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tv   Lectures in History Irish Catholics Tammany Hall  CSPAN  November 11, 2021 6:04pm-7:19pm EST

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literally tax, anything that prevents native american women don't even have citizenship rights on the hole, asian american don't until the 1940s. so this 19th amendment really most effectively enfranchises white women. and we can see a lot of the propaganda is reflective of that. a. download c-span's new mobile app and stay up to date. from live streams at the house and senate floor and key congressional hearings to white house events and supreme court oral arguments. even our live interactive morning program "washington journal" where we hear your voices every day. c-span now has you covered. download the app for free today. up next another class from
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our series lectures in history. >> good morning, everyone. today's lecture -- outline in advance. we will be looking at catholics in american politics, american urban politics in the late 19th century. to put this in the context of what we have been looking at the past couple of weeks, what we have been looking at is this struggle for american catholics to kind of find their place in culture. despite persistent and clear expressions of loyalty and patriotism, and despite the real kind of human sacrifice of life in the civil war, after the civil war catholics remained a people viewed by most americans with suspicion and fear. a people apart. a people to be feared. a variety of reasons for this. they were members of what was perceived as a foreign church based in rome. they were as we've seen
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participants in a separate school system. and even just by the virtue of their status as members of a work class when the working classes are coming to be seen as the dangerous classes, catholics appeared to many non-catholic americans as a people apart, a people dangerously apart. catholic efforts to participate in mainstream institutions made things worst. this is most clear in the area that we will look at today, politics. from really before the founding of the united states, many protestant americans believed that the hierarchal authority structures of the catholic church instilled submission and servility in catholics. you recall reading from john adams where he described the catholic church as the root of
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all evil, tyranny in human history. durms was not an outlier. that was a common component of anglo american political culture. it was this submission to authority that rendered catholics bad citizens in the new republic, bad citizens unfit to participate in american republican political institutions. much to the horror of native protestants, however, catholics, and especially the most hated catholics of all, irish catholics, turned out to be enthusiastic participants in the american political order. whatever the relation to authority was in the church, catholics embraced american political institutions and american participation in those institutions. still this did not prove that catholics could be good americans. if anything, native protestants responded by arguing that this participation itself was
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undermining the american political system because catholics did not understand the true nature of politics. what is the true nature of politics? i think that's something we're still debating today. but it is clear in the late 19th century, late 19th century america, that protestants and catholics had different understandings of politics. these different under ijs i think are best understood not as different political theories, but different political cultures. the contrast between the two cultures was best expressed f a mid-20th century american richard hofstetter. a pulitzer prize-winning book "the age of reform" written in
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1955. it's about the late 19th century up to the 20th century the new deal. he introduced this period with this illuminating contrast between two different political cultures. according to hofstetter, one of those cultures described founded upon indigenous, that means anglo, indigenous middle class yankee protestant political tra decisions. this assumed and demanded the constant disinterested activity of the citizens in public affairs. disinterested is key. politics is not supposed to be about interest. it is disinterested activity. this tradition argued political life ought to be run in accordance with general principles and abstract law apart from personal needs. we don't get into politics for our personal need. in addition, this political
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culture carried the assumption that government should be in a good part an effort to moralize the lives of individuals. we have seen a bit of this already with the moral reform tradition that started in the 1830s. these weren't directly political in terms of being part of political parties, but the temperance movement are the best example of that. temperance applied to politics means that politics should be used to raise the moral level of citizens. that's one political culture. according to hofstetter, there is another political culture founded upon the european backgrounds of immigrants. so they have got kind of native yankees protestants versus immigrants. these immigrant cultures were generally unfamiliar with independent political action. these people did not come from republics. they weren't voting citizens in any way. most of these immigrants were, however, very familiar with hierarchy and authority, not
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just catholics, but any immigrant coming from a traditional peasant culture, these cultures are structured by hierarchies and authority. they come to america not in search of political theory. they are desperately in basic material sustenance and took for granted that politics was very much about interests. their interests for them largely interest in survival. basic material survival. they understood politics not as disinterested im personal activity, but politics in terms of personal obligations and strong personal loyalties rather than allegiance to abstract laws or morals. personal politics in a kind of 19th century way. personal connection. personal loyalty. these two types of political
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cultures can be somewhat abstract. a real-life example. this comes from a book by -- a story in jack beatty, the book is called "the rascal king," a biography of james michael curly. boston politics who, let's say, is a representative of that second culture. this is what beatty has to say almost as if he were just directly following hofstetter. beatty writes, an archetypecal boston story illustrates the resulting clash of political cultures. a beacon hill lady, beacon hill an elite play within boston. think of that as standing for the first culture, yankees protestant culture. beacon little laid by went ringing doorbells in irish
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southburn on the mind of high candidate. an irish housewife listened politely to the lady's pitch for her candidate and asks, doesn't he have a sister who works for the schools or something to do with the school system? the beacon hill lady was shocked what she took to be the suggestion of patronage. you assure you, madam, he is not the kind of man who would ever use his position to advance the interests of his sister. to which the south boston housewife respond, well, if the s.o.b. won't help his own sister, why should i vote for him? so that, you know, captures that contrast. politics is about helping each other out in a material way. you know, for the south boston irish woman it's not about making a million dollars. it's maybe getting a job for a sister or relative or something like that. economic interests, sure. material interests, sure. very, very basic at the level of survival, not enrichment.
