Carmine DeSapio

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(Redirected from Carmine G. DeSapio)

Carmine Gerard DeSapio (10 December 1908– 27 July 2004) was an American politician from New York City. He was the last head of the Tammany Hall political machine that was active in New York politics for 150 years, and dominated them for 80 years.

Carmine DeSapio was born in lower Manhattan. His father was an Italian immigrant, while his mother was of the second generation. He started his career in the Tammany Hall organization as an errand boy and messenger for precinct captains. He was first elected as a district captain in 1939, but was rejected by the leadership in the struggle between Irish and Italian interests for control of the organization. In 1943 he was accepted as district leader for lower Greenwich Village.

In 1949 DeSapio became the youngest Boss in the history of Tammany Hall. He gained notoriety from alleged involvement with organized crime, even though he fought to distance the organization from the unsavory days of Boss Tweed. In 1953 he earned new respect for the continuing power of Tammany Hall when he lead the defeat of incumbent mayor Vincent R. Impellitteri in the Democratic Party primary by Robert F. Wagner, Jr., and Wagnerís victory in the general election. Then in 1954, he brokered W. Averell Harrimanís victory as Governor of New York.

DeSapio always seemed a personally modest man. Even though he operated out of four lavish offices, he lived for fifty years in a modest middle-class apartment on Washington Square with his wife Natalie and daughter Natalie. His leadership ended in 1961, and with it the dynasty that was Tammany Hall. It took several years of work by Eleanor Roosevelt to bring this about. She had vowed revenge in 1954 because she viewed the Harriman victory as derailing her sonís (Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr) political ambitions. Democrats such as Wagner, who had once praised him, found it expedient to denounce DeSapio and Tammany Hall politics and seek reform.

DeSapio reached a low point in 1969 when he was convicted of conspiracy and bribery. He served two years in federal prison (1971-1973). After his release, he never re-entered politics, but did support many community, charitable, and civic causes. He regained some of his former popularity by his skill as a speaker. In 1992 Mayor Ed Koch described him with these observations:

"He is a crook, but I like him.... Most politicians still like De Sapio. He always gets the most applause when he is introduced at Democratic dinners."

Among his accomplishments were support of the Fair Employment Practices Law, the New York City rent control laws, and the lowering of the voting age to 18.

Carmine DeSapio died on July 27, 2004 at St. Vincentís Hospital in Manhatan. He was survived by his daughter Geraldine A. DeSapio.

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