Tweed “Boss” entregue às autoridades

Tweed “Boss” entregue às autoridades

William Magear “Boss” Tweed, líder da corrupta organização política Tammany Hall da cidade de Nova York durante a década de 1860 e início da década de 1870, é entregue às autoridades da cidade de Nova York após sua captura na Espanha.

Tweed se tornou uma figura poderosa em Tammany Hall - a máquina política democrata da cidade de Nova York - no final da década de 1850. Em meados da década de 1860, ele alcançou a posição mais alta na organização e formou o “Tweed Ring”, que abertamente comprava votos, incentivava a corrupção judicial, extraía milhões de contratos municipais e dominava a política da cidade de Nova York. O Tweed Ring atingiu o auge da fraude em 1871 com a reforma do Tribunal da Cidade, um desvio flagrante de fundos da cidade que foi exposto por O jornal New York Times. Tweed e seus lacaios esperavam que as críticas passassem, mas graças aos esforços de oponentes como Harper’s Weekly O cartunista político Thomas Nast, que conduziu uma cruzada contra Tweed, virtualmente todos os membros de Tammany Hall foram varridos do poder nas eleições de novembro de 1871.

Todos os Tweed Ring foram posteriormente julgados e condenados à prisão. Boss Tweed cumpriu pena por falsificação e furto e outras acusações, mas em 1875 escapou da prisão e viajou para Cuba e Espanha. Em 1876, ele foi preso pela polícia espanhola, que supostamente o reconheceu de um famoso desenho animado de Nash. Após a extradição de Tweed para os Estados Unidos, ele foi devolvido à prisão, onde morreu em 1878.

LEIA MAIS: A Insana Investigação de Enxerto dos anos 1930 Que Derrubou o Prefeito de Nova York - e depois Tammany Hall


Thomas Nast & # 39s campanha contra Boss Tweed

Nos anos que se seguiram à Guerra Civil, um ex-brigão de rua e fixador político do Lower East Side chamado William M. Tweed tornou-se conhecido como "Boss Tweed" na cidade de Nova York. Tweed nunca foi prefeito. Os cargos públicos que ele ocupou foram sempre menores.

No entanto, Tweed, pairando à margem do governo, era de longe o político mais poderoso da cidade. Sua organização, conhecida pelos insiders simplesmente como "The Ring", arrecadou milhões de dólares em enxertos ilegais.

Tweed acabou sendo derrubado por reportagens de jornais, principalmente nas páginas do New York Times. Mas um proeminente cartunista político, Thomas Nast, da Harper's Weekly, também desempenhou um papel vital em manter o público focado nos delitos de Tweed e The Ring.

A história do chefe Tweed e sua queda impressionante do poder não pode ser contada sem avaliar como Thomas Nast descreveu seu furto desenfreado de maneiras que qualquer um poderia entender.


William “Boss” Tweed e máquinas políticas

Use esta narrativa com os que eram prestadores de serviços essenciais dos chefes urbanos ou políticos corruptos? Ponto-contraponto e a análise dos desenhos animados: Thomas Nast assume & # 8220Boss Tweed & # 8221, 1871 Fonte primária para dar uma imagem completa das máquinas políticas e sua relação com os imigrantes.

Nova York era um lugar fervilhante após a Guerra Civil. As ruas não pavimentadas da cidade estavam repletas de lixo jogado das janelas e esterco de cavalo de animais puxando carruagens. A fumaça negra obstruía o ar, emanando do carvão e da madeira em chamas que aqueciam casas e abasteciam fábricas. Doenças como cólera e tuberculose prosperaram em ambientes pouco saudáveis. Mais de um milhão de pessoas se amontoaram na cidade, muitos em prédios dilapidados. Pobreza, analfabetismo, crime e vício eram problemas galopantes para os pobres e para os imigrantes irlandeses e alemães, que constituíam quase metade da população. O governo da cidade ofereceu poucos serviços básicos para aliviar o sofrimento, e as igrejas e instituições de caridade privadas muitas vezes ficavam sobrecarregadas com a necessidade. Um político descobriu como fornecer esses serviços e obter algo em troca.

William Magear & # 8220Boss & # 8221 Tweed era filho de um fabricante de móveis. Desde cedo, Tweed descobriu que tinha um talento especial para a política, com sua figura imponente e carisma. Ele logo começou a servir em escritórios políticos locais da cidade de Nova York e foi eleito vereador do Sétimo Distrito, juntando-se aos chamados 40 ladrões que representavam os distritos da cidade. Ele cumpriu um mandato frustrante no Congresso durante as tensões setoriais da década de 1850 e depois voltou feliz para a política local, onde acreditava que estava acontecendo. Ele rapidamente se tornou um dos principais políticos da cidade de Nova York e um dos mais corruptos.

William Tweed, o & # 8220 chefe & # 8221 de Tammany Hall, desempenhou um papel importante na política da cidade de Nova York em meados do século XIX.

No final da década de 1850, Tweed havia ascendido por meio de uma variedade de escritórios locais, incluindo bombeiro voluntário, comissário escolar, membro do conselho de supervisores do condado e comissário de rua. Ele aprendeu a fazer aliados e amigos políticos e se tornou uma estrela em ascensão. Seus amigos o escolheram para chefiar a máquina política da cidade, que era representante de outros nas principais cidades americanas nas quais um partido político e um chefe governavam uma grande cidade. Na cidade de Nova York, Tammany Hall era a organização que controlava o Partido Democrata e a maioria dos votos.

Um dos primeiros atos de Tweed & # 8217 foi restaurar a ordem após os distúrbios do recrutamento na cidade de Nova York em 1863, quando muitos irlandeses protestaram contra o alistamento, enquanto os homens mais ricos pagavam US $ 300 para contratar substitutos para lutar na guerra. Tweed arquitetou um acordo no qual alguns homens de família (em vez de apenas os ricos) recebiam isenções e até mesmo um empréstimo de Tammany Hall para pagar um substituto. Ele conquistou grande autonomia e controle local, que o governo federal teve de aceitar. Em 1870, a legislatura estadual concedeu à cidade de Nova York um novo estatuto que dava às autoridades locais, em vez das da capital do estado, Albany, poder sobre os cargos políticos locais e nomeações. Foi chamado de & # 8220Tweed Charter & # 8221 porque Tweed queria tanto esse controle que pagou centenas de milhares de dólares em subornos por ele.

