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tv   Thomas Pendergast  CSPAN  December 2, 2017 7:27pm-8:01pm EST

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you are watching american history tv. 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. forow us on twitter information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. partnersrum cable worked with c-span cities tour is staff when we traveled to kansas city, missouri. the city's national world war i memorial shows the largest collection of artifacts in the world. learn more about kansas city all weekend, here on american history tv. pendergast was the political machine boss of kansas city from -- who is in control from 1925 to 1939. the political machine got its
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brother, johner pendergrast who came to kansas city in the 1880's and got started establishing this machine in the first ward of kansas city which was in the industrial city by the river. there were many, there was an irish community, african-american community it was diverse. there were a lot of working-class people. andpendergast had saloons he went and built this machine that was based on favors that helped people get jobs in exchange for fouts, helping people through giving them loans that you did not have to get a formal rank loan and jim would loan the money, settle gambling debts, given money off the top
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of a legal activities, such as gambling and prostitution. and so on and so forth. that she wasergast getting older, his health was failing. his younger brother got started in the machine around the 1900s. alderman andd city was in charge of streets for a few years in the early 1900s. thendergast really was in position to take over the machine by the time that jim died in 1911. >> the legacy of the pendergast family is beat up and twisted and turned so many times over the years. cityiantoday's kansas does not understand what he did, both good and bad. the pendergast family came here in 1870's. what a lot of people don't andize is tom pendergast
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his brother and his brother jim and seven other siblings were immigrants, and they came here as working-class young men looking for jobs in kansas city. when big jim pendergast, through sure popularity -- sheer popularity, won anwhen big jim h sure popularity -- sheer popularity, won an influential ward with immigrants, african-americans and immigrants all over the world. they had grown up in poverty themselves. they empathized with the working people. jimfollowed his brother into politics, became deputy constable for the city course, then eventually took on other positions in the city, then took over in 1910 as a city councilmember, an alderman for the first ward, just like his brother had been.
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when you follow the trajectory of kansas city and its economy and growth, with versioning immigrant groups coming in -- burgeoning immigrant groups coming in looking for work, tom built his political kingdom on serving those underserved people. he knew, unlike today when politicians make intangible world,s, saving the making the country prosperous for everyone -- tom through the years delivered tangible things, whether it was medicine, coal, food, more importantly it was jobs. he learned the way to a person's heart was through his dignity, and with a job comes dignity. especially in the depression era, he knew the best thing he
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could do for anyone for a lifetime of favors returned is to help that person get a job. >> a political machine, i described it as the act of doing favors in exchange for votes. when you boil it down to its base elements, that is what it amounted to. it being tied into organized crime and other illicit activities, taking bribes and kickbacks, and using influence to make sure that your preferred candidates are elected. control the city government, by 1925, the pendergast machine had full control over the city. they had 5 out of 9 city council members picked by tom pendergast
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. city manager. a the city manager position was more powerful than any other position in kansas city at the time. whenever they did city construction projects, mcelroy would make sure these projects went to companies that were owned by tom pendergast. pendergast, he owned mostly construction companies. there was basically everything from quarries to cement to -- there was a ready-mix cement company, one of his big ones . insurance companies. the had liquor companies. they changed to leverage
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companies during prohibition at the time. all of these city contracts went back to pendergast, so there is this circle of money. pendergast is always getting his cut, and people affiliated with the machine get their cut, and in return he gets lots of votes. >> i am not trying to justify the pendergast legacy of vote fraud and government control, but i want to balance it with the fact that kansas city would not be the city it is today in many good ways if it weren't for tom pendergast. in money from the new deal, used tax money in kansas city to put people to work, building major structures in city hall, the courthouse, the municipal auditorium.
