Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Treaty of Shackamaxon

Tammany Hall

photograph of the exterior of Tammany Hall

Tammany Hall, New York City, 1914. The name Tammany derived from the Lenape leader Tamanend, with whom William Penn was said to have agreed to the “Great Treaty.” (Library of Congress)

Library of Congress

Tammany Hall in New York City is the central building in this image. According to historical legend, the leader of the Lenni Lenape tribe with whom William Penn made his treaty was named Tamanend, who is quoted as saying the English and Lenni Lenape would “live in peace as long as the waters run in the rivers and creeks and as long as the stars and moon endure.” After his death at the turn of the eighteenth century, Tamanend became a hero figure. Colonists who wished to create a uniquely American identity for themselves chose to deify the Native American, calling him “King Tammany” and “The Patron Saint of America.” Tammany Societies sprung up throughout the colonies in the early eighteenth century, and many threw Tammany Festivals to celebrate and honor Tamanend’s memory. Some Tammany societies endured, and this 1914 photograph shows the infamous Tammany Hall in Manhattan. After having a variety of meeting places, or “wigwams,” the New York Tammany Society built this structure in 1867. This building was the headquarters for the organization that became synonymous with political corruption and the Democratic Party’s political machine.

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