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Tammany Hall

TAMMANY HALL

TAMMANY HALL. Founded in May 1789 by William Mooney, the Society of Saint Tammany originally began as a fraternal organization that met to discuss politics at Martling's Tavern in New York City. Enthusiastically pro-French and anti-British, the Tammany Society became identified with Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party. By 1812 the society boasted some 1,500 members and moved into the first Tammany Hall at the corner of Frankfurt and Nassau streets. In the "labyrinth


of wheels within wheels" that characterized New York politics in the early nineteenth century, Tammany was the essential cog in the city's Democratic wheel, and carried New York for Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren in the elections of 1828 and 1832.

The adoption by the state legislature in 1826 of universal white male suffrage and the arrival each year of thousands of immigrants changed the character of New York City and of its politics. Despite some early xenophobia, the Tammany leaders rejected the nativism of the Know-Nothing Party. Realizing the usefulness of the newcomers, they led them to the polls as soon as they were eligible to vote; in turn, the new voters looked to the local Democratic district leader as a source of jobs and assistance in dealing with the intricacies of the burgeoning city bureaucracy. Upon the election of Fernando Wood as mayor in 1854, city hall became and remained a Tammany fiefdom.

With the elevation of William Marcy Tweed to grand sachem of the Tammany Society in 1863, Tammany became the prototype of the corrupt city machine, and for a time its power extended to the state capital after Tweed succeeded in electing his own candidate, John Hoffman, governor. The corruption of the Tweed Ring was all pervasive. Tweed and his associates pocketed some $9 million, padding the bills for the construction of the infamous Tweed Courthouse in City Hall Park. The estimated amounts they took in graft, outright theft, real estate mortgages, tax reductions for the rich, and sale of jobs range from $20 million to $200 million. Tweed ended his spectacular career in jail, following an exposé of the ring by the New York Times and Harper's Weekly, whose famous cartoonist, Thomas Nast, lashed out at the boss week after week, depicting him in prison stripes and Tammany as a rapacious tiger devouring the city. "Honest" John Kelly turned Tammany into an efficient, autocratic organization that for several generations dominated New York City politics from clubhouse to city hall.

Kelly's successor as Tammany leader was Richard Croker, who was somewhat more in the Tweed mold; he took advantage of the smooth-running Kelly machine to indulge his taste for thoroughbred horses, fine wines, and high living. Croker initiated the alliance between Tammany and big business, but Charles Francis Murphy, his successor, perfected it. Contractors with Tammany connections built the skyscrapers, the railroad stations, and the docks. A taciturn former saloonkeeper who had been docks commissioner during the administration of Mayor Robert A. Van Wyck, Murphy realized that the old ways were no longer appropriate. He set about developing the so-called New Tammany, which, when it found it was to its advantage, supported social legislation; sponsored a group of bright young men like Alfred E. Smith and Robert Wagner Sr. for political office; and maintained control of the city by its old methods. Murphy died in 1924 without realizing his dream of seeing one of his young men, Al Smith, nominated for the presidency. Murphy was the last of the powerful Tammany bosses. His successors were men of little vision, whose laxity led to the Seabury investigation of the magistrates courts and of the city government.

In 1932, Mayor James J. Walker was brought up on corruption charges before Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt but resigned before he was removed from office. In retaliation the Tammany leaders refused to support Roosevelt's bid for the Democratic nomination for president, and tried to prevent Herbert H. Lehman, Roosevelt's choice as his successor, from obtaining the gubernatorial nomination. As a result, the Roosevelt faction funneled federal patronage to New York City through the reform mayor, Fiorello La Guardia (a nominal Republican). The social legislation of the New Deal helped to lessen the hold of the old-time district leaders on the poor, who now could obtain government assistance as a right instead of a favor. Absorption of most municipal jobs into civil service and adoption of more stringent immigration laws undercut the power base of the city machines. In the 1960s the New York County Democratic Committee dropped the name Tammany; and the Tammany Society, which had been forced for financial reasons to sell the last Tammany Hall on Union Square, faded from the New York scene.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Callow, Alexander B., Jr. The Tweed Ring. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966.