O corrupto & # 8220Tweed Ring & # 8221 estava arrecadando milhões de dólares com enxertos e raspando o topo. Tweed distribuiu milhares de empregos e contratos lucrativos como patrocínio e esperava favores, subornos e propinas em troca. Parte desse dinheiro foi distribuído a juízes para decisões favoráveis. Grandes projetos de construção, como novos hospitais, museus elaborados, tribunais de mármore, estradas pavimentadas e a ponte do Brooklyn tiveram milhões de dólares em custos adicionais adicionados que foram diretamente para Boss Tweed e seus comparsas. Na verdade, o tribunal do condado foi orçado originalmente em US $ 250.000, mas acabou custando mais de US $ 13 milhões e nem mesmo foi concluído. O anel de Tweed embolsou a maior parte do dinheiro. O anel também engoliu grandes quantidades de imóveis, era dono da gráfica que contratava negócios oficiais da cidade, como cédulas, e recebia grandes recompensas das ferrovias. Logo, Tweed possuía uma extravagante mansão na Quinta Avenida e uma propriedade em Connecticut, dava festas e casamentos suntuosos e possuía joias de diamantes no valor de dezenas de milhares de dólares. No total, o Tweed Ring rendeu cerca de US $ 50 a US $ 200 milhões em dinheiro corrupto. A avareza do Boss Tweed & # 8217 conhecia poucos limites.

A corrupção no governo da cidade de Nova York & # 8217 foi muito além da ganância, no entanto, barateou o estado de direito e degradou uma sociedade civil saudável. A maioria das pessoas no governo local recebeu seus empregos por causa de patrocínio, e não por mérito e talento. O Tweed Ring também manipulou as eleições de várias maneiras. Contratou pessoas para votar várias vezes e fez com que xerifes e deputados temporários os protegessem ao fazê-lo. Encheu as urnas com votos falsos e subornou ou prendeu inspetores eleitorais que questionaram seus métodos. Como Tweed disse mais tarde, As cédulas não deram resultado, os contadores fizeram o resultado. Às vezes, o anel simplesmente ignorava as cédulas e falsificava os resultados eleitorais. Os candidatos de Tammany geralmente recebiam mais votos do que eleitores elegíveis em um distrito. Além disso, o anel usou de intimidação e violência de rua ao contratar bandidos ou policiais desonestos para influenciar as mentes dos eleitores e recebeu recompensas de atividades criminosas que permitiu que florescessem.

As manipulações eleitorais do Tweed & # 8217s eram bem conhecidas, com táticas de intimidação mantendo a contagem de votos sob o controle do Tweed Ring & # 8217s.

Embora Boss Tweed e Tammany Hall se envolvessem em políticas corruptas, eles sem dúvida ajudaram os imigrantes e os pobres da cidade de muitas maneiras. Milhares de imigrantes recentes em Nova York foram naturalizados como cidadãos americanos e os homens adultos tinham o direito de votar. Como a cidade de Nova York, como outras grandes áreas urbanas, muitas vezes carecia de serviços básicos, o Tweed Ring os fornecia pelo preço de uma votação, ou vários votos. Tweed garantiu que os imigrantes tivessem empregos, encontrassem um lugar para morar, tivessem comida suficiente, recebessem cuidados médicos e até tivessem dinheiro suficiente para carvão para aquecer seus apartamentos durante o frio do inverno. Além disso, ele contribuiu com milhões de dólares para as instituições que beneficiam e cuidam dos imigrantes, como igrejas e sinagogas de seus bairros, escolas católicas, hospitais, orfanatos e instituições de caridade. Quando edifícios residenciais em ruínas pegaram fogo, os membros da quadrilha seguiram os caminhões de bombeiros para garantir que as famílias tivessem um lugar para ficar e comida para comer. Os imigrantes em Nova York eram gratos pelos serviços tão necessários da cidade e instituições de caridade privadas. O Tweed Ring parecia estar criando uma sociedade mais saudável e, em números esmagadores, os imigrantes votaram alegremente nos democratas que governavam a cidade.

No final, entretanto, a ganância de Boss Tweed e # 8217s era muito grande e sua exploração era muito descarada. o New York Times expôs a corrupção desenfreada de seu anel e publicou histórias sobre as várias fraudes. Enquanto isso, o periódico Harper & # 8217s Weekly publicou os desenhos editoriais de Thomas Nast, que satirizava o Tweed Ring por suas atividades ilegais. Na verdade, Tweed estava mais preocupado com os desenhos do que com as histórias investigativas, porque muitos de seus constituintes eram analfabetos, mas entendiam a mensagem dos desenhos. Ele ofereceu suborno ao editor do New York Times e a Nast para parar com suas críticas públicas, mas nenhuma das duas aceitou.

Boss Tweed foi preso em outubro de 1871 e indiciado logo depois. Ele foi julgado em 1873 e, após uma suspensão do júri no primeiro julgamento, foi considerado culpado em um segundo julgamento por mais de 200 crimes, incluindo falsificação e furto. Ele foi condenado a 12 anos de prisão.

Um dos desenhos animados de Thomas Nast & # 8217, chamado The Brains, argumentou que Boss Tweed ganhou suas eleições graças ao dinheiro, não aos cérebros.

Enquanto estava na prisão, Tweed teve permissão para visitar sua família em casa e fazer as refeições com eles, enquanto alguns guardas esperavam em sua porta. Em uma dessas refeições, ele aproveitou a oportunidade para escapar disfarçado pelo Hudson até Nova Jersey, e depois de barco para a Flórida, de lá para Cuba e, finalmente, para a Espanha. Como o governo da Espanha queria que os Estados Unidos encerrassem seu apoio aos rebeldes cubanos, ele concordou em cooperar com as autoridades americanas e prender Tweed. Com a ajuda dos cartuns de Nast & # 8217s na obtenção de pelo menos uma aproximação da aparência de Tweed & # 8217s, as forças de segurança espanholas o reconheceram e prenderam e o devolveram aos Estados Unidos. Com sua saúde debilitada e poucos apoiadores restantes, Tweed morreu na prisão em 1878.

Assista a este vídeo do BRI Homework Help no Boss Tweed para ver sua ascensão e queda e como Tammany Hall afetou a Era Dourada de Nova York.

