Daley: The Last Boss

Documentary about Chicago's mayor, Richard J. Daley.

0:30Copy video clip URL Copyright warning. Production logos. “The American Experience,” with David McCullough title screen. Donor and sponsor recognition. 

2:00 McCullough introduces the show’s topic: Richard J. Daley. He talks about the political landscape of the time in industrial cities around the U.S. and the “boss system.”He talks about the difficulty that Daley had changing with the times. 

4:19Copy video clip URL “Daley: The Last Boss” title screen. 

4:38Copy video clip URL Footage from 1968. Narrator describes how Daley has just won his fourth reelection and talks about the effect he had on the city. They talk about how conflict between police and young protestors in the 60’s affected Daley’s rule. Some footage of him publicly responding to the conflict. 

7:28Copy video clip URL Description of Daley’s upbringing on the South Side of Chicago. Historical photos. Discussion of his relationship with his mother. Footage of one of his teachers talking about his demeanor. Narrator describes his relationship to the rough neighborhood he lived in. 

11:40Copy video clip URL Discussion of the way Irish politics of his neighborhood started to affect him. A historian describes how people can become involved in politics. Discussion of Daley’s entrance into politics as a secretary. Explanation of race conflict between Irish men and black men competing for jobs. Images and description of white gangs beating black men on the streets, leading to 38 black and white deaths before the riots ended. 

17:48Copy video clip URL Progression of Daley’s political evolution. Narrator describes that power was corrupt in Chicago, and that the city was controlled by gangs and crime bosses who openly schemed with the mayor. Discussion of the tension building in the working classes. Discussion of the campaign and election, and assassination of Anton Cermak.

22:38Copy video clip URL In the era of the Great Depression, Daley earns his law degree and is married after a five year courtship. In 1936, Daley won a seat in the state legislature in Springfield, a job considered “political exile.” Here, he made a reputation for himself as a politician and person that could be trusted. In 1946, he moved back to Chicago to work in a series of “unglamorous jobs.”

25:00Copy video clip URL They talk about his path to becoming mayor as many corrupt politicians were indicted, retired, or resigned. They talk about Martin Kennelly, his competition as the democratic incumbent, and Kennelly’s loss of support from the “bosses.” Narrator describes how Daley sought out the democratic nomination while publicly denying that he was vying for the mayor role. Story of him winning the nomination, and the public’s reaction. Description of his political image and demeanor as mayor. 

32:50Copy video clip URL Description of the kind of work that Daley pursued. The narrator talks about his relationship with other politicians and alderman in the city, and the way he dealt with jobs and corruption. Footage of construction projects Daley commissioned, including O’Hare airport. Discussion of his personal life, and the transformation of the city. 

41:30Copy video clip URL The narrator talks about the criticisms made against him, including his unclear manner of speaking and favoring his own communities over others in the city. Discussion of his reelection, and Daley’s involvement in the presidential election between Nixon and Kennedy. Narrator describes that kind of control that Daley held over Chicago, and his influence in nationwide politics. They talk about the effect he had on others at a personal level. 

52:06Copy video clip URL Discussion of the efficiency of the city. “Daley emerged as a national symbol of effective government.” Narrator mentions that in poor communities, resentment for Daley began to grow. Narrator describes the influx black southerners to the city, forming the largest black community in the country. They describe the conflict between black and white members of the city, and Daley’s choice to force integration. Discussion of the public housing projects Daley started, including the Robert Taylor Homes that housed 40,000 people. 

58:55Copy video clip URL Narrator describes the problems with the housing projects, including poverty, violence, and lack of space. More discussion about his efforts to aid black Chicagoans. Narrator describes how he almost lost the next election in 1963, as many of his white voters felt he had spent too much time focused on black citizens. Narrator moves on to talk about protests concerning the integration of schools, and Daley’s refusal to integrate. They describe his relationship with Martin Luther King Jr. and show footage of him speaking and protesting. Specific incident and footage of conflict with police, and Daley and MLK responding to the incident. 

1:10:55Copy video clip URL Footage of protests and marches led by MLK Jr. The narrator describes how these conflicts negatively effected his influence and popularity through the city. Discussion of his efforts to garner support again, and the agreement he reached with MLK Jr. 

1:14:40Copy video clip URL Discussion of riots across the US in 1967, and the reelection of Daley. Discussion of the riots in the aftermath of the assassination of MLK Jr. Footage of Daley issuing the “Shoot to Kill” order. Discussion of its reception. Discussion of his support of Lyndon Johnson and his decision to remain in the Vietnam War. Effect of the anti-war movement. Daley’s tactics to remain in power and in control, including calling a massive military force to Chicago during the 1968 DNC. Footage of the convention and conflict between police and demonstrators.

1:36:00Copy video clip URL Discussion of the way that media began to represent Daley, and the realization that he had lost control of the city. The narrator explains that the Democrats lose the upcoming presidential election, and “many blame Daley.” Explanation of Daley’s downfall in the eyes of the public. 

1:40:25Copy video clip URL Discussion of the murder of Fred Hampton, and the protests directed at Daley after the incident. Daley’s public break and break with the democratic party. Several of his allies are indicted for various crimes. When Daley ran for his sixth term, he was heavily criticized from many different sides, but he still won 70 percent of the vote in the city. 

1:45:21Copy video clip URL Story of Daley’s death after a heart attack. Public reception of his death. Images from his funeral. Reflection on Daley as a mayor. 

1:50:00Copy video clip URL Cut to black. Credits. Donors and sponsors.

1:53:06Copy video clip URL Tape ends.



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