Fernando Wood

Fernando Wood (June 14, 1812 – February 14, 1881) was an American politician of the Democratic Party and the 73rd and 75th mayor of New York City; he also served as a United States Representative (1841–1843, 1863–1865, and 1867–1881) and as Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means in both the 45th and 46th Congress (1877–1881).

A successful shipping merchant who became Grand Sachem of the political machine known as Tammany Hall, Wood first served in Congress in 1841. In 1854 he was elected Mayor of New York City. Reelected in 1860 after an electoral loss in 1857 by a narrow majority of 3,000 votes, Wood opposed the Thirteenth Amendment and evinced support for the Confederate States during the American Civil War, suggesting to the New York City Council that New York City secede from the U.S. and declare itself a free city in order to continue its profitable cotton trade with the Confederacy. Wood's Democratic machine was concerned with maintaining the revenues (which depended on Southern cotton) that fed the system of patronage.

Following his service as mayor, Wood returned to the United States Congress.

Fernando Wood
Fernando Wood - Brady-Handy
Fernando Wood, c. 1860s
73rd and 75th Mayor of New York City
In office
January 1, 1860 – December 31, 1862
Preceded byDaniel F. Tiemann
Succeeded byGeorge Opdyke
In office
January 1, 1855 – December 31, 1858
Preceded byJacob Aaron Westervelt
Succeeded byDaniel F. Tiemann
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
March 4, 1867 – February 14, 1881
Preceded byWilliam A. Darling
Succeeded byJohn Hardy
Constituency9th district (1867-73)
10th district (1873-75)
9th district (1875-81)
In office
March 4, 1863 – March 3, 1865
Preceded byWilliam Wall
Succeeded byNelson Taylor
Constituency5th district
In office
March 4, 1841 – March 3, 1843
Preceded byEdward Curtis
Succeeded byJonas P. Phoenix
Constituency3rd district (seat B)
Personal details
BornJune 14, 1812
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedFebruary 14, 1881 (aged 68)
Hot Springs, Arkansas, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic

Early life and career

Wood, the son of Benjamin and Rebecca (Lehman) Wood, and brother of United States Congressman Benjamin Wood was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His Spanish forename was chosen by his mother, who found it in an English gothic novel written by George Walker, The Three Spaniards (London, 1800). His parents were Quakers.[1] The family moved to New York in 1821, where his father opened a tobacconist store that failed. Shortly after, his father died. Wood left school at age 13 and unsuccessfully attempted many occupations throughout the eastern states. In the 1830s he attempted several failed businesses in Manhattan. He first opened a wine and tobacco store which made little profit. He then opened a ship chandler firm in 1835 which failed during the Panic of 1837. Finally, he opened a grocery and bar in 1838 which he was forced to close in 1840 because business was so poor.[1] At the age of 24, Wood became a member of the Tammany Society and was chairman of the chief young men's political organization in 1839. He helped to resolve the inner dispute between the Loco-Focos and the conservative members of Tammany, won approval of the Hall, which awarded him nomination as a candidate to U.S. Congress, which he won in election.[1] He lost a subsequent election for U.S. Congress and, afterward, reestablished his ship chandler business in the mid-1840s. This business became successful and Wood gained additional wealth in a real estate deal in 1848. William Tweed said of Wood, "I never yet went to get a corner lot that I didn't find Wood had got in ahead of me."[1] During the early years of the California Gold Rush, Wood and four other partners chartered a ship, the John C. Cater, with goods and equipment to San Francisco. It appeared as though the goods were sold at a profit. It was later discovered that Wood obtained start-up capital from his brother-in-law, Edward E. Marvine, via a fraudelent letter from California, and that Wood falsified many of the documents. Marvine alleged that Wood cheated the investors of $20,000. Wood was indicted by a grand jury, but the case was not initially brought to trial because the court found that the statute of limitations expired a day before the court was to rule on the matter. Eventually, the New York Supreme Court ordered Wood to pay Marvine $8,000.[2]

