Tammany Hall

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This article is about the political organization. For the band, see Tammany Hall NYC

Tammany Hall was the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in New York City politics from the 1790s to the 1960s. It usually (but not always) controlled Democratic party nominations and patronage in Manhattan from the mayoral victory of Fernando Wood in 1854 to the election of Fiorello LaGuardia in 1934, then weakened and collapsed.

Image:Tammany Hall LC-USZ62-101734.jpg
Tammany Hall on West 14th Street, NYC


[edit] History

[edit] 1790-1850

The Tammany Society was founded in the 1780s. The name "Tammany" comes from Tamanend, a Native American leader of the Lenape. The society adopted many Native American words and customs, going so far as to call its hall a wigwam. By 1798, however, the Society's activities had grown increasingly politicized and eventually Tammany, led by Aaron Burr, emerged as the center for Jeffersonian Republican politics in the city. Burr built the Tammany society into a political machine for the election of 1800, in which he was elected Vice President. Without Tammany, historians believe, President John Adams might have won New York state's electoral votes and won reelection. <ref>Parmet and Hecht 149-50</ref> In 1830, the Society's headquarters were established on West 14th Street in a building called Tammany Hall, and thereafter the name of the building and the group were synonymous.

After 1839, Tammany became the city affiliate of the Democratic Party, emerging as the controlling interest in New York City elections after Andrew Jackson's. In the 1830s the Loco-Focos comprised a democratic, anti-monopoly faction that appealed to workingmen. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s the Society expanded its political control even further by earning the loyalty of the city's ever-expanding immigrant community, a task that was accomplished by helping newly-arrived foreigners obtain jobs, a place to live, and even citizenship so that they could vote for Tammany candidates in city and state elections. The mass immigrant constituency primarily functioned as a base of political capital. The "ward boss" served as the local vote gatherer and provider of patronage. New York City used the designation "ward" for its smallest political units from 1686-1938.

Thomas Nast denounces Tammany as a ferocious tiger killing democracy; the tiger image caught on.

[edit] The Irish

Tammany is forever linked with the rise of the Irish in American politics. Beginning in 1846, large numbers of Irish Catholics began arriving in New York. Equipped with a knowledge of English, very tight loyalties, a genius for politics, and what critics said was a propensity to use violence to control the polls, the Irish quickly dominated Tammany. In exchange for votes, they provided money and food. From 1872 onward, Tammany had an Irish "boss." They played an increasingly important role in state politics, supporting one candidate and feuding with another. The greatest success came in 1928 when a Tammany hero, New York Governor Al Smith, won the Democratic presidential nomination.

[edit] Tweed Machine

By 1854, Tammany's lineage and support from immigrants had combined to make it a powerful force in New York politics. Tammany controlled businesses, politics, and sometimes law enforcement. The business would give gifts to their workers and return, telling the workers to vote for "Boss" Tweed and the politicians that he supported. In 1854, the Society elected its first New York City mayor. Tammany's "bosses" (called the Grand Sachem) and their supporters enriched themselves by illegal means. The most famous boss of all was William M. "Boss" Tweed. Though not Irish himself, Tweed's control over the Tammany Hall machine allowed him to win election to the New York State Senate. His political career ended mired in corruption, and he went to prison along with his Irish partner Francis I.A. Boole, after his ouster at the hands of a reform movement led by New York's Democratic governor Samuel J. Tilden in 1872. In 1892, a Protestant minister, Charles Henry Parkhurst, made a widely heard denunciation of the Hall, which led to a Grand Jury investigation, the appointment of the Lexow Committee and the election of a reform mayor in 1894.

[edit] 1890-1950

Weakened by defeats, the tiger is hunted by enemies in 1893. Puck cartoon by F. Opper

Despite occasional defeats, Tammany was consistently able to survive and, indeed, prosper and continued to dominate city and even state politics. Under leaders like John Kelly and Richard Croker, it controlled Democratic politics in the city. Tammany opposed William Jennings Bryan in 1896.

In 1901, the anti-Tammany forces elected reformer Seth Low, a Republican as mayor. From 1902 until his death in 1924, Charles F. Murphy was the boss. In 1932, the machine suffered a dual setback when Mayor James Walker was forced from office because of corruption and opponent Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president. He stripped Tammany of its federal patronage -- much expanded because of the New Deal -- and handed city patronage to Ed Flynn, boss of the Bronx. Roosevelt helped Republican Fiorello LaGuardia become mayor on a Fusion ticket, thus removing even more patronage from Tammany's control.

Tammany never recovered, but it staged a small scale come-back in the early 1950s under the leadership of Carmine DeSapio, who succeeded in engineering the elections of Robert Wagner, Jr. as Mayor in 1953 and Averill Harriman as state governor in 1954, while simultaneously blocking his enemies, especially Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. in the 1954 race for state Attorney General.

