Machine politics

Wikipedia reliably informs me of the following about Tammany Hall:

“Tammany Hall’s electoral base lay predominantly with New York’s burgeoning immigrant constituency, which often exchanged political support for Tammany Hall’s patronage. In pre-New Deal America, the extralegal services that Tammany and other urban political machines provided often served as a rudimentary public welfare system. The patronage Tammany Hall provided to immigrants, many of whom lived in extreme poverty and received little government assistance, covered three key areas. First, Tammany provided the means of physical existence in times of emergency: food, coal, rent money or a job. Second, Tammany served as a powerful intermediary between immigrants and the unfamiliar state. In an example of their involvement in the lives of citizens, in the course of one day, Tammany figure George Washington Plunkitt assisted the victims of a house fire; secured the release of six “drunks” by speaking on their behalf to a judge; paid the rent of a poor family to prevent their eviction and gave them money for food; secured employment for four individuals; attended the funerals of two of his constituents (one Italian, the other Jewish); attended a Bar Mitzvah; and attended the wedding of a Jewish couple from his ward.[28]

Tammany Hall also served as a social integrator for immigrants by familiarizing them with American society and its political institutions and by helping them become naturalized citizens. One example was the naturalization process organized by William M. Tweed. Under Tweed’s regime, “naturalization committees” were established. These “committees” were made up primarily of Tammany politicians and employees, and their duties consisted of filling out paperwork, providing witnesses, and lending immigrants money for the fees required to become citizens. Judges and other city officials were bribed and otherwise compelled to go along with the workings of these committees.[29] In exchange for all these benefits, immigrants assured Tammany Hall they would vote for their candidates.[25] By 1854, the support which Tammany Hall received from immigrants would firmly establish the organization as the leader of New York City’s political scene.[25] With the election of Fernando Wood as mayor in 1854, Tammany Hall would now dominate New York City politics until Fiorello La Guardiawon the mayoral election of 1934″

Wikipedia also tells me the following about political machines as explained by Roosevelt:

The organization of a party in our city is really much like that of an army. There is one great central boss, assisted by some trusted and able lieutenants; these communicate with the different district bosses, whom they alternately bully and assist. The district boss in turn has a number of half- subordinates, half-allies, under him; these latter choose the captains of the election districts, etc., and come into contact with the common healers.”

Roosevelt of course ended the political machines, which wiki again notes with:

The corruption of urban politics in the United States was denounced by private citizens. They achieved national and state civil-service reform and worked to replace local patronage systems with civil service.

By ended, it should be understood took over their role and spread it to a national basis.

 

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