Tammany

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

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).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Tammany
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.