50 Facts About Tammany Hall


Tammany Hall Society emerged as the center of Democratic-Republican Party politics in the city in the early 19th century.

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However, Tammany Hall served as an engine for graft and political corruption, perhaps most infamously under William M "Boss" Tweed in the mid-19th century.

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Tammany Hall's influence waned from 1930 to 1945 when it engaged in a losing battle with Franklin D Roosevelt, the state's governor and later U S President .

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The name "Tammany Hall" comes from Tamanend, a Native American leader of the Lenape.

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Early cases of political corruption involving Tammany Hall came to light during the group's feud with local politician Dewitt Clinton.

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Tammany Hall soon realized its influence over the local political scene was no match for that of Clinton, in part because Burr's support among New York City's residents greatly faded after he shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

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Tammany Hall continued to support him for a time, but eventually pressure from the public persuaded the organization to no longer affiliate themselves with Burr.

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The Society, with Davis's guidance, received a state charter as a charitable organization, organized the General Committee of Tammany Hall, and used the General Committee to decide leadership within the Democratic-Republican party in New York City from that point forward.

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Tammany Hall became a locally organized machine dedicated to stopping Clinton and Federalists from rising to power in New York.

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However, Tammany Hall did not learn their lesson, and instead of fixing the problem of corruption, Wortman, one of the chief powers at the time, created a committee, consisting of one member from each ward, that would investigate and report in general meetings who were friends or enemies.

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Tammany Hall did not take lightly to these activities and managed to remove Cheetham from his position as State Printer.

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Between the years 1809 and 1815, Tammany Hall slowly revived itself by accepting immigrants and by secretly building a new wigwam to hold meetings whenever new Sachems were named.

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When Dewitt Clinton decided to run for president in 1811, Tammany Hall immediately accused Clinton of treason to his party, as well as attempting to create a family aristocracy.

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When Tammany Hall positioned itself to support the War of 1812 and to support the Embargo Act, many others who supported the war joined Tammany Hall.

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Tammany Hall managed to gain power, as well as reduce Clinton and his followers to just a small fraction.

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The origins of Tammany Hall were based on representing "pure" or "native" Americans.

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Tammany Hall soon began to accept Irish immigrants as members and eventually became dependent on them to maintain viability as a political force.

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Tammany Hall operatives continued their practice of paying prisoners of the almshouses for votes and paying for votes at their polling places.

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However, after protests by Irish militants in 1817, and the invasion of several of their offices, Tammany Hall realized the potential influence Irish immigrants would have in the city.

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Since the newly arrived immigrants were in deep poverty, Tammany Hall provided them with employment, shelter, and even citizenship sometimes.

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Tammany Hall would provide food and financial aid to families with sick or injured breadwinners.

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Tammany Hall took full advantage of the burgeoning numbers of Irish immigrants to gather more votes.

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Tammany Hall served as a social integrator for immigrants by familiarizing them with American society and its political institutions and by helping them become naturalized citizens.

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Tammany Hall was then accused of only hiring Democrats to replace those fired officers.

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Tammany Hall did not put Wood up for reelection in December 1857 in light of the Panic of 1857 and a scandal involving him and his brother, Benjamin Wood.

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Further, Tammany Hall demonstrated inability to control Irish laborers in the Orange riot of 1871 that began Tweed's downfall.

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Tammany Hall cleared Tammany of Tweed's people and tightened the Grand Sachem's control over the hierarchy.

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Tammany Hall had no expectation of George being elected, but knew that his candidacy and the new party were a direct threat to their own status as the putative champions of the working man.

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Croker now took these innovations for Tammany Hall's use, creating political clubhouses to take the place of the saloons and involving women and children by sponsoring family excursions and picnics.

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The New Tammany Hall appeared to be more respectable, and less obviously connected to saloon-keepers and gang leaders, and the clubhouses, one in every Assembly District, were a more efficient way of providing patronage work to those who came looking for it; one simply had to join the club, and volunteer to put in the hours needed to support it.

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Tammany Hall developed a new stream of income from the business community, which was provided with "one stop shopping": instead of bribing individual office-holders, businesses, especially the utilities, could go directly to Tammany to make their payments, which were then directed downward as necessary; such was the control Tammany had come to have over the governmental apparatus of the city.

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Croker mended fences with labor as well, pushing through legislation which addressed some of the inequities which had fueled the labor political movement, making Tammany Hall appear to be the "Friend of the Working Man" – although he was careful always to maintain a pro-business climate of laissez-faire and low taxes.

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Tammany Hall's influence was extended to the state legislature, where a similar patronage system to the city's was established after Tammany Hall took control in 1892.

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In 1894, Tammany Hall suffered a setback when, fueled by the public hearings on police corruption held by the Lexow Committee based on the evidence uncovered by the Rev Charles Parkhurst when he explored the city's demi monde undercover, a Committee of Seventy was organized by Council of Good Government Clubs to break the stranglehold that Tammany Hall had on the city.

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Tammany Hall then put up Hugh Grant again, despite his being publicly dirtied by the police scandals.

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Tammany Hall lacked the common touch, and lost much of his working class support when he listened to dry Protestants eager to crack down on the liquor business.

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New challenge to Tammany came from William Randolph Hearst, a powerful newspaper publisher who wanted to be president.

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LaGuardia's appointees filled the board of magistrates and virtually every other long-term appointive office, and the power of Tammany Hall had now been reduced to a shadow of what it once was.

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Tammany Hall depended for its power on government contracts, jobs, patronage, corruption, and ultimately the ability of its leaders to control nominations to the Democratic ticket and swing the popular vote.

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Tammany Hall had close ties to street gangs throughout the 19th Century, who provided services to Tammany Hall on Election Day in return for legal protection the rest of the year.

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Those relations largely collapsed with the rise of newer crime organizations that flourished during Prohibition; Tammany Hall came to depend on figures such as Arnold Rothstein to maintain some measure of control, however limited, over them.

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Several Tammany Hall officials affiliated with Hines and Luciano were successfully prosecuted by Dewey.

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Costello and Tammany Hall went on to help elect former Brooklyn District Attorney William O'Dwyer to the mayorship in 1945.

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Fact that DeSapio was of Italian descent demonstrated that Tammany Hall was no longer dominated by Irish-American politicians.

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Originally presented in an upper room of City Tammany Hall, it moved to the Merchant's Exchange when that proved to be too small.

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Tammany Hall controlled the space, which it dubbed "The Wigwam", and let other responsible political organizations it approved of use the room for meetings.

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Tammany Hall merged politics and entertainment, already stylistically similar, in its new headquarters.

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The Tammany Hall Society kept only one room for itself, renting the rest to entertainment impresarios: Don Bryant's Minstrels, a German theater company, classical concerts and opera.

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When Tammany Hall started to lose its political influence, and its all-important access to graft, it could no longer afford to maintain the 17th Street building, and in 1943 it was bought by a local affiliate of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.

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Tammany Hall left, and its leaders moved to the National Democratic Club on Madison Avenue at East 37th Street, and the Society's collection of memorabilia went into a warehouse in the Bronx.

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