Tammany Hall e o Tweed Ring são modelos infames da corrupção urbana da Era Dourada. Máquinas políticas governaram corruptamente várias das principais cidades dos Estados Unidos, especialmente no Nordeste e no Centro-Oeste, onde milhões de imigrantes se estabeleceram. As máquinas podem ter fornecido serviços essenciais para os imigrantes, mas sua corrupção destruiu o bom governo e a sociedade civil ao minar o Estado de Direito. No início do século XX, os reformadores progressistas começaram a visar os patrões e as máquinas políticas para reformar o governo municipal nos Estados Unidos.

Perguntas de revisão

1. Antes de se tornar conhecido como & # 8220Boss & # 8221 Tweed, William Tweed atuou brevemente como

  1. prefeito da cidade de nova iorque
  2. governador de nova iorque
  3. um membro do Congresso
  4. presidente do Conselho Eleitoral em Nova York

2. O tratamento de Tammany Hall & # 8217s de imigrantes que viviam na cidade de Nova York pode ser melhor descrito como

  1. liderando a luta pelo nativismo
  2. ajudando imigrantes com serviços básicos
  3. encorajando imigrantes a viver em enclaves étnicos na cidade
  4. fornecendo treinamento profissional para trabalhadores qualificados

3. Tammany Hall e Boss Tweed estavam mais intimamente associados a qual partido político?

4. O Tweed Ring ganhava a maior parte de seu dinheiro com enxertos. Um grande exemplo foi

  1. cobrando dinheiro das empresas para protegê-las dos chefões do crime
  2. taxando injustamente os imigrantes
  3. inflando o custo de grandes projetos da cidade, como o tribunal
  4. inflando o pedágio cobrado para cruzar a ponte do Brooklyn

5. Durante o final do século XIX, Thomas Nast era mais conhecido como

  1. um oponente político de William Tweed & # 8217s, que serviu como governador de Nova York
  2. um crítico do Tweed Ring que publicou exposições sobre Boss Tweed
  3. um imigrante que foi ajudado por Tweed e teve uma carreira política de sucesso
  4. um crítico de Tweed que desenhou caricaturas políticas expondo sua corrupção

6. Um evento que impulsionou William Tweed a uma posição de respeito e mais poder na cidade de Nova York foi o seu

  1. primeira eleição bem-sucedida para prefeito de Nova York em 1864
  2. sucesso em restaurar a ordem após os tumultos de recrutamento em 1863
  3. capacidade de autorizar obras públicas para beneficiar um grande número de imigrantes
  4. sucesso no fornecimento de moradias confortáveis ​​para famílias de baixa renda

Perguntas de resposta gratuita

  1. Explique o efeito positivo e negativo do Tweed Ring na cidade de Nova York.
  2. Avalie o impacto da máquina política nas cidades dos EUA no final do século XIX e no início do século XX.

Perguntas Práticas AP

Thomas Nast retrata Boss Tweed na Harper & # 8217s Weekly (21 de outubro de 1871).

1. A intenção de Thomas Nast & # 8217 em desenhar o cartoon político era

  1. demonstrar a generosidade do chefe político no final do século XIX
  2. mostre como Boss Tweed e Tammany Hall eram corruptos na política de Nova York
  3. ilustram a ganância dos industriais durante o final do século XIX
  4. mostre como os políticos eram honestos

2. Qual das alternativas a seguir surgiu para buscar corrigir os problemas criados pela situação satirizada no cartoon?

  1. O movimento populista
  2. A Era Progressiva
  3. The Know Nothings
  4. O Segundo Grande Despertar

3. Qual grupo provavelmente se beneficiou mais com a situação retratada no cartoon?

  1. Imigrantes para os Estados Unidos
  2. Membros de sindicatos
  3. afro-americanos
  4. Apoiadores do sufrágio feminino # 8217

Fontes primárias

Recursos sugeridos

Ackerman, Kenneth D. Boss Tweed: a ascensão e queda do policial corrupto que concebeu a alma da Nova York moderna. Nova York: Carroll e Graf, 2005.

Allswang, John M. Chefes, máquinas e votos urbanos . Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986.

Brands, H.W. American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900. Nova York: Doubleday, 2010.

Lynch, Dennis Tilden. Boss Tweed: a história de uma geração sombria. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2002.

Trachtenberg, Alan. A Incorporação da América: Cultura e Sociedade na Era Dourada. Nova York: Hill e Wang, 1982.

Branco, Richard. A República que Representa: Os Estados Unidos durante a Reconstrução e a Era Dourada, 1865-1896. Oxford, Reino Unido: Oxford University Press, 2017.


A casa que Tweed construiu

Hoje, entre os prédios altos da parte baixa de Manhattan, encontra-se uma pilha baixa e achatada de mármore de Massachusetts. É o antigo tribunal do condado de Nova York, um pequeno prédio abandonado de apenas três andares. Apenas alguns escritórios dentro de suas paredes cinza sujas ainda são usados. Não há nada nesta relíquia grotesca que sugira um passado turbulento ou um grande escândalo. Mas em seus antigos aposentos e ao longo de seus corredores há, para os conhecedores, um rugido da história tão alto quanto o som do mar nas conchas.

O tribunal foi projetado com grandes expectativas. Seria um exemplo heróico da arquitetura renascentista. Mas quando o Tweed Ring terminou a construção, foi heroico apenas na quantidade de dinheiro gasta nele, dinheiro suficiente, de acordo com um reformador, para construir dezesseis tribunais. Custou mais do que o Canal Erie, disse o New York Times. Essas e outras queixas indicam o impacto de um dos feitos de enxerto mais descarados e grandiosos da história municipal americana. A casa que Tweed construiu foi o legado de Boss para Nova York, uma acrópole de enxerto, um santuário para boodle.

William Marcy Tweed parecia algo que Deus havia cortado com um machado cego. Seu corpo escarpado pesava quase cento e cinquenta quilos. Tudo nele era grande: sua ninhada de oito filhos, seus punhos, seus ombros, sua cabeça, com seu cabelo castanho-avermelhado esculpido em um bigode e sua barba, seus olhos, raposos ou "corajosos", como os reformadores os chamavam de seu diamante, que brilhava como um planeta na frente de sua camisa e, finalmente, em seu nariz. “Seu nariz é meio Brougham, meio romano”, disse um observador, “e um homem com um nariz desse tipo não é um homem com quem se possa brincar”.