Mayor of New York City

In late 1854 Wood was elected mayor of New York City. The state legislature created the New York Municipal Police in 1845.[3] At the beginning of his first term, Wood used the press to show that he was making efforts to continue the fight of his predecessor Mayor Jacob A. Westervelt against the massive corruption of the force. However, Wood ensured the police force was responsive to his needs, and convinced commissioners to allow him to fire officers not performing their duties. He was then accused of only hiring Democrats to replace those fired officers.[1] He was re-elected to a two-year term in 1856. On election day, he gave his police forces time off to vote, and during that time an affiliated gang, the Dead Rabbits, protected the polling places from unwanted voters. Wood was denied a third successive term in 1857 by a narrow majority of 3,000 votes. He garnered bad press involving a scandal with his brother, Tammany did not support him, his police forces were battling the Metropolitan police forces[1], and the Dead Rabbits were battling the Bowery Boys.

In the 1856-57 session, Republicans in control of the New York State Legislature at Albany shortened Wood's second term of office from two years to one and created a Metropolitan Police Force, with Frederick A. Tallmadge as superintendent, to replace Wood's corrupt Municipal Police. Talmadge demanded for Wood to disband the Municipal Police, but Wood refused, even in the face of a May 1857 decision by the Supreme Court. Superintendent George Washington Matsell, 15 captains and 800 patrolmen of the Municipal Police backed Wood.

Captain George W. Walling pledged his loyalty to the new Metropolitan Police and was ordered to arrest Wood. Wood refused to submit and when Captain Walling attempted force, New York City Hall was occupied by 300 municipal policemen, who promptly tossed Captain Walling into the street. Fifty Metropolitans in frock coats and plug hats then marched on City Hall with night sticks in hand. The Municipals swarmed out and routed the Metropolitans. Fifty-two policemen were injured in the New York City Police Riot.

The Metropolitan Police Board called out the National Guard, and the Seventh Regiment surrounded City Hall. A platoon of infantry with fixed bayonets marched into City Hall and surrounded Mayor Wood who then submitted to arrest. Mayor Wood was charged with inciting to riot, released on nominal bail and returned to his office.

The feud continued on through the summer of 1857, with constant confrontations between the rival police forces. When a Municipal arrested a criminal, a Metropolitan would come along and release him. At the police station, an arresting officer would find an alderman and a magistrate from the opposing side waiting. A hearing would be held on the spot and the prisoner released on his own recognizance.

The gangs of New York had a field day. Pedestrians were mugged in broad daylight on Broadway while rival policemen clubbed each other to determine who had the right to interfere. Soon the gangs were looting and plundering without interference, but turned on one another in turf wars, which culminated in the Fourth of July gang battle. The Dead Rabbits and several other Five Points gangs marched into the Bowery to do battle with the Bowery Boys and to loot stores. They attacked a Bowery Boys headquarters with pistols, knives, clubs, iron bars and huge paving blocks, routing the defenders. The Bowery Boys and their allies, the Atlantic Guards, poured into Bayard Street to engage in the most desperate and largest free-for-all in the city's history. The Metropolitans attempted to stop the fighting but were severely beaten and retreated. The Municipals said the battle looked like a Metropolitan problem and was none of their business.

Civil War, support for the Confederacy

Fernando Wood served a third mayoral term in 1860–1862. Wood was one of many New York Democrats sympathetic to the Confederacy,[4] called 'Copperheads' by the staunch Unionists. In 1860, at a meeting to choose New York's delegates to the Democratic convention in Charleston, S.C., Wood outlined his case against the abolitionist cause and the "Black Republicans" who supported it. He was of the opinion that "until we have provided and cared for the oppressed laboring man in our own midst, we should not extend our sympathy to the laboring men of other States." [5] During his second mayoral term in January 1861, Wood suggested to the New York City Council that New York secede and declare itself a free city, to continue its profitable cotton trade with the Confederacy.

Wood's Democratic machine was concerned to maintain the revenues (which depended on Southern cotton) that maintained the patronage. Wood's suggestion was greeted with derision by the Common Council. Tammany Hall was highly factionalized until after the Civil War. Wood headed his own organization named Mozart Hall, not Tammany Hall. New York City commercial interests wanted to retain their relations with the South, but within the framework of the Constitution.

