Elizabeth Taylor
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American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley
ISBN: 0316834033
American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley
The story of legendary Chicago mayor Richard J. Daly and his pivotal role in building Chicago into a major metropolis while fighting against racial integration, the anti-Vietnam War movement, and President Johnson's War on Poverty.
—from the publisher's website
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American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley
Program Air Date: July 23, 2000

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Elizabeth Taylor, co-author of "American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard Daley, His Battle for Chicago and the Nation." Where'd you get the title?
Ms. ELIZABETH TAYLOR, Co-author, "American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley, His Battle for Chicago and the Nation": Daley was a pharaoh in many senses of the word. He was powerful, he was autocratic, he ruled Chicago for 21 years, from 1955 until his death in 1976. And in another way, he was also a builder. He built all of the great things with which we associate Chicago: the world's busiest airport; the world's tallest building, Sears Tower; the beautiful Magnificent Mile; the skyline. It--it's all his. He also built some of the worst buildings in Chicago, some of the public housing projects. And finally, the word `pharaoh'--it was his nickname from civil rights leaders who had--had dubbed him that in the '50s and '60s because of his resistance to civil rights, particularly his resistance to Martin Luther King, who actually moved to Chicago and lived there for eight months.
LAMB: There's a picture in here, and people who--who remember the 1968 convention might remember this shot of him at the--the microphone. What is that?
TAYLOR: That is--is Daley defending his--his city. Senator Abraham Rubikov had just said, you know, `If we elect McGovern, we will not--not have the Gestapo tactics in Chicago.' He was referring to the extraordinary protests that were occurring on the streets of Chicago. And this was sort of Daley's lowest moment.
LAMB: Why low?
TAYLOR: He--Daley had campaigned hard. He had wanted the convention brought to Chicago so he could showcase this--this beautiful city that he had rescued from the brink of despair. And he left no detail untouched. He looked at the convention hall and--and focused on everything from the ashtrays to the banners. Simply every detail. And he was extremely worried a--about the violence. It was in the aftermath of the death of--of Martin Luther King, of Bobby Kennedy. He did not want anything upsetting his city. And the protesters had their sights on Chicago. And he was determined not to let them get any attention. They approached him consistently for all sorts of permits, and he denied them those permits and--and this wrangling went on for months. Meanwhile, Daley was sort of, you know, dressing up his city and making it look really beautiful.

But finally, in this terrible 20 minutes, everything exploded. The police went wild, attacking protesters, and protesters were also violent. They--Daley just--ju--just didn't know what to make of it. Here were the--these, you know, people who nominated Pigasus, this 120-pound--five-pound pig for president. They had threatened to poison the water. They had said that they were going to pull down Hubert Humphrey's pants on stage. These were totally--you know, things that he couldn't deal with. He didn't understand sort of the idealism of the protesters. He kept saying, `Well, wha--what do they want? What programs do they want?' But--but in the end, Daley was really underestimated, and he came out of it kind of brilliantly.

LAMB: What part of the country did you grow up in?
TAYLOR: I grew up in Swathmore, a suburb of Philadelphia.
LAMB: How long did you live in Chicago?
TAYLOR: I was transferred to Chicago by Time magazine. I was a correspondent there, first based in New York. I began in 1983 and then on to Chicago in 1984. And I worked at the magazine until 198--1996.
LAMB: Now Mayor Daley died in '76, as you say, so you--you never s--lived under him.
TAYLOR: Never. Never. I--I--the 1968 convention was really sort of my first memory as a child of Daley.
LAMB: Richard M. Daley is--is who? Who is he?
TAYLOR: He is Richard J. Daley's eldest son and, like in all good family businesses, he went on to run the family business. And he is now mayor of Chicago.
LAMB: How long has he been mayor?
TAYLOR: He has been mayor since ru--Harold Washington was the first--was elected mayor in 1983, then re-elected in 1987. He died in office. And then Richard M. Daley came in shortly thereafter in '89.
LAMB: What kind of a mayor has he been compared to his father?
TAYLOR: He's very much like his father but sort of in miniature. Richard J. Daley, you know, operated this huge machine of patronage, 40,000 jobs, and the current mayor is sort of making the widgets inthe factory that--that his father built. They both understand--and this is actually something that Dan Rostenkowski told us in an interview something that his father had told Richard J. Daley, `Show people where you're putting their money.' Richard J. Daley did that in beautifying Chicago, and Richard M. Daley has done the same. And while Richard J. Daley built big expressways and big buildings, Richard M. Daley is building cul-de-sacs and wrought-iron fences. Everything's on a much smaller scale.
LAMB: And who is the secretary of Commerce, as he--he relates to--to the family?
TAYLOR: That's William Daley, and he is a--is a--was actually our kind of window into the Daley family. He's widely recognized in Chicago as a--as a--and around the country as a really--a smart guy. And I sat down and I interviewed him several times. And he gave us this perspective of the family.
LAMB: Now the--has a book like this ever been done?
TAYLOR: No. There--there--there's been a wonderful, rich literature on Chicago. The most famous book is, of course, Mike Royko's "Boss," published in 1970. It was very journalistic and kind of gave a great sense of the times. But it was largely anecdotal and--and just--just a--a really fun book to read. And it--it's a good companion to our book.

Another author who's been--is really terrific--has written--contributed to the works on Chicago is Milton Rakove. I think actually his son is a scholar who's been on your program before.

