THE DAY OF THE MUGWUMP by Lorin Peterson


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The author says he did not intend to write a book about municipal reform- he set out to buy one. Finding none he went about interviewing more than 300 newspapermen, lawyers, politicians, labor leaders and other citizens in 20 of America's largest cities to productive a comprehensive story of the municipal reform movement in the U.S., its triumphs and its failures. He uses the old political term, mugwump (originally decisively derived from an Indian world meaning ""great chief"") to describe citizens who take active political positions on the basis primarily of right or wrong. The mugwumps have, by and large, won their first 50-year battle to rid big cities of ""boss"" and machine rule. The biggest task facing them today is the ""second revolution"" -- the rescue of cities from blight, congestion and decay. This is the battle that has just begun and has been most successful in Pittsburgh where Democratic political power joined Republican mugwump wealth to recreate a city that had gone so far down it could only go up. ""Hell made over"" in the author's definition of Pittsburgh's renaissance. Can this be done elsewhere? The mugwumps will continue trying. Fluidly written, the book presents cities from New York to Seattle and the mugwump organizations that have operated in them. An important and interesting study, although the capsule commentaries on each city will doubtless provoke controversy. And the title- with its derisive connotation- may mislead many who would be interested in the reform movements per se.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1961
Publisher: Random House