Mandelbaum, Seymour J. Boss Tweed's New York. New York: Wiley, 1965.

Moscow, Warren. The Last of the Big-Time Bosses: The Life and Times of Carmine De Sapio and the Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall. New York: Stein and Day, 1971.

Mushkat, Jerome. Tammany: The Evolution of a Political Machine, 1789–1865. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1971.

CatherineO'Dea/a. g.

See alsoCivil Service ; Corruption, Political ; Democratic Party ; Machine, Political ; Rings, Political ; Tammany Societies ; Tweed Ring .

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Tammany

Tammany (tăm´ənē) or Tammany Hall, popular name for the Democratic political machine in Manhattan.

Origins

After the American Revolution several patriotic societies sprang up to promote various political causes and economic interests. Among these were the Tammany societies, founded in New York, Philadelphia, and other cities. The societies took the name of a Delaware chief, Tamanend, who is said to have welcomed William Penn and to have signed with him the Treaty of Shakamaxon.

The Tammany Society, or Columbian Order of New York City, the only Tammany society to have a long life, was formed c.1786 and was incorporated in 1789. Divided into 13 tribes, corresponding to the 13 states, it had as its motto "Freedom Our Rock" ; its rites and ceremonials were based on pseudo–Native American forms, and the titles of its officials were also pseudo–Native American. Although its activities were at first mostly social, ceremonial, and patriotic, the society gradually became the principal upholder of Jeffersonian politics in New York City.

A Political Force

After 1798, Tammany came under the control of Aaron Burr. While Tammany was fighting the political forces of De Witt Clinton, it consolidated its position in the city. Tammany backed Andrew Jackson for president, and after his victories in 1828 and 1832 it became a dominant force, fighting for democratic suffrage and the abolition of imprisonment for debt in New York state.

Although it stood for reforms on behalf of the common people, it was nonetheless increasingly controlled by men of the privileged classes. The hostility of workingmen toward this "aristocratic" control promoted splits within the Democratic party in the city and state, such as the revolt of the Locofocos in the 1830s and the contest between the Barnburners and the Hunkers in the late 1840s. Tammany meanwhile triumphed over the Know-Nothing movement and the local Whig party alike and steadily gained strength by bringing newly arrived immigrants, the great majority of them Irish, into its fold. The immigrants were helped to obtain jobs, then quickly naturalized and persuaded to vote for their benefactors. Because of the willingness of Tammany to provide them with food, clothing, and fuel in emergencies, and to aid those who ran afoul of the law, these new Americans became devoted to the organization and were willing to overlook the fraudulent election practices, the graft, the corruption, and the other abuses that often characterized Tammany administrations. Eventually, the protections provided to Irish immigrants by Tammany led to such reforms as child labor laws, minimum wage, and workers'compensation.

Flagrant abuses during the reign of William M. Tweed led to reforms instituted (1872) by Samuel J. Tilden. However, Tammany returned to power under John Kelly, and the boss system (see bossism) became firmly entrenched in New York City. Corruption under Richard Croker provoked new investigations, such as that initiated by Charles Parkhurst, and when Seth Low became (1901) mayor, Tammany was eclipsed for a time.

Charles Murphy succeeded Croker as boss. His reign was interrupted by the brief administration of John P. Mitchel, who, like Gov. William Sulzer, was a Democrat but an opponent of Tammany. Alfred E. Smith, a protégé of Murphy, became strong enough to create a "new" Tammany, in which he was an important figure. Corruption in city politics continued, however, and investigations, including that headed by Samuel Seabury (1930–31), of the city magistrates' courts completely discredited Tammany Hall and ultimately brought about the resignation (1932) of Mayor James J. Walker.

Decline

Tammany suffered a telling defeat in the election of 1932 and did not regain its former strength in succeeding elections. The organization declined greatly during the administrations of Fiorello LaGuardia, 1933–45. The decline was accelerated by woman's suffrage, immigration restriction, and the social programs of the New Deal, which weakened voters' dependence on the machine.