LAMB: Milton Rakove.
TAYLOR: Yeah.
LAMB: So in 1968, you had the convention. And then you--and when you ready about the Chicago 8--David Dellinger and Reny Davis and all these people--you also see the name Bobby Rush eventually later on after that, where--and Bobby Rush is now a congressman.
TAYLOR: Right.
LAMB: How does he fit in to all this?
TAYLOR: Who...
LAMB: Was he--was he a Daley supporter?
TAYLOR: W--n--actually, he--he ran a terrible race most recently for mayor. He is currently a congressman. He's--he, like many, has sort of softened over time but has still--is still an opponent of Daley's. The--the story of the--sort of the black submachine in Chicago is really fascinating. And...
LAMB: And that's a--by the way, a phrase you use throughout the book, `black submachine.'
TAYLOR: Right. I mean, Daley operated the machine and he really depended on sort of loyal black voters. And--and they really stuck with him over time. And the first one was William Dawson, at one point the--sort of the most powerful black man in America, only congressman. I mean, he really supported Daley and was, in fact, opposed to integration, kind of ironic because he had fled Georgia because of some--his family was threatened over a racial incident. But he continued to be a loyal soldier for--for Daley.
LAMB: William Dawson?
TAYLOR: William Dawson. And he was--was a very smart guy. We interviewed his nephew and some other relatives of his. We studied his papers at Fisk University. Fascinating character.

Another character in the black submachine who began as a sort of subservient foller and--follower and then became one of the harshest critics was one of my personal favorites in the book. It was an Olympic star, Ralph Metcalfe, who--the congressman, and he broke with Daley over the issue of police brutality. It took him a while and actually his son said, `Hey, Dad, it's, you know, the mayor or me.' Two dentists who had been injured by police in traffic violations--they were pulled over and--and one, in fact, had a stroke in custody and was then killed--Daley refused to meet Metcalfe in his home district, ref--refused to meet him on the South Side. And Metcalfe was really upset. And Metcalfe eventually just br--cut it off with Daley. He later said, `It's never too late to be black.'

LAMB: Now on Bobby Rush's case here, what I was getting at was the Fred Hampton raid. When did that happen and what was that about?
TAYLOR: The Black Panthers in Chicago had--had really started to kind of get hold in--in '69 and--and '70. They had--had--had a very good public relations campaign going. They had free lunch programs, free day care. And it was--they would--they were really trying to kind of make an appeal and kind of position themselves as opponents to Daley. And--but in this horrible raid, it--the--was ordered by Ed Hanrahan, who was a--a player in this later, the police went in and just started firing away, killing Hampton and--and Clark. And it was later learned that there was no--I mean, there was no arms in that apartment at all. And really--and Daley--that started...
LAMB: Was that ordered by Bill--by Mayor Daley?
TAYLOR: It was not clear that Daley himself was ordering it, but he--his people were very much behind it. It was a...
LAMB: How many times did Richard J. Daley get elected mayor?
TAYLOR: He was elected 1955, 1959, '63, '67, '71 and again in 1975.
LAMB: Did he ever come close to losing?
TAYLOR: No. Even in--when--in his last election, when there were--there was a terrifically strong Independent running against him, Bill Singer, in 1975. There was a black candidate, Richard Newhouse, and Ed Hanrahan, who'd been involved in the--the Black Panthers. Daley--it was in the primary. Daley still won handily.
LAMB: Was he an honest man?
TAYLOR: There is a point where his floor leader, Tom Keene, who is a--actually ended up going to jail in which--he's a go--a--wonderful story--he said that he wanted money and Daley wanted power. He was honest. He tolerated corruption around him, but he wasn't about money. He was about power. And James Thompson--later governor of Illinois; at that point US attorney--really gunned for Daley and--and put a lot of his closest cronies in jail. And I believe if--if there had been anything real there, Jim Thompson would have gotten it.
LAMB: Where did Mayor Daley live?
TAYLOR: He lived his whole life in Bridgeport. And it's a totally fascinating place. It's a--it's a neighborhood in Chicago, and it's sort of an Irish-Catholic sort of enclave. The neighborhoods in Chicago are very strong, stronger than in any city I've ever lived. And we title our chapter A Separate World, and it really was a separate world. He lived on Lowe Street his whole life, from--always within a block from his mother. He--and he went to church a--just a block or two away. He grew up in the shadow of the stockyards, and, you know, it was just a really violent place. Upton Sinclair wrote about it in "The Jungle." And--and Daley actually worked in the stockyards a little bit. In one of his campaigns, he showed himself as a kind of--riding around and--and working in the stockyards.
LAMB: How many children did he have?
TAYLOR: He had seven children.
LAMB: We talked about Richie Daley, the mayor currently of Chicago, and Bill Daley, the secretary of Commerce. What do the other five do?
TAYLOR: The other five are--let me see. There's teachers. One ha--was a nun. There--you know, they're not, you know, a--sort of, you know, a Kennedylike family, you know, everybody going into politics. They...
LAMB: Would they talk to you?
TAYLOR: Bill was our contact, and--and Bill was very helpful and he gave us a lot of names to contact. And--and we spoke with all those people. And then at one--at--at a point--there was a documentary that came out a couple of years ago that was very critical of Daley and the family did not like it. And at that point, they--he said, `We really can't cooperate anymore.' And so that was it. So...
LAMB: So did--did they think that this--well, you know--well, let me just reask it. What do you--what do they think of this book? Do you have any idea?
TAYLOR: I have no idea. I mean, we've heard a few things through the grapevine, but it's been praised by a lot of reviewers like David Broder as being really balanced. And, you know, that's what we were really trying to do. I think people thought, `Gosh, who are these two young kids from not Chicago, you know, coming in here doing this book?' And it was because we were just tot--so totally fascinated by this story. We just--we just loved it, and it was just a great way to talk about America.
LAMB: Who is your co-author, Adam Cohen?
TAYLOR: My co-author is--is my best friend, Adam Cohen. He and I actually were interns together at Time magazine in 1983. And I continued at Time and he proceeded finishing his last year at Harvard College and then going to Harvard Law School, where he's president of the Law Review. And I had just left graduate school at Yale in American history. And we continued our sort of friendship and talk about the subject. And then we just decided we had to do this book.
LAMB: And where is he today?
TAYLOR: He now works in New York as a--a senior writer for Time magazine.
LAMB: And how did you divide up the responsibilities?
TAYLOR: Well, we s--it's been so long we worked on this book. We had gotten a contract seven years ago, but we actually got the idea, like, 10 years ago and wrote about a 100-page proposal. We--and I was in Chicago, so I did a lot of the initial reporting, and Adam did a lot of the kind of research in other parts of the country, for instance, going to look at Dawson's papers. And he started writing from the front and I started writing from the back. We met up in the middle. But all--I did a lot of interviewing. And our first thought was to talk to people who were very old to make sure that we didn't lose them.
LAMB: Like, who would--who would be in that category?
TAYLOR: A lot of people. But one was--somebody we did lose was this wonderful judge--federal judge, Hubert Will, who had--was a reformer. And he had actually helped Daley get elected in 1955 and kind of an unlikely ally of Daley's and then told us how he had tried to--to get Daley to sort of moderate his views on the protesters and--in ni--1968. He--he died shortly after we talked to him.

