Politics inevitably runs in families. Notable among those who have shaped the political landscape of Massachusetts are the Harringtons of the city of Salem.Over the course of five generations, they produced several talented Irish-American politicians who played a major role in state politics and rose to prominent positions of power in the Democratic party. This article centers on the lives and careers of Joseph Harrington and his son Michael, both of whom ran for Congress some twenty-eight years apart. Its treatment of these two congressional races is detailed and insightful. Attention is also directed to the careers of Kevin Harrington and his son Neil, each of whom made his mark in state and local politics. All came to grips with mastering the complex role of politician. An irresistible story, like most epic stories, especially those that involve family dynamics, its roots are deep, the rivalries great, the wounds raw, and the implications complex. All paid a personal price for power. Part of its duality mirrors closely the rise and decline of the Irish in the political life of the commonwealth.



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