The Tammany Society emerged as the center for Democratic-Republican Party politics in the city in the early 19th century. After 1854, the Society expanded its control even further by earning the loyalty of the citys rapidly expanding immigrant community. By 1872 Tammany had an Irish Catholic boss, and in 1928 a Tammany hero, New York Governor Al Smith, however, Tammany Hall also served as an engine for graft and political corruption, perhaps most infamously under William M. Boss Tweed in the mid-19th century. By the 1880s, Tammany was building local clubs that appealed to activists from the ethnic middle-class. Charles Murphy was the effective but quiet boss of Tammany from 1902–1924. Big Tim Sullivan was the Tammany leader in the Bowery, in the early twentieth century Murphy and Sullivan promoted Tammany as a reformed agency dedicated to the interests of the working class. The new image deflected attacks and built up a following among the emerging ethnic middle-class, in the process Robert F. Wagner became a powerful United States Senator, and Al Smith served multiple terms as governor and was the Democratic presidential candidate in 1928. Tammany Halls influence waned from 1930 to 1945 when it engaged in a battle with Franklin D. Roosevelt, the states governor. In 1932, Mayor Jimmy Walker was forced from office when his bribery was exposed, Roosevelt stripped Tammany of federal patronage. Republican Fiorello La Guardia was elected mayor on a Fusion ticket, by the mid-1960s Tammany Hall ceased to exist. The society was developed as a club for pure Americans. The name Tammany comes from Tamanend, a Native American leader of the Lenape, the society adopted many Native American words and also their customs, going so far as to call its hall a wigwam. The first Grand Sachem, as the leader was titled, was William Mooney, by 1798, the societys activities had grown increasingly political. High ranking Democratic-Republican Aaron Burr saw Tammany Hall as an opportunity to counter Alexander Hamiltons Society of the Cincinnati, eventually Tammany emerged as the center of Democratic-Republican Party politics in the city. Burr used Tammany Hall influence in the election of 1800, in which he was elected Vice President of the United States, many historians believe that without Tammany, President John Adams might have won New York States electoral votes and won reelection. Early cases of corruption involving Tammany Hall came to light during the groups feud with local politician Dewitt Clinton. The feud began in 1802 after Clinton accused Aaron Burr of being a traitor to the Democratic-Republican Party, Clintons uncle, George Clinton was jealous of Burrs achievements and positions. However George was too old to compete with young Aaron Burr, in 1803, Clinton left the United States Senate and became Mayor of New York City
Image: Tammany Hall logo crop
Thomas Nast denounces Tammany as a ferocious tiger killing democracy. The image of a tiger was often used to represent the Tammany Hall political movement.
Tammany Ring by Thomas Nast; "Who stole the people's money?" / "'Twas him."