One of the--my saddest ones was Tom Keene, who everybody says is--is this totally brilliant guy, floor leader and--and...

LAMB: Floor leader where?
TAYLOR: Floor leader in the City Council. Just a--a--a--you know, very charming. We--but I was shocked that he agreed to talk to us. And I talked to him on the phone several times and was just--people always said, `He'll never talk to you.' But I just called him up, like we did with everybody. And he was wonderful on the phone. And, in fact, he said--we would meet--gonna meet on April 15th. And he said, `Don't you get it?' I said, `What do you mean?' He goes, `It's my favorite day, Tax Day.' He had gone to, you know, jail for tax evasion. So he--then he--his wife called several days before the interview and said that he was in the hospital and he then later died. And I--I'm sort of wistful that I hadn't set up the interview a little earlier.
LAMB: Now why was he a good story?
TAYLOR: He knew ev--I mean, he was one of the--the people who was sort of closest to Daley and he was kind of irreverent. He had--he would just say whatever was on his mind. And when Martin Luther King came to Chicago and--and--which is a--a great story and a kind of key element of the book, there was a summit meeting that Daley had held. And Daley had brought all--after King had lived in Chicago for eight months, he--they all--he--Daley and some realtors and some legislators all sat down and--and had a summit agreement where they agreed on open housing. And then King got on a plane, went down, you know, back to A--Alabama and Keene said, `What agreement? We never had an agreement.' He was a--a--really a--you know, wily guy. And he helped Daley out a lot.
LAMB: What--what did you think, from what you could tell, Mayor Daley thought of blacks?
TAYLOR: Daley--it--it traces back to--to Bridgeport. And there was just really--Bridg...
LAMB: And, by--by the way, where is Bridgeport?
TAYLOR: Bridgeport is sort of--it's on the sort of--it's right--for sports fans, it's right near Commiskey Park, where the White Sox play and--and Daley went to Commiskey Park all the time. He was a big baseball fan. It's south of the Loop and slightly east. He--it--Bridgeport was this little enclave, and there was--there were no blacks there. And, in fact, in 1961, as an example of sort of the feelings of his community--and there was a--there was this fire on the--the Douglas Hotel on the South Side and many blacks were--were homeless as a result of it. They were--the Red Cross came in and tried to give them temporary housing at a church in Bridgeport. But residents were furious and, you know, jeered and said, `You know, get the negroes out.' And they were swiftly removed. You know, even--and this was as Freedom Riders were sort of traveling the country and--and gaining some success. So he was no--not comfortable with blacks. And he really saw himself as sort of one of--as being Irish and one of the out groups. And he just thought that blacks should, you know, pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
LAMB: But there was a--you know, for somebody's who's never been to Chicago and--and these--you point out in the book that back in the early 1900s, it had three million people there. How many does it have today?
TAYLOR: I think about sli--well--well, there's a huge controversy about the census right now, so nobody exactly knows, but it's--it's the third largest city. It's, like...
LAMB: But it's under three million.
TAYLOR: Oh--oh, yeah. Way under.
LAMB: What happened? Where'd they all go?
TAYLOR: Daley--Daley actually held onto a lot of white people fleeing to the suburbs. He did a--a much better job of that than, say, Detroit or Cleveland or St. Louis. One of the brilliant ideas he had was that, for instance, if you--if you worked for the city, you had to live in the city. That really was pretty effective. And he also made it--he--the--the Loop and a thriving place, ke--kept a lot of industry in Chicago when it could have left. And he--he really--we give him a lot of credit for saving Chicago.
LAMB: You have a map here in the front of the book. It's hard to see the detail on it, but what's the purpose of putting that in there?
TAYLOR: The--Chicago is--is really a city sort of defined by its--its architecture, and--and Daley had a big role in kind of in--of--of placing all those buildings where they are, everything from O'Hare to the--and the public housing projects, which as a reporter, I--I started to cover for Time magazine and the conventional wisdom was, `Oh, they've always been there, you know? Who knows how they got there, you know? Daley inherited them.' And we really started to think, `Gosh, let's figure out how did they get there.' Demographers call Chicago hypersegregated. They talk about the--sort of the spacial mismatch between jobs and--and residents, where people live. And this is a--a--we trace this back to Daley and the fact that--that of those (unintelligible) census tracks most of them--are in Chicago housing projects.
LAMB: And how big is the African-American population in Chicago?
TAYLOR: It's not a majority, but it's close. It's, like, 40--over 40 percent. And then there's Hispanic population that sort of goes either way.
LAMB: And from what you could tell from your research, how did this--how did public housing work out in Chicago? And what is it?
TAYLOR: Public housing--well, when we talk about public housing, it's--there are these--Robert Taylor Homes is one of the most famous public housing projects in the country. And it's miles and miles of--of tall buildings, tall brick buildings, separated by a--a hu--one of the world's la--widest highways, and...
LAMB: The Dan Ryan.
TAYLOR: The Dan Ryan. Exactly. And it--that's on the map. And then Bridgeport is on the other side. So that highway separates these housing projects from Bridgeport.
LAMB: How many lanes is the Dan Ryan Expressway?
TAYLOR: Oh, seven to--14.
LAMB: Fourteen lanes?
TAYLOR: Yeah.
LAMB: Does it go right by the city?
TAYLOR: It's right--yeah. You need--you--you take the--the Dan Ryan all the time.
LAMB: So Chicago sits on Lake Michigan...
TAYLOR: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ...with under three million people.
TAYLOR: Right.
LAMB: And this highway--and--did--did Mayor Daley build this highway?
TAYLOR: Yeah. He placed it--rooted it there, and...
LAMB: Why?
TAYLOR: And--to divide--as a dividing line. I mean, we--we needed a highway because there are all these people going, but it could have gone in a lot of different routes. And--and traffic experts we interviewed and talked with said that it could have gone in different places, but it went there to sort of--to really bisect the city. And--and the public housing projects were--were Daley's effort. They were described as sort of `human filing cabinets into the sky.'
LAMB: And who could live there?
TAYLOR: Well, at the beginning, they were envisioned as sort of way stations for the poor--public housing. They were--there's this wonderful woman, who I hope we've given life to in the book--but there were so many great subcharacters--Elizabeth Wood, this poetry professor from Vassar who was the first head of the Chicago aut--Housing Authority. And she was for sort of low-rise, integrated public housing.
LAMB: Does this go back to the '30s?
TAYLOR: Forties.
LAMB: Forties. What--what year was she...
TAYLOR: And then she was--in the '40s, and then she was sort of kicked out in 1954 when Daley was really head of the machine, and--which is--which is a--a very powerful job, which he promised to give up when he was made mayor, but he never did.

