Tammany Society

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The Tammany Society was a patriotic organization that championed democratic government and opposed aristocracy. Formed circa 1786, the Tammany Society had branches across the United States, but the most powerful office was located in New York. The organization was named for a Delaware Native American chief, Tamanend. The Tammany Society tended to support the Democratic-Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Most members felt that the Federalist Party and the Whig Party were too aristocratic. In 1798, Aaron Burr gained control of the Tammany Society in New York. He also had a great deal of influence among other chapters in the rest of the United States. Burr turned the Tammany Society into a political machine, which would advocate democratic institutions but try to prevent Federalists and other candidates that supported a more elitist view of America from gaining political office.

The Tammany Society came to Ohio during the early 1800s as Ohio's legislature and judiciary battled over their respective roles in government. Many members of the legislature, led by Edward Tiffin, believed that the Ohio legislature should dominate the government. Supporters of the judiciary, led by Samuel Huntington, believed that the court must have legislative oversight to protect the Ohio Constitution.

By 1810, the supporters of legislative supremacy were losing the battle. Many Ohioans viewed their actions as too extreme. In 1809, Tiffin's backers sought to impeach Judge George Tod and Judge Calvin Pease. Both men retained their positions by a single vote. The legislature also issued a resolution, removing all incumbent judges from office. Finally, to gain more support for their cause, Tiffin's backers agreed to move Ohio's capital to Zanesville. Most legislative supporters resided near Chillicothe. To triumph against the judiciary, Tiffin's supporters needed votes from across Ohio, including from people in Zanesville.

As the legislature's supporters lost favor, they organized Tammany Societies. The first one formed was at Chillicothe. Each society became known as a “wigwam.” Tammany members dominated the Ohio General Assembly during 1810 and 1811, and they managed to prevent attempts to allow incumbent judges to remain in office. Many Ohioans opposed the Tammany Society, believing that government should not be conducted in secret. Ohio's Tammany Society collapsed by the War of 1812.

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