alexa Turning Hospital Beds into Votes: Frank Hague and His Jersey City Medical Center

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Turning Hospital Beds into Votes: Frank Hague and His Jersey City Medical Center

On October 2, 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt emerged from the Lincoln Tunnel to the cheers of an estimated 200,000 people. The citizens of Jersey City, New Jersey were there to not only greet their president but to show their loyalty to the mayor of the city, Frank Hague, who had given all city employees a paid holiday from work to attend the event. FDR was on his way to the dedication of the city’s new hospital, The Jersey City Medical Center. In his opening remarks, the President stated, “very happy to come here to take part in the dedication of this, the third largest medical institutional group in the whole of the United States”. The facility would go on to become one of the leading medical institutions of the era and a breeding ground for endless political patronage. It would provide top-quality cradle-to-grave healthcare to the city’s citizens free of charge as long as they voted the “right” way. Ironically, FDR closed his speech with these words: “Mayor Hague, his associates, and the people of this city have pointed the way for many other communities in the Nation. May they see and emulate the fruition of this splendid dream.” It was a dream that would become a nightmare.

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