Nascido em Nova York em 1823, filho de um presidente, Tweed começou sua ascensão à fama em 1851 quando foi eleito vereador e se tornou o líder de um grupo corrupto e predatório de vereadores e vereadores assistentes, apropriadamente chamado de Quarenta Ladrões. Depois de dois anos singularmente indistintos como congressista em meados dos anos 1950, Tweed começou uma luta de dez anos pelo poder que resultou em torná-lo o primeiro homem a ostentar o título de Chefe de Nova York.

Nesses anos, ele abriu caminho até se tornar o Grande Sachem de Tammany e o presidente do poderoso comitê central democrata do condado de Nova York. Seu poder crescente foi logo sentido dentro do governo da cidade de Nova York, e ele colecionou sinecuras - comissário de escola, vice-comissário de rua, supervisor - como um pistoleiro adicionaria entalhes em sua arma.

Em 1866, Boss Tweed estava prestes a se tornar a maior força política de Nova York. No mesmo ano, ele formou seu famoso Ring unindo forças com três bandidos importantes: o promotor distrital, Abraham Oakey Hall, que serviria como prefeito de 1868 a 1872 Peter Barr Sweeny, um lobista e ex-procurador que Tweed tornou cidade camareiro e um homem que mais tarde seria o controlador da cidade, Richard Connolly. Nos cinco anos seguintes, o Tweed Ring sufocou Nova York em seu abraço político. Como um invasor Átila, Tweed invadiu as quatro fortalezas do poder no estado de Nova York: Prefeitura, Tammany Hall, Salão da Justiça e Capitólio em Albany. Logo havia 12.000 homens Tammany colocados em empregos importantes na cidade. De Tweed's Town - a parte baixa de Nova York, incluindo Hell's Kitchen, Satan's Circus, Bowery, Cat Alley, Cockroach Row e Five Points, com suas ruas cheias de aranhas cheias de lixo e pobres - vieram os votos das enchentes de imigrantes, em troca da generosidade do Boss em empregos e comida. E no dia da eleição, os bravos Tammany da "brigada de chapéu brilhante", como eles se autodenominavam, mergulharam nas cabines eleitorais, cedo e frequentemente, seus gritos de guerra animados pela aguardente, para retornar à cabana naquela noite com novos escalpos políticos. Essa máquina política funcionava com fios de “wampum”, como o Anel pitorescamente chamava de dinheiro vivo, e uma das principais fontes desse wampum tão necessário era o novo prédio do tribunal do condado.

A casa que Tweed construiu foi realmente iniciada anos antes do Ring ser formado. Em 1858, o ilustre arquiteto John Kellum, que projetou o prédio do New York Herald, concluiu os planos para o novo tribunal em meio a uma grande explosão de orgulho cívico. Aqui estava para ser uma maravilha da Renascença proclamando a grandeza de Nova York e a santidade da lei. Exceto pelo fornecimento de um terreno no Parque da Prefeitura, pouco foi feito até 1862, quando, não por acaso, William Tweed tornou-se presidente do Conselho de Supervisores. Houve uma disputa sobre quem deveria destinar fundos para o novo edifício, o Conselho de Comissários do estado ou o Conselho de Supervisores da cidade. Tweed inclinou a balança a favor de fazer a cidade pagar a conta e, de repente, as apropriações tornaram-se rápidas.

A promulgação da lei de 1858 afirmava especificamente que o edifício, com todos os seus móveis, não deveria custar mais de US $ 250.000. Mas isso dificilmente era suficiente, argumentou Tweed, para construir um tributo adequado à cidade e à lei. O Conselho de Supervisores concordou e mais $ 1.000.000 foram autorizados. Em 1864, um adicional de $ 800.000 foi concedido. Mas mesmo isso não foi suficiente. Em 1865, US $ 300.000 a mais foram apropriados, mas no ano seguinte ainda mais dinheiro era necessário, e Tweed fez lobby com sucesso por US $ 300.000 adicionais.

Quando mais meio milhão de dólares foi concedido em 1866, um grupo de reforma farejou o odor pungente de corrupção. Parecia um pouco estranho que $ 3.150.000 do dinheiro dos contribuintes tivessem sido gastos, mas o tribunal ainda não tivesse sido concluído, exceto por um canto ocupado pelo tribunal de apelações. Os reformadores indignados exigiram uma investigação. Os funcionários da cidade e do condado de Nova York foram atenciosos, mas seus sentimentos ficaram um tanto agitados. Ressaltaram que o Conselho de Supervisores já havia constituído uma comissão para investigar os contratos do tribunal. No entanto, para servir à justiça, criaram outra comissão, batizando-a de Comissão Especial de Investigação do Tribunal. Essa comissão deveria investigar a comissão de investigação criada pelo Conselho de Supervisores que estava investigando o tribunal. O Comitê Especial demorou notavelmente para declarar que o comitê de investigação, os contratos e tudo o mais sobre o tribunal estavam livres de fraude.

O ritmo das dotações para o tribunal aumentou à medida que o Tweed Ring expandia seu poder. O chefe Tweed demonstrou sua autoridade incontestável sobre a legislatura estadual ao fazer com que ela contribuísse com uma grande quantia de dinheiro para o tribunal, e ele completou um golpe duplo ao persuadir a cidade ao mesmo tempo a doar mais $ 6.997.893,24. “Imagine”, disse um jornal, “a indústria incansável, o desgaste dos músculos, a ansiedade da mente, os dias cansativos e as noites sem dormir, que deve ter custado ao 'Chefe' obter todas essas somas de dinheiro. ” Assim, de 1858 a 1871, mais de treze milhões de dólares foram gastos no novo tribunal.

Quando, em 1871, os nova-iorquinos finalmente perceberam que seu tribunal tinha sido uma mina de ouro de enxerto, uma das primeiras perguntas foi como essa incrível fraude havia sido perpetrada. Tal roubo colossal, ao que parecia, só poderia ser arquitetado por um estratagema complicado e sutil. O que surpreendeu, irritou e talvez embaraçou os nova-iorquinos foi a revelação de que o Anel, confiante em seu poder e desdenhoso de ser detectado, havia empregado tais táticas descaradas.

