Democratic Repairman

The Political Life of J. Howard McGrath

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About the Book

As governor of Rhode Island, J. Howard McGrath oversaw the passage of social legislation aimed at improving the lives of his constituents during the dark days of World War II. As a Rhode Island senator he served as the Democratic National Committee Chairman during the contentious 1948 presidential election, when few believed Harry Truman could defeat New York governor Thomas R. Dewey.
Following Truman’s victory, McGrath could easily have written his own ticket to further political success—but his career was cut short in 1952 when he was forced to resign as Attorney General amid a cloud of scandal. This biography traces the rise and fall of a politician who achieved notable success yet ultimately fell victim to his appetite for power, fame and fortune.

About the Author(s)

Debra A. Mulligan is an associate professor at Roger Williams University, and has taught a variety of courses in East Asian, American, and European history. She serves on the national advisory board for the history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta, and is also on the board of directors for the Rhode Island Hall of Fame. She lives in Warren, Rhode Island.

Bibliographic Details

Debra A. Mulligan
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 333
Bibliographic Info: 12 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9827-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3408-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Timeline of Important Dates x
Preface 1
1. Cheers to Eire: Irish Immigration 9
2. A Young Man in a Hurry 27
3. “With Howard, Howard comes first” 40
4. Murder and Mayhem in New England 50
5. Fast Track vs. Race Track 66
6. The Wiretapping Case: Is Nothing Sacred? 81
7. McGrath and the Quonset Summer Colonists 99
8. McGrath’s Ticket to the Top 108
9. McGrath and FDR’s Second Bill of Rights 126
10. A Vote for the Veterans 149
11. The Quest to Place the Displaced 159
12. He’s Just “wild about Harry” 179
13. “He’ll sink or swim with Harry” 206
Epilogue 244
Appendix: Historians Weigh in on McGrath 249
Chapter Notes 262
Bibliography 307
Index 313