Tammany Hall vs. the People's Municipal League

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Tammany Hall vs. the People's Municipal League
by Carl Schurz
From The New York Times of October 29, 1890. Carl Schurz's remarks had no title and were a minor portion of this political rally of October 28 at Cooper Union in New York City. His remarks and the part of the Times article preliminary to them are presented here.


THE GERMANS ARE IN LINE



HUNDREDS OF THEM RATIFY THE
PEOPLE'S TICKET


A GREAT MASS MEETING AT THE COOPER
UNION — SPEECHES BY CARL SCHURZ,
MR. SCOTT, AND OTHERS.


If there was any doubt as to which way the great body of the German vote is going in the pending municipal election that doubt was settled at Cooper Union last night. Such a demonstration of the German citizens of New-York has not been seen in many years. It testified powerfully to the deep hold which the issues involved in this city election have taken upon their minds. The election means more to these sturdy German burghers than a mere exchange of political machinery; to them it involves the important question of reform in municipal government.

Long before the time for the beginning of the meeting the large hall was crowded. Every seat was occupied, and the people encroached as far upon the aisles as the police would permit them, and then hundreds were turned away unable to gain even standing room in the doorways. The audience had evidently come with their minds made up to do something to effect a reform in the City Government, for every hit that was made by the speakers found a quick response in cheers and applause.

The appearance of “the First German-American citizen,” as Mr. Carl Schurz was called, was the signal for the first outburst of applause, and the enthusiasm of the audience never lagged from the time to the close, three hours later. The German people, irrespective of party, had gathered to ratify the county ticket of the People's Municipal League, and they ratified it with one of the most spirited and significant mass meetings of the campaign.

Mr. H. C. Küdlich, a well-known lawyer, called the meeting to order and nominated for permanent Chairman Mr. Gustav H. Schwab, who was unanimously elected. Mr. Schwab was received with a prolonged demonstration of welcome, and the following were then nominated and elected Presidents of the meeting:


Oswald Ottendorfer, George Hagemeyer,
Carl Schurz, F. Eidmann,
Phillip Bissinger, Carl Hutter,
Hermann G. Schwab, J. B. Keller,
Dr. A. Jacobi, Charles Palm,
Friedrich Krutina, Frederick Mehr,
Oscar Zollikoffer, G. Marschling,
Adolph Kuttroff, George B. Palmenberg,
F. W. Holls, Julius May,
J. F. Pupke, G. Pfingsten,
Paul Loeser, R. A. Steinecke,
H. R. Kunhardt, Jr., G. E. Stechert,
William Pickhardt, Charles F. Tag,
Dr. F. Lange, William Kuhles,
Carl Pickhardt, William Klotz,
Theodore Kilian, Solomon Loeb,
J. H. Schiff, Friederich K. Zeller,
C. Schmitz, William Wicke,
Wheaton H. Kunhardt, A. Keller,
William Vigelius, Hubert Gillis,
C. M. von Baur, William Ehlers,
Joseph Movinn, Marcus Goldman,
William Ottmann, C. F. E. Hohenthal,
George Nembach, Dr. H. Balser,
Augustus Zinsser, F. C. Gerber,
R. Van der Emde, William Baumgarten,
Albert Tag, John E. Krieg,
A. F. Troescher, Dr. Charles F. Kremer,
Julius Heller, Dr. Augustus Krehbiel,
Marcus Eidlitz, August Barth,
Caspar Fechtler, F. Beck,
Emil Gabler, Edward May,
G. Gunther, C. Pfirsching,
Max Nathan, Peter Koch,
Edward Oppenheimer, Dr. H. G. Klotz,
Dr. Joseph H. Senner, George H. Beyer,
R. H. Adams, Theo. Kauffeld,
Charles E. Seitz, G. Kaufmann,
Dr. C. Langmann, Charles K. Lexow,
T. W. Krueger, Henry Eindemeyer,
Dr. Edward Schwedler, Louis Windmuller,
Justus Poggenburg, Dr. Joseph Wiener,
A. Von Briesen, Richard Walter,
William Zinsser, August Von Dorp,
M. J. Adrian, O. F. Zollikoffer,
Charles Eimer, Emil Seidenberg,
Bernhardt Amend, William Schwind,
Paul Goepel, William Keuffel,
C. E. Hauselt, H. Koch,
Dr. Theo. E. Heidenfeld,  Charles F. Zerker,
Solomon Oppenheimer, William Fenn Prompel,
George Steck, John H. Lange,
Emil Unger, John Lindenmeyer,
Ralph Trautmann, Hellmuth Kranich,
Edward Grosse, Floranz Kroeber,
Charles W. Held, Mayer Lehmann,
Christ Voelzing, Charles Reinworth,
Martin Schrenkeisen, C. Pfirsching,
Louis Schneider, Fred A. Ringler,
G. W. Rokohl, Peter Koch,
William Schlemmer, Max Reiss,
Gustav Schirmer, L. S. Goeled,
August Roessler, Martin Haupt,
Casimir Tag, Hugo H. Hoenack,
E. G. Tamsen, Philip Diehl,
A. Knauth, Adolph Bowsky,
P. Knauth, Leopold Bowsky,
William Kilian, Gustav Junker,
A. Kerbs, Henry Evers,
C. L. Jaeger, William F. Rausch,
Gustav Jacoby, Charles Dexeiner,
F. J. Kaldenberg, John Fennel,
Jacob Kammerer, Henry Diefenthaler,
Isidor Neuberger, Frederick O. Detman,
Charles Rohe, Ludwig T. Thoma,
Robert Rothlisberger, Dr. G. Scholer,
Dr. B. Scharlau, August Marschall,
Hermann L. Rokohl.


