Curley, James Michael


Curley, James Michael

biographical name

(born Nov. 20, 1874, Boston, Mass., U.S.—died Nov. 12, 1958, Boston) U.S. politician. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1911–14). As Boston's mayor (1914–18, 1922–26, 1930–34, 1947–50), he dominated the city's politics for 50 years. He owed much of his success to serving the needs of Irish immigrants in exchange for votes. He centralized the powers of patronage in his own hands and distributed public works jobs so as to retain the loyalty and support of his working-class electoral base. As mayor, he brought the city close to bankruptcy by spending enormous sums on parks and hospitals to satisfy his various constituencies. Unable to win a seat in the Massachusetts delegation to the 1932 Democratic convention, Curley contrived by means he never explained to be elected a delegate from Puerto Rico. As governor of Massachusetts (1935–37), he spent New Deal funds lavishly on roads, bridges, and other public works programs. He won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1942 and was reelected two years later. His last mayoral term included five months in prison following a conviction for mail fraud; Pres. Harry Truman secured his release and later granted him a full pardon. His colourful career inspired Edwin O'Connor's novel The Last Hurrah (1956). His autobiography, I'd Do It Again, was published in 1957.

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