O esquema dependia de cada membro do Anel desempenhando um papel adaptado a seus talentos e ofícios específicos. O papel do chefe Tweed era operar exclusivamente na área de tomada de decisões de alto nível e exercer seu considerável charme - sempre realçado por uma carteira abarrotada - entre seus conhecidos na cidade de Nova York e nos governos estaduais. Para ajudá-lo na arte suave da persuasão política, Tweed, como a maioria dos executivos bem-sucedidos, tinha um assessor engenhoso e criativo. Peter Barr Sweeny, o camareiro da cidade. Escuro, taciturno, misterioso, Sweeny parecia para alguns ser mais sombra do que homem. Robusto, com um bigode de morsa preto-azeviche e uma grande cabeça coberta por uma farta cabeleira negra, ele sempre usava roupas pretas e um chapéu preto de coroa alta. Sweeny, um manipulador de bastidores, era extremamente tímido em público. Em 1857, como promotor público, ele falhou em seu primeiro discurso perante um júri e ficou tão humilhado que renunciou e fugiu para a Europa. Seu forte era operar como alter ego de Tweed em caucuses de festas, escritórios particulares e corredores de hotéis. Essa reputação de astúcia furtiva rendeu-lhe muitos apelidos - Brains Sweeny, Sly Sweeny, Spider Sweeny - mas seus amigos o chamavam de Squire. Foram Tweed e Sweeny que fizeram todos os arranjos iniciais entre o Ring e os empreiteiros do tribunal escolhidos a dedo.

A terceira figura importante na operação foi o controlador da cidade, Richard Connolly. Seu chapéu alto de cano curto, óculos de aros dourados, nariz imponente, rosto bem barbeado e barriga rechonchuda davam-lhe uma aparência distinta e era chamado de Grande Juiz por seus camaradas. Connolly habilmente fingiu uma inocência que levou os não iniciados a pensar nele como uma mera criança no jogo da política. Mas o apelido dado a ele pelos reformadores, Slippery Dick, provou-se correto quando, em 1871, ele valia seis milhões de dólares, embora seu salário fosse de apenas $ 3.600 em 1857. Coube a Connolly como contador e especialista financeiro do Ring. supervisionar o ataque ao ponto fraco do tesouro da cidade. Depois que os empreiteiros enviaram as contas de seu trabalho, Connolly se certificou de que o Anel recebia sessenta e cinco por cento do valor devido como sua comissão, com os trinta e cinco por cento restantes indo para os empreiteiros. Ele então elaborou pagamentos ou mandados retirados do tesouro da cidade, aprovou-os como controlador da cidade e os entregou ao chefe Tweed, que por sua vez “persuadiu” o Conselho de Supervisores a dar sua aprovação oficial aos mandados. A operação atingiu seu estágio final quando os mandados acolchoados foram colocados na mesa do colorido “Elegant Oakey” Hall, o prefeito de Nova York.

Abraham Oakey Hall, um homenzinho nervoso e brilhante que tinha um toque de tubarão na piscina com o eleitorado, encantou Nova York com sua retórica roxa e sua elegância espalhafatosa. Ele era um político, dramaturgo (o torrador de corações, Let Me Kiss Him for His Mother, foi uma de suas peças apreciadas pelos frequentadores do teatro de Nova York), jornalista, advogado, poeta, clubman, conferencista, humorista e impostor. Oakey Hall teve apenas um defeito como prefeito, um jornal comentou, “falta de habilidade”. Mas havia um talento que não faltava a Hall: ele sabia escrever seu nome. Quando, como o mais alto oficial da cidade, ele assinou os mandados inflacionados, a escritura estava cumprida.

Desta forma, tão rude e ao mesmo tempo tão direta, os contribuintes de Nova York foram espoliados em treze milhões de dólares. O que tornou a construção do tribunal do condado um clássico nos anais do suborno americano foi a maneira como o dinheiro foi gasto. Como disse o reformador Robert Roosevelt (tio de Theodore Roosevelt), as contas pagas pelos empreiteiros de Tweed não eram meramente monstruosas, "elas [eram] manifestamente fabulosas". Por apenas três mesas e quarenta cadeiras, por exemplo, a cidade pagou R $ 179.729,60. Roscoe Conkling, o senador republicano de Nova York, reclamou que o dinheiro gasto com móveis foi quase três vezes mais caro do que custou ao governo Grant para dirigir todo o corpo diplomático dos Estados Unidos por dois anos - e se alguém se lembrar do governo Grant, isso foi uma façanha e tanto. Conkling estava se referindo ao custo de móveis, tapetes e cortinas fornecidos por uma empresa chefiada por um velho amigo de infância do Boss Tweed, James Ingersoll. A quantia gasta nesses itens foi “a soma bastante surpreendente” de $ 5.691.144,26. Fascinado pela conta de US $ 350.000 apenas para tapetes, o New York Times pediu uma explicação a Ingersoll. “Há uma coisa que vocês, pessoal, no Vezes não parecem levar em consideração ", foi a resposta furiosa. “Os tapetes desses prédios públicos precisam ser trocados com muito mais frequência do que nas casas particulares.” Mesmo depois dessa explicação, o Times concluiu que a cidade foi cobrada a mais de US $ 336.821,31.

John Keyser, o empreiteiro do encanamento do prédio, estabeleceu um recorde invejado até mesmo por seus colegas mais bem pagos de hoje. Ele recebeu quase um milhão e meio de dólares para “encanamento e luminárias de gás”. Estimou-se que em apenas um ano, Keyser ganhou mais de um milhão de dólares. Comparado a Ingersoll e Keyser, o carpinteiro de Tweed, "Lucky" George Miller, apresentou contas insignificantes. A madeira serrada com valor estimado em não mais do que $ 48.000 custou à cidade apenas $ 460.000. Quanto ao mármore do edifício, foi fornecido por uma pedreira de propriedade do Boss. O New York Times, sempre um crítico irritante de Tweed, afirmou que custou mais para extrair o mármore do que para construir todo o tribunal no Brooklyn.

Os preços dos cofres e toldos sugeriam uma obsessão por segurança e sombra. J. McBride Davidson, que mantinha um bar privado em seu escritório para políticos selecionados, cobrava mais de US $ 400.000 pelos cofres. James W. Smith cobrou US $ 150 cada um por 160 toldos. Considerando isso, mais o custo da carpintaria, um jornal calculou que cada janela do tribunal custava espantosos US $ 8.000. Smith se defendeu dizendo que sua conta de toldos incluía desmontá-los no outono, colocá-los novamente na primavera e consertá-los. Outro fabricante disse que os toldos não valiam mais do que US $ 12,50 cada.