Wood's brother Benjamin Wood purchased the New York Daily News (not to be confused with the current New York Daily News, which was founded in 1919), supported Stephen A. Douglas, and was elected to Congress, where he made a name as an opponent of pursuing the American Civil War.

Wood was one of the main opponents of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which abolished slavery and was critical in blocking the measure in the House when it first came up for a vote in June 1864. Wood attacked anti-slavery War Democrats as having "a white man’s face on the body of a negro", and supported state-level Democratic Party platforms that advocated constitutional amendments protecting slavery.[6] He argued that the amendment "strikes at property" and took the power of regulating slavery away from the states, where it rightfully belonged.[7]

Subsequent career in Congress

Subsequent to serving his third mayoral term, Wood served again in the House of Representatives from 1863 to 1865, then again from 1867 until his death in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

On January 15, 1868, Wood was censured for the use of unparliamentary language. During debate on the floor the House of Representatives, Wood called a piece of legislation "A monstrosity, a measure the most infamous of the many infamous acts of this infamous Congress." An uproar immediately followed this utterance, and Wood was not permitted to continue. This was followed by a motion by Henry L. Dawes to censure Wood, which passed by a vote of 114-39.

Notwithstanding his censure, Wood still managed to defeat Dr. Francis Thomas, the Republican candidate, by a narrow margin in the election of that year.

Wood served as chairman for the Committee on Ways and Means in both the 45th and 46th Congress (1877–1881).


Wood was married three times; his first wife was Anna Taylor of Philadelphia, whom he married in 1832.[8] In 1841 he married Ann Dole Richardson, who died in 1859.[9] In 1860 he married Alice Fenner Mills, who survived him.[9] Wood was the father of 16 children, 11 of whom survived him.[9] His most notable child was son Henry Alexander Wise Wood.[10]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Allen, Oliver E. (1993). The Tiger: The Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. p. 52-53,63,67-76. ISBN 0-201-62463-X.
  2. ^ Allen p.63
  3. ^ American Police Systems (1920) by Raymond B. Fosdick (Raymond Blaine), page 66, ISBN 978-0-87585-053-5, ISBN 0-87585-053-7
  4. ^ http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/first-south-carolina-then-new-york/
  5. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1860/02/08/news/syracuse-convention-election-delegates-large-charleston-convention-speech-mayor.html?pagewanted=all
  6. ^ Michael Vorenberg, Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), p.43
  7. ^ Oakes, James. Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States (1861-1865) W.W. Norton & Company, 2013, p. 448, 452
  8. ^ Caliendo, Ralph J. (2010). New York City Mayors. 1. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corporation. p. 301. ISBN 978-1-4500-8814-5.
  9. ^ a b c New York City Mayors, p. 301.
  10. ^ "American Society of Aeronautic Engineers Selects Messrs. Wood and Sperry for the Advisory Board". Flying. New York, NY: Flying Association, Inc. September 1, 1915. p. 660.

Further reading

  • Herbert Asbury, The Gangs of New York, 1927
  • Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1867–1868, pp. 193-196
  • Oakes, James. Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States (1861-1865). W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Isaac V. Fowler
Grand Sachem of Tammany Hall
Succeeded by
Isaac V. Fowler
Preceded by
Isaac V. Fowler
Grand Sachem of Tammany Hall
Succeeded by
William Tweed and Isaac V. Fowler
Political offices
Preceded by
Jacob Aaron Westervelt
Mayor of New York City
Succeeded by
Daniel F. Tiemann
Preceded by
Daniel F. Tiemann
Mayor of New York City
Succeeded by
George Opdyke
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Moses H. Grinnell
Edward Curtis
James Monroe
Ogden Hoffman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 3rd congressional district

with Charles G. Ferris, James I. Roosevelt, and John McKeon
Succeeded by
Jonas P. Phoenix
Preceded by
William Wall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Nelson Taylor
Preceded by
William A. Darling
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
David B. Mellish
Preceded by
Clarkson N. Potter
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 10th congressional district

Succeeded by
Abram S. Hewitt
Preceded by
Richard Schell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Hardy


was a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar, the 1812th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 812th year of the 2nd millennium, the 12th year of the 19th century, and the 3rd year of the 1810s decade. As of the start of 1812, the Gregorian calendar was

12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1857 New York state election

The 1857 New York state election was held on November 3, 1857, to elect the Secretary of State, the State Comptroller, the Attorney General, the State Treasurer, the State Engineer, a Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, a Canal Commissioner and an Inspector of State Prisons, as well as all members of the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate.

