Wherever enough middle class college graduates can be found to fill a New York meeting hall, there have sprung up Democratic political clubs bearing the label “reform.” Many of these clubs were originally founded as local campaign headquarters for Adlai Stevenson because the “regular” organization was cool to his candidacy. But it was only after the 1958 State Convention, where Tammany leader Carmine DeSapio affronted liberal Democrats like Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt and former Governor Herbert Lehman by rejecting their candidate for U. S. Senator, that the “movement” took on some militancy. Prior to Buffalo the older reformers had considered it okay to do business with DeSapio; certainly Governor Lehman had found no fault with him. Afterward, however, the Tammany boss became the chief target of the local clubs, newly inspired by the ancient liberal stalwarts. Behind the scenes, of course, a certain amount of trading between the “reformers” and DeSapio continued.
Previous reforms of Tammany (there have been several) have vanished into the footnotes of history books. The great error into which middle-class reformers have fallen is the belief that Tammany is really a Hall, and t...
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