The International Jew/Volume 3/Chapter 53
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How Jews Ruled and Ruined Tammany Hall
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Within the memory even of young men, Tammany Hall has been the synonym of all political trickery, in the vocabulary of popular criticism. Tammany Hall was held up as the worst example of boss rule and political corruption that it was possible to find in either of the parties. Its very name became a stigma.
But even the most unobservant newspaper reader must have observed the gradual fading out of Tammany Hall from public comment, the cessation of the bitter criticism, the entire absence of headlines bristling with ugly charges, and the calling of the hosts of good citizenship to do battle against the grim bossism that maintained its headquarters at the Wigwam.
Why this change? Is it due to the dying out of Tammany Hall as a political force? No, Tammany is still there, as any New York politician will tell you. Is it due, then, to a reform of that organization? No, the Tammany tiger has not changed its stripes. Then, perhaps, this change is due to public sentiment? Not at all. The explanation is to be found along other lines.
There was a time when fearless publications told the truth about Tammany, but Harper’s Weekly and others which waged fierce war against the Tiger, have either gone out of existence or have fallen under control of the Jews. The silence which has shrouded certain matters must not be noted and set aside without reference to the changed control of the press. There was a time when public bodies like the Citizens’ Union organized to oppose Tammany and to keep a volunteer vigil on its activities; these groups have succumbed to Jewish contributions and officership and no longer stand guard.
The outcry against Tammany seemed to be hushed the moment that Tammany patronage fell into the hands of New York Jews, where it now reposes, the Kehillah being the real political center, and Tammany but a distributing station—a sort of organizational “Gentile front” for the more powerful Kehillah. A few Tammany leaders are permitted to strut out in front, but everyone knows that from the Wigwam chiefs the power has departed, it is now to be found in Jewish conferences. Murphy is still the titular head of Tammany, but like a Samson shorn, he is not feared and obeyed as of yore. In fact, the Judaization of Tammany Hall is now complete. Once in a while the Irish—always a match for the Jews—rear their heads and show battle, but for the most part Jewish money rules and the Tiger lies down.
Tammany Hall was one of the strongest political organizations ever seen in the United States, potent not only in municipal and state politics, but often exercising a decisive influence on national affairs. It was, without exaggeration, powerful.
If there is one quality that attracts Jews, it is power. Wherever the seat of power may be, thither they swarm obsequiously. As Tammany was power and the gate of power, it was natural that the Jews of the biggest Jewish city in the world should court it. Doubtless, they were also affected by the incongruity of the fact that in the biggest Jewish city, the most solid political power was non-Jewish. That was a condition which called for correction.
When the German Jewish banker, Schoenberg, came to this country under the name of August Belmont to represent the interests of the Rothschilds, his keen eye at once took in the situation and at once he began to court the favor of Tammany. He became a member and a supporter. It was good business for this Jewish banker, because the funds of the Rothschilds were heavily invested in New York tractions. The properties of city tractions were and to a great extent still are, as in all American cities, at the mercy of the local Tammany power, by whatever name it may be known. Belmont was insinuating himself under the wing of power to protect the investments for which he was responsible.
August Belmont eventually attained the coveted eminence of Grand Sachem of the Tammany Society. The Belmont family for a time represented the sole Jewish banking support of Tammany Hall, but that honor is now divided among many.
In Richard Croker’s day, when corruption went hand in hand with power, and power apparently was none the weaker for it, we find that this notorious leader’s intimate friend, business partner and political associate was a Jew—Andrew Freedman. Freedman and Croker lived together at the Democratic Club in Fifth Avenue, Tammany politicians even then having become rich enough to despise Fourteenth Avenue. Freedman held the purse strings of the organization, as head of the Committee on Finance, and he was Croker’s representative and mouthpiece when the chief went into exile on an over-sea estate.
