Scope and arrangement
The Society of Tammany, or Columbian Order records, dated 1791-1898 and 1916, chiefly document the Society's administration, patriotic fellowship activities, and benevolent work in New York City during the Early National period. The collection consists of the Society's minute books for Committee of Amusement proceedings, 1791-1795 (1 volume), Grand Council meetings, 1802-1844 (2 volumes), and general membership meetings, 1799-1808 and 1814-1817 (2 volumes); a slipcase of miscellaneous correspondence and documents concerning Society and Democratic Party matters, 1810-1898; and a bound photostat copy, made in 1916, of the Society's constitution and membership roll for the period 1789 to 1916.
Committee of Amusement minutes, 1791 October 24-1795 February 23 (1 volume), record the activities of that portion of general meetings when the Society resolved itself into a Committee of Amusement, listing topics debated, toasts given at commemorative meetings, patriotic anecdotes delivered, and songs sung.
Grand Council minutes comprise two volumes recording meetings of the Judiciary Council or Grand Council of Sachems, 1802 May 24 to 1819 May 24, and 1819 May 24-1844 January 19. These document the administrative management of the Society, particularly its growing financial and real estate responsibilities. Minutes concern the election of officers and Society appointments, membership and impeachments, collection of dues, rules of order for meetings, revision of the constitution and by-laws, the issuing of dispensations to create Society branches in other locations, and arrangements for commemorations. Also mentioned are the distribution of charity funds, the Society's museum of American artifacts, and efforts to preserve the remains of those who died on British prison ships at Wallabout Bay. The minutes also mark the movement of its meeting place, the Wigwam, from rented space to Tammany Hall, and the separation of accounts for Society activities and Tammany Hall real estate matters. Approval for the political use of Tammany Hall is also considered. Reports from the Treasurer and other officers or committees, and listings of Tammany Hall stockholders, are included. The minutes for 1819 May 24 are identical in both volumes.
Minutes of the Society's general membership meetings, incorporating Committee of Amusement proceedings, comprise two volumes dating 1799 Mar 4 to 1808 February 1, and 1814 August 15 to 1817 August 25. The second volume begins with minutes for 1815 May 1 to 1817 August 25; the minutes for 1814 August 15 to 1815 April 10 begin from the reverse end. With the exception of some financial matters, they cover many of the topics addressed in the General Council minutes, while providing further insight into the Society's activities as a patriotic social club. Items of interest include the visit of Osage Indians (1804 August 10), and observance of the deaths of George Washington (1799 December 23-1800 January 6), Alexander Hamilton (1804 July 13), and American sailor John Pierce, killed by a shot from a British frigate off Sandy Hook (1806 April 28). Listed commemorative toasts reflect current events and the political stance of its members, especially their anti-British sentiments in the years leading to the War of 1812. Questions for debate on social, political and economic topics are usually listed with the names of those speaking for each side; however, a summary of the debate on the need for a national bank is recorded in detail (1816 January 16). Lists of candidates proposed for membership sometimes include their occupation or citizenship status, and circumstances leading to the impeachment of member John Low (1804 November 19) are detailed in full. Later minutes also reflect the Society's temporary divestment of Native American nomenclature for its organizational structure, and document its concern with financial stability, reinvigoration of the Society, and the revision of its constitution and by-laws in 1816-1817.
The collection also contains a bound photostat copy of a volume containing the Society's constitutions of 1813, 1817 and 1789. Signatures inscribed at the end of the Constitution of 1789 continue as a list of members to April 3, 1916. Notations as to later amendments were noted on the original documents. The copy was made in 1916 from the original held by the Society, present location unknown.
Correspondence, 1838-1866, 1891-1898, consists chiefly of letters written or signed by prominent persons responding to invitations to attend Society events, especially the annual ball celebrating Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans.
Miscellaneous documents, 1810-1871, consist of real estate documents pertaining to property for Tammany Hall, 1810; a statement of Society election results, 1834; a request for the Society's approval for political use of the Hall, 1845; a petition by Society members concerning Democratic Party primary elections and the leasing of Tammany Hall, 1857; and subscription lists for donations to defray Democratic Party expenses, 1857, and Society expenses, 1859; as well as Society loan share certificates, and printed invitations to Society events.