And--and Elizabeth Wood also got herself into some trouble because she was resisting these high-rises. Also, she resisted the appointment of one of Daley's relatives to the staff of the CHA. She said she shouldn't--they shouldn't hire somebody who had finished last in his law school class.

Anyway, but these housing projects were very important for several reasons, and--and Daley wasn't the only one who wanted them. I mean, the black submachine was really for them, too, because they were a way to consolidate votes. It was very easy for a precinct captain to kind of march up the towers and down. And there was so much dependency. People could--you know, felt that they would have to vote the machine ticket or, you know, they'd be thrown out of their apartments.

LAMB: You use it--audiotape that we run on our radio stations all the time, of the president talking--the Oval Office conversation of LBJ, where this whole thing about precincts comes up. And you quote Mayor Daley talking to LBJ about precinct captains. What's the scenario on that, and why were precinct captains important?
TAYLOR: Well, precinct captains were so important. In fact, there is a--an anecdote in the book that Daley says, `Oh,' you know, `this guy has a great education, he's a great lawyer, he's a great American. And best of all, he's a precinct captain.' It was...
LAMB: Taking to LBJ?
TAYLOR: Right. It was the highest ca--highest calling. And the precinct captain was the guy who--and it usually was a guy--who got out the votes. And he did...
LAMB: Did--did he buy them?
TAYLOR: Sometimes. There were lots of different ways. There was something called `four-legged voting,' where the precinct captain would literally walk into the voting booth with a voter and help them pull down a lev--lever. Some--a reporter who covered elections told us he saw one prink--precinct captain pull down the lever 70 different--70 times at the start of the day. They would go into flophouses and get the names of the winos and kind of register them as voters. They would offer them, you know, everything from, you know, nylons to Christmas trees to eyeglasses to get them to vote. And they really worked hard.

And if they didn't turn out the vote, they were--as it was called, `viced,' That meant that they lost their--their paycheck, their job. And it was a real problem.

