By Matt Goldstein
Played by Dabney Coleman, Commodore Louis Kaestner is based on Louis “The Commodore” Kuehnle, the Atlantic County Republican party boss who ruled Atlantic City at the turn of the 20th century. Many credit Commodore for turning Atlantic City into a major resort town of the times. By the time Nucky Thompson, A.K.A. Nucky Johnson, was ready to step in, the town was ripe for the taking. The South Jersey Shore resort town of Atlantic City was flourishing, and prohibition would cement that legacy.
Commodore Louis Kuehnle was also a seasoned and successful businessman, using his Republican Party connections to solidify his criminal and economic control. Known as The Commodore due to being chairman of a yacht club, Commodore helped create a system of corruption with political kickbacks and criminal bribery.
Commodore had a close relationship with Nucky’s father, also a sheriff much like his son Eli. Keuhnle hosted meetings between the towns political and criminal power players in his fathers’ hotel, managed by Commodore. From the hotel, Commodore controlled the towns brothel’s, gambling parlors and collected kickbacks from government employees that he appointed.
Kuehnle is also credited for breaking up telephone and gas company monopolies along with increasing the fresh water supply. For his corruption though, Commodore Kuehnle eventually went to prison for awarding his own firm contracts while chairman of the Water Commission. Woodrow Wilson had a team of investigators looking into Atlantic City corruption with Commodore Kuehnle as the main target.
Source: Atlantic City Weekly
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