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Tamanend or Tammany (died c.1698) was sachem ("chief" or "king") of one of the clans of the Lenni-Lenape nation in the Delaware Valley at the time Philadelphia was established. He made treaties with the English settlers led by William Penn who established Pennsylvania.

"Saint Tammany" was adopted as "patron saint" by native-born Americans from late colonial times through the American Revolution. Fanciful legends were added to the few known historical facts. Fraternal Tammany Societies existed through the eastern states; the most prominent was at Tammany Hall in New York City, which became the seat of a major political machine of the Democratic Party from its foundation till the 1960s.


The record of Tamanend during his lifetime is brief. He affixed his mark —a coiled snake— to several legal documents:

Date Name Type Details
1683-06-23 Indian deed "all my Lands Lying betwixt Femmapecka and Nessaminehs Creeks, and all along Nesheminehs Creeks . . . for ye Consideration of so much Wampum, so many Guns, Shoes, Stockings, Looking-glasses, Blanketts and other goods as he, ye sd William Penn shall please to give unto me."
1683-06-23 Tammanens receipt together with Metamequan, for the price of the lands, for which "we doe hereby hold ourselves fully contented and satisfyed."
1683-06-25 witness to a deed one of five witnesses to a deed from Wingebone to Penn
1692-06-15 Quitclaim deed one of four Indians
1697-07-06 Taminy Sachimack deed "Togethre with Weheeland my Brother and Weheequeckhon, alias Andrew, who is to be King after my death, Yaqueekhon alias Nicholas, and Quenameckquid, Alias Charles, my Sonns, for the Consideration of Twenty Matchcoats, Twelve White Blankets, Ten Kettles, Twelve Guns, Thirty Yards of Shirting Cloth, one Runlett of Powder, Ten Barrs of Lead, fforty yards of Stroud Waters, Twenty Parrs of Stockins, one Horse, ffifty pounds of Tobacco, Six Dozens of Pipes and Thirty Shillings in Cash ..." the land between the Pennypack and the Neshaminy, from the River Delaware "so farr as a horse can Travel in Two Summer dayes"

The only record if his speech is from a meeting of the Pennsylvania Provincial Council, held in Philadelphia on 6 July 1694, discussing a proposed alliance between the Lenape and the Seneca Nation against the French. While Hithquoquean was the leader of the Lenape delegation, Tammany said:[1]

Wee and the Christians of this River Have allwayes had a free rode way to one another, & tho' sometimes a tree has fallen across the rode yet wee have still removed it again & kept the path clean, and wee design to Continou the old friendshipp that has been between us and you, and do give a belt of wampum.

There is no record of the names of the Indians at the famous Shackamaxon treaty of 1682 which was the original land cession for the Colony of Pennsylvania. It has been assumed that Tamanend was among them. His name appears in two lists of sample Lenape names: one ("Tamene") by William Penn in 1683,[2] the other ("Temeny") by Gabriel Thomas in 1698.[3] He is not mentioned in the accounts of Penn's return to America from 1699, suggesting he had died in the interim.[4]


In the eighteenth century, many folk legends surrounded Tamanend and his fame assumed mythical proportions among the people of Philadelphia. Walsh notes that his mythic fame as a noble savage grew while the Lenape were being pushed farther west in Pennsylvania.[5] At Shackamaxon, Tamanend is said to have announced 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 stands in Philadelphia today.

Tamanend reputedly died by setting fire to his wigwam.[6] Supporters viewed this as a phoenix-like self-immolation.[7] Opponents of the Tammanies later suggested this was an accident caused by his drunkenness. An old Indian, traditionally said to be Tamanend, was buried in 1740 by a spring on Enos Dentwiler's farm in New Britain, Pennsylvania.[8]

The most comprehensive mythology was the 1795 Anniversay Oration of the New York Tammany Society delivered by Samuel Latham Mitchill.[9] Mitchill's account was entirely fictional, but earned him membership of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries.[10]

The Walam Olum ("Red Record") is a purported record of Lenape history discovered by Constantine Samuel Rafinesque and published in the 1830s. It is is now widely dismissed as a hoax. According to David McCutcheon's 1970s interpretation, the Walam Olum records three Tamanends; McCutcheon estimates the first as living in the 6th century and the second in the 15th century. It also records the third Tamanend of colonial times.