Quando uma pessoa está construindo uma casa, ela geralmente não espera receber uma conta enorme para reparos antes que a estrutura seja concluída. No entanto, a casa que Tweed construiu custou aos contribuintes de Nova York quase dois milhões de dólares em reparos antes de ser concluída. Aqui Andrew Garvey, um ex-bombeiro de 110 quilos, estabeleceu um recorde que lhe rendeu o título de “Príncipe dos Estucadores”. Em um ano, Garvey cobrou da cidade US $ 500.000 pelo reboco e US $ 1.000.000 pelo conserto da mesma obra. Sua conta para o trabalho de gesso de três anos em um edifício supostamente de mármore foi de $ 2.870.464,06 - o Vezes sugeriu que os seis centavos fossem doados para instituições de caridade - e destes, $ 1.294.684,13 foram para reparos! Se Garvey era um príncipe, o carpinteiro de Tweed avaliava pelo menos um condado. Por “consertar e alterar trabalhos em madeira”, Lucky George recebeu quase US $ 800.000. Em comparação com seus colegas, no entanto, John Keyser era apenas um cavaleiro de armadura manchada. Ele recebeu apenas $ 51.481,74 para consertar seu encanamento e luminárias.

Apesar de toda a chocante demonstração de gula, espalharam-se pelos livros secretos de contabilidade do Anel evidências de bom humor, um certo ímpeto, uma sensação de que aqui estavam homens que realmente gostavam de seu trabalho. Por exemplo, um cheque foi sacado para a ordem de Fillippo Donnoruma no valor de $ 66.000. Foi endossado por “Phillip Dummy”. Outro cheque, de $ 64.000, foi emitido para “T. C. Dinheiro. ” E espremido entre colunas de figuras enormes estava esta pequena obra-prima de eufemismo: "Vassouras, etc. ... $ 41.190,95."

Depois, havia a cobrança de termômetros, que deve ser descrita como irreverente. Tweed comprou onze termômetros para o novo tribunal, cada um com um metro e meio de comprimento e um de largura, e encaixados em uma moldura esculpida de maneira espalhafatosa. Os rostos eram feitos de papel barato, muito envernizado e mal pintado. Tudo sobre eles era barato. O custo dos onze termômetros foi de exatamente US $ 7.500. Um repórter perguntou a um fabricante de termômetros de boa reputação quantos termômetros ele poderia fornecer com essa quantidade. “Por US $ 7.500”, disse ele, “eu poderia enfileirar-me no tribunal”. A cobrança da New York Printing Company de $ 186.495,61 por artigos de papelaria era única. It included the printing of all the reams of contractors’ bills as well as the repair bills.

When the Tweed Ring was exposed in 1871, it became a favorite pastime to calculate how far, placed end to end, the furnishings and materials charged to the city for the courthouse would reach. One newspaper reckoned that there was carpeting enough to reach from New York almost to New Haven, or halfway to Albany. Another wag estimated that since Ingersoll was paid $170,729.60 for chairs alone, if each cost $5, the city had bought 34,145 chairs. Now if they were placed in a straight line, they would reach 85,363 feet, or nearly eighteen miles. What would happen, asked the New York Times , if the sum spent for cabinet work and furniture were spent in furnishing private houses? Allowing $10,000 per house, the paper estimated, it would furnish nearly 3,000 houses.

The revelations of the cost of the building inspired several New Yorkers to visit their new courthouse. Although they realized that corruption had been at work, they expected to see some kind of magnificence for their thirteen million dollars. Instead they found an unfinished waste of masonry—gloomy rooms, dark halls, and ugly, fake marble walls—resembling more an ancient tenement than a new public building. In 1871, after thirteen years of construction work, not all of the floors were occupied. One of the largest rooms, the Bureau of Arrears of Taxes, had no roof. The county clerk’s office, sheriff’s office, and office of the surrogate were not carpeted but were covered with oilcloth and grimy matting. The walls were filthy, and in many places large chunks of plaster had peeled off, leaving ugly blotches—a fitting tribute to the Prince of Plasterer’s repair bills. One visitor counted 164 windows and shuddered at the cost of awnings and curtains, many of which had not yet been delivered. When the prominent reformer George C. Barrett made his pilgrimage, he came away shocked. His impression left no doubt that the city must long endure a reminder of the most audacious swindle in its history. “It might be considered,” he said, “that the cornerstone of the temple was conceived in sin, and its dome, if ever finished, will be glazed all over with iniquity. The whole atmosphere was corrupt. You look up at its ceilings and find gaudy decorations you wonder which is the greatest, the vulgarity or the corruptness of the place.” As a final irony, the grand dome which had been planned to crown the county’s temple of justice was never completed.

Boss Tweed and his friends reached the zenith of their power in July, 1871. On July 4, Tammany wildly celebrated the glories of Independence Day and the beneficent leadership of Grand Sachem William Marcy Tweed. Four days later came the beginning of the end. The New York Times , leading one of the greatest crusades against civic corruption in American history, began publishing the facts and figures on the Ring’s adventures in graft. The Times was aided by Harper’s Weekly with its acerbic cartoons by Thomas Nast, who drew the courthouse with “Thou Shalt Steal As Much As Thou Canst” over its portal. The evidence was turned over to the newspaper by an unhappy Tammany warrior, ex-Sheriff James O’Brien. Furious because Tweed had not paid a fraudulent claim he had made against the city, O’Brien had hired a spy in Connolly’s office to copy entries out of the Ring’s secret account books.

While it was estimated that the Ring in all its various operations had stolen anywhere from twenty million to two hundred million dollars from the city and state, it was the courthouse that captured New York’s attention and ignited its wrath. At first the Boss had magnificent poise. “Well,” he said, “what are you going to do about it?” And Mayor Hall—or “Mayor Haul,” as Nast labelled him—quipped, “Who’s going to sue?” But as the Times , day by day, week by week, revealed the enormity of the courthouse scandal—the plaster, the carpets, the repair bills, the thermometers —the Forty Thieves panicked and Oakey Hall became a prophet: “We are likely to have what befell Adam,” he said, “an early Fall.” Tweed tried to bribe the Times into silence and failed, while Nast refused an offer of $500,000 to study art abroad rather than corruption at home. The Boss said of Thomas Nast, “I don’t care a straw for your newspaper articles my constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures.” By the fall of 1871, the Ring was on the threshold of collapse. As new evidence of wrongdoing accumulated, a mass meeting of outraged New Yorkers was held at Cooper Union and a committee of seventy leading citizens was organized to bring about the fall of Tweed. Under the leadership of Samuel J. Tilden, who later became governor of New York and the Democratic nominee for President in 1876, a civil suit to recover the stolen money was brought against the Ring’s leaders. In the November, 1871, election, one of the most exciting in New York history, the Ring was smashed when Tammany was crushed at the polls. New York now awaited expectantly the trials of all the culprits who had so boldly picked the civic purse, but the city was to be denied that satisfaction.

