Tom Pendergast

by Brandon Bronson

Biography About Tom Pendergast

Tom Pendergast was born in St. Joseph, Missouri on July 22, 1872. He was the 9th and last child born from Mary Reidy Pendergast. He was said to have atleast 6 years of school but may have attended college for two years. In 1894 Tom moved to Kansas City permanently, He then joined his brother James to tend a saloon and a hotel. Tom also worked a variety of jobs in his early years including being a laborer, clerk, and grocery wagon driver. Pendergast then found the industrial section bordered around by Missouri and the Kansas City state line. This was home to many warehouses and factories. Tom's brother, James, got elected alderman of Kansas City's first ward. James then gave Tom a job as a deputy constable in the First Ward court. When James died in 1911 Tom ran for his brother's seat on the city council and won. When Tom had this job his goal was to strengthen his control over Democratic politics. He did this because he also got help from several middle class workers.

Impact of Tom Pendergast

Tom pendergast rose from being in poverty to being a very powerful political figure in Missouri. Pendergast’s control resulted in fraud, manipulation, and violence during voting to the people of Kansas City and Jackson County. Tom changed the political outlook of Kansas City and the state of Missouri by controlling political candidates and giving knowledge on the end of the elections. Tom’s downfall warned the end of machine politics in Missouri.
The Kansas City Mafia and the Pendergast Machine