Tammany's Day[edit]

The Schuylkill Fishing Company, established in 1732, derived its rights from a grant supposedly made by Tammany. May 1, the start of the fishing season, was "King Tammany's Day". The club motto, "Kawania ehe Keekeru", was purported to be Delaware for "This is my right, I will defend it". In 1888, Daniel Garrison Brinton and Horatio Hale found it was actually Iroquoian for "I am master wherever I am".[6]

By the 1760s, bells were rung in Philadelphia on King Tammany's Day.[11] The change of style to "Saint Tammany" is first attested in Annapolis, Maryland in 1771.[11] Tammany was a symbol for native-born Americans, as Saints George, Andrew, and Patrick were for the English-, Scottish-, and Irish- born.[11] A festival would be held, with people wearing buckskin or buck's tails; men dressed as Indians would "raid" the event, do a war dance, and take up a collection.[12] Walsh compares this to both the British Mummers Play and the Lenape kinticka ritual revelry.[13]

In 1789 and 1790, the New York Tammanies met on 12 May ("the 1st of May Old Style").[14]

Tammany societies[edit]

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.

The "Sons of King Tammany" in Philadelphia had their first meeting on 1 May 1772.[12] The following year they were the "Sons of Saint Tammany".[15] It was a patriotic and social club, with charity as a side issue.[16] Their meetings were exclusively male. The society each year elected thirteen sachems, who took Indian warrior names, and who elected one of their number as grand sachem.[17] Each year they drank thirteen toasts. The members were some of the city's most eminent men,[15] across a broad spectrum of political opinions.[18] The Society's meetings combined raucous merriment with attempts to replicate authentic native lore. Its signature "Et hoh song" repeatedly uses the refrain "et hoh", from the Iroquois danetoh, used to end formal orations.[19] Other odes includes scraps of Mi'kmaq.[19]

By 1775, as the American Revolution gathered pace, the Philadelphia "Sons of Tammany" was taken as synonymous with the Sons of Liberty.[20] A poem in the Pennsylvania Evening Post of 30 April 1776 extolls the superiority of Saint Tammany compared to the British saints.[21] Tammany symbolism was invoked by the Continental Army. The Philadelphia Tammany Society had only one meeting between 1775 and 1783, in 1779;[22][23] however the "Constitutional Society" of 1780 may be a cover name.[24] The 1 May 1783 festivities celebrated the Treaty of Paris, and included the burying of a hatchet. There were toasts for America's allies France and Holland, and for liberty in Ireland.[25] There were further festivals on 1 May 1784[26] and 1 May 1785.[27] The society's officers were still eminent men.[28] Reports of the 1786 Tammany Day celebration suggest the Philadelphia Society was already beginning to be associated with a political faction.[29] The Society met on the premises and land of Edward Pole, its Secretary, on the banks of the Schuylkill River, from 1783 through 1788, after which he had to sell his land.[30] The original Philadelphia Society was extinct by 1790, but a Philadelphia branch of the New York Society was established in 1795.[31]

In April 1786, the Society held a reception for Cornplanter, a Seneca war chief who had fought in the Revolutionary War. The Tammanies and Seneca exchanged formal speeches and then did a ritual dance together,[32] watched by a crowd of 2,000.[33] George Washington was impressed by this meeting; in 1790, he arranged for the New York Tammany Society to put on a similar show for a Muscogee peace delegation led by Alexander McGillivray.[31]

A New Jersey St Tammany Society was organized on 1 May 1782.[34] In 1785, George Washington appeared at the Tammany festival in Richmond, Virginia with Virginia governor Patrick Henry. A St Tammany Society met in Richmond on 1 May 1786.[35] The same day, "a number of gentlemen from the northern states" celebrated St Tammany in Savannah, Georgia. The St. Tammany Society of New York City is first mentioned for 1 May 1787.[36] In 1788, the day was marked by the Virginia militia of Petersburg[37] and Harrisonburg,[38] and by the Federal Club in Wilmington, North Carolina.[39] In 1789, Norfolk, Virginia marked the day.[40]

The "Society of Tammany, or Columbian Order" was founded in New York in 1789. In the nineteenth century, it grew into a major political machine known as "Tammany Hall" after its headquarters on East 14th Street. A white marble statue of Tamanend adorned the façade of the building. The society's use of native lore was less authentic than the earlier Philadelphia society's. In the War of 1812, many Indians fought against the United States. After this, the Society's Indian element declined still further.[41]

St Tammany Day revival[edit]

St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana was named in 1811 in honor of Tamanend. In 2003, the Parish Council passed a resolution designating May 1, 2003, as St. Tammany Day, and urging the reinstatement of May 1st as a national day of recognition for Tamanend. In the United States Congress, a concurrent resolution was proposed in the House (H Con Res 123[42]) and passed by the Senate (S Con Res 39[43]) agreed "That Congress supports the goals and ideals of St. Tammany Day as a national day of recognition for Tamanend and the values he represented."

