Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tammany Hall

"These favors came via a system of boss control that, although present at every level of party politics, flourished most luxuriantly in the big cities. Urban political machines like Tammany Hall in New York depended on a loyal grassroots constituency, so each ward was divided into a precinct of a few blocks" (America, p. 556).

In the days of the ultra-powerful and corrupt political machines, perhaps the most powerful in all of the United States was Tammany Hall, located on 14th Street in Manhattan. Associated with the Democratic party, Tammany Hall was founded in 1786, but did not gain it's real political power until after Andrew Jackson was elected president in 1828.

Tammany hall was known for its influence in the vast immigrant community in New York City. Among other nationalities, Tammany Hall helped many Irish Americans rise to power in politics. The "spoils system" of the times allowed Tammany Hall to control much of New York City through patronage, political support and other corrupt practices. Fernando Wood was the first Tammany Democrat mayor, elected in 1854. In 1860, the infamous William "Boss" Tweed became chairman of the New York county Democratic Party and the leader--known as "the Grand Sachem"--of Tammany.

Tammany Hall remained powerful in New York City all the way through the early twentieth-century, up until the 1930's. The Great Depression took a heavy toll on Tammany, and in 1932 friend of Tammany Hall, and Mayor of New York City, James Walker was forced from office. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president and under his famous "New Deal," he removed most all of Tammany's power, including their mayor, helping Republican Fiorello LaGuardia become Mayor in 1934.

University of Albany: "Boss Tweed" and the Tammany Hall Machine
Elanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

1 comment:

A. Mattson said...

A very good post.

Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall were the most famous of the urban political machines. Tammany controlled New York City politics off and on for more than seventy-five years.

Check out the great anti-tammany cartoons by Thomas Nast.