Western Historical Manuscript
"Gentlemen, Reach for All":
Toppling the Pendergast Machine, 1936-1940
BY PATRICK MCLEAR*
Thomas J. Pendergast and his political organization have been the subject of numerous articles and books. The authors of these works all discuss
the indictments of Pendergast for income tax evasion, the Boss's guilty plea,
and his incarceration at the Leavenworth, Kansas, federal penitentiary; they
conclude that the Pendergast era ended when he went behind bars. To the
contrary, it was the massive number of indictments for vote fraud handed
down by the federal grand juries in 1937 and 1938 against the poll workers
and their subsequent convictions and sentences to prison that catalyzed
^Patrick McLear is a professor of history at Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph.
He received the M.A. degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Ph.D. degree
from the University of Missouri-Columbia. The author wishes to acknowledge the generous
assistance provided by the Missouri Western State College Foundation for research on this article.