The Trail of the Tiger
Tammany: 1789-1928
Being An account of Tammany from 1789; The Society of St. Tammany, or Columbian Order;
Tammany Hall; The Organization; and the Sway of the Bosses

By Allan Frankin

Originally published 1928
This Web version copyright 2005 PoliticsNYC.com

RICHARD W. CROKER

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THE vagaries of trial by jury may have been the agency to which New York City owed its experience of seeing the Tammany tiger change to the Tammany octopus and grip in its tentacles every source of illegal revenue which could be wrung from the suffering city. It was during Croker's reign as leader of Tammany that the stripes of the tiger were covered with the slime of the gorging octopus which exacted its toll not only from saloon keepers, prostitutes, male degenerates, thieves and grafters but pushed its tentacles into the pockets of the public servants, shaking down aspiring policemen who wanted promotions to the tune of twelve or fifteen thousand dollars for a captaincy.

But it all might have been avoided had a jury returned a verdict against the Democratic leader early in his career. Just after Croker had been elected coroner he was charged with having shot John McKenna, a car driver, during a fight with his former political idol, Jimmy O'Brien. O'Brien, a former sheriff who had befriended Croker, reproached

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