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now, half stetter writing in 1955 wrote -- he described this contrast as one of angelo versus ethnic, native versus immigrant. that's true but that's very broad. ethnic and immigrant, i think he is using those terms to include a wide variety of groups. not all immigrants are catholic by any means. jews, protestants, even some orthodox with the greeks. but in terms of how this conflict played out in mainstream american culture, it was centrally a battle between protestants and catholics. certainly at the time understood in those terms. and this kind of religious aspect of this conflict is most clear in that first political cartoon i sent is you. i think i called to tammany priests. a political cartoon by thomas
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thanks, appropriately named thomas nast since some of his cartoons or nasty, particularly for the catholics and irish. but in this cartoon nast makesn or nasty, particularly for the catholics and irish. but in this cartoon nast makes very clear the religious dimension of this conflict. you have on the left hand ever of the cartoon an apolite irishman. that covers the ethnic and class elements of this political divide. but on the right you have a priest and in the middle you have a goose with a label on it, the democratic party, and the irishman and the priest who we can assume is irish are carving up the democratic party, carving up the spoils, if you will, of local politics. i do want to stress hofstetter,
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more recent historians want to downplay the religious element on this. so so i want to stress it is impossible to view the conflicts apart from religion. the religious divide in america in the late 19th century is as sharp or sharper than any class or ethnic or racial divide. so you have this image from thomas nast who is definitely speaking for the first culture, the yankees protestant culture, of an unholy alliance in urban america. and unholy alliance between irish catholic immigrants and irish catholic church. this unholy alliance generally associated with the urban democratic party but went by the more specific name of tammany hall. that's the lecture title today, tammany catholic. tammany hall was not the democratic party itself. it was a political club within
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the democratic party. so think of, i don't know, there is the college here and then maybe there is an sac group. maybe the contra bands group. they're the ones who control everything. that's kind of how tammany hall functioned. and it does give some specificity as well to the northern democratic party. we haven't had too much time to look at in this class. the democratic party, the oldest party, american national, extremely divided regionally. the southern democratic party to the civil war was the party of slave holding. no a lot of common interest with the northern party. after the civil war, not slave holding any more, but it is still distinctly southern and very, very distinct from the northern democratic party. the southern democratic party is very anglo. not yankees, but anglo native. they can claim to be true
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americans. but the northern democratic party, the urban democratic party is heavily immigrant and so tends to be referred to more by the term tammany hall, a political club within the democratic party and then the democratic party per se. but this political club in new york controlled the new york city politics for the late 19th century and the middle of the 20th century. and the image that you have, which is very much of an image of tammany hall, certainly suggests evil corruption. again from nast's perspective, from the perspective of that first political culture that, is what tammany is. political evil and corruption. the reading that you have for today, however, plunkett of tammany hall, gives a different more positive view from within the -- within the culture itself. so first we are going to -- the
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next part of class to go over some of the history, most relevant history of tammany hall in the middle of the 20th century and then after that we will look at some selections from plunkett of tammany hall to give you what you could say is the response from within that second political culture. first political culture looking from the outside, this is all corruption. this destroying american politics and american virtue. from within that culture, no. it's not destroying american politics or destroying virtue. it's a different virtue, very much rooted in community as we shall see. nast again writing from that first political culture anti-catholic, anti-irish. all that being said, the charges of corruption, tammany was corrupt, these were not unfounded. in fact, thomas nast made a national name for himself by covering the exposure of such
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corruption in tammany hall politics through a scandal known as the tweed ring. and the next image that i sent to you of this image of tweed alone. this is the harpers weekly, interests harpers weekly, journal of civilization. on this cover there is this fat, fat guy. that is the tweed. the tweed of the tweed ring. a figure that still, i think, to this day, certainly for historians, is the kind of symbol of corrupt urban politics. will maher tweed was popularly known as boss tweed. boss meaning he was the boss of politics in new york. he was the one who called the shots due to his position in tammany hall. now, interestingly here, even though some people might associate with tweed, tweediness with some irish clothing, tweed
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was not irish -- he was neither irish or catholic:he was an immigrant, however. son of immigrants. immigrants of scotch president biden backgroundpresbyterian ba. back in the old -- in ireland, there was no sharper contrast than scottish catholics and scottish presbyterian. they were sworn enemies in the old world. it's not like the old world battle lines completely disappeared in the new world. at the time of the stweed scandal there were the orange rights in new york city. they weren't about orange. orange men men were scotch irish presbyterians who had supported william of orange in his fight
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against the catholic king james ii. of course, you all remember this from your core classes. every year in july rj men back in ireland would have -- would parade. they would kind of march through catholic areas of northern ireland celebrating this victory of protestants over catholics. it's not just an old world thing. it's carried over into the new world around carried over violently where in new york city 1870, 1871 orange men would march through irish catholic sections of the city rubbing their face in it, riots. tweed himself is an example of the possibilities of american life. he is of that same stock, but many of his followers, most of his followers in politics were irish catholics. tweed did not carry those old resentments over.