RINGING RESOLUTIONS.


Mr. Kudlich presented, as an expression of the sentiments of the meeting, the following resolutions, the reading of which was frequently interrupted by applause:


We, German-Americans assembled in Cooper Institute for the purpose of taking position in the present electoral campaign, hereby declare our firm adherence to the principle of the separation of municipal affairs from State and national politics. This separation is a vital necessity for our city, without which our municipal government will continue to be the plaything of party politics and the victim of the corruption that results therefrom.

Our Municipal Government has nothing to do with the question, which distinguish the great parties in national and State politics. The improvement, draining, and lighting of the streets, the maintenance of public order, the execution of the criminal laws, the protection of the public health, the ordering and improvement of our street traffic, the conservation of our water front and the building of new piers for the purpose of fostering our extensive commerce, the management of our public schools and their increase with a view to the accommodation of all school children, the equal taxation of our citizens according to their means, the furnishing of pure water in sufficient quantities, effective protection against fire, and the preservation, embellishment, and augmentation of our public parks are business affairs that should be attended to without consideration of the interests of the Democratic or Republican Party.

Our city, with its population of over 1,500,000 inhabitants, its natural advantages, its incomparable harbor, its enormous commerce, and its great industries, is not only destined to be the centre of the commerce of the world, but could be made the most beautiful of the world if its affairs were administered on business principles, without regard to party interests.

We, German-Americans, assembled here, therefore bind ourselves without distinction of party to make this our objective point in the approaching election, and to use our best endeavor to defeat that organization whose domination renders impossible the consummation of this object.

Tammany Hall has furnished the proof during the last two years that it considers the interests of the Commonwealth as nothing but means to enrich its members with a view to the preservation and fortifying of its organization. An economical, capable, and progressive administration of the City Government is impossible under the domination of Tammany Hall. The administration of Mayor Grant has distinguished itself by broken promises, by the ruthless application of the principle to the victor belong the spoils, by appointments made in the interests of politics and without any regard to the capacity of the appointee, through which the public service has been debased and the community outraged.

In various departments, notably in the Register's and the County Clerk's office, the expenditures have increased in inverse ratio to the reduction of work and of the revenues through appointment of a band of superfluous officials. Our streets have become dirtier in proportion as the cost of cleaning them has increased. In order to deceive the citizens as to the cost of administering the city, Tammany Hall has advanced the tax valuation of real estate, especially on the east side, where the market and rental values have remained the same. Assessments on saloon keepers and other business men who are more or less dependent upon the good-will of the police and other departments, for the benefit of the Tammany Hall treasury, have been more actively levied than even at the time of the Tweed ring.