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those became public works projects he controlled. he even split jobs during the depression, so one guy would work half a day and another therework half a day, so were two jobs instead of on. the city he had government in one pocket, and the underworld in one pocket. he used those influences to do a lot of things. >> by 1932, the power went statewide when he got guy park elected. they had representation at the democratic national convention. in the 1930's, pendergast eventually selected truman to be
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senator for missouri. he was elected in a statewide vote. throughhis point, pendergast -- he could produce fraudulent ghost votes in any given election at this time. given the sheer number of votes he could produce out of kansas city that would be tallied -- they were official, whether they were real or not. the power to do this. >> at the time of extreme prejudice in the 1920's and 1930's -- for instance, the ku klux klan is in kansas city for a convention. 10,000 hooded klansman did a
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parade down grand avenue. while at the convention, one of the chants was "goodbye tom, goodbye joe, your crooked gang has got to go." they were referring to tom and joe, who was on the competitive democratic scene locally. one of the reasons the ku klux klan targeted tmom pendergast, african-americans as voters first and foremost. he helped any group that needed it, as long as they were registered to vote. i think that is another sign of the pendergast machine. it maybe wasn't replicated in other cities. he reached out and worked with all communities, black and whit e, on election day, because
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everybody's vote was the same. >> eventually in the late 30's, 1938, he got involved in an insurance kickback scheme. clearheme, it is not whether he broke the law with the scheme itself. i am not a lawyer, so i can explain that. where he ran into trouble is that he did not report the income to the irs for income tax on his tax returns. capone, it was the irs that finally caught up with tom pendergast. he was indicted in 1939 and went to jail in leavenworth federal penitentiary. pendergast was nothing by this 1945. by pendergast died of natural
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causes. truman came to his funeral. so truman, who just became vice president, came to the funeral tom pendergast tom pendergast e on a military plane. big controversy. [laughter] weeks later, roosevelt died, and truman was president of the united states. completelyould never distance himself from the background of this machine, and he owned it. he said that pendergast always kept his word, and he would not abandon his friend. and so what we are trying to do is complicate that history. i've done a little bit of that in this interview. a website that
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will include -- currently we ofe about 9500 scans original documents. we have photographs, letters people have written to one another back then. , voterases unveiled fraud. it is an interactive website that will combine these original documents with new scholarship. 18 reached out in 2015 to orferent professors who -- other museum professionals or historians who have produced full-length articles that would go in a book. there are so many ideas or new topics that have not been explored in any kind of depth
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ebbefore this. we are taking website versions of. those will go on the website. those will be linked together. when you read the essay, you can see the documents that support the research. you can go read the court case that put pendergast in jail. it is not as dry as a typical court case might sound,, when of everything that was going on at the time. the scope was focusing on pendergast and the machine,a nd of everything that was going on at the time. then exploring all of the rule inions of machine city, especially in the 1920's and 30's at their peak.
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>> did he manipulate votes? city, especially in the 1920's and 30's atyes, probably. guyse employ heavy-handed to force you to vote at the polls? yes. at the same time, he was like a patriarch, a father figure, considered a robin hood figure who used the cash that he made put graft and kickbacks to people to put people to work and provide services. i interviewed a guy who grew up a the 1930's, and he had younger sibling that passed at the age of three. he said, we were poor, dad was out of work. we varied our little brother, went to the mortuary to pay for it, and they said mr. pendergast has already taken care of it. it is those things that earn lifelong loyalty. when people are poor, they don't
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care about the politics so much. what take care is, how am i going to eat today? how am i going to feed my family? how can i find a job? and they did all of that through tom pendergast. >> our cities tour staff recently traveled to kansas city, missouri to learn about its rich history. learn more about kansas city and other stops on her tour at c-span.org/citiestour. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3.
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going to have to make a tough decision. i want to look at both of your records, and decide which of you qualifies more for the program. monday morning, how is that? >> ok sir. have a good weekend. i need to see you for a moment, please. >> to do you want to see me about my application? >> yes. i need to see you for a moment,and some other things. you know debbie, how are you doing? >> fine larry, how are you? >> i am good. i have been thinking about you the last couple weeks. >> fine laplease, think about we been asking you to do the last couple months. please., not that again >> i would like to spend some time with you. why not? >> i have given you 1000 reasons before why not. can we just drop it at that?
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>> drop it at that huh? weekend, ict me this will select you for the course. it is up to you. you can watch this in other american history programs on our website where all of our video is archived. that is c-span.org/history. >>that all weekend, american hiy tv is featuring kansas city, missouri. c-span cities tour staff recently visited sites showcasing its history. kansas city is home to walt disney's first professional film studio where he began to produce
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cartoons.ty is home the studio went bankrupt in 1923. learn about kansas city all weekend here on american history tv. >> posters in world war i where the true social media of the day. there was no television or radio, andcartoons. posters were used by all the belligerent countries in the war to impress their ideas upon the passerby, and make them do that -- make them do things that the government wanted them to do. people regarded the posters as propaganda, but they were used for other reasons as well. the exhibition we have we are featuring in memory home at the world war i museum and memorial is showing a variety of posters from many of the different countries that produced them during the war. they were not only incredible artwork, and many famous artists
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worked on posters during the war, they were also representing the ideas of the they represented what the war meant to the various countries that produced the posters. behind me is a french poster. the french used not so much patriotic names, but a lot of -- patriotic themes, but a lot of pathos. here we see a child being held by its mother. the picture of the lost father up above, and the mother is consoling the child. this is getting people to give money to the war effort. countries did not have a big pot of money sitting around waiting to fight a war, so they had to
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raise money. the french were very conscious of using this kind of appeal to the people. i included it in here because of that, because of showing how children were used in the advertising of the posters. represent many aspects of the societies they were showing in the poster. when the americans got into the war on april 6, 1917, they actually created an agency to produce information that could be sent out to the public. the committee on public in charge ofas having posters produced for the war effort. when americans started producing posters, especially for fundraising, they used a lot of symbols they though represented
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america. you see the statue of liberty, and you see the american flag soldiers of american going off to fight. the main symbol of america at this time was uncle sam. d beenhough uncle sam ha a symbol of the united states since the war of 1812, soldiers going off to it really came to the forefront in presenting the american war effort. if you look at a lot of the american posters, a lot of the images are in multiples. you can see all of the soldiers marching and airplanes flying. especially the airplanes, because when the americans went to fight, we did not have airplanes really. [laughter] we had french and italian airplanes. artistic license could be taken
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in producing the posters. when they were colorful and more action oriented, they tended to get more information out to the people. the next poster on exhibit that we see is a recruiting poster for the united states marine. it is pretty basic. it wanted them to join up. asrepresented the marines the fighting force that would lead the american effort during the war. the spirit of 1917 -- this was 1776,d to the spirit of when the american revolution began. a very important aspect of the advertising. the images they used on this poster were prewar images, but they dusted them off and got back to use with the
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beginning of the war effort in world war i. probably my favorite poster in exhibition exhibition is this y futuristic poster. not only does it have this incredible image of a machine that would end the war. this was a real dream that machines could end war, and not have to use all the human effort up. the interesting thing about this poster, besides the incredible graphic showing this french machine killing the german soldiers running in panic before it, is it was not produced by the government. it was for a article written about this idea about having machines win the war. this advertised the sale of this periodical.