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tweed realized that he was in a cosmopolitan city, many different ethnic groups. ethnic groups also could vote and don't get votes by alienating people or dragging up old battles. so tweed, though by native angelo perspective, was a little more american by virtue of being presbyterian, scottish as opposed to irish and catholic, nonetheless opened up to the catholic community especially the irish catholic community. and we see this in his inner circle. the so-called tweed ring that is associated again with this corruption. the next image i have is that of the tweed ring and you see a ring of people accusing the other person of corruption. but four figures are highlighted in this image. the carry over from the harper's cover, the fat guy on the left is tweed himself. going from the right the kind of
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dweeb by little guy there is okie hall, often called elegant okie. he was the mayor. he was the mayor of new york, but a mayor who was handpicked by the real power in new york, boss tweed, the head of tammany hall. okie was an angelo, native anglo stock. and at this point apps it was important to have somebody like that out in front. even if they are a figurehead, it would help to soften the blow of this immigrant political power, he would give -- at least they were trying to get critics the illusion, if you will, that anglo americans were in power that. public face of the democratic party at least at the level of mayor around the time of tweed was okie hall. so you have tweed, scotch presbyterian, okie hall, angelo
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american.lo american. then irish catholics. richard slip ary dick connery ho who served as comptroller in the government and peter sweeney who served as commissioner of parks. neither of these positions is great political power. now we know the mayor is the person who runs thing. no, no, no. not at that time. these more minor really un-elected bureaucratic positions like comptroller and commissioner of parks, were much more important because these were position has dealt with finances and jobs. so half of the tweed ring is irish catholic. but more importantly, tammany's rank and file was overwhelmingly irish and catholic. and tweed was seen as their champion by tweed's critics.
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tweed was seen by the irish catholics as their champion. so, again, a sense of possibilities of the new world/old world resentments. they didn't say we are not going to vote -- or we are not going to support a scots presbyterian. they supported him because he supported them. but there was undoubtedly and truly corruption, at least financial corruption, at the heart of this relationship. in 1871, "the new york times" charged tweed with having looted the new york city treasury to the tune of $45 million. now, that may be chump change these days, but at the time it amounted to a sum greater than the entire annual u.s. federal budget before the civil war. so this is a lot of money. a lot of money.
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at the time of the indictment, tweed served as the city's commissioner of public works. again, it seems like a kind of a minor bureaucratic job position, nothing that would carry with it great power, but as i said before, his true political power lay in his position as head of tammany hall. as head of tammany hall, he controlled the selection of candidates that the democratic party would run. he picked the candidates. and he was in charge of making sure that those candidates, oh, yeah -- >> [ inaudible ]. >> yes. the tweed ring is as big of -- people like nast and the critics realized that he was the power behind the throne. so if you -- if you are going to
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focus on somebody to indict, it was going to be tweed. and again as we'll see. the indictment was -- indeed, he was behind all this. aside from enriching himself, his job as head of tammany hall again was to pick the slate of candidates and -- by any means necessary so to speak. including voter fraud. that is repeaters or ballot box stuffing or creative arithmetic maybe in accounting or simple physical intimidation. this is something all through the late 19th century urban politics you'd see, you go to the voting pool and there would be monster guys with like two by fours and representing their candidate and this is before necessarily secret ballots. so you'd go in there and people could see how you are voting.
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and more specific examples from chicago in the late 19th century. but election day in an american city in late 19th century was almost a riot day sometimes. if the election was particularly contested and there were sharp divisions, you could have brawls at the voting both. think back earlier in the semester, the trustee election in philadelphia. these are catholics voting who is going to be trustees in a church and they turned to brawls. i think of the orange riots. 19th century city is a very, very violent city. the things we have seen in recent years, past years, are nothing compared to what was a fairly regular occurrence in the 19th century, and often again often associated with voting. so these tactics as well as
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tammany's irish catholic constituency raise suspicions about tweed in 1871. tweed's critics and critics of this urban political culture, you know, had their suspicions all along, suspicions rooted in the fact that this urban political culture was catholic and was irish and was immigrant. all that being said, the prejudice has they brought to the reform itss brought to the case of tweed, all that being said, the charges in fact were true. tweed had spent several decades working his way up the tammany ladder. by the late 1860s he was able to engineer a restructuring of new york city politics that consolidated the real pow ter in the hands of those four people that made up the tweed ring. again, people that were largely
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un-elected. a mayor of course would be elected. but how do they have all the power? without being elected? they have the power because they control the finances of the city. and for two straight years, the 1870 to 1871 time, the city of new york time at tweed's direction borrowed money. borrowed money sometimes directly from banks. sometimes through bonds. you know, creating bond programs. for people to buy bonds with the hope of -- as an investment. and even attracting foreign investors into new york city. tweed was not particular about where the money came from or how it arrived. he was interested in bringing money into the coffers of new york city. now, of course, he is not doing this publicly at least. simply to enrich himself.
