John Kelly

Kelly, John, 1822–86, American politician, boss of Tammany Hall, b. New York City. He entered politics at an early age. At first he opposed Tammany Hall, but later (1853) joined the organization and became city alderman. He served (1855–58) in Congress and was (1859–61, 1865–67) sheriff of New York County. After the exposure of William M. Tweed, Kelly, by then popularly known as "Honest John," reorganized the Tammany machine. By 1874 he held control of the organization and carried on continuous warfare with the faction of Samuel J. Tilden, who originally had cooperated with him in reorganizing Tammany. Kelly's refusal to back Tilden's candidate for governor, Lucius Robinson, and his decision to run for governor himself as an independent helped bring about the election (1879) of Alonzo Cornell. While he was head of Tammany, Kelly was able to determine the course of New York City elections, and he himself was city comptroller from 1876 to 1880. Upon retirement (1884) he yielded his political control to one of his lieutenants, Richard Croker.

See M. R. Werner, Tammany Hall (1932, repr. 1968).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on John Kelly from Fact Monster:

  • John KELLY - KELLY, John (1822—1886) KELLY, John, a Representative from New York; born in New York City ...
  • Grover Cleveland: Early Career - Early Career A lawyer in Buffalo, N.Y., he became (1882) the “veto mayor” who drove ...
  • Rowing - Rowing Event Score Single Sculls John Kelly sen., USA 7:35.0 Jack Beresford jun., GBR 7:36.0 ...
  • Rowing - Rowing Event Single Sculls Vyacheslav Ivanov, URS 8:02.5 Stuart Mackenzie, AUS 8:07.7 John Kelly, ...
  • Richard Croker - Croker, Richard Croker, Richard, 1841–1922, American politician, head of Tammany Hall from ...

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History: Biographies