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James K. McGuire

Boy Mayor and Irish Nationlist

by Joseph E. Fahey

Publication Year: 2014

This is the story of a self-educated, charismatic, gifted leader who overcame personal tragedy in childhood and was elected the youngest mayor of a major city in America at age twenty-six. It is the story of a reformer who possessed a genius for politics. James K. McGuire (1868–1923) was elected mayor of Syracuse three times as a Democrat in a Republican bastion. As a candidate for governor in 1898, he nearly derailed the rise of Theodore Roosevelt. His ideas and positions informed the candidacy of William Jennings Bryan in his quest for the presidency and the platform of the Democratic Party in those elections.

Published by: Syracuse University Press


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Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright, Dedication, About the Author

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

The history of the Irish in America is replete with success stories, particularly in the political arena. In the decades following the Potato Famine between 1845 and 1855, when thousands of Irish immigrated to the United States, the Irish in the American major cities...

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1. July 12, 1868

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pp. 1-3

July 12, 1868, dawned hot and humid, as most July days do in New York City. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the temperature rose with it and the humidity pressed oppressively down on the city and its people like a suffocating, wet, steamy blanket. It seemed like all of...

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2. Life in the Salt City

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pp. 4-12

Optimists in 1870 believed that Syracuse might be destined to become “perhaps, the largest inland city in the state.” It had grown swiftly and consistently throughout the previous fifteen years, from a population of 25,107 in 1855 to 28,119 in 1860, to 31,784 in 1865. Growth in...

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3. The Early Years: Tragedy, Triumph, and the Rise to Power

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pp. 13-47

Saturday, May 21, 1881, had been a wet and warm day. The temperature had risen into the low seventies and a rain shower had fallen earlier in the day. “Frankie” McGuire, age eight, was playing with Georgie Stanton and Johnnie Ryan, both age eight, on the banks...

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4. The Mayoral Years: Boy Mayor

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pp. 48-95

McGuire’s first message to the Common Council took the form of a fourteen-page letter that the new mayor read to the council at a much-attended public meeting. The letter touched on a wide range of topics. He advocated ending the practice of awarding franchises to the various...

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5. The “Wilderness” Years

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pp. 96-126

Unlike defeated politicians in the modern age, McGuire would not have the luxury of spending any years in the “political wilderness.” He had a young family to support. He and Frances had three young children and their fourth, Rosalind, would arrive on January 16, 1902.1...

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6. The King, the Kaiser,and the President

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pp. 127-143

While McGuire’s criminal case was pending in New York County Supreme Court, he turned his attention to Ireland and its struggle for freedom. He had been a “high-ranking” member of the secret society Clan-na-Gael, which was dedicated to securing Ireland’s independence...

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7. Fellow Traveler

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pp. 144-173

In Germany, Roger Casement had soured on his mission. The inability to organize an Irish brigade among the prisoners and the British plot to kill or capture him had taken an emotional and psychological toll on him. He had been admitted to a sanitarium.1 Moreover, he had...

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8. Campaign Manager

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pp. 174-199

On February 24, 1919, at the closing session of the Irish Race Convention held in Philadelphia, Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore presented to the convention a resolution calling upon the peace conference at Versailles to allow Ireland self-determination of its own status...

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9. The Mediator

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pp. 200-243

Nineteen twenty was barely a month old when de Valera gave an interview to the British newspaper Westminster Gazette concerning Ireland’s future relationship to England, in which he suggested that Ireland could enjoy the same status with England that Cuba did with...

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10. The End

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pp. 244-262

The year 1921 would prove to be one in which divisions increased both in America and in Ireland.
With de Valera’s return to Ireland, the relationship between McGuire and Harry Boland, who remained in America, grew closer...


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pp. 263-292


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pp. 293-298


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pp. 299-302


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pp. 303-306

Further Reading, Back Cover

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pp. 307-310

E-ISBN-13: 9780815652779
E-ISBN-10: 0815652771
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815610328
Print-ISBN-10: 0815610327

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 10 black and white illustrations
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 880148050
MUSE Marc Record: Download for James K. McGuire

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Subject Headings

  • McGuire, James K., 1868-1923.
  • Mayors -- New York (State) -- Syracuse -- Biography.
  • Syracuse (N.Y.) -- Biography.
  • Nationalism -- Ireland -- History.
  • Irish Americans -- New York (State) -- Syracuse -- Biography.
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