LAMB: Mayor Richard J. Daley--21 years as mayor...
TAYLOR: Yeah.
LAMB: ...1950...
TAYLOR: Five.
LAMB: ...five to 1976.
TAYLOR: Right.
LAMB: Some names in your book that people hear all the time. Where did the name O'Hare come from? And--and I know it's often the biggest--some days it's Atlanta that's the biggest airport. You get them back and forth, but where'd that one come from?
TAYLOR: There was a politician--it was named for an old--an old Irish politician. But, in fact, Daley didn't really call it O'Hare, even though it was--it's spelled O'Hare and said O'Hare. He always mangled names, and he called it O'Hara, O'Hara Airport. And that...
LAMB: Did he build it? Was that his idea?
TAYLOR: Yeah. It was his idea to--to really build it up, and to acquire--make sure that the city owned it. But it's--as you can see on the map, there's a very long, little strip so that it's...
LAMB: Through the airport?
TAYLOR: ...technically in Chicago.
LAMB: But it's not--is--is it in Chicago?
TAYLOR: It is in, yeah.
LAMB: But it's really in the suburbs.
TAYLOR: Right. Right.
LAMB: Where did the name `Dan Ryan' come from?
TAYLOR: Dan Ryan had been another big Irish political boss in Chicago who had been, like, head of the county board.
LAMB: Another name that factors in is Otto Kerner. We know him from Otto Kerner, the Kerner Commission. What was that?
TAYLOR: Well, the Kerner Commission was known, you know, for its deliberations and consideration of discrimination, and--and it really called for sort of the separate black--you know, the problem of the separate black and white America. But Kerner had been governor of Illinois, and he had been an ally of Daley's, and he also went to jail.
LAMB: Why?
TAYLOR: For--I think it was--his--the reason he went to jail, I think, was the racetrack stocks. He had taken it and not paid taxes on it, and he had...
LAMB: What--when in the...
TAYLOR: ...gotten rich.
LAMB: ...in the sequence after the Kerner Commission was issued--do you remember what year it was issued? And it was ordered up by Lyndon Johnson.
TAYLOR: Right. I want to say, like, '64.
LAMB: And...
TAYLOR: Yeah.
LAMB: ...and he went to jail after that?
TAYLOR: Yeah, after that. I mean, it was part of the kind of--the James Thompson kind of--who was the Republican US attorney--sort of effort to kind of put the machine candidates--ma--machine officials in jail.
LAMB: James Thompson you've mentioned a couple of times. How many people surrounding Richard J. Daley did he put in jail?
TAYLOR: A lot. I mean, there were some--some of the biggies were: Otto Kerner; Keane, who was Daley's floor leader; Paul Wigoda, who was a--a city councilman and a Daley ally. He also put Earl Bush, who was Daley's speechwriter and sort of known as the intellectual on the staff. He was the only Jewish person on Daley's staff.
LAMB: Why'd he go to jail?
TAYLOR: He had gone to j--to jail--I--he actually may not--actually, he was convicted, but he may not actually serve time and there's another agreement worked out. But he was definitely convicted. He had gotten involved in selling--or being on a--on a company that sold airport signs. I mean, it was really, like, Mickey Mouse stuff. You just, you know, couldn't believe, but he was benefiting from the airports.
LAMB: Did--what happened to Jim Thompson after he put all these people in jail?
TAYLOR: Got elected governor.
LAMB: For how long?
TAYLOR: He was elected--I think it was four times. He was a...
LAMB: Was he successful? Was he always--seemed to be honest in this process?
TAYLOR: He was, but he--I mean, he was just--he was also seen as sort of somebody who wanted--he was politically ambitious and wanted to be governor. And he--in fact, some people thought that he could be a presidential candidate, and...
LAMB: What's he doing today?
TAYLOR: He's a lawyer, and--I guess--and a--and an avid antique collector.
LAMB: Now another name that comes up that we hear a lot about in history is Anton Cermak. Early on in your book, you talk about--I guess he was called Tony Cermak by somebody, but I--I always hear it--I--who was he?
TAYLOR: Cermak was--and there's a big Cermak Road. Cermak was a--is a major--he was somebody who kind of was--helped build the machine. He figured out sort of these--the ethnic politics of, you know, how--how you set up Chicago machine and play different ethnic groups off one another. He was...
LAMB: And how early in the century was he the mayor?
TAYLOR: Turn--turn of the century. It was just as Daley...
