This Tammany was in India, and it began its career with the spread of the English dominion after the Battle of Plassey. Its first boss was Clive, a sufficiently crooked person sometimes, but straight as a yard stick when compared with the corkscrew crookedness of the second boss, Warren Hastings.
That old-time Tammany was the East India Company's government, and had its headquarters at Calcutta. Ostensibly it consisted of a Great Council of four persons, of whom one was the Governor-General, Warren Hastings; really it consisted of one person--Warren Hastings; for by usurpation he concentrated all authority in himself and governed the country like an autocrat.
Ostensibly the Court of Directors, sitting in London and representing the vast interests of the stockholders, was supreme in authority over the Calcutta Great Council, whose membership it appointed and removed at pleasure, whose policies it dictated, and to whom it conveyed its will in the form of sovereign commands; but whenever it suited Hastings, he ignored even that august body's authority and conducted the mighty affairs of the British Empire in India to suit his own notions.
At his mercy was the daily bread of every official, every trader, every clerk, every civil servant, big and little, in the whole huge India Company's machine, and the man who hazarded his bread by any failure of subserviency to the boss lost it.
Now then, let the supreme masters of British India, the giant corporation of the India Company of London, stand for the voters of the city of New York; let the Great Council of Calcutta stand for Tammany; let the corrupt and money-grubbing great hive of serfs which served under the Indian Tammany's rod stand for New York Tammany's serfs; let Warren Hastings stand for Richard Croker, and it seems to me that the parallel is exact and complete. And so let us be properly grateful and thank God and our good luck that we didn't invent Tammany.
Edmund Burke, regarded by many as the greatest orator of all times, conducted the case against Warren Hastings in that renowned trial which lasted years, and which promises to keep its renown for centuries to come. I wish to quote some of the things he said. I wish to imagine him arraigning Mr. Croker and Tammany before the voters of New York City and pleading with them for the overthrow of that combined iniquity of the 5th of November, and will substitute for "My Lords," read "Fellow-Citizens"; for "Kingdom," read "City"; for "Parliamentary Process," read "Political Campaign"; for "Two Houses," read "Two Parties," and so it reads:
"Fellow--citizens, I must look upon it as an auspicious circumstance to this cause, in which the honor of the city is involved, that from the first commencement of our political campaign to this the hour of solemn trial not the smallest difference of opinion has arisen, between the two parties.
"You will see, in the progress of this cause, that there is not only a long, connected, systematic series of misdemeanors, but an equally connected system of maxims and principles invented to justify them. Upon both of these you must judge.
"It is not only the interest of the city of New York, now the most considerable part of the city of the Americans, which is concerned, but the credit and honor of the nation itself will be decided by this decision."
At a later meeting of the Acorn Club, Mr. Clemens said:
Tammany is dead, and there's no use in blackguarding a corpse.
The election makes me think of a story of a man who was dying. He had only two minutes to live, so he sent for a clergyman and asked him, "Where is the best place to go to?" He was undecided about it. So the minister told him that each place had its advantages--heaven for climate, and hell for society.
ADDRESS AT THE CITY CLUB DINNER, JANUARY 4,1901
Bishop Potter told how an alleged representative of Tammany Hall asked him in effect if he would cease his warfare upon the Police Department if a certain captain and inspector were dismissed.