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Why did the machine politics become common in big cities in the late 19th century?

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Urbanization was a key part of the momentous transformation of the United States in the late nineteenth century. Cities became much larger as industrialization gained momentum and more Americans moved from rural to urban areas. In addition, thousands of immigrants were arriving in America, and they congregated in city neighborhoods. The influx of so many people into increasingly crowded cities led to a demand for a variety of city services. These myriad services included police protection, schools, sewers, and garbage collection. Machine politics arose because there was a need to organize the new municipalities and provide these badly needed services.

Loyalty was crucial to machine politics, and loyalty was rewarded. Political machines were based on one party's total control of the levers of power. Key supporters of urban bosses were often given jobs. Not surprisingly, machine politics became closely associated with corruption. However, corruption was not just an urban problem in the...

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