1862 and 1863 United States Senate elections

The United States Senate elections of 1862 and 1863 were elections during the American Civil War in which Republicans increased their control of the U.S. Senate. The Republican Party gained three seats, bringing their majority to 66% of the body. Also caucusing with them were Unionists and Unconditional Unionists. As many Southern states seceded in 1860 and 1861, and members left the Senate to join the Confederacy, or were expelled for supporting the rebellion, seats were declared vacant. To establish a quorum with fewer members, a lower total seat number was taken into account.

As this election was prior to ratification of the seventeenth Amendment, Senators were chosen by State legislatures.

1863 United States Senate election in New York

The 1863 United States Senate election in New York was held on February 3, 1863, by the New York State Legislature to elect a U.S. Senator (Class 1) to represent the State of New York in the United States Senate.

Abram Hewitt

Abram Stevens Hewitt (July 31, 1822 – January 18, 1903) was an American teacher, lawyer, an iron manufacturer, chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1876 to 1877, U.S. Congressman, and a mayor of New York City. He was the son-in-law of Peter Cooper (1791–1883), an industrialist, inventor and philanthropist. He is best known for his work with the Cooper Union, which he aided Peter Cooper in founding in 1859, and for planning the financing and construction of the first subway line of the New York City Subway, for which he is considered the "Father of the New York City Subway System".

Canterbury Hall (New York City)

Canterbury Hall was an edifice located at 663 Broadway in the 19th century. It was used for entertainment and political meetings. It was a three-story building where bawdy concerts took place. The building had a front of 40 feet and a depth of 125 feet.

Often called Mozart Hall, it was also a gathering place of anti-Tammany Hall political forces in New York City. Fernando Wood, New York Mayor and Congressman, founded the organization. The edifice burned entirely in the early morning hours of March 24, 1861.Proceedings at the venue were frowned upon by newspaper writers such as one from The New York Times. He commented about Canterbury Hall advertisements promoting the prettiest waiter girls in town. Along with a rival theater, the Melodeon, the establishment was "a nightly disgrace to Broadway and its adjacent streets". In November 1860 the proprietors of the business, Fox & Curran, were compelled to pay a license fee of $500 to keep the venue open. A New York Times editorialist expressed the opinion that this was a first measure in ridding the city of such nuisances, which he predicted the New York State Legislature would soon entirely eliminate.The property on which Canterbury Hall stood was formerly owned by a Reverend Wiley. His estate encompassed additional buildings on Broadway and was insured for $15,000. The fire which consumed the structure began among stage scenery and was discovered by watchmen. The owners of Canterbury Hall suffered an estimated loss of $10,000. A fire marshal began an investigation into the cause of the fire which was considered to be of incendiary origin.

Daniel Conover

Daniel Denice Conover (1822 – August 15, 1896) was an American public servant, political activist and industrialist. He was the first to invest in land development in Long Island and, through his efforts, was partly responsible for transforming the southern coastline, then known as the Great South Bay, as a popular summer resort for many prominent New York and Brooklyn families throughout the mid-to late 19th century.

His appointment as street commissioner of New York City by Governor John King in 1857, which was instead turned over to Charles Devlin by Mayor Fernando Wood, resulted in the Police Riot of 1857.

Daniel F. Tiemann

Daniel Fawcett Tiemann (January 9, 1805 – June 29, 1899) was Mayor of New York City from 1858 to 1860. He was a founding trustee of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

Dead Rabbits

The Dead Rabbits was the name of an Irish American criminal street gang in Lower Manhattan in the 1850s. The Dead Rabbits were so named after a dead rabbit was thrown into the center of the room during a gang meeting, prompting some members to treat this as an omen, withdraw, and form an independent gang. Their battle symbol was a dead rabbit on a pike. They often clashed with Nativist political groups who viewed Irish Catholics as a threatening and criminal subculture. The Dead Rabbits were given the nicknames the "Mulberry Boys" and the "Mulberry Street Boys" by the New York City Police Department because they were known to have operated along Mulberry Street in the Five Points.

