Pendergast, Thomas Joseph, 1872–1945, American political boss, b. St. Joseph, Mo. After holding minor political offices (1899–1910) in Kansas City, Mo., he became the acknowledged Democratic leader in city and state. Harry S. Truman entered politics under his aegis. In 1939, Pendergast was convicted of income-tax evasions, and his political machine was broken. Paroled (1940) from Leavenworth on condition that he abstain from political activity for five years, he later faced sentence for criminal contempt of court, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed (1943) the decision against him under the statute of limitations.
See study by L. W. Dorsett (1968).