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why are people giving all this money to the treasury of new york city? to pay for building projects. the city is growing like every city in the 19th century, new york more than any other. so the city is growing. it needs roads. it needs buildings. it needs a lot of stuff. that's true. but how the stuff was built was how tweed enriched himself. so he is dealing with other people's money. borrowed funds. how does he make himself rich? does he simply stick it in his pocket and kind of straight embezzlement? that would be a little too easy and a little too easy to be -- to get caught at. his typical method was simply to bad -- excuse me, to pad building contracts. so, say a building, you know, you talk to the contractor and the building would cost maybe $10,000 in $1,870 to build.
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so tweed says, okay, give me a bill for $20,000. and you'll get your $10,000, you know, what you expect, and then me and my buddies will divide the other $10,000 ourselves. he could -- and when this arrangement, you could pretty much divide the extra funds between the big four and then a couple of accountants. you know, you've got to keep track of this and you have to keep your accountants happy. however, in this process there was at least one person that he did not keep happy, and there is always an informer? isn't there always an informer like in the marty mcguire movie? a political enemy within the democratic party itself eventually got hold of the accounts and turned it over to "the new york times." and so the -- and that's how the tweed ring was brought down.
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tweed's followers were shocked by the scale of the graft. the scale, but not the nature of the graft. tweed's supporters generally accepted some kind of graft that is skimming off the top as the cost of doing business. why would they support such a corrupt politician, such a corrupt immoral political practice? because they knew that however much tweed may have enriched himself, he, to some degree, shared the wealth. sometimes directly through patriots, getting a job in the city government itself, or even like giving a job to a cousin or a friend, someone you know, somebody would got a job from tweed, tweed's a guy.
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maybe he could help me. there is that direct patronage job. sometimes indirect financial benefit through, say, a job on these building projects that were funded by borrowing. tweed is lining his pockets on these building projects, but a working class new yorker is getting a job on one of these building projects. for them, hey, it's a job. i have tweed to thank for this. so tweed's okay with me. i don't care if he is getting his millions. i am feeding my family. this is basic survival. think of it as a situation similar to what we saw in the molly mcguire film. in the city, it's not coal mines, although if you have seen any pictures of new york city in the late 19th century, it's almost as filthy as a coal mine and there is a struggle for survival very similar and, you know, what are your options if you're in a working class at
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this time? it's somebody like tweed who at least seems to care about you in some way or the people operating the coal mines in eastern pennsylvania who care nothing about you at all, willing to let you starve and discard you. so those are your options. we do not live in an ideal world. people were happy to support somebody like tweed. perhaps most dramatically in terms of tweed's support for the working class of new york city, he earned the everlasting loyalty of many poor irish catholics during the civil war. and all the controversy over the draft. we didn't have too much time to go into the civil war in this class, but in 1863 the war was going badly and people in the north were no longer signing up. they were no longer enlisting. they were no longer volunteering. and so lincoln did what had
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never been done buffer. he instituted a federal draft. that is, people had to serve in the army. you had to serve unless you could buy your way out. if you could pay for a substitute, then you didn't have to fight. now, in terms of people wanting to fight or not, and there is a couple of considerations as we've talk about before, irish catholics very, very patriotic but also democrat and suspicious of a war to end slavery. some of that enthusiasm for the war waned and they had to choose between kind of patriotism for their country and simply staying at home and support their families. and many of them wanted to stay at home and support their families and didn't want to risk going off to war and dying and leaving their families destitute. well, you could buy your way out
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if you got a substitute to fight for you, except the cost of a substitute was $300. this is well beyond the means of any working class new yorker. and so in response to the draft, there were, dare i say it again, riots and tremendous riots, some of the worst riots in american history. interesting the -- the 1860s and 1960s, and there were protest for drafts from very different reasons and from different people. the 1860s were far more violent in terms of the draft rights in new yorksy, draft rights in which new york catholics played a prominent role. tweed comes to the rescue. he pays the bounty for many of these irish catholics. $300. this suspect just tweed lining his pockets. he is certainly using city funds. he says, okay, you don't want to fight for war because you have a family to support. i will pay your bounty. they are like, thank you, boss
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tweed. thank you, boss tweed. for those who still did want to go to war, especially if you are a single guy, if you don't have a family to support, war may be your best option because there was a $300 signing bonus if you enlisted. to keep lincoln happy, because lincoln statuted the draft because he needed bodies, tweed agreed to pate signing bonus for workers who were willing to go to war, but were especially like if they were married men, were concerned about their families. so, again, he pays the bounty for some workers. he pace the signing bonus for other workers who are willing to go to the war. either way, he is sharing the wealth, shall we say. and this, again, he becomes a hero for irish catholics because of this.