After World War II, Tammany revived considerably under the leadership of Carmine De Sapio, who successfully promoted the nomination and election of Robert F. Wagner, Jr., as mayor in 1953 and of W. A. Harriman as governor in 1954. De Sapio's leadership, however, came under increasing attack from reformers in the Democratic party. In 1961, Wagner was elected for a third term as the leader of a movement against boss rule, and De Sapio was ousted from his position as Tammany chief by the reform forces. Later attempts (1963, 1965) by De Sapio to regain power failed, and during the mayoralty of John V. Lindsay (1966–73), Tammany passed out of existence as a political machine.

Bibliography

See G. Myers, The History of Tammany Hall (1901; 2d ed. rev. and enl., 1917, repr. 1973); A. Connable and E. Silberfarb, Tigers of Tammany (1967); M. R. Werner, Tammany Hall (1932, repr. 1970); J. Mushkat, Tammany (1971); T. Golway, Machine Made: Tammany and the Creation of Modern American Politics (2014).

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Tammany Hall

TAMMANY HALL

Political machines have traditionally wielded influence in U.S. society, and one of the most

notorious was Tammany Hall in New York. Controlled by the democratic party, the power of Tammany Hall grew to such an extent that its members dominated New York government for nearly two centuries.

Founded by William Mooney in 1789, Tammany Hall was originally a fraternal and patriotic organization first called the Society of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order. The name Tammany evolved from Tamanend, a legendary Delaware Indian chief, and the members of Tammany Hall used many Indian words to designate their various titles. Each trustee was a sachem, and the presiding officer was a grand sachem; the only person to receive the honor of great grand sachem was a president of the United States. The member who served as secretary was known as a scribe, and the building that housed the Tammany meetings was called a wigwam.

From these innocent beginnings, Tammany Hall grew into a political force. Affiliates of the organization actively participated in politics in the early nineteenth century. In 1812 the association moved into the first Tammany Hall with a membership of approximately fifteen hundred members. By 1821 the association was receiving widespread support in New York City. Unfortunately Tammany Hall was also gaining a reputation for corruption, control, and subterfuge.

In 1854 Tammany Hall member Fernando Wood was elected mayor of New York City. From then until 1933, City Hall was dominated almost exclusively by Tammany Hall.

The most corrupt and infamous member of Tammany Hall was William Marcy Tweed, called "Boss" Tweed. He served as a state senator in 1868 and, with his followers, known as the Tweed Ring, dominated state government and defrauded New York City of millions of dollars.

The corruption continued under subsequent Tammany Hall leaders, such as "Honest John" Kelly, Richard F. Croker, and Charles F. Murphy. By 1930, however, Samuel Seabury had begun to direct revealing inquiries against the city magistrates' courts. These investigations led to the downfall of Tammany Hall and the resignation of incumbent mayor James J. Walker in 1932. Fiorello LaGuardia was elected mayor in 1933, and an anti-Tammany Hall era began. The once-powerful Tammany Hall machine was resurrected briefly in the 1950s by politician Carmine DeSapio but never regained the stronghold in New York politics that it once enjoyed.

further readings

Allen, Oliver E. 1993. The Tiger: The Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.

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Tammany Hall

Tammany Hall Democratic Party organization in New York City. It evolved from the fraternal and patriotic order of St Tammany, which was founded in 1789, and rapidly became the focal point of resistance to the Federal Party. By 1865, Tammany Hall, under William ‘Boss’ Tweed, had become the most important voice of the Democratic Party in the city and was synonymous with the organized corruption of urban politics.

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Tammany Hall

Tammany Hall in the US, a powerful organization within the Democratic Party that was widely associated with corruption. Founded as a fraternal and benevolent society in 1789, it came to dominate political life in New York City in the 19th and early 20th centuries, before being reduced in power by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early 1930s.

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Tammany

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