Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > New York City History > 40. Tammany Society

40.  Tammany Society.  Journal & Rules of the Council of Sachems of Saint Tammany's Society. Manuscript on paper, 1789 - 1796. RBML, Kilroe Tammaniana Collection

The Tammany Society was founded in New York City by William Mooney, a Revolutionary War soldier, as a patriotic fraternal order in opposition to the Society of the Cincinnati, an organization of officers. This volume records its first meetings. In order to mock the aristocratic Cincinnati, the society was named for Tammany, an Indian chief, and used American Indian names, imagery and ceremonies. Focused on youth, young men who could not normally participate in political events could experience something of politics within the society, and it developed into a political club, its clubhouse known as Tammany Hall.

Led by Aaron Burr, the Society helped to carry New York for Thomas Jefferson in the election of 1800. It became increasingly political by the nineteenth century and enjoyed the support of newly arrived immigrants through its program of aiding and helping them to become citizens. "Boss" William M. Tweed, the society's most powerful member, ruled New York like a despot, and Tammany Hall became synonymous with City Hall. Tammany retained considerable influence into the twentieth century until Robert Wagner was elected mayor on an anti-Tammany ticket.

Gift of Edwin Patrick Kilroe, 1942

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