Edward Curtis (politician)

Edward Curtis (born October 25, 1801 in Windsor, Vermont – died August 2, 1856) was a Representative from New York for two terms, March 4, 1837 through March 3, 1841. He served as Collector of the Port of New York beginning on March 23, 1841 until July 7, 1844.

Francis A. Thomas

Francis A. Thomas (1826 – September 28, 1899) was a prominent physician and Republican politician in New York City's 19th ward.

Born in Lewis County, New York, Thomas graduated from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1853. In 1854, he was appointed as house physician for Blackwell's Island, serving for one year.Thomas was a prominent Republican, helping to found the Sons of Freedom during the Civil War. The Sons of Freedom later merged into the Union League Club.

Elected in 1865, Thomas served as a councilman from the Seventh District from 1866-1867. In 1868, Thomas ran on the Republican ticket for the United States House of Representatives against Democrat Fernando Wood, losing in a close and bitterly contested election.a He subsequently was made Police Surgeon, and held that office for ten years.On September 26, 1899, Thomas was struck by a Lexington Avenue cable car while crossing 85th Street near his home and died two days later at Presbyterian Hospital.

Isaac Vanderbeck Fowler

Isaac Vanderbeck Fowler (August 20, 1818 – September 29, 1869) was thrice the Grand Sachem of the Tammany Society, better known as Tammany Hall, from 1848–1850, 1857–1858, and 1858–1859, the last term shared with William M. "Boss" Tweed. He was appointed Postmaster of New York City by President Franklin Pierce on April 1, 1853 and was also a delegate from New York to the 1860 Democratic National Convention.

Fowler was an unusual leader of the Tammany Society as he was a college graduate. He also moved in the better social circles, and convinced a number of rich young men to join the organization.

John Hardy (US politician)

John Hardy (September 19, 1835 – December 9, 1913) was a United States Representative from New York.

Hardy was born in Scotland on September 19, 1835, he immigrated to the United States in 1839 with his parents, who settled in New York City. He attended the public schools and graduated from the College of the City of New York in 1853; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1861 and commenced practice in New York City; member of the New York State Assembly (New York Co., 11th D.) in 1861; member of the board of aldermen of New York City in 1863, 1864, and 1867–1869; clerk of the common council in 1870 and 1871; chief clerk in the office of the mayor in 1877 and 1878; elected as a Democrat to the 47th United States Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Fernando Wood; reelected to the 48th United States Congress and served from December 5, 1881, until March 3, 1885; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1884; resumed the practice of law in New York City and died there December 9, 1913; interment in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Lee Pace

Lee Grinner Pace (March 25, 1979) is an American actor. He starred as Thranduil the Elvenking in The Hobbit trilogy, and as the protagonist Joe MacMillan for four seasons in AMC's television drama Halt and Catch Fire. He also played Roy Walker/the Masked Bandit in the 2006 film The Fall. Pace has appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Ronan the Accuser, a role he first performed in Guardians of the Galaxy and reprised in Captain Marvel. He has appeared in film series, including The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 as Garrett. He starred as Ned in the ABC series Pushing Daisies for which he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award and Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2008.

New York's 9th congressional district

New York's 9th Congressional District is a congressional district for the United States House of Representatives in New York City, represented by Yvette Clarke.

The district is located entirely within Brooklyn. It includes the neighborhoods of Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Prospect Park, Grand Army Plaza and the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, the worldwide headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community and the Brooklyn Children's Museum are located within this district, as well as, in the Prospect Heights neighborhood, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Central Library, or main branch, of the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Kurdish Library and Museum.