All politics revolved around the Boss. 1899 cartoon from Puck

Eleanor Roosevelt organized a counterattack with Herbert Lehman and Thomas Finletter to form the New York Committee for Democratic Voters, a group dedicated to fighting Tammany. In 1961, the group helped remove DeSapio from power. The once mighty Tammany political machine, now deprived of its leadership, quickly faded from political importance and by the mid-1960s had ceased to exist. The last building to serve as the physical Tammany Hall, in Union Square, is now home to the New York Film Academy.

[edit] Leaders

17971804 Aaron Burr
18041814 Teunis Wortmann
18141817 George Buckmaster
18171822 Jacob Barker
18221827 Stephen Allen
18271828 Mordecai M. Noah
18281835 Walter Bowne
18351842 Isaac L. Varian
18421848 Robert H. Morris
18481850 Isaac B. Fowler
18501856 Fernando Wood
18571858 Isaac V. Fowler
1858 Fernando Wood
18581859 William M. Tweed and Isaac V. Fowler
18591867 William M. Tweed and Richard B. Connolly
18671871 William M. Tweed
1872 John Kelly and John Morrissey
18721886 John Kelly
18861902 Richard Croker
1902 Lewis Nixon
1902 Charles F. Murphy, Daniel F. McMahon, and Louis F. Haffen
19021924 Charles F. Murphy
19241929 George W. Olvany
19291934 John F. Curry
19341937 James J. Dooling
19371942 Christopher D. Sullivan
1942 Charles H. Hussey
19421944 Michael J. Kennedy
19441947 Edward V. Loughlin
19481949 Hugo E. Rogers
19491961 Carmine G. DeSapio

[edit] Bibliography

  • Allen, Oliver E. The Tiger: The Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall (1993)
  • Costikyan, Edward N. "Politics in New York City: a Memoir of the Post-war Years." New York History 1993 74(4): 414-434. Issn: 0146-437x Costikyan was a member of the Tammany Executive Committee 1955-64, and laments the passing of its social services and its unifying force
  • Erie, Steven P. Rainbow's End: Irish-Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban Machine Politics, 1840—1985 (1988).
  • Finegold, Kenneth. Experts and Politicians: Reform Challenges to Machine Politics in New York, Cleveland, and Chicago (1995) on Progressive Era
  • LaCerra, Charles. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Tammany Hall of New York. University Press of America, 1997. 118 pp.
  • Lash, Joseph. Eleanor, The Years Alone. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1972, 274-276.
  • Lui, Adonica Y. "The Machine and Social Policies: Tammany Hall and the Politics of Public Outdoor Relief, New York City, 1874-1898." Studies in American Political Development (1995) 9(2): 386-403. Issn: 0898-588x
  • Mandelbaum, Seymour J. Boss Tweed's New York (1965) (ISBN 0-471-56652-7)
  • 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 (1971)
  • Mushkat, Jerome. Fernando Wood: A Political Biography (1990)
  • M. Ostrogorski; Democracy and the Party System in the United States (1910)
  • Herbert S. Parmet and Marie B. Hecht. Aaron Burr; Portrait of an Ambitious Man 1967.
  • William Riordan, Plunkitt of Tammany Hall (1963) 1915 memoir of New York City ward boss George Washington Plunkitt who coined the term "honest graft"
  • Sloat, Warren. A Battle for the Soul of New York: Tammany Hall, Police Corruption, Vice, and Reverend Charles Parkhurst's Crusade against Them, 1892-1895. Cooper Square, 2002. 482 pp.
  • Stave, Bruce M. , John M. Allswang, Terrence J. McDonald, Jon C. Teaford. "A Reassessment of the Urban Political Boss: An Exchange of Views" History Teacher, Vol. 21, No. 3 (May, 1988) , pp. 293-312
  • Steffens, Lincoln. The Shame of the Cities (1904) muckraking expose of machines in major cities
  • T. L. Stoddard, Master of Manhattan (1931), on Crocker
  • Thomas, Samuel J. "Mugwump Cartoonists, the Papacy, and Tammany Hall in America's Gilded Age." Religion and American Culture 2004 14(2): 213-250. Issn: 1052-1151 Fulltext: in Swetswise, Ingenta and Ebsco
  • Nancy J. Weiss, Charles Francis Murphy, 1858-1924: respectability and responsibility in Tammany politics(1968).
  • M. R. Werner, Tammany Hall (1932)
  • Harold B. Zink; City Bosses in the United States: A Study of Twenty Municipal Bosses (1930)

[edit] External links

[edit] Sources

Much of the text of this article was copied from the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service and placed into the public domain.

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Tammany Hall

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