The most recent Jewish power in Tammany Hall, and one of the most liberal contributors to Tammany campaign funds, is the lawyer, Samuel Untermeyer, whose specialty of recent years seems to be to serve as the battering ram of the Jewish power against interests which it wants destroyed, and whose efforts are usually camouflaged under exaggerated journalistic advertisements as being wholly in the public interest. Mr. Untermeyer is not in particularly good humor with Tammany these days, because of the recent defeat of his son, Irving Untermeyer, for a judgeship. There was somewhere a slip. The Jews deserted the Wilson ship anyway, apparently seeing what was coming in the way of retribution for the colossal and amazing mismanagement of war business which was principally in their hands; and in the ensuing mix-up, a scion of the house of Untermeyer tasted defeat.
Tammany numbers other Jews among its supporters. Nathan Straus, one of the owners of R. H. Macy & Company, has been for years an active member of the organization and one of the rulers of its inner councils.
A Jewish ghetto politician, Henry M. Goldfogle, has represented the Jewish interests in Congress for a number of years, and expected to continue, but he slipped in the election and has recently been “taken care of” by a city appointment.
There is also Judge Rosalsky who has been implicated in a number of interesting matters which illustrate the completeness of the Jewish network of control in New York City.
One might mention also M. L. Erlanger and Warley Platzek, justices of the supreme court of the state of New York, but if one began a list of the Jewish judiciary of that city, where would one end?
Another Tammanyite is Randolph Guggenheimer, founder of the corporation law firm of Guggenheimer, Untermeyer and Marshall—Untermeyer being the aforesaid grand inquisitor of Gentile activities generally and Marshall being head of the American Jewish Committee and the Kehillah.
It was doubtless necessary for a Jewry that contemplated control of the judiciary as well as special protection for certain powerful Jewish enterprises that are near enough to the borderline of the law to merit question—it was necessary to obtain control of the supreme political engine through which favors were disbursed in local politics. And control of such organizations can always be had by money.
Not that the Jews threw themselves entirely into Tammany. The Jew’s natural political home seems to be in the Republican party, for thither he returns after venture elsewhere. But his predilection for the Republican party does not move the Jew to make the mistake of being exclusively the partisan of one group. It is better, as he knows, to control both groups.
As a matter of political fact, strong as is the Jewish element in Tammany, it is still stronger in the ranks of the Republican party, while New York Socialism is completely headed and manned by Jews. This renders it extremely easy for the Jews to swing support in whichever direction they choose, and for Kehillah to fulfill any threat it may make. It also insures that any Jewish candidate on any ticket will be elected. The fluke in the case of young Untermeyer is perhaps not to be entirely explained politically; other causes were doubtless working in that matter.
It is a long time since Ferdinand Levy bore the distinction of being the first Jew in New York to hold a political job. He was only a coroner, and the man who appointed him was only a fire commissioner, but the fire commissioner was Richard Croker. And Levy was solidly backed by the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith, whose success in this matter laid the foundation for more ambitious demands later.
But at the beginning, the Kehillah Jews adopted the ancient policy, not of putting forward their own people, but non-Jews who could be useful to Judah. The difference between pro-Jewish politicians who are not themselves Jews, and politicians of the Jewish race, is that the former in office can sometimes go further than the Jew in office can, without detection. This has been true at least up to this time, but it will probably not be true very long, now that the people’s eyes are being opened. The Jewish officeholder is only standing for his race, but the “Gentile front” has betrayed the people for the pottage of Jewish favor.
Thus, in the early days of Tammany, indeed until comparatively recent years, we see the “Gentile front” in Tammany offices and basking in the glory of Tammany publicity, but in the background there is always his “Jewish control.” This also is a formula for citizens who wish to know the meaning of things otherwise unexplainable—“look for the ‘Jewish control.’”
To this end, therefore, the Jews have been strong in all parties, so that whichever way the election went, the Jews would win. In New York it is always the Jewish party that wins. The campaign is staged as an entertainment, a diversion for the people; they are permitted to think and act as if they were really making their own government, but it is always the Jews that win.
And if after having elected their man or a group, obedience is not rendered to the Jewish control, then you speedily hear of “scandals” and “investigations” and “impeachments,” for the removal of the disobedient official. Usually a man with a “past” proves the most obedient instrument but even a good man can often be tangled up in campaign practices that compromise him.
