A Common Interest: Franklin Roosevelt, Frank Hague, and the Presidential Election of 1936 in New Jersey


  • Si Sheppard Long Island University




The Great Depression and the New Deal forged a mutually beneficial alliance between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mayor Frank Hague of Jersey City. Each needed the other. Hague benefited from the federal funds he was allocated by the New Deal relief agencies. Channeling this government assistance through his political machine in Jersey City enabled him to consolidate his control over Hudson County and ultimately become the dominant figure of the Democratic Party in New Jersey. In return, Hague pledged to secure New Jersey for Roosevelt in his reelection campaign. Ironically, Hague got the better of this arrangement. Roosevelt's personal popularity would have ensured his reelection in 1936 regardless of Hague's level of commitment. But by entrenching Hague's authority, as the New Deal tide ebbed over the ensuing years, and elections in New Jersey became more competitive, the President became ever more dependent on the capacity of the Mayor to deliver the votes he needed. This necessitated a policy of willful indifference towards Hague's increasingly autocratic and corrupt maladministration.