LAMB: Was--w--was he married? Ma--married. Was he mayor when he was killed in 1933?
TAYLOR: Yes.
LAMB: And how'd that happen?
TAYLOR: Ah. The famous--well, it could have been Franklin Row--Roosevelt or Cermak, you know. He was aiming for Roosevelt and Cermak was in the way. He had a pre--pretty large...
LAMB: In Miami Beach.
TAYLOR: Miami. It's pretty large, so it'd be easy for him to get in the way.
LAMB: Was he killed instantly, do you remember?
TAYLOR: I thi--on the way to the hospital, I think.
LAMB: But he--why was Anton Cermak, the mayor of Chicago, and FDR together in Miami Beach? Do you remember?
TAYLOR: It was--FDR had just been elected, and Cermak was, you know, on a fishing trip. And I think that he had kind of elbowed his way into things.
LAMB: And he was a Czech.
TAYLOR: Yes.
LAMB: How much did--did ethnic politics play in Mayor Daley's success?
TAYLOR: He was brilliant at sort of playing ethnic politics, you know, off each--people off each other. It's also important to understand that--that--even within, say, you know, the Irish Chicago, it wasn't all sort of monolithic. I interviewed this--an alderman, and I said, `Oh,' you know, `you must have known Daley. You're from Bridgeport.' And he said, `Oh, no,' you know, `we were from different parishes.' Even within the parishes, or even within sort of neighborhoods, there were distinctions.
LAMB: But was he...
TAYLOR: The North Side Irish, South Side Irish, that kind of thing.
LAMB: What was Mayor Daley's wife like?
TAYLOR: She seemed to be--S--Sis Daley, she stood by him. She was very--baked soda bread every day. She's still alive. She still lives in the house on Lowe Street.
LAMB: The same house.
TAYLOR: Same house. And it--you can go by it. I sometimes--when we felt that we were just--had to get closer to the story, we would kind of go back to Lowe Street and just walk around and walk from Daley's house to Nativity Parish to the Homburg Club.
LAMB: In this picture that we were showing here on the screen just a moment ago, the--the kids. Where in the picture is Bill Daley, the secretary of Commerce? Can you see? Or where is the mayor?
TAYLOR: The mayor is in the top right, and...
LAMB: Right up here is Mayor Daley now, today.
TAYLOR: Yeah. And...
LAMB: And Bill Daley's back there.
TAYLOR: ...Bill is the second one...
LAMB: He has no hair now, so it's hard to tell.
TAYLOR: Right. It is. This is--but they...
LAMB: I'll check it.
TAYLOR: The second one.
LAMB: Public housing is a lot in your book. But also it--as--you talk about the race problem in public housing throughout the book. But you also talk about the 1960 election. Did Mayor Daley--How do you ask this question?--steal or buy or force votes for John F. Kennedy that helped him win the state of Illinois?
TAYLOR: We think that he did.
LAMB: How'd you go about researching?
TAYLOR: But we--we think that there were so many votes stolen that it's probable that--that they--he got enough to win the election. We interviewed a lot--we read a lot--we interviewed a lot of people who were working in the election, you know--including, you know, a s--son of a precinct captain who said that they got a knock late at night and said, you know, `We need 30 more votes from your precinct.'
LAMB: Let me give the numbers. I wrote them down so that...
TAYLOR: Oh, great.
LAMB: ...everybody listening can know what we're talking about. In 1960, John Kennedy got 49.7 percent of the vote against Richard Nixon's 49.6. So we're talking about .1 difference. But you point out here that the electoral--excuse me--the electoral vote was 303 for John F. Kennedy and 219 for Richard Nixon.
TAYLOR: Right.
LAMB: So almost--no matter what had happened in Illinois...
TAYLOR: Right. Like Illinois or Texas.
LAMB: Or Texas...
TAYLOR: Yeah.
LAMB: ...which is also disputed.
TAYLOR: Right.
LAMB: But in Illinois the popular vote was 8,858 more for John F. Kennedy than for Richard Nixon. So what else did you learn about this vote?
TAYLOR: I mean, the vote theft was extraordinary. I mean, just--four-legged voting, the--you know, the--bribing people, the--and there was a guy named "Short Pencil" Lewis, who was famous for erasing out names. In 1955, his--he erased out Pinelli and put in Daley on many different ballots. So this was widespread. It was sort of accepted that it was going to happen. Poll watchers--you know, Republican poll watchers were, like, sent home for the da--you know, threatened. They were really irrelevant.