When Tweed was arrested in December, Connolly, Sweeny, and most of the other leading members of the Ring fled to Europe or to Canada and were never punished. Connolly wandered about Europe and died there, a man without a country, while Sweeny returned to New York in the eighteen eighties and lived out his years there in quiet respectability. One who did not flee was Mayor Oakey Hall. At his trial it was asked how the Mayor could have signed hundreds of padded courthouse warrants and not been aware of it. His attorney explained that the Elegant Oakey had “an ineradicable aversion to details.” Hall was acquitted.

Only the Boss paid a price, a small price considering the crime. Tweed spent less than half his remaining years—from his downfall in 1871 until his death in 1878—in jail. In 1873 he was sentenced to twelve years in prison for fraud, but the court of appeals reduced the sentence to a year on a legal technicality. After his release in 1875 Tweed was arrested as the result of action brought by the state of New York to recover six million dollars he was accused of having stolen. While in prison awaiting trial the Boss was often allowed to visit his home under guard. During one such visit, in December of 1875, Tweed escaped to Cuba and then to Spain, only to be recognized from a Nast caricature. He was returned to New York in November, 1876, and was confined to the Ludlow Street Jail to await trial. He died there on April 12, 1878, at the age of fifty-five.

In the years after Tweed’s death the horrendous scandals of his Ring softened into just another memory of old New York, but one which Tweed had made certain would not be forgotten. The shabby little building in City Hall Park, the house that Tweed built, was as unforgettable a memorial as a statue in Times Square. And Tweed had provided his own epitaph. When he arrived at the Blackwell’s Island prison to begin his one-year sentence, the warden asked him what his profession was. The Boss, in a clear, strong voice, answered, “Statesman!”


13 Facts About Boss Tweed

Few men are as synonymous with political corruption as William Magear Tweed—“Boss Tweed” as most knew him. The “Grand Sachem” of New York City’s Democratic political machine, Tammany Hall, effectively ran Gotham during the late 1860s and early 1870s, treating its coffers as his personal bank account and its leaders as his errand boys. But his decadent ambitions earned him plenty of enemies, and eventually proved his undoing. Here are a few tidbits about the Boss and some of his more egregious activities.

1. HE LEARNED POLITICS WORKING AS A FIREMAN.

Tweed was initially groomed to go into his father’s business as a chair-maker, before going to school for accounting (learning skills that no doubt proved helpful when he was cooking the city budget). But he found his true calling upon joining the volunteer fire company, where he would help form Americus Engine Company No. 6. It was in this world that he learned how to develop alliances and work the system, developing strong-arm tactics to ensure that seu engine was the first that made it to a fire. His competitiveness led him to come close to being expelled from the firefighters—but by bribing the right people, he reduced his life sentence to a three-month suspension. All of these skills, and the working class associates he made, helped stoke his interest in politics. It’s appropriate that Engine 6's snarling tiger logo would become the symbol of Tammany.

2. HE MAY HAVE SAVED A REPUBLICAN MAYOR'S LIFE.

One of Tweed's earliest political moves was to help protect the life of a mayor from a different party. During the draft riots of 1863, while Tweed was deputy street commissioner, many of the city’s poor and Irish (Tammany’s core constituency) took to the streets in violent protest against the conscription law that required they pay $300 or die on the battlefield for the Union. Tweed took on the role of peacemaker, urging calm, and was one of those who informed Republican mayor George Opdyke that City Hall was not safe, convincing him to go somewhere he could avoid the anti-draft violence. Never one to miss an opportunity, Tweed leveraged the goodwill he earned for tamping down the riots into a deal that allowed many of the poor to avoid fighting, and paid the $300 conscription exemption cost for others—earning him a major political victory over the Republicans.

3. HE STOLE BIG.

Tweed and his cronies stole somewhere between $30 million and $200 million from the city ($365 million to $2.4 billion today). During his glory days, Tweed was the third-largest landowner in New York City, with a mansion on Fifth Avenue and 43 rd Street (with a horse stable nearby), a Greenwich estate, and two yachts.

4. HE WORE MANY HATS.

While he is most famous for his position as Grand Sachem (or “Boss”) of Tammany Hall, Tweed used his influence and skill with handing out political favors to land a wide range of titles. He served terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and the New York State Senate, and had himself appointed deputy street commissioner of New York City. He served as director of the Erie Railroad, proprietor of the Metropolitan Hotel, and director of the Tenth National Bank. He bought the New-York Printing Company and Manufacturing Stationers’ Company, then saw that they were made the city’s official printer and stationery printer, respectively (and that they overcharged for their services).

5. HE FAKED BEING A LAWYER.

Despite never studying as an attorney, Tweed was certified as a lawyer by his friend George Barnard. Opening a law office, he was then able to charge exorbitant fees to individuals and companies seeking his influence, under the catchall “legal services.”

6. HIS ALLIES TRIED TO ERECT A STATUE OF HIM—WHILE HE WAS STILL ALIVE.

In 1871, Tammany pushed to build a bronze statue in Manhattan in Tweed’s honor (although the project was originally suggested as a spoof by journalists). While this may have seemed perfectly reasonable to Tweed, the press was not so enthusiastic. “Has Tweed gone mad, that he thus challenges public attention to his life and acts?” a Evening Post wrote. Sensing that a statue might be a step too far, Tweed suggested to those behind the campaign: “Statues are not erected to living men … I claim to be a live man, and hope (Divine Providence permitting) to survive in all my vigor, politically and physically, for some years to come.” The plans were scrapped.

7. HE SHARED THE WEALTH.

One of Tweed’s greatest skills was getting the men he selected into positions of power. From running the Tammany Hall general committee (which controlled the Democratic Party’s nominations for all city positions) early in his political career, to seeing that former New York City mayor and Tweed protégé John T. Hoffman ascended to the state governorship, Tweed made sure that power and profits were distributed widely among his friends. But while his favors almost always served his own selfish purposes, they could also help the city’s people—if at the expense of the city itself. “Because of Tweed, New York got better, even for the poor,” author and journalist Pete Hamill grants.

