James Hines was an ordinary blacksmith at Harlem. He got introduced to Tammany Hall and went on to become in New York City’s history for big time political fixing.
His early life
It was at Manhattan’s Upper West Side that he was born on 18th December 1876. His father also was a blacksmith who had his own shop on 8 Avenue and 121st street. Hines had to take over the shop at a young age of 17, as his father had become sick. He befriended Tim Sullivan take benefit of his father’s connections with politics, who was more of a crook and took his share from the street gangs that operated several rackets in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
His rise to fame
Sullivan was considered to be a master politician and knew how to get votes from certain people several times, having their appearances changed constantly. Hines was an ardent student, who learned the trades well from his master and in 1907 became an alderman, because of Sullivan’s manipulation. In 1910 he was elected District Leader and formed Monongahela Democratic Club. This club later on became his operational base and from here, he did good deeds like helping poor people and providing jobs to the unemployed, so that their votes could come in his favor.
He along with Phillip, his brother began a trucking company for supplementing income and then construction firm. Very soon they made it big in both the industry and got wonderful contracts and had it subcontracted to those people, who knew to perform the jobs. However, he had his share of backdraw, like he preferred backroom dealing and not a skilled public speaker. Although he helped his friends generously, those who came in his path were killed without any remorse.
His relationship with the mobsters
At the height of Prohibition, Big Bill Dwyer and Owney Madden were operating the country’s biggest bootlegging operation. They needed the support of the law officials, who were controlled by Hines. Hence, they paid him well to ensure that their men are safe. With his help, Jimmy Walker the ex-Tin Pan Alley Song writer was elected New York City Mayor and was equally corrupt. But in 1932, Walker was taken out of office by Seabury Committee headed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Although Hines enjoyed favors from Roosevelt and the mobsters, it was Dutch Schultz, with whom he had relationship with later proved to be his downfall. He got sentenced to 4 to 8 years for corruption and died on 26th March, 1957.