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In: Historical Journal of Massachusetts, Volume XXXV, Winter 2007, pages 52-77.


The 1939 wiretapping case bared many of the intra- and inter- party struggles that had been festering during the interwar years. Pitting Democrat J. Howard McGrath and Republican William H. Vanderbilt, two energetic and ambitious rival politicians, against each other, this scandal raised the issues of the right to privacy and the legality of using evidence obtained through electronic surveillance. Additionally, the case exposed the heated rivalry between the old and new guard within the Republican Party, while simultaneously restoring harmony among the competing forces within the Democrat Party.