Tammany Hall

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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.

References in periodicals archive ?
Yet, despite Morton's official recognition by the party as the head black Democrat in the city, his legitimacy in this role was questioned by black voters and leaders for two reasons, firstly, the UCD remained a separate, subordinate wing of Tammany Hall.
Such practices were an open secret, and one scourge of Tammany Hall was Dr Charles H Parkhurst, a high-profile clergyman who, when preaching in Madison Square Church in 1892, denounced "the polluted harpies that, under the pretence of governing this city, are feeding night and day on its quivering vitals.
George Kibbe Turner, "Daughters of the Poor: A Plain Story of the Development of New York City as Leading Center of the White Slave Trade of the World, under Tammany Hall," McClure's 34 (November 1909): 45-47.
In New York, as early as 1900, Tammany Hall had developed a sophisticated operation dedicated to the idea of getting out the vote from every nook and cranny of the city.
If it really means the end of Tammany Hall tactics and a new era of efficient sleaze-free local government in Scotland, it is worth a try.
Shutting down a city's access to a major transportation artery because the mayor of that city didn't play ball with your boss is a brazen and criminal act that might not even have been attempted back in the days when political bosses like Boss Tweed and his Tammany Hall organization ran New York City.
We're calling it a Tammany Hall,'' said landfill opponent Carol Ziehler.
The formation of these clubs, combined with the continuous migration of blacks into New York City, eventually pressured Tammany Hall into accepting blacks as full members of the Democratic Party machine.
And, on page 12, you will find an American History article about Irish immigrants of the 19th century who helped to create the Tammany Hall political machine in New York City.
He can't win without the help of people out there who don't want to see one more wonderful, historic site trampled by the studio system in tandem with some old-style Tammany Hall politics in little ol' Santa Monica.
At about the same time revulsion was rising against Tammany Hall, reformers were pushing for the creation of certified professions in the private sector.
When I play in Boston and Worcester, we haven't done a show in the last two years that haven't been sold out, and I see a lot of people at these shows that I used to see at Tammany Hall when I was 17.