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in its function and its production, it is very different from the other posters on exhibit here. this is a u.s. navy recruiting poster from the war. it really is one of the most interesting images to me because it shows the various allies of the united states and their navy,and how they really want the americans to join in with them. the poster is called "all together." we see a japanese sailor, french sailor, theican british sailor, russian, and italian. very different in that it did represent all of the allies that americans were fighting in the war with. during world war i, the japanese
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were analyzed with the united were allies with the united states, new zealand, great britain, and france. were allies with the united war was theirone of theis navy. the navy. they acted as escort for the new zealand and australian forces to go fight in the middle east and on the western front. they were the escort service for them. that is part of the history of world war i that a lot of people don't know about. visitorst of japanese come here to the museum, it is always interesting for them to see that part of the history. it is represented throughout the museum. during the war, posters played a role on the american home front in getting people to save and take their products to be
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recycled, and to actually help the environment and help the war says, by, as this poster order coal now and get ahead of the game. although supplies were not necessarily rationed, they were in short supply. deliverede, coal was by horses. it is interesting the number of peopl -- the number of posters that feature horses. they were a major feature in world war i, even though cars trucks were in use. horses still played a major role, both in the home front and battlefront. this poster is trucks were in u. interesting because the artwork is really
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t really showsd i that posters could not only be advertising media, but also works of art. one of the few posters that we have in the museum collection is is aman poster that fund-raising poster. it is asking people to give to the war effort. it is featuring the steel helmeted german soldier, the representative of the iron germany at the time, to get folks to give money to the war effort. the problem with the german posters is that they have not survived over the years or one -- years since world war i. even though we have a large poster collection, we are still
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actively collecting german posters and posters from russia, also the balkans and areas like that. our collection is still very organic, and we like to represent that in our exhibitions. as part of the world war i museum and social media efforts, we were featuring many of the posters that were going to be in this exhibition. we wanted to create a little the public interaction with exhibition, so we put on our social media for the posters that i had taken out of the exhibition because of lack of space. exhibition, so we put on our socialwe ask our visitors to our website and social media outlets to vote on one of the posters they would like to have seen in the exhibition. on of the posters was voted
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by a very nice lady that lives in kansas city. she herself was a veteran of the on by a very nice lady that lives in kansas city. she herself was a veteran of the british signal corps in world war ii. she voted for the poster that featured the horse. the blue cross fund society helped save horses. horses were one of the major aspects of the war effort. they were really not treated very well by the war itself. on it in the exhibitionted because her father had been in world war i, and he told the family stories about how he had worked with horses as part of the war effort. basically, that was the vote that pushed it over. we included this poster, even though it is a fairly small poster in relation to others in
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the exhibition. it also gave us a human feeling to what posters represented in world war i. this exhibit gives us the whole idea that one type of munition that was used in the war was not necessarily one that was fired dropped from an airplane, it was one that was presented to the public to get their involvement in the war effort. that is the takeaway i think i would like people to have, that they enjoy what they are seeking, but they also take airt was one that was presented to the public to get their that these were very important objects of the time, and they still teach us the lessons of world war i. our cities tour staff recently traveled to kansas city, missouri to learn about
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each rich history. learn about other stops on the tour at c-span.org/citiestour. american history tv, all weekend on c-span3. &a, u.s. federal entitlement programs. stemtitlement programs from a basic human desire to help someone who is in need stem from of assistance. that is just common -- all of us have met in is. for politicians, it is easier to do with somebody else's money. they have that same basic desire you and i do. they also have this desire to be reelected. once that entitlement is put in place, then the game has changed. interest groups form around that
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entitlement, pressing for assistance. money starts flowing to politicians that protect those benefits. >> on u.s. federal entitlement on c-span's q&a. >> good afternoon. let us try that again. on what we began to talk about last week. on monday. and that is african-americans had a civil society.

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