It has been commonly known that Jewish manipulation of campaign matters has been so skillfully handled, that no matter which candidate was elected, there was ready made a sufficient amount of evidence to discredit him in case his Jewish masters needed to discredit him. To arrange this is part of the thoroughness of Jewish control. And, of course, the American people have been sufficiently trained to roar against the public official immediately the first Jewish political hound emits its warning bay.
Amazing as is the technique of the Jewish political process, the readiness with which the American people can be counted on to do their part in forwarding the game is still more amazing.
What Mr. Hylan, the present mayor of New York has done to merit chastisement, is scarcely clear to a non-partisan investigator. But the fact that the Jews have set out to “get” him for something is evident on every side.
In the Untermeyer so-called “housing investigation,” the people hauled up were non-Jews and the result of the whole business has been a stronger Jewish hold than ever on the housing affairs of New York. Jews are exempt from such inquisitions. The choice prey are non-Jewish business houses whose secrets may be forced and whose good name may be stained under cover of a legal procedure. There is such a thing as blackmail so entirely respectable as to be unsuspected.
Governor Sulzer, of New York, was the choice of the Jews. They subscribed money for his campaign, forced it on him, and kept careful account of it. Finally, under pressure of a compelling sense of justice, Sulzer pardoned a non-Jewish valet of an important Jewish New York family, a young man, whom a coterie of Jews very prominent in the political, financial and social worlds had contrived to “put away” for a period of 30 years. Sulzer had no option but to pardon young Brandt. But he paid the penalty. He was impeached. The Jews who supported him testified against him and their checks were used to assist his dismissal.
The story of young Brandt hangs heavily over the heads of some of the proudest Jewish names in New York.
Playing on both sides of the political fence, and always retaining a string on the men they elect to office, are two Jewish characteristics which should not fail to be reckoned with. THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT, in its recent articles showing the hand of Paul Warburg in the Federal Reserve System, was able to prove by Mr. Warburg’s own words that his firm, Kuhn, Loeb & Company, during the three-cornered fight between Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson, supported all three. The Jewish owners of R. H. Macy & Company, New York, illustrate the same principle; while Nathan Straus looked after affairs at Tammany Hall, his brother and partner, Isador Straus, was one of the most active opponents of Tammany. Were the interests of the two men therefore different? Not at all.
Take the firm of Guggenheimer, Untermeyer and Marshall. This is a notable firm for the part it plays in the people’s business. Every community in America has been affected by Louis Marshall’s decisions as head of the American Jewish Committee. Untermeyer is the arch-inquisitor for Jewry. Randolph Guggenheimer, the founder of the firm, achieved the foremost influence of any except the Chief in the old Wigwam, and was a power to be reckoned with in all matters. But Louis Marshall is a “staunch” Republican and a member of the Republican Club. Here again is the favorite method of including all parties under the capacious wing of the Jewish program.
Hence the popularity of “Fusion” in New York City elections. It has become the fad, but its most notable purpose is to insure the election of a Jew whatever his politics may be. In some Assembly Districts it is impossible to find anyone but a Jew to vote for. When Otto A. Rosalsky, a jurist who was implicated in the Brandt scandal, was re-elected Judge of General Sessions in 1920, he was the “Fusion” candidate on both the Democratic and Republican tickets. It was perhaps fortunate for his candidacy that he was. The point just now is that whenever a candidate may be vulnerable, it is very desirable to forestall a fight upon him by eliminating all opposition before the election. “Fusion” is another matter that should be carefully scrutinized in behalf of American rule of American cities.
By the way things are going in New York, these inter-party and “fusion” expedients may soon be unnecessary, because in any event it will be most difficult to avoid electing a Jew. Of the candidates of all parties for the offices of justice of the supreme court of New York, numbering 26, 14 were Jews. Of the Democratic presidential electors, 13 were Jews. Of the Republican presidential electors, 14 were Jews. Of the Socialist presidential electors, 22 were Jews.
