Chief Tamanend 'the affable', was known by the
colonists more commonly as Tammany. Apart from this inaccurate
form of the name of this noted ancient Delaware chief, it was also
written as Tamanee, Tamanen, Tamanend, Tamany, Tamened, Taming,
In the form of Tamanen his name appears as one of
the signatories of a deed to William Penn in 1683, for lands not
far north of Philadelphia, within the modern Bucks County,
The American missionary, John Gottlieb Ernestus
Heckewelder (1743 –1823), for the Moravian Church, wrote in 1817,
describing him as the greatest and best chief known to Delaware
"The name of Tamanend is held in the highest
veneration among the Indians of all the chiefs and great men which
the Lenape nation ever had, he stands foremost on the list. But
although many fabulous stories are circulated about him among the
whites, but little of his real history is known.
"All we know, therefore, of Tamanend is
that he was an ancient Delaware chief, who never had his equal. He
was in the highest degree endowed with wisdom, virtue, prudence,
charity, affability, meekness, hospitality, in short with every
good and noble qualification that a human being may possess. He
was supposed to have had an intercourse with the great and good
Spirit, for he was a stranger to everything that was bad.
"The fame of this great man extended
even among the whites, who fabricated numerous legends respecting
him, which I never heard, however, from the mouth of an Indian, and
therefore believe to be fabulous. In the Revolutionary war his
enthusiastic admirers dubbed him a saint, and he was established
under the name of St Tammany, the Patron Saint of America. His name
was inserted in some calendars, and his festival celebrated on the
first day of May in every year."
Heckewelder goes on to describe the annual 1 May
celebration, which was conducted along native American lines. It
included the smoking of the calumet and Indian dances in the open
air, and Heckewelder says that similar 'Tammany societies' were
later organised in other cities.
A Colonel George Morgan of Princeton, New Jersey,
was sent by Congress around the year 1776 on a special mission to
the western tribes. Heckewelder states that the Delaware conferred
upon him the name of Tamanend in remembrance of the ancient chief
and as the greatest mark of respect that they could pay to Morgan.
Haines, however, in his chapter on the Order of Red
Men (American Indians, p658, 1888, quotes a contemporary
document from which it appears that the Philadelphia society, which
was probably the first to bear the name, and which is claimed as the
original of the 'Red Men' secret order, was organised on 1 May 1772,
under the title of 'Sons of King Tammany', with a strongly Loyalist
tendency (towards the British monarchy). It is probable that the
'Saint Tammany' society was a later organisation of Revolutionary
sympathisers who were opposed to such kingly ideals. Saint Tammany
parish, Louisiana, preserves the memory.
William Penn's treaty of 1683 with the Indians was recreated in
oils in 1771-1772 by Benjamin West, entitled 'The Treaty of Penn
with the Indians'