Prior to 2013, the district consisted primarily of middle-class white neighborhoods, including large Jewish, Italian, Irish, and Russian populations, in southern Brooklyn and south central Queens. Before redistricting, the Queens Tribune found that the district increasingly swung Republican following the September 11 attacks in 2001, when many police and firefighters were lost from the Rockaways. Its rightward shift was also attributed to the increasing tendency of Orthodox Jews to vote for Republicans. Its representation in Congress was reliably Democratic for decades, electing prominent liberals such as Chuck Schumer and Anthony Weiner and, prior to that, Emanuel Celler and Elizabeth Holtzman (when the district was differently numbered). Anthony D. Weiner was Congressman from 1999 until he resigned on June 21, 2011. Republican Bob Turner succeeded Weiner after winning the special election on September 13, 2011. However, the previous 9th District was eliminated after New York lost two districts in 2010 redistricting, and its territory was divided among several neighboring districts.

After redistricting, Yvette Clarke now represents the district. The district has an African-American majority and also includes most of the territory previously within the 11th District. It includes significant portions of Midwood, Brooklyn, however, that was previously within the 9th.

In the 1980s, the district was based in Astoria and surrounding neighborhoods in Queens. This iteration of the district gained national attention in 1984 when 9th District Rep. Geraldine Ferraro became the vice presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.

New York City Police riot

The New York City Police Riot of 1857, known at the time as the Great Police Riot, was a conflict which occurred in front of New York City Hall between the recently dissolved New York Municipal Police and the newly formed Metropolitan Police on June 16, 1857. Arising over New York City Mayor Fernando Wood's appointment of Charles Devlin over Daniel Conover for the position of city street commissioner, amid rumors that Devlin purchased the office for $50,000 from Wood, Municipal police battled Metropolitan officers attempting to arrest Mayor Wood.

Two arrest warrants had been issued against the mayor following an altercation between him and Conover when arriving at City Hall to assume his office. The situation was resolved only with the intervention of the New York State Militia under Major General Charles W. Sandford.

Ogden Hoffman

Ogden Hoffman (October 13, 1794 – May 1, 1856) was an American lawyer and politician who served two terms in the United States House of Representatives.

Richard Schell

Richard Schell (May 15, 1810 – November 10, 1879) was an American politician who represented New York in the United States House of Representatives from 1874 to 1875.

Tammany Hall

Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was a New York City political organization founded in 1786 and incorporated on May 12, 1789, as the Tammany Society. It was the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in controlling New York City and New York State politics and helping immigrants, most notably the Irish, rise in American politics from the 1790s to the 1960s. It typically controlled Democratic Party nominations and political patronage in Manhattan from the mayoral victory of Fernando Wood in 1854 and used its patronage resources to build a loyal, well-rewarded core of district and precinct leaders; after 1850 the great majority were Irish Catholics.

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 political control even further by earning the loyalty of the city's rapidly expanding immigrant community, which functioned as its base of political capital. The business community appreciated its readiness, at moderate cost, to cut through red tape and legislative mazes to facilitate rapid economic growth. The Tammany Hall ward boss or ward heeler – wards were the city's smallest political units from 1786 to 1938 – served as the local vote gatherer and provider of patronage. By 1872 Tammany had an Irish Catholic "boss," and in 1928 a Tammany hero, New York Governor Al Smith, won the Democratic presidential nomination. 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 social activists from the ethnic middle class. In quiet times the machine had the advantage of a core of solid supporters and usually exercised control of politics and policymaking in Manhattan; it also played a major role in the state legislature in Albany.

Charles Murphy was the quiet, but highly effective boss of Tammany from 1902 to 1924. "Big Tim" Sullivan was the Tammany leader in the Bowery, and machine's spokesman in the state legislature. 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 Hall's influence waned from 1930 to 1945 when it engaged in a losing battle with Franklin D. Roosevelt, the state's governor (1928–33) and the United States president (1933–45). 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 and became the first anti-Tammany mayor to be re-elected. A brief resurgence in Tammany power in the 1950s under the leadership of Carmine DeSapio was met with Democratic Party opposition led by Eleanor Roosevelt, Herbert Lehman, and the New York Committee for Democratic Voters. By the mid-1960s Tammany Hall ceased to exist.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.