The strength of Tammany had exactly the same source as the strength of the Kehillah, namely, in the foreign population; the difference being that the Kehillah had a more compact foreign mass to draw upon. But both the Jewish leaders and the Tammany leaders have always been alertly aware of the fact that their power depended upon an uninterrupted flow of immigration, to supply the losses sustained by the Americanization of the people. It is always the un-Americanized foreigner that makes the best material for the Kehillah’s and Tammany’s purposes. The Kehillah is based upon the principle of recognizing racial minorities, and Tammany has made a specialty of giving representation of racial minorities in its councils. This was a liberal policy, and was thoroughly American in its original intent (as Tammany was a thoroughly American assemblage at its inception) but it was soon seized upon by the Jews and used to their own ends, and to the eventual ruin of all except Jewish representation. Thus all through the history of immigration activity, Tammany has been on the side of the wide open gate without any restrictions. The lower the type of immigrant, the more easily amenable it is to the ward boss’s orders.
Tammany of recent years has been the able seconder of the Kehillah in all efforts to frustrate control of immigration.
The third great influx of immigration into the United States occurred in 1884 and was really the cause of the beginning of the degeneration of Tammany Hall. The great wave was composed of Russian, Austrian and Hungarian Jews, whose arrival was followed by a memorable period of crime, the marks of which remain to this day. Indeed, the downfall of Richard Croker was a direct result.
At that time the police department and the police courts before which all criminal cases in the city were first brought, were in the hands of Tammany Hall. The result was a partnership between local government and crime which has not been duplicated outside of Semitic countries.
Immigrant Jews of the shadier type organized an association called The Max Hochstim Association, which was known during the Lexow Investigation as “The Essex Market Court Gang.” One of its chief rulers was Martin Engel, Tammany leader of the Eighth Assembly District. The “king” of this Jewish district was a man named Solomon who had changed his name to the less revealing one of “Smith,” and who became known as “Silver Dollar Smith” because of the fact that he ruled his little empire from the Silver Dollar Saloon, which gained its name from the silver dollars that were cemented into the floor of his place of business. This saloon was just opposite the Essex Market Court, which was thronged daily by hordes of Yiddish criminals, the bondsmen, false witnesses and lawyers.
Let not the fastidious reader deem it unnecessary to linger longer round the old police court at Essex Market, for out therefrom came a word which has fixed itself in common English speech—the term “shyster,” by which a certain type of lawyer is described. A Clinton street lawyer named Scheuster, whose practices were quite characteristic, made himself very obnoxious to Justice Osborne. Whenever another Yiddish lawyer attempted a shady trick, the judge would openly denounce it as “Scheuster practice,” and so it came that the first men in the profession to bear the name “shyster” were the Yiddish lawyers of Essex Market Court.
To make a nasty story brief, the Max Hochstim Association became the first organized White Slaver group in America, and the revelations made by the Lexow Committee are shuddering glimpses into that lowest form of depravity—a cooly conducted, commercialized, consolidated traffic in women. The traffic was made to yield dividends to politicians, to Tammany Jews in particular. The Ghetto became the Red Light District of New York. The first man to undertake the export trade in women with foreign countries, especially South America, was a man who later became a Tammany notable.
The surprising fact is that, although these matters are written in official documents, and although the same matters have been written into the record of every similar investigation which has been made, Jewish leaders persist in denying that the leaders in this particular form of depravity are Jews. When the United States Government made a nation-wide investigation, it found and recorded the same facts. The New York Kehillah came into existence as a defense organization at a time when the exposure of the Jewish White Slave traffic threatened to overwhelm the New York ghetto.
The Max Hochstim Association was not the only organization of its kind. The other was the New York Independent Benevolent Association, which was organized in 1896 by a party of Jewish white slave dealers as they were returning from the funeral of Sam Engel, brother of Martin Engel, Tammany leader of the red light district.