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this bond of loyalty forged most dramatically during the civil war between tweed and irish catholics in new york only deepened through the 1860s. to give you another example. while serving in the state assembly, and tweed's political positions, he jumped around all the time. it's not like today where people slowly work their way up, you know, congressman, senator, president, things like that. the political position that he had at any one time was not as important as his position as head of tammany. for a name the 1860s he served in the new york state assembly and arranged for state funds to be used to support catholic charities and catholic schools. now, this again think back to the school controversy that we looked at earlier. protestants, of course, objected to this. they didn't like state funds going to catholic charities, but that they were willing to accept because catholic charities were
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sometimes the only charities around. and especially the women religious, the nuns, sisters, worked in orphanages luke we have seen before. worked in orphanages. worked in hospitals. they were caring for the poor when no one else would do it. and even though the protestants were always suspicious much the poor, realized this work had to be done if only to kind of maintain some semblance of social order. so they kind of held their nose and were willing to allow state funds to be used to fund catholic charities that, you know, one could argue served the common good. charities such as orphanages and hospitals. schools were different. as we have seen, schools were the hot-button issue. and it was the -- the law was that it was illegal to have any money go to catholic schools. so -- but, you know, the law between friends, as tweed might say, he had be sneak your about
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this, but he channelled some funds to catholic schools. it was mainly catholic charities that he supported. with the state money. now, when tweed was confronted with this and accused of favoring catholics, he would say, look, i send money to protestant charities as well. if catholic charities receive more, it's because they support me more. you know? basic as that. you get what you pay for. i'll take protestant votes. i don't mind. and if i get protestant votes, i will return the favor by channeling some charity funds into protestants. protestant organizations. but again catholics, the charities, particularly those run by religious sisters, nuns were the most important private charities in new york in the 19th century. they got money from tweed, too. so, again, another -- even if you are not directly using an orphanage, tweed, a scots presbyterian, seems like a
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friend of irish catholics, he is a friend of the church, a friend to the good sisters running the orphanages and the hospitals. great for tweed. you know, he's enriching himself, but he is spreading it around and through that he is earning loyalty. again, this isn't just like money. this isn't just like bribing somebody to vote for you. he is building up a real kind of personal connection to voters. and the whole tammany system is doing that. so it's not just about money. it is about personal connections. however, it was also about money and a lot of it, and tweed, we could say, overreached in his grasp to the tune of $45 million or so. so tweed was indicted. he kind of spent most of the rest of the 1870s in and out of jail. sometimes he is convicted of some things and gets a reprieve.
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one thing i think he tried to escape to spain or something like that. he was caught and brought back. he died in april of 1878. died very much kind of a broken man. now, again, irish catholics had you could say a high tolerance for graft, but this seemed to be going too far. it's not that he didn't spread the wealth around, but he kept a disproportionate amount for himself. still irish catholics disappointed and kind of embarrassed by tweed because it seemed to confirm all of the worst criticisms and accusations made by protestants, still they remained loyal to tammany hall and the democratic party. you see the example of their thinking. and this is on roman numeral
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three letter c. the catholic newspaper, "the irish american" stated after the fall of tweed, one no more goes outside the party to -- than one goes outside the church. give you a sense of that connection. you know, this wasn't just -- you know, political parties in this situation was not just a political party. it was for them almost as sacred as the church because it was just as central to their survival. and again loyalty is everything. and so they could not turn their backs on tammany and the democratic party simply because of corruption. a corruption that, you know, went too far. they want to reform it from within. and that they would do, to some degree. reform in a tammany sense. tammany and reform? certainly scaling back the kind
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of -- the extremes of a tweed. being a little more moderate in, oh, yeah -- >> [ inaudible ]. >> have a broader impact on the national democratic city or limit today new york city? >> god question. it had national implications. harpers weekly was a national magazine and nast's cartoons were spread across the country. and they did -- they had a tremendous effect in terms of linking political corruption with local urban politics, but at the same time political corruption across the board in the late 1860s, the grant administration, so this is the national runner-up -- republican party rhetoric is one of kind of moral uprightness. you remember we looked at earlier grant's attack on catholic schools in name of, you
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know, republican political principles. still grant's administration was one of the most corrupt ever. it was corrupt up to that point. so there was a lot of graft at the national level. it's interesting that despite graft in the grant administration, the republican party still emerged as a kind of party of good governance because they spoke that rhetoric, whatever graft was going on, they spoke the language of good government and purity where the tammany and democrats never spoke that way. even the southern democrats were not so righteous as the northern republicans. and there is in coming out of the corruption in the grande grant administration another scandal. there is a movement at the national level for what they call civil service reform. this is the idea, don't want to get too much in it here, but good question you asked. to clarify, at the national
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level this is playing out at the national level as well. a reliable marker t. civil service reform. pendleton act around the early 1880s. i don't have the exact date in my mind. but here is the situation. to cut down on graft on like just getting your job -- giving jobs to your friend, the idea is like, well, we don't need cronies in government. we need people that can actually do the job. and so we need a civil service. that is, you are going to get a job in government not because you know somebody, but if you
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qualify. so there will be a civil service test you will take. this is something that will be played out at the national level, the pendleton act. civil service reform act mandated that greater percentage of federal government jobs would be acquired only through passing a civil service exam. this is in terms of the plunkett readings, there is a big issue with plunkett as well. i chose not to focus on it for reasons that we'll see here. but this is also being played out at the local level. civil service reform is something that connects national government politics and local politics. there is a whole tweed scandal and the general operation of local politics convinced many reformers, again largely protestant preformers, the way to get good government was civil service reform, to have, ideally, every position in