8. HE WAS A MAN OF EXCESS—BUT DIDN’T SMOKE.

Tweed’s most famous accessory may be the huge 10.5-carat diamond stickpin he wore on his shirt front. The gifts one of his daughters received on her wedding day were reported to be worth $14 million in today’s dollars. He feasted on duck, oysters, tenderloin, and excessive amounts of food, as his significant waistline could attest. But he didn’t smoke and barely drank—though he kept plenty of cigars and whisky on hand for any visiting friends.

9. CARTOONS TOOK HIM DOWN.

Tweed made plenty of enemies, but perhaps his toughest was Harper’s Weekly political cartoonist Thomas Nast. The German immigrant vividly conveyed the city’s corruption with images of a bloated Tweed, replacing his head with a bag of money in one famous depiction, and using the snarling visual of a tiger (from Tweed’s own Engine No. 6 mascot) to represent the predatory Tammany Hall.

Tweed recognized the power and danger that Nast’s widely seen illustrations presented: "My constituents don't know how to read, but they can't help seeing them damned pictures!" As he did with so many others, Tweed attempted to pay for Nast’s acquiescence, sending a crony (pretending to a representative for a European benefactor interested in studying art) to the illustrator’s house with a promise of $500,000—if he would just move to Europe for the foreseeable future. But Nast refused to be bribed, and the attempt only fueled his unkind cartoons, which fueled public outrage about Tweed's acts.

10. AN ARREST COULDN’T STOP HIM FROM GETTING ELECTED.

In 1871, following a devastating series of articles in O jornal New York Times about the corruption in city government, sheriff (and Tammany man) Matthew Brennan placed Tweed under arrest, just a week before voters went to the polls to decide the Boss’s State Senate seat. Brennan quietly accepted a $1 million bond for Tweed’s bail and moved on, and the Grand Sachem defeated his rival days later.

11. IT TOOK THREE MORE ARRESTS TO LOCK HIM UP FOR GOOD.

In 1873, reform lawyer Samuel J. Tilden convicted Tweed on charges of larceny and forgery, though he was released two years later. He was quickly re-arrested on civil charges, convicted and imprisoned again (since he could not pay the $6.3 million he was judged to owe for his crimes). But life in jail did not suit Tweed, and during one of the home visits he was granted by authorities, he escaped to Cuba, then Spain, working as a seaman for two years before he was spotted by an American who—adding insult to custody—recognized him from Nast's cartoons. He was captured and sent back to the U.S.

12. HE WAS DOUBLE-CROSSED IN JAIL.

Desperate to get out of prison after his third apprehension, Tweed struck a deal with the state attorney general to confess all he had done, if it would mean release. He revealed all of his crimes (or at least as many as he could remember) in 1877, only to have the lawman back out of his agreement (the attorney general did, after all, work for New York’s governor and Tweed’s old foe Samuel Tilden).

13. DESPITE OTHERS’ EFFORTS, HE HAD A BLOWOUT FUNERAL.

While in prison, Tweed contracted severe pneumonia and died in 1878, reportedly worth not much more than $2,500. It was an ignoble end, and New York City Mayor Smith Ely refused to fly the City Hall flag at half-staff. His daughter was determined to keep the funeral “private and unostentatious,” allowing only close friends and family—with much of his family not even able to make the funeral (his wife and another daughter lived in Paris as invalids and two sons were in Europe). His body was encased in an ice box for funeral services. But despite these efforts to keep Tweed’s passing quiet, large crowds turned out in front of his daughter’s house for the funeral. Even the Vezes, critical to Tweed’s downfall, reported that “Some were of the opinion that his punishment had been harder than he deserved.”

Bonus Fact: This "Bourbon Ballad" about him is the best:

There was Tweed
Under his rule the ballot-box was freed!
Six times as big a vote he could record
As there were people living in the ward!


Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York

For a decade or so in the 1860s and early 1870s, William Tweed - known colloquially as "Boss" Tweed - reigned supreme over patronage and power in New York City. His rapid, and to most people - not least of whom would be Tweed himself - shocking demise and subsequent imprisonment makes for an entertaining book. Along the way, the reader is introduced to many other flawed individuals, some famous and some not.

Tweed&aposs story is well-told by Kenneth Ackerman, but only once he has attained power. Des For a decade or so in the 1860s and early 1870s, William Tweed - known colloquially as "Boss" Tweed - reigned supreme over patronage and power in New York City. His rapid, and to most people - not least of whom would be Tweed himself - shocking demise and subsequent imprisonment makes for an entertaining book. Along the way, the reader is introduced to many other flawed individuals, some famous and some not.

Tweed's story is well-told by Kenneth Ackerman, but only once he has attained power. Despite "The Rise" being part of the title, it really seems to be missing from the narrative. Ackerman basically skims over Tweed's early years, so quickly that you hardly notice it. I did not think that he explained Tweed's ascent very well. He became involved in business, in a fire department, and began amassing power. How he did this was not made clear. I was not expecting something akin to Robert Caro's monumental work on Robert Moses, but it seems like a few key moments are missing here.

One moment that is not missing is the 1863 NYC draft riots. Ackerman shows Tweed steadying the situation when the local officials proved unable to do so. From there, the book catalogues how Tweed and his "Ring" managed to defraud the city of millions of dollars. How much Tweed, A. Oakey Hall, Peter Sweeny, and Richard Connolly actually did pilfer is and has been disputed, and at this point it probably is impossible to arrive at an accurate figure. There was graft everywhere, voter intimidation, and buying of offices.

Ackerman does well in introducing, at length, many other notable characters aside from Tweed: Thomas Nast the cartoonist, George Jones the owner of the New York Times, Samuel Tilden (Governor for ywo years and 1876 Democratic nominee for President), and several others. Even Ulysses S. Grant makes an appearance. Ackerman weaves these folks into the story line, showing how each of them influenced events. This is a strength of the book. It also makes me categorize the book as "history" instead of "biography" because Tweed is almost entirely absent in sections. Ackerman shows that, much like most things in life, pretty much nobody involved here has totally clean hands. Seemingly each person did something that personally benefited himself (there were few women in this story aside from occasional mention of Tweed's wife or daughters - definitely a reflection of the time period), while ostