Tom Pendergast was born on July 22 1822 in St.Joseph Missouri.He was the youngest child out of nine brothers and sisters .He attended school up until at least 6 grade.He claims to have attended college for 2 years but no evidence supports this claim.City records say that he worked many jobs including clerk, laborer ,and wagon driver.Tom permanently moved to Kansas City in 1894 to work for his brother James a former packing house employee who had worked his way up to become a successful businessman who owned his own American House, a hotel and saloon. Tom Pendergast learned and studied how to succeed in ward politics from his brothers James. During the nineteenth century, many jobs were based on political connections. In 1894 James gave Tom a job as deputy constable in the first ward city court. Two years later Tom was appointed deputy.
Tom rose from poverty to become one of the most political figures in Missouri even tho he never had any major political office.
Toms control of state Democratic Party was the result of fraud, manipulation, and violence at the ballot box as well service to the people of Kansas City.
Tom shaped the political landscape of Kansas city and the state of Missouri by controlling political candidates and influencing the outcome of elections.