INTRODUCTION to “Who Runs This Town?”
For the purposes of this book, I am assuming that government is the formal organization and management of a society’s affairs, and politics is the influencing of that organization and the management of those affairs. Schenectady has a unique history to study in that it begins with a group of people setting up a Dutch settlement in a place where there was no existing permanent community and so evolved with a variety of outside influences determining its development. It was controlled to some degree by Fort Orange, now Albany, and the Dutch West India Company, and from where it received official permission to exist. Next came the English and their concept of what was expected of a colony. Finally, with independence from British rule, the settlers themselves primarily determined the general governance of Schenectady from its founding to where it is today. It grew from a tiny settlement into a thriving frontier community and then into a city and county. It later developed and prospered into what is now a mature governmental entity. This book attempts to trace that development and identify the people and events that brought Schenectady from its humble beginnings to today in the first quarter of the twenty-first century.