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"Tammany" redirects here. For other uses, see Tammany (disambiguation).

Tamanend or Tammany or Tammamend, the "affable",[1] (c. 1625–c. 1701) was a chief of one of the clans that made up the Lenni-Lenape nation in the Delaware Valley at the time Philadelphia was established. Tamanend is best known as a lover of peace and friendship who played a prominent role in developing amicable relations among the Lenape and the English settlers who settled Pennsylvania, led by William Penn.

Also referred to as "Tammany", he became a popular figure in 18th-century America, especially in Philadelphia. Also called a "Patron Saint of America", Tamenend represented peace and amity. A Tammany society founded in Philadelphia holds an annual Tammany festival. Tammany societies were established across the United States after the American Revolutionary War, and Tammany assumed mythic status as an icon for the peaceful politics of negotiation.

Life and legend[edit]

The Treaty of Penn with the Indians by Benjamin West, depicting Penn negotiating with Tamanend

Tamanend reputedly took part in a meeting between the leaders of the Lenni-Lenape nation, and the leaders of the Pennsylvania colony held under a large elm tree at Shakamaxon in the early 1680s. He is recorded as having said that the Lenni-Lenape and the English colonists would "live in peace as long as the waters run in the rivers and creeks and as long as the stars and moon endure." These words have been memorialized on the statue of Tamanend that still stands in Philadelphia.

It is believed that Tamanend died in 1701. Over the next century, many folk legends surrounded Tamanend, and his fame assumed mythical proportions among the people of Philadelphia, who began to call him "King Tammany," "Saint Tammany," and the "Patron Saint of America." The people of Philadelphia organized a Tammany society and an annual Tammany festival. These traditions soon spread across America. Tammany's popular status was partly due to the desire by colonists to express a distinct "American" identity, in place of their former European nationalities. Tammany, an American Indian, provided an apt symbol for patriotic Americans.

Because of Philadelphia's political leadership during the founding of the United States of America, Tammany soon became a national symbol throughout much of the newly formed country.

Tammany Societies[edit]

Main article: Tammanies
Tammany Hall on East 14th Street in Manhattan featured a white marble statue of Tamanend (located in the arch on top of the building). Click on the image for a larger view.

In 1772, the original Tammany Society was formed in Philadelphia (it was originally called the "Sons of King Tammany" but was later renamed the "Sons of St. Tammany"). Soon, Tammany societies were organized in communities from Georgia to Rhode Island, and west to the Ohio River. The most famous of these was New York City's Society of St. Tammany, whose members developed an influential political machine known as "Tammany Hall." A white marble statue of Tamanend adorned the façade of the building on East 14th Street that housed Tammany Hall.

Tammany Festivals[edit]

By the early 1770s, annual Tammany Festivals were being held in Philadelphia and Annapolis. The festivals were held on May 1, replacing the May Day traditions of Europe but continuing popular folk traditions. For example, the Saint Tammany Day celebrated on May 1, 1771, in Annapolis had a may pole decorated with ribbons. People danced in Native American style to music while holding a ribbon and moving in a circle around the pole.

On May 1, 1777, John Adams wrote of the Tammany festival in Philadelphia during the American Revolutionary War. Adams, who was in Philadelphia attending the Second Continental Congress as a delegate from Massachusetts, wrote a letter home to his wife Abigail Adams, saying:

"This is King Tammany's Day. Tammany was an Indian King, of this past of the Continent, when Mr. Penn first came here. His court was in this town. He was friendly to Mr. Penn and very serviceable to him. He lived here among the first settlers for some time and until old age. ... The people here have sainted him and keep his day." (Lyman H. Butterfield, ed., Adams Family Correspondence; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963-1973, II, pp. 229–230).

On May 1, 1778, General George Washington and the Continental Army held a Tammany festival while camped at Valley Forge. The "men spent the day in mirth and jollity...in honor of King Tammany" (Military Journal of George Ewing, 1928).

After the end of the Revolutionary War, Tammany celebrations spread throughout the United States, including to Savannah, Georgia. Local societies promoted annual festivals, usually held on May 1. Tammany celebrations were such important events that, in 1785, George Washington appeared at the Tammany festival in Richmond, Virginia with Virginia governor Patrick Henry. The Tammany Society in New York City held its first festival in 1787.

Developments since 2003[edit]

In 2003, two identical concurrent resolutions were introduced in the United States Congress (Senate Concurrent Resolution 39 and House Concurrent Resolution 123) that sought to establish "St. Tammany Day" on May 1 as a national day of recognition. The bills were referred for review to the Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Organization, which is a subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Reform. As of December 2006, the Subcommittee has yet to take any action on the bill.

Representation in other media[edit]

  • In 1794, Ann Julia Hatton's opera, Tammany: The Indian Chief premiered on Broadway and became highly popular. It featured the first major opera libretto written in the United States that had an American theme, and it was the earliest drama about American Indians. The opera premiered at the John Street Theatre, New York, on 3 March 1794, featuring English actress and 'grande dame' of American theatre, Charlotte Melmoth. Melmoth refused to speak the opera's epilogue, as she disapproved of its patriotic sentiments. The New York Journal called on the public to boycott the opera as long as Melmoth was still in the cast.[2]
  • In 1826, Tammany was featured (as "Tamenund") in the conclusion of The Last of the Mohicans (1826), a novel by James Fenimore Cooper which became extremely popular in the antebellum United States. The novel was part of his Leatherstocking Tales, a series of works that explored the colonial past, with strong influence on American literary culture and the emerging nation's identity.

Statues, monuments, and memorials[edit]

  • St. Tammany Parish (established c.1810) is one of nine Louisiana parishes (counties) named for "saints;" it is the only one whose namesake is not a Christian "saint" as recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.
42nd New York Infantry Monument, Gettysburg Battlefield.
  • Tamanend Middle School, Central Bucks School District, Pennsylvania, was named for him.
  • Tamanend, a 1995 bronze statue by Raymond Sandoval, is located at the intersection of Front and Market Streets, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The plaque notes that "Tamanend was considered the patron saint of America by the colonists prior to American Independence."


External links[edit]