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government being staffed by somebody who was qualified. how do we know that they are qualified? well, they passed the civil service test. i'll digress a bit here. because actually this goes back to the -- james michael curly. the oft times mayor and one-time governor in boston and massachusetts. -time governor inn ask massachusetts. he won his first elected position he earned when he was in jail. he was in jail because he took, he and this other friend of his took civil he was in jail because he took civil service exams for a poor irish catholic who needed a city job but couldn't pass the civil service exam. and the civil service exam like an s.a.t. test. whatever skills it might assess or judge, it is primarily a way
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of weeding people out. dare i say the college degree, right? you go to apply for a job, you must have a four-year degree. really, to do this job, do i need a four-year degree? yes, you do. probably don't need it, but it's required. a way of weeding people out. that certainly was the purpose of these civil service at the local level. and so curly's response, and he was breaking the law, he was taking a test for somebody else, misrepresenting himself. but he turned that to his advantage in his campaign. his campaign slogan was "he did it for a friend and he got elected!" okay. i want a friend like that, somebody who can help me out. again, this does -- the local and the national political conversation, if lu, do link up on civil service. it is interesting how, even to this day, when we talk about corruption, it's always
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localized. always the local politicians, particularly, that is the corrupt ones. even at the -- think of contemporary politics. if government at the federal level is attacked, it's not so much more corruption, but for like big government, big spending toochl. it's not the bureaucrats are corrupt. it's that they are bureaucrats. skrupgs continues to be a link to -- the smoke-filled room, if you will. and even often, again, still with irish catholics, even though again the irish catholic dominance of the city is long passed, but that image endures of a tammany-style politician. the term tammany long after the demise of tammany hall is still a part of our political vocabulary in america, a symbol of kind of corruption. tammany knew this. and they knew they could not simply go on conducting business as usual, and so they began a
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kind of reform effort of their own. the fall of boss tweed was actually a key transition point not just in tammany trying to spruce up its image to be more respectable, but in the shift from a non-irish catholic leadership to irish catholic leadership. the key figure on your outline is honest john kelly, who rose to politics. irish catholic boss in new york in the 1870s. kelly was along-time tammany operative. he knew how tammany worked. but he had been ill and out of the country during the worst of the tweed scandals the so he had a relatively screen record. most reformers weren't buying the honest john label. but it only heightened. it's like it's bad enough when a
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scots presbyterian like tweed was leading this irish catholic rabil. now the irish catholics are in leadership positions themselves. and again there is truth even to that nasty political cartoon that we began with of this link between irish catholics and local politics. it is true. it is true and best expressed by an anecdote often linked to old honest john kelly. in 1878 the dedication of st. patrick's cathedral in new york, kelly, so you know, he was actually -- he was married to the niece of new york's cardinal archbishop john mccluskey. okay. there is a connection there. it's a family connection there. if you wonder about the church and local politics, there is definitely a connection there. but kelly, according to this story, apparently kind of raised his glass at this different after the dedication of the
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cathedral. raised his glass and said god bless the two greatest organizations in the world, the catholic church and tammany hall. a brief pause. the person next says, what's the second one? he is like, they are one. and most people denied -- most irish catholics at this time would have no problem with that. again, irish supported tammany because tammany supported them. in any number of ways. tammany was often the difference between life and death for the poor of new york. and again what are your options when you look at, you know, power? who do you turn to for help? do you turn to tammany hall, however much these people may enrich themselves, does seem to care about you in some way, brings you coal in winter when you have no heat? brings you a turkey at thanksgiving when you have no food. or the respectable mine owners
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in eastern pennsylvania who were all above board and did everything, of course, according to the law. see, not everything according to the law, but presented themselves as being respectable, law-abiding, even if they didn't care for their workers. there is no choice for new york at the time. and again tammany had that -- irish catholics in new york had a personal connection, certainly connections to the church, connection to neighborhoods, ultimately connection to community. what i want to stress is though they are disbursing material benefits, this isn't simply about material benefits. it's not like, here is a check, buy something for yourself. it is about community. and i think even though the reading that we have for today, the exempts from plunkett of tammany hall, this text, which
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this is the book, and the book -- this comes from -- this is -- starting to deal with the focus on the civil service issue because plunkett has all these things to say civil service, how it's ruining politics, destroying politics because it was undermining tammany style politics. i want to focus on another aspect of the book, the ways in which plunkett presents tammany in the context of community. it's not simply distributing material benefits, going down to tammany and pick up a check and go home. it's about community and building relationships. but building relationships through certainly, through providing material needs. george washington plunkett is your last image today. the photograph. this is plunkett at the new york county courthouse boot black stand which is his papal throw-in if you will where he
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speaks on the sharing the political wisdom to new york. this is the kind of place that a tammany politician would be kind of right in the heart of things. like tweed held a variety of positions from anything from local alderman, a city council councilman, to new york state assembly and senator. but again the particular position didn't matter so much as his access to patronage jobs. that's how he built loyalty for voters and this is also how he enriched himself. and again think of the tweed scandal and the problem of excessive enrichment. the point of tammany hall was written 30 years or so after, 1905. things have changed somewhat. some distinctions, shall we say, introduced. but there is no pretense here. there is no, like, oh, we're
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honest politicians, we are above board, we would never enrich ourselves through politics. no. he is very up front. the first chapter is very upfront about the fact that he does, in fact, enrich himself through politics, but he makes a key -- i don't know if i would say a arist tailian, distinct perhaps you haven't encountered in your philosophy classes. the distinction between honest and dishonest graft. this passage here. everybody is talking these days about tammany men growing rich on graft but nobody thinks of drawing the distinction between honest and dishonest graft. there is always all the difference in the world. many have grown rich in politics. i have myself. i made a big fortune out of the game and i am getting richer every day but i am not going in for dishonest graft, and neither is any of the men who made big fortunes in politics. there is no honest graft. not an example of how it works.