The gangs that formed the backbone of Tammany power in the slum districts were made up of “cadets.” Their principal field of operation was the cheap dance halls. Paul Kelly’s gang originated in the halls about lower Broadway. Monk Eastman’s gang grew strong in the Russian Jewish District below Delancey street. And Kid Twist’s gang developed close to a dance hall for Galician Jews on the far East Side. All of these three were Jewish gang leaders. They were slavers as their forbears were in the days of Rome’s decline; they were bootleggers before the days of prohibition; and they constituted a strong support of the international narcotic ring which to this day has defied the law by corrupting the officers of the law.
It was to associations like these that the lights of Tammany lent their names. Tim Sullivan was a vice president of the Max Hochstim Association. The name of the Honorable Henry M. Goldfogle also appeared on the picnic announcements.
The exposure which resulted when the white people of New York finally succeeded in getting the forces of law to function impartially for a little while, caused many of the implicated Jews to change their names. These names are now representative of some of the best Jewish families, whose concealed bar sinister is the fact that the foundation of the family fortune was laid in the red light district. Society, sliced down to its seeds, is a queer growth.
It is due in justice to say that men like Tim Sullivan were not the originators of the Jewish abuses referred to, nor willing participants in the gains therefrom. Tammany would do favors for its friends, at the police court or elsewhere; Tammany had its occasional political upheavals; Tammany believed that they who profited by political spoils should divide with the Wigwam’s treasury; but with such traffic as seduction and barter in women, Tammany had never been compromised until the Yiddish invasion of New York and the Judaization of the Wigwam. This much must be said for the Irish and American leaders.
The situation is the same in Boston. An Irish city, its chief political control is in the hands of Jews. The old-time Irish leaders are still permitted to be out in front, but the inner power has departed from them. One Boston ward, where once none but Irish lived, now contains only Jews, but the old-time Irish boss retains his seat. This is by favor of the Jews and nothing else.
The same state of facts accounts in large degree for the connection between a man like Tim Sullivan and the Jews. “Tim,” as everyone knew him, was leader of a district inhabited by Irish and Germans. Then the Jews came in. And then began the Jews’ practice of profiting by the people’s dislike of them.
Foreign Jews well know that they are disliked. It is one of their assets which never fails to produce dividends. They choose the part of the city where they desire to live, and a few move in. Their immediate neighbors move out. More Jews move in—more of the others move out. The property nearest the Jews always goes down in value. People will sell at a loss rather than live engulfed in a ghetto.
It was so in Tim Sullivan’s district. As the Jews swarmed in, the Irish and Germans fled north. Sullivan stood his ground. It was his old territory, he would not leave it, nor remove his family. He cultivated the new arrivals and made a partnership with the ex-kosher chicken butcher, Martin Engel.
The Jews lived under Sullivan’s rule for a time, awaiting the moment when they should know what to do for themselves. The Yiddish flood increased until the district was crowded, and then the Jews demanded representation for themselves. With a premonition that a new force had arisen, Tim Sullivan played safe and helped the Jews to get recognition—Martin Engel was made leader of the old Eighth. But Sullivan had previously gone to Tammany—or to what remained of the old non-Jewish Tammany—and exacted an understanding that his rule should be left unchanged below Fourteenth street.
From that time forward, in spite of the understanding, Sullivan’s power began to wane, principally because he continued to get in deeper and deeper with the Jews. He went into Jewish lines of business. He formed a theatrical partnership with George Kraus, among his enterprises being the Imperial Music Hall, the Dewey Theater, and the traveling Eagle Burlesque Company. Still the old district continued to become crowded and overcrowded and saturated with Yiddish newcomers, for whom neither the name Sullivan nor the traditions of the district had any meaning.
In his closing years, scarcely more than a hanger-on around the former scene of his power, Tim Sullivan bitterly lamented the ease with which he was led into associations that undermined his power.
Croker was destroyed in public confidence by the terrific shock of the exposure attending the Jewish “cadet” activities. Sullivan, equally picturesque, was the slowly shoved-out victim of Jewish infiltration. There were other occurrences and other downfalls, all of which are a part of the real story of Tammany.
[THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT, issue of 24 September 1921]