The victory of Tammany Hall at the approaching election would make all public improvements depend upon the profit that Tammany Hall could extract from them, would surrender to her the entire City Government, and would render the administration of criminal justice subject to her baneful influence. The citizens would lay their property, their security, their life entirely in the hands of Tammany Hall. If victorious, Tammany Hall would become so fixed on her throne that her yoke could not be thrown off for years. Therefore we pledge ourselves to compass the defeat of the Tammany Hall county ticket with every legitimate means in our power, and to elect the candidates of the People's Municipal League, whose character and past give us a certain guarantee that the principles that we have announced will be realized, and who besides entertain opinions with reference to personal liberty that accord with those of most German-Americans.

We request all our fellow-citizens who care for the well-being of our city to join us in our common endeavor to secure the victory for the candidates of the People's Municipal League and a decisive recognition of the principle of separation of municipal affairs from State and national politics.


MR. SCHURZ MAKES AN APPEAL.


After the formal organization of the meeting and the adoption of the resolutions Chairman Schwab said he would introduce a German citizen of whom all Germans are proud. With these words he presented the Hon. Carl Schurz. After the loud and long-continued applause and cheers had subsided Mr. Schurz said:

Fellow-Citizens and Friends: I stand before you to-day not as a party man, but as an American citizen, and I see before me both Republicans and Democrats. I come forward as a German-American to say a few earnest words to German-Americans. We are here as citizens of this great Republic and have a duty to perform to this country that has given us a second home. This does not prevent us from keeping up the honor of the German name, and it is for the honor of the German name that I shall speak.

Why do I associate Tammany Hall with corruption? When you read Tammany's platform and the great speeches delivered by its men you might imagine that Tammany was an academy of sciences and of patriotism. Croker reads to his men political morals. Perhaps people imagine Hugh Grant absorbed in thought over the tariff and Gilroy in engineering problems, and all are trying to elevate New-York to the highest pinacle of beauty and prosperity.

But what do they really do? They give one Tammany man who has fifty votes a clerkship, although he cannot read. Another Tammany man who has 100 votes is given a fat contract, and some proprietor of a play hell, who has a few more votes, is given free license to ply his infernal trade.

Tammany is not a political party. It is simply a gang of politicians banded together to rob the city of New-York. Have you ever heard of a reform achieved by Tammany Hall? Did you ever know an honest Democratic citizen who wanted to effect a reform who did not incur Tammany's enmity? All that Tammany's men think of is to make Tammany strong, and they regard the city as a large soup bowl that is to be kept fat and full for “the boys.”

For all this there is only one remedy, and that is to take the City Government out of politics and conduct it on a business basis. What has street cleaning to do with the McKinley bill or with the negroes of South Carolina? Let us wash ourselves and leave the negroes alone.

At last a great organization has arisen. I attended its formation, and I can tell you from observation and experience that I never saw a political movement that was made of better elements. Here is my friend Schwab, the brave son of a worthy father, whom I have always honored. Thus one is like the other. I never saw such an organization make a happier choice as when it selected Scott. I know the man. If you were to search all over the city, you will not find a better man who has studied and understands the city's needs, who knows the good as well as the bad men, who has sound judgment, and who is the man to seize the thief by the throat and compel him to disgorge. This is my friend Scott. I have grown old in American affairs, and do not hurriedly trust a man. But I am certain that Scott will prove the proper man for the place, and that he will not misuse the powers that you intrust to him.

With such a ticket how is it possible that Germans should stand by Tammany? Here is a united German Democracy. Its members say they have tried to divorce municipal from national politics. But until that is enacted by law they want to support Tammany. The German Democratic organization of the city of New-York says that because of the union ticket, because there are Republicans on it, they will not support it. What do they want? Cherubim and Seraphim, with Gabriel for Mayor and Michael for Sheriff? Should we ask Michael about the McKinley bill and Gabriel about Boss Platt? I would say to these gentlemen not to be ashamed of their shame, but to come right over to us, among whom no one is ashamed. I appeal to you for the honor of the German name. In another week the elections will take place. See that the German name comes out unscathed.

Loud and long-continued applause followed this speech. After order had been once again restored, the Chairman introduced Mr. Fred W. Halls, who made a strong address, and then the Chairman presented John W. Goff. ...


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).