The Tammany Hall was a political club in New York City that largely controlled the Democrat Party in Manhattan from 1800 to the 1950s. Opponents, such as the Bourbon Democrats, always called it corrupt, charging that it traded favors for votes.
Most of Tammany's leaders were Irish Catholics, but the most notorious leader was a Protestant, William "Boss" Tweed, in the 1860s.
When Al Smith ran for President in 1928, anti-Catholics across the country attacked his association with Tammany. (Smith was quite honest, but he was endorsed by Tammany Hall.)
By extension, the term "little Tammany" has often been applied to a Democrat Party machine in a smaller city, such as Kansas City in the 1930s.
Political cartoons by Thomas Nast were very effective in weakening the power of Tammany Hall and overcoming some of its corruption.
- Kenneth D. Ackerman, Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York (2005) excerpt and text search
- William L. Riordon, ed. Plunkitt Of Tammany Hall (2004), highly revealing memoirs of Plunkitt, a district Tammany leader from 1910. excerpt and text search