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i might sum up the whole thing by saying i see my opportunities and i took them. let me explain by example. my party's in power in the city. and it's going to take a lot of public improvements. they are going to lay out a new park in a certain place. i see my opportunity and i take it. i go d to that place and buy up all the land i can? the neighborhood. then the board of this or that makes a plan and rush to get my land which nobody cared for before. which nobody cares in particular but nobody cared. we charge a good price and make a profit. of course i. do again, let's say a unique, particular kind of moral distinction. this didn't assure reformers that he was -- it certainly seems light and was a justification for what he is doing. but he goes on to make an
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important distinction. certainly graft is intended to be comical. all this is done in the light way. though we will see this later. but he goes on with all the lightness in his tone. this is important. and it's in a chapter where he is responding to one of these written -- , exposing all this corruption. exposing the graft. it is written by lincoln let's go to the passage here. like our farmers, he can see no difference between honest graft and dishonest craft. in consequence he is all mixed up. there is the biggest difference between political looters and
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politicians who make a fortune out of politics by keeping their eyes open. allude or goes in for himself alone without considering himself, his organization, the organization's interest. all these interest at the same time. for instance, i ain't no looter. i never have been. i made my money in politics but at the same time i got more improvements for new york city. i never monkeyed the penal code. so again, for his constituents, if they're getting jobs, that is fine. it doesn't have to be equal. and the fancy clothes he might wear, something to do with fire chiefs, but the distinction is between a politician and eluder. alluded keeps it all for himself. you could say that looking back,
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tweed, given the enormous disparity, tweed would be judged allude or he took too much for himself. and that's the immorality. he keeps it for himself. but you spread it around? take more for yourself? you deserve to get a bit more if you are the leader. as long as you are spreading around fairly or equally. and again, think of what the alternatives are. the owners for eastern pennsylvania. the slaughterhouse owners we will be looking at after the break and later in the semester. the slaughterhouse is back in chicago. so it's not that tammy has no moral code -- he has a different one. the difference between right and wrong here is primarily and how you treat others. it's not strict adherents to the rules.
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because for tammy, it's not about rules, it's about people. and i sue most people in this class our history majors who are never led astray by -- political science. [laughs] >> as a few things to say about political science and book learning and all that. now that's not to say that he does not have his political theory. aristotle and the ancient world and the founding fathers, he believes that it is a reflection of human nature. he is a different conception of human nature than aristotle. and this is in chapter six. beholder district, so it's like, get reelected. study human nature and act accordingly.
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there's only one way to hold a district, to study human nature and act accordingly. you can't have human nature invokes. this is a hindrance more than anything else. if you have been to college so much it will work for you. you have to unlearn all you learn before you can get down to human nature and unlearning takes a lot of time. someone can never unlearn what they have in college. they may do so by a fluke but it never lasts. you have to go out among the people. i know every man woman and child. i know some of them to. i know what they like, don't like, what they are strong and weak in. i approached them by the right side. for instance, here's how i gather the young man. i hear the young fellow who can see fine, come around, and he
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comes and follows him for life. i bring him to a baseball match. i take him to the polls -- i look for his ticket at the polls next election day. and then there is growing on the river. maybe he was a walls are on the block. i wrote him all in by giving him opportunities. i don't trouble them with political arguments, i just study human nature and act accordingly. again, he is building up loyalties not simply through politics, to improve the city, but by giving the people something to do. giving them a social life and encouraging the things that they like that they then come to assess associate with their
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political party. and it's interesting as a quick aside here. a lot of these activities that were done through political parties or through paternal organizations, they have gradually been absorbed by the schools. the school becomes everything. and the spirit of the civil service, we have to get people playing baseball for tammany hall? no. you want to sing? seeing at your high school for tammany hall. arts, entertainment, if you will. people developed in this political context. the context of these political clubs, gradually, the school absorbs. pluck it could see that happen. but he has schools and book learning. so, again, plunkitt sees human
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nature and acts accordingly. he builds up life through things that are not directly related to politics but that have political benefits. he gives them something to do and encourages their activities. they pay him back by voting for him. this is kind of a multiplier effect and it just takes doing it for a few people. people demand their benefits and say who should i vote for? well, tammany he's great, he help me seeing him play baseball. but human nature, aside from singing and playing sports, tammany also recognize more basic aspects of human nature. food and clothing and shelter. and this has continued in a later section, in chapter six, how to study nature and act accordingly. he writes in terms of direct aid, material needs of people.
