Saturday, November 21, 2009

Honey Fitz Runs for Mayor

John Fitzgerald Campaign Photo 1905John F. Kennedy's grandfather, John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, ran for mayor of the city of Boston in 1905. The special election had been precipitated by the sudden death of Mayor Patrick Collins in September. Fitzgerald won the Democratic primary eight weeks later, and then defeated his opponent, the highly respected speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Louis Frothingham, in the general election.

This cardboard photograph with his campaign slogan at the bottom, "The People not the Bosses Should Rule," was handed out to voters during the campaign.

One of the new campaigning techniques used by Fitzgerald was the motorcade. The Boston Globe describes the night before the primary when Fitzgerald and his retinue zoomed about the city in the rain in a parade of six automobiles. They stopped in each of the city's 25 wards for the energetic Fitzgerald to say a few words, often to huge crowds.

Fitzgerald won the primary against the candidate of the ward bosses, Ned Donovan. Ned was a close friend of ward boss Martin Lomasney, and when Donovan lost the primary, Lomasney refused to support Fitzgerald in the general election.

On the night before the election, Lomasney called his followers to a meeting where he announced: "I'm not going to lay down and be with the gang that has done such a job on us. Now I am going the put the lights out for two minutes. I haven't had time to check up to see who is here and who is not. If anybody here doesn't want to go through with me, just slide out in the dark and there'll be no hard feelings." Lomasney put out the lights, and two minutes later not a soul had moved. On election day, Lomasney's ward supported Frothingham--the first time it had voted Republican in recent memory.

NOTE: For more information on Martin Lomasney, click here to read my earlier post.

Illustration Credits and References

The campaign photo is part of the collection at the JFK Library in Boston.

The story of Lomasney's election eve speech is recounted in Doris Kearns Goodwin's The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate -

I am a graduate student in Canada working on a dissertation on the history of women and canoes/canoeing in Canada and the northern US from the mid-nineteenth century until the 1980s. I was aware of the McMullin article that you mentioned in your post on the subject, but was wondering how I would get my hands on the Cynthia K. diary. My email address is

Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.