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machine


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Those who control the mass organization of a political party within a locality. The word was given its sinister connotations from its first use in the United States in the late nineteenth century. It was used to describe urban groups in which politicians solicited votes and delivered favours in return. The favours might be jobs, welfare, or (in the upper reaches) contracts. The machine is wittily described by one of its bosses in W. L. Riordon (ed.), Plunkitt of Tammany Hall (1905). The machine survived attacks on it by the Progressives but had died out even in Chicago by the 1970s.

The term was also applied to Joseph Chamberlain's machine in late nineteenth‐century Birmingham, and entrenched Labour Party machines in some cities in the twentieth century. These, too, have disappeared.

Subjects: Politics.


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