Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Melinda Lawson

Second Advisor

Zoe Oxley




machine, machines, examine, o’connell, political


Scholars have presented several arguments classifying the utility of political machines. I examine three specific machines, attempting to classify them into schools advanced by scholars, while focusing primarily on O’Connell’s Albany Machine. I decided to examine the Tweed and Daley Machines to provide context for my study of O’Connell’s Machine. I chose these three political machines to serve as case studies as all have a distinct characteristic in common: an autocratic leader. The first school asserts that political machines were irredeemably corrupt while a second acknowledges this corruption but believes that the services provided mitigated any corruption. A third and fourth school, respectively, challenge the power and autonomy of machine bosses. Utilizing the bosses of these respective machines as a vehicle to examine the three machines selected, I analyzed both primary and secondary sources. I found that the O’Connell machine fit firmly into the first school as advocated by scholars. I assert that the O’Connell Machine was undeniably corrupt. In an effort to remain in power, the machine denied its citizens many rights and benefits, without providing services. Schools three and four can be rejected as O’Connell exerted independent personal control of his machine and Albany politics for more than five decades.