Depictions and allusions[edit]

In 1785–6 Father Tammany's Almanac was on sale across Pennsylvania, and there was an inn in Philadelphia called "St. Tammany's Wigwam".[44]

In 1794, Ann Julia Hatton's tremendously popular "Tammany: The Indian Chief" premiered on Broadway. It was 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 plot features Tammany rescuing his beloved from a lusty Spaniard before perishing with her.[45]

In 1826, Tamanend appeared as "Tamenund" at the conclusion of James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, one of the most popular novels of the antebellum United States. It is set in 1757, long after the historical Tamanend's death.

Philadelphia has a statue of Tamanend located at the intersection of historic Market Street with Front Street. The statue is located between Old City and Penn's Landing, the riverfront area. The plaque notes that "Tamanend was considered the patron saint of America by the colonists prior to American Independence."

During the Civil War, the Tammany Regiment was the nickname of the New York 42nd Infantry, which fought at Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Battlefield has a statue of Tamanend on a monument to the Regiment.

The figurehead of the USS Delaware, launched in 1820, was a statue of Tammanend. A bronze replica of this stands in the United States Naval Academy. This is called the "Tecumseh Statue", after a different Indian leader.[46] It is a mascot for the midshipmen, who salute it left-handed, and paint it in themes on special occasions.

Saint Tammany Parish, Louisiana is one of nine Louisiana parishes (counties) named for "saints" and the sole one whose eponym is not a "saint" as recognized by the Catholic Church.

See also[edit]


This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "article name needed". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. 


  1. ^ Cabeen 1901, p.434
  2. ^ 1913, p.19
  3. ^ 1913, p.20
  4. ^ Walsh, p.84
  5. ^ Walsh, p.85,86
  6. ^ a b Cabeen 1901, p.437
  7. ^ Walsh, p.83
  8. ^ Cabeen 1901, pp.437–8
  9. ^ Walsh, p.88
  10. ^ Kilroe, pp.47–8
  11. ^ a b c Cabeen 1901, p.441
  12. ^ a b Cabeen 1901, p.442
  13. ^ Walsh, p.86
  14. ^ Cabeen 1903, p.39,40
  15. ^ a b Cabeen 1901, p.446
  16. ^ Cabeen 1902a, p.17
  17. ^ Cabeen 1902d, pp.449–450
  18. ^ Cabeen 1901, p.451
  19. ^ a b Walsh, p.87
  20. ^ Cabeen 1902a, p.13
  21. ^ Cabeen 1902a, pp.13–16
  22. ^ Cabeen 1902a, p.20
  23. ^ Cabeen 1902b, p.216
  24. ^ Cabeen 1902a, p.22
  25. ^ Cabeen 1902b, pp.217–8
  26. ^ Cabeen 1902b, p.221
  27. ^ Cabeen 1902c, p.335; the date is misprinted May 21 in the introductory.
  28. ^ Cabeen 1902c, p.346
  29. ^ Cabeen 1902d, pp.447–9
  30. ^ Cabeen 1903, p.30
  31. ^ a b Cabeen 1903, p.42
  32. ^ Cabeen 1902d, pp.443–6
  33. ^ Walsh, p.88
  34. ^ Cabeen 1902b, p.210
  35. ^ Cabeen 1902d, p.456
  36. ^ Cabeen 1902d, p.462
  37. ^ Cabeen 1903, p.33
  38. ^ Cabeen 1903, p.35; misprinted as Harrisburg
  39. ^ Cabeen 1903, p.34
  40. ^ Cabeen 1903, p.37
  41. ^ Walsh, p.90
  42. ^ 2003 Congressional Record, Vol. 149, Page H2401 (March 26, 2003)
  43. ^ 2003 Congressional Record, Vol. 149, Page S5497 (April 29, 2003)
  44. ^ Cabeen 1902c, p.347
  45. ^ Walsh, p.88
  46. ^ "Tecumseh (Tamanend): Figurehead of the USS Delaware at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland". Washington D.C. memorials, monuments, statues & other outdoor art. 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 

Category:Lenape people Category:Native American leaders Category:17th-century births Category:1690s deaths Category:Native Americans from Pennsylvania

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