Share this article

print logo

DIED JULY 27, 2004

Carmine G. De Sapio, who revived the once politically powerful Tammany Hall and then oversaw its downfall as its last boss, died Tuesday. He was 95.

De Sapio died in St. Vincent's Hospital, said his daughter, Geraldine A. De Sapio.

Tammany Hall, as the Manhattan Democratic Party was once known, had declined precipitously in the 1930s after being a political force for nearly a century.

But De Sapio revived Tammany after World War II and successfully promoted the election of Robert F. Wagner Jr. as mayor in 1953 and W. Averell Harriman as governor in 1954. He became such a power broker that Time magazine put him on its cover.

De Sapio's leadership, however, came under increasing attack from reformers in the Democratic Party. He was denounced as corrupt and authoritarian and abandoned by allies. In 1969, he was convicted of petty bribery and was later sent to prison.

De Sapio had sought to end Tammany's image of smoke-filled back rooms where major political decisions were made hidden from public view and tried to distance himself from Tammany Hall predecessors such as William M. Tweed, the infamous 19th-century Democratic Party boss who died in prison serving a sentence for corruption.

Still, De Sapio was dogged by charges that he courted organized crime and was corrupt himself.

Yet, as Tammany Hall boss, De Sapio also pushed a progressive agenda. He supported legislation such as the Fair Employment Practices Law pushed by former President Harry S. Truman and endorsed rent control and lowering the voting age to 18.

There are no comments - be the first to comment