution of wealth and this led to the emigration of his opponents. By doing this, he reduced the voting power of his opponents.

Works Cited

Fiorina, Matthew. Special Interest Politics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981. Print.

Gamm, Patrick. Curley’s Political Effects. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Curley Effects on the Politics of Boston." December 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/curley-effects-on-the-politics-of-boston/.


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