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Tammany Hall

In 1789, an organization called The Society of St. Tammany was founded in New York City to discuss politics. Soon after, it became associated with Aaron Burr, a future vice president. 

They began to help candidates in exchange for jobs, a corrupt system which was called the spoils system. In the early 1800s, Tammany and New York governor DeWitt Clinton butted heads a lot. In the 1820's, Andrew Jackson had the support of Tammany Hall when he was running for president. Tammany Hall made a deal with people that if they voted for Andrew Jackson, they'd be given with jobs. 

As Tammany Hall became associated with Jackson and the Democratic Party, the organization was viewed as  appealing to the working class. As a wave of Irish immigrants arrived in New York City, Tammany Hall became associated with immigrants.

In the 1850s, Tammany became a massive organization for Irish politics in New York City. At that time, Tammany provided the only help the poor could get. Many times, they provided food or coal during hard winters. The New York lower class thus became very loyal to Tammany, and often voted for Tammany-sponsored candidates. 

At this point, Tammany Hall was becoming increasingly corrupt. There were numerous reports of figures associated with Tammany Hall living extremely lavish lifestyles and spending exorbitant amounts. No one was more notorious than William Marcy "Boss" Tweed. 

"Boss" Tweed climbed his way up the corporate ladder, and became the Grand Sachem of Tammany, or the boss, and he had extreme influence in New York City politics. He demanded payouts from contractors who did business in the city, and Tweed made millions of dollars. 

Know as the Tweed Ring, it was a group of him and other high ranking officials in Tammany Hall. Through embezzlement, bribery, and kickbacks, they were able to siphon from $40 - $200 million dollars from the New York City budget. Eventually, Tweed was prosecuted and he died in prison. The Tammany organization continued under different leadership. 

Tammany Hall flourished throughout the 19th century, and its influence finally waned in the '30s, finally ceasing to exist in the 1960s. Tammany Hall played a significant role in the development of New York City. They argued for better work safety after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and they were responsible from new legislation that predated the New Deal. Tammany Hall, although controversial and corrupt, did greatly influence New York City and its growth.

David Witten

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