chapter  3
19 Pages

Power in Albany and Washington, 1911–21

When Roosevelt went to Albany as a freshman state senator in January 1911, state politics counted for much more than they do today. This was particularly true in New York, the most populous and prosperous state in the Union. Its economy combined strong agricultural, manufacturing and mercantile interests. New York City was the largest in America. It was also one of the world’s most profitable manufacturing centres, a city of garment, printing and many other small firms producing specialized goods. Manhattan alone was the site of over half a million manufacturing jobs, while the sprawling districts of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens were home to a largely Irish, Italian and Jewish working class. As America’s busiest port, New York handled one-third of US international trade and was also centre of the nation’s financial life and its cultural capital. America’s dominant trusts in railways and utilities and most effective political machine, Tammany Hall, operated there. But though New York City tended to dwarf the state, there were other important urban centres, such as Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. Yet, with more farms than Kansas, agricultural interests dominated upstate New York. As noted above, six major party candidates for president since the Civil War had been a governor, or former governor, of New York. No state exercised more influence on national politics.