One thing that--that's totally interesting is that Daley--he felt affinity for--for John Kennedy. He had had a long relationship with his father, Joe Kennedy, who--the Kennedys owned the Merchandise Mart, this huge piece of real estate in Chicago. But Daley really cared about the state's accur--attorney race, which was the--state's attorney sort of was the local prosecutor. And he was determined that the Republican candidate, Benjamin Adamowksi, would not be elected. Adamowski had been a friend of Daley's, he turned Republican and was just bashing the machine constantly. And Adamowski posed a threat to Daley, and many people believed--and I think this is right--that Daley worked very hard not just for Kennedy, but against Adamowski.

LAMB: How would they do it? I mean, first, it'd be--did you find evidence that actual cash money was ever paid to anybody to vote?
TAYLOR: People would tell us stories of--you know, of--of paying people. But they would also just, you know, for instance, go into a flophouse and--you know, because liquor stores are closed--those--on Election Day--and so, you know, give booze to winos so that they would vote. There was--you know, they would give--one woman said, `Oh, I can't vote for you,' she said to a reform candidate, `because I got a Christmas tree from my precinct captain. He gives everyone a precinct--Christmas tree. You can't afford that.' So it was a lot of sort of gifts in kind. There was a lot of that sort of thing going on.
LAMB: You cited...
TAYLOR: And jobs.
LAMB: ...a 1972 Chicago Tribune series on--on vote fraud. And you're working at the Chicago Tribune. How long have you been there?
TAYLOR: I started at the Tribune in 1996. So I wasn't--can't say I was part of that.
LAMB: What did you find in that '72 series of articles?
TAYLOR: They--we interviewed s--some of the people who'd worked on those stories and--and we--the car--and the stories very carefully. It--it was--really showed us how this election fraud happened, how, you know, elections were just really--election honesty was sort of totally flaunted, that, you--you know, the precinct records were erased and made up and that precinct captains were threatening Republicans. It was--it was not an--an honest, open system at all.
LAMB: You talk about a--the reporter going to the McCoy Hotel--wherever that is--and then registering as James Joyce...
TAYLOR: Right. Right.
LAMB: ...and Henry David Thoreau and all that, and no one ever caught him.
TAYLOR: No. Bill Rectenwald, a longtime reporter--he'd also--had worked for the Better Government Association. Yeah, he told us those tales. It wa--it was...
LAMB: Is he still around?
TAYLOR: Yes, he is. He's...
LAMB: What impact did that series have?
TAYLOR: I think it--it galva--it's--it really started reform movement, and it started people criticizing the machine. It--later, there was a--a--something known as the Shackman Decree that really started to dismantle patronage, which--you know, which is a key part of the--of the machine and how it operated.
LAMB: Is that--is patronage still around?
TAYLOR: It was really eviscerated by the decree. The patronage essentially entailed, you know, some 40,000 jobs that would be at the disposal of--of the mayor. And he could dispense them as he liked, or he could punish people. You know, a precinct captain if they didn't deliver, take away their patronage jobs. And so it was--it was pre--pretty serious stuff.
LAMB: But today, does Richard M. Daley have the patronage that his father had?
TAYLOR: No. No, it--it's a shell of what it used to be.
LAMB: Does the city run as well or better than it did back in those days? I mean, how--how is the city today?
TAYLOR: The city is--is--and we owe Richard J. Daley a big credit for this. I mean, it's a thriving, wonderful city, and--with a downtown that's bustling. You know, people have stayed in the city. They haven't fled to the suburbs. But there are these lingering problems, there--especially in the--in the--and the worst of these is public housing.
LAMB: Well, if you--if you look back at how the--again, the blacks voted--What?--overwhelmingly for Richard J. Daley, didn't they?
TAYLOR: Absolutely. Until--like, 1963, in fact, he lost the white vote to Benjamin Adamowski, a Polish candidate, and he won--he won because blacks supported him.
LAMB: But if you were black and voted for him all those years, today looking at the scene, did it pay off for you?
TAYLOR: It--no. I mean...
LAMB: Why'd they stay with him?
TAYLOR: They stayed with him--first of all, there weren't a lot of good alternatives. And it took a long time for them to gradually resist, and for there to be sort of people like Ral--Ralph Metcalf and others who would resist him.
LAMB: What's the little story about Jesse Jackson and the job?
TAYLOR: Oh, it's a great story. He wanted--went to Daley and wanted a job. And Daley said, `Well, you can be a'--you know...
LAMB: What year?
TAYLOR: ...operate a toll booth.' I can't remember. It was, like, the early '60s I think. `Operate a toll booth.'
LAMB: And what was Jesse Jackson doing then?
TAYLOR: It was--it was before he started actively organizing Operation Breadbasket in Chicago. He was on the--became part of the civil rights movement, and was one of the--a lesser player, but still a player.
LAMB: What were you surprised at in the--in this--after you finished all this research?
TAYLOR: One of the things is that--you know, ad--Adam and I were struck--we--we've known a lot about 1968. We've known a lot about public housing. And I think that we came out of it with, really, a very deep appreciation for what this guy went through. He did not change over time. He did not evolve. He was, in--in a sad way, sort of a dinosaur at the end. But he was--was a very determined--he made a life out of very little. And he really tried to save the city, and--and we want to give him credit for that.
LAMB: But, you know, in the reviews on your book you get all kinds of--of comments made about was he--I know the--The Wall Street Journal talked about--was he one of the top five mayors in history? Deal with that one. Do you think he was?
TAYLOR: Well, it depends on how they mean `top,' but, you know--I mean, I l--I lived in a city with Mayor Rizzo. So, you know, Daley...
LAMB: Philadelphia.
TAYLOR: Philadelphia. He was definitely better than Mayor Rizzo. You know, I think John Lindsay was doing some pretty imaginative and interesting things that Daley wasn't doing. I th--he was a--a really important and powerful and--leader.
LAMB: What is your job now?
TAYLOR: I now am a literary editor and la--magazine editor of the Chicago Tribune. So I edit the book review section and the magazine section.
LAMB: This was published by Little, Brown.
TAYLOR: Yeah.
LAMB: Is it your first book?
TAYLOR: Yes.
LAMB: So what did you think of the experience after all these years of writing about others?
TAYLOR: Oh, it's just tot--absolutely fascinating. And we--Little, Brown sort of took us on when Adam and I were--were so--were really kids and before I knew anything about the book-reviewing business. And it's--it's fascinating. And actually--I thought I would be much more sort of worried about the reviews than I end up being. But now I feel like it's out there and we kind of have--have confidence in the book, and we--we really feel privileged to get this great story.
LAMB: But what about--just from, you know--as the literary editor and you watch books come in, what did you learn about that process that is either surprising you or...
TAYLOR: Several things. One is that there's--so many books just never see the light of day, serious books that really--that--that people should read. And I fi--we're so lucky that--that--that ours did. And--and--you know, we wor--worked really hard to write a sort of a serious book that was accessible and readable and had strong characters.

But I'm also surprised and heartened by the fact that there really is an appetite for this kind of book, and that people are buying it. And--you know, you go into stores and people say, `It's flying off the shelves,' and, you know--I don't know what authors did before they could check their Amazon numbers and just--you know, how it's selling on Amazon. But it--we check all the time, and it's doing well.

