Urban Political Machine In New York: Tammany Hall Essay

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In the middle of the nineteenth century, several factors contributed to the growth and expansion of cities in the United States. The 1850s saw a fantastic peak in the immigration of Europeans to America, and they quickly flocked to cities where they could form communities and hopefully find work1. The rushing industrialization of the entire country also helped to rapidly convert America from a primarily agrarian nation to an urban society. The transition, however, was not so smooth. Men and women were attracted to the new cities because of the culture and conveniences that were unavailable to rural communities. Immigrants in particular were eager to get to cities like New York, Chicago, and Boston for these reasons, and to look for …show more content…
These machines were regularly mocked in magazine cartoons such as this one, which comments subtly on the corrupt practices that the New York political machine (Tammany Hall) used to procure votes:

Tammany Hall, the Democratic political machine in New York, is a fantastic example of this form of urban government in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Extremely powerful men, called “Bosses,” controlled vast amounts of land and money, while also maintaining close, valuable connections with New York’s wealthy elite6. Political machines were constantly under scrutiny from reform-minded, middle class citizens who were troubled by the political amorality of power structures like Tammany. The wealthy benefited from their operations, and the poor (most of whom were immigrants) were usually more concerned with the physical contributions Tammany made to the city, and less with its methods5. One interesting figure in Tammany was the powerful “practical politics” expert, George Washington Plunkitt. Born in Central Park (in an area that was once not part of the park’s territory), Plunkitt went from cart driver to New York senator thanks to the opportunities provided by machine politics. Machines like Tammany were ultimately interested in only one commodity: votes. All Plunkitt had to do to get into politics was secure one single vote (out of the 3 million available in New York), then he had a following and was considered valuable to

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