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holding your grip on your district, the trick is to help the people in different ways they need help. there is regular systems for this. if there's a fire in the ninth or tenth 11th avenue, and they are of the day, i go with my election district captain as soon as the fire engines -- the family is burnt out, i don't ask if they're republicans or democrats. i deliver them to charity organizations that investigate the case and decide if they are worthy of help about the time they're dead from starvation. i go to them if their clothes are burned up. it is philanthropy but it is politics as well. good politics. think how many votes one of these fires brings me. he could be setting the fire himself. more of the grateful people in the world, let me tell you, they have more friends than their neighbors. the family in my district that
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wants, i know it before the charitable societies do and me in my men are first on the ground. it's hard to look at such cases. the consequence is that people look upon plunkitt as a father, people come to him in time of need. the consequence is that plunkitt is not forgotten on election day. so again, there's an exchange here, you need something, i need something. i want to comment on one part of this talk, where he talks about the charity organization societies. a big distinction at the time between -- kind of like the protestant charity organizations and the catholic ones. the protestants had much more of a sense of suspicion -- if you are poor, why do you need food?
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were you irresponsible, a drunk? we need to determine if you are truly worthy. rather than just a lazy good for nothing. and so there was a creeping in from the catholic charities as well but in general, they went, well, it's not your fault, look at the city. it's not your fault that you are poor. so with the catholic organization, the charity organizations, they were generally far fewer questions asked. fewer cases of undergoing this moral scrutiny of the poor. looking for handouts. and that of course can still be with us today. i've spoken about tammany mainly in terms of irish catholics and in the public profile of tammany and the leadership. they were the dominant group. but new york was changing. certainly by the late 19th century, there's a new wave of
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immigrants and there's looking on of the immigrants in the early 20th century. and so a lot of times, there are -- and jews. you might think, with the times it is going to be a natural religious connection with the irish. but that really didn't play out. the alliance was more with jews then with italians. just seeing earlier in the semester, it is not like a common faith was able to overcome the divisions in some way. in some ways it almost increased the rivalry. but the demographics of new york are changing and new immigrants are coming in. what is tammy to do with them? the historians often made a contrast between -- saying that the irish on the
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east coast were more tribal, less willing to bring in other ethnic groups. whereas the midwest, like in chicago, it was more of a big tent in terms of ethnic groups. there certainly some truth to that but in plunkitt's account, tammany seas -- and religion is not a -- every person represents a vote. in terms of, i don't care if you are a democrat or republican, i will help you. so when it comes to the immigrant group, i don't care what your ethnic group is, you know, everyone in that city is a potential voter and i will do what i can to get your vote. and he says, here, toward the end, the last section that i gave for you. he is talking about johnny hearn of the fourth district, the guys out on the street.
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the guys making contact with the people who can determine what they need. and providing them with what they need. and so he writes about this. johnny hearn of the third and fourth district, are just the men for such places. so he's talking about the different ethnic groups. he is perfect for this district. it's consistent with half irishman and half jews. popular as with one as with the other. he eats corn beef and kosher beef with equal nonchalance and it's all the same whether he takes his hat off in church or put down over his ears in a synagogue. when in rome, do is the romans do. it's an example here of an irish name, john hearn, but he is freely among irish catholics and among jewish immigrants. it's this irish jewish alliance,
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if you will, that was very important in new york. certainly in the entertainment world. broadway dominated by the irish, over to jews, something we will look at, and tammany produces the first presidential candidate, smith. and the election team is largely jewish in competition. the irish lines that goes to the first attempt for tammany in winning the national election. any questions? okay, just to finish up here then, especially in that last passage i read to you, by plunkitt's account, politics seems capable of uniting people across ethnicity and religion. but of course, the reality is
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more complicated. we have already seen how even in the catholic church, ethnic divisions undermine unity. and i do share a common thread, deeply shared by ethnicity. and in all cases there are certainly a different culture. and that culture is not enough to unite people across different cultures. in the beginning of the next class and for the next couple of weeks, we are going to keep our attention on the city but turned to a different city. the other great city of industry, chicago. particular neighborhood within the city as well, the back of the yard, the slaughterhouse section of chicago. and we are going to look at the ways in which this largely catholic neighborhood nonetheless was home to ethnic divisions that remain strong well into the 1930s.
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we saw already how certain church leaders tried to overcome these divisions by making everybody the same, by getting rid of ethnicity and by participating in the public school system. that wasn't going to work. chicago's ethnic ties were very, very strong. but what we will see, coming out of the slaughterhouse neighborhood in the 1930s from the 19th century, a new kind of politics was rooted in the new practical concerns. and was able to move beyond them and form something like a principled language of justice. never going into the moral-ism of the protestant performers, but a broader language of justice and a principled language of justice that was needed in response to the greatest economic challenge facing the city, of the -- the great depression.
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the great depression that didn't follow the cycle of previous ones. and called for something more than a type of direct material aid that tammany was able to provide before the depression. i will see well on thursday.


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