LAMB: Do you know how many copies they've printed--first printing? Or--and is it still on the first printing?
TAYLOR: I don't know. You know what? I actually have made it a--a principle not to ask. I don't want to--I don't want to be disappointed or surprised.
LAMB: Six hundred and fourteen pages. Now did--that's a big book. But...
TAYLOR: It was bigger before our editor started working on it.
LAMB: But again, from sitting there at the desk watching all these books come through, did--did you think this was going to be OK, 614? Or would you rather have it more or less?
TAYLOR: Well, to tell you the truth, when we were writing it, we had no idea it was going to be 614 pages. We had, literally, no idea. I mean, we were just writing, and, you know, we just knew that it was thousands on--of computer pages. You know--yeah, shor--I guess shorter is better, more accessible. But then I think, `What could we--we have taken out?' Oh, gosh, you know, Elizabeth Wood? No. Some details about the 1960 election? Ah! I can't part with--with any of them. In fact, I--I want to say more, not less.
LAMB: Now the Chicago Tribune comes out, the Chicago Sun-Times, there was a Chicago Daily News, and all that, and the--Chicago Today. What would be different in a city like Chicago if you didn't have the newspapers?
TAYLOR: I--I really feel that a ci--a city really benefits from having these four different newspapers. There was also the Chicago Defender and the Chicago Da--American. And I--this is...
LAMB: The Defender was the black newspaper.
TAYLOR: Was--yeah. This is a subject for a--a--a whole other book, but these four newspapers would cover the--the same event entirely differently. Now ever--you know, people quote the--you know, the news coverage quotes the same people and it's the same kind of--kind of coverage. It's kind of been through the Mixmaster. But this reporting and writing was totally different. And it--and it was great to kind of--you had a much fuller understanding of what happened. I mean, in the--the--in the riots after the--the assassination of Martin Luther King, they were covered to--totally different by le--by all parts of the paper--all the papers.
LAMB: In what way?
TAYLOR: Well, some would focus on sort of the political. What was going to happen in the larger political scheme, whether--you know, what that meant for the movement. You know, others were really local about, you know, different, you know, shops that were, you know, getting blasted. Others were focusing on sort of, you know, federal government and what it was going to be doing and who was coming in. It was really--there were just very different approaches.
LAMB: Do you get any sense of what politicians would be like in a place like Chicago if there weren't newspapers, though? I mean, you--you had the--Jim Thompson, who was a US attorney at the time, went after the Daley administration. You had the Chicago Tribune, all the other papers, reporting on it. What would politicians do if these parts of the system weren't there, do you think? What are their instincts?
TAYLOR: Yeah. I think that they sor--sort of, a generation or two ago, sort of did more what they wanted. And now they really do have to be more sensitive to the media, and especially television. I mean, that's the real change. I mean, Daley met with newspaper reporters all the time when he was mayor. And as--over the years with the increase of television and with his famous malaprops, he sort of avoided television more and more.
LAMB: You say that his career turned on some well--I mean, these are your phra--this is your phrase--`well-timed deaths.'
TAYLOR: Right.
LAMB: Explain that.
TAYLOR: He would--it's ap--a point made by Benjamin Adamowski, who was his friend in the state Legislature and then his rival. And he said he would attach himself to someone and then wait until they died and then step right over them. And, you know, he--one of--one of his first patrons was a guy named Big Joe McDonough, this 250-pound alderman and--and--active in the Homburg Club, which was kind of the first rung in the Bridgeport political ladder--ladder. And he died, and, you know, Daley took his job. I mean, it was--that happened a lot.
LAMB: What were the different jobs that Mayor Daley had before he became mayor?
TAYLOR: He--he was a--he was an ald--he was a state legislator. He was a county clerk. He was the state treasurer. He was--a lot of different jobs. He was very good at detail work. And he--when he was county clerk, he did things, like, you know--you think `Just what's--what kind of job is that?,' and it--you know, give out marriage licenses. And he had the people giving the marriage licenses wear little suits and he was, you know, beautifying the--the licenses. And each one said, you know, `Best wishes, Richard J. Daley.' I mean, he just loved kind of--this sort of detail.
LAMB: Did he go to college?
TAYLOR: He went to De--he went to--he worked really hard. He went parochial schools and he went through DePaul Law School at night, and he, you know, passed the bar and--and--and was a lawyer.
LAMB: Was he a member of the city council--or the county--was it--yeah.
TAYLOR: Right. No, he wasn't. He was...
LAMB: How--how many members were there?
TAYLOR: There are 50. The city is divided into 50 different wards.
LAMB: And who--how many of those voted with him when he was mayor?
TAYLOR: Most of the time...
LAMB: What might be better is how many didn't vote with him?
TAYLOR: One or two.
LAMB: Of all the 50?
TAYLOR: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: The entire time he was mayor?
TAYLOR: Most of the time. There was--there was a--a few times when there were a few more Independents and a--a few more--but in later years, there was maybe six, max.
LAMB: What would be, in your--from your research the main reason that he was able to keep them all--the main reason?
TAYLOR: Well, he controlled the--how they got elected for the first--you know, he...
LAMB: How many party people were involved in the whole system of getting people elected in the machine?
TAYLOR: Well, there were at least 40,000 patronage jobs. And each precinct, you know, captain...
LAMB: How many precinct captains?
TAYLOR: There were a--a thousand precinct captains. There were--and they were--they were always having these wonderful rallies, and it was a really colorful time. I mean, it's so far removed from today's kind of focus group mentality. And there were these dramatic porchli--torchlight parades with candidates. There were big shows of--of--of--of grand activities, and it was a lot of fun.
LAMB: So if you're a young person and you pick up this book today and you've never heard of this man, and you don't know much about Chicago politics, do you conclude--I mean, is--does he become more cynical or less cynical, based on what you learned?
TAYLOR: You definitely become more fascinated by sort of how one person exerted all this power and how he kind of used it to sort of--and he had a--and he had a vision and--of--of--of Bridgeport being sort of replicated throughout Chicago.
LAMB: Where did you go to college?
TAYLOR: I went to Mt. Holyoke.
LAMB: What year did you graduate?
TAYLOR: I graduated in 1979.
LAMB: And what was your course of study?
TAYLOR: I studied history and politics, and...
LAMB: And then what'd you do?
TAYLOR: I did everything wrong. I went and worked here in Washington. I was at the national--at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and I worked on arms control with Leslie Gelb. I had--I had loved Washington. I--in 1974, I just started writing letters--there were no girls who were congressional pages and I just finally got my state representative to agree to take me. And I was the first girl congressional page from Pennsylvania. And I continued to work in the--later in the House and in the Senate. And then went to gr--graduate school at Yale in history. I felt that--I just fell in love with history at--at Mt. Holyoke, and I've always wanted to write biographies since I was about seven years old.
LAMB: Is there another book from you?
TAYLOR: Maybe. I'm trying to recover from this one, but I--C. Van Woodward told me this great story. He said--at--at Yale--I said, `What's the best subject for a biography?' And he said, `Pick a real bitch or a real bastard and make sure they're dead.' But I think--and he died--and I think what he meant was that I wouldn't think that they were that at the end.
LAMB: "American Pharaoh" is the name of the book. Here's the cover. You can see there Richard J. Daley, mayor until 1976 of Chicago; Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor, co-authors.

Thank you very much for joining us.

TAYLOR: Thank you.


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