Part 2 of Kenneth Payne’s series on the evolution of political corruption in Rhode Island is worth a read (emphasis added):
The forms of government were familiar. For those in control, the system worked. The Yankee establishment held the reins of power.
The State House was an expression of that power — political and economic. Rhode Island was urbanizing, industrializing and generating wealth. Cities were burgeoning with immigrants. Together Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Woonsocket held more than half of the people in Rhode Island. Yet in 1901, political power was consolidated and effectively placed beyond popular control. …
Three sections at the end of Chapter 809 became infamous and merit a full reading. While their tone is matter of fact and lawyerly, their effect was a stark fixing of undemocratic power.
It might be interesting also to keep an eye on the Projo’s advice columns for submissions by despairing readers of Payne’s series.