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Albany Regency,name given, after 1820, to the leaders of the first political machine, which was developed in New York state by Martin Van BurenVan Buren, Martin,
1782–1862, 8th President of the United States (1837–41), b. Kinderhook, Columbia co., N.Y. Early Career
He was reared on his father's farm, was educated at local schools, and after reading law was admitted (1803) to the bar.
..... Click the link for more information. . The name derived from the charge that Van Buren's principal supporters, residing in Albany, managed the machine for him while he served in the U.S. Senate. During the Jacksonian period the Regency controlled the Democratic party in New York. It was one of the first effective political machines, using the spoils systemspoils system,
in U.S. history, the practice of giving appointive offices to loyal members of the party in power. The name supposedly derived from a speech by Senator William Learned Marcy in which he stated, "to the victor belong the spoils.
..... Click the link for more information. and rigid party discipline to maintain its control. Notable figures in the Regency were William L. MarcyMarcy, William Learned,
1786–1857, American politician, b. Southbridge, Mass. He settled in Troy, N.Y., where he practiced law and, after serving in the War of 1812, held local offices.
..... Click the link for more information. , Silas WrightWright, Silas,
1795–1847, American political leader, b. Amherst, Mass. He was admitted (1819) to the bar and began practicing law at Canton, N.Y. Becoming involved in state politics, in the 1820s he opposed the faction headed by De Witt Clinton and became one of the
..... Click the link for more information. , Azariah C. FlaggFlagg, Azariah Cutting,
1790–1873, American political leader, b. Orwell, Vt. He fought in the War of 1812, was editor of the Plattsburgh (N.Y.) Republican until 1825, and was elected (1823) to the New York state assembly.
..... Click the link for more information. , and the elder Benjamin F. ButlerButler, Benjamin Franklin,
1795–1858, American political leader and cabinet officer, b. Columbia co., N.Y. Butler, like his former law associate, Martin Van Buren, was a member of the Albany Regency, and he devoted himself and his considerable power to reform politics.
..... Click the link for more information. . After 1842 it split into factions (BarnburnersBarnburners,
radical element of the Democratic party in New York state from 1842 to 1848, opposed to the conservative Hunkers. The name derives from the fabled Dutchman who burned his barn to rid it of rats; by implication, the Barnburners would destroy corporations and public
..... Click the link for more information. and HunkersHunkers,
conservative faction of the Democratic party in New York state in the 1840s, so named because they were supposed to "hanker" or "hunker" after office. In opposition to them stood the radical Democrats, or Barnburners.
..... Click the link for more information. ) over issues of internal improvements and slavery, thereby losing its power.
See J. D. Hammond, The History of Political Parties in the State of New York (3 vol., 1852); R. Remini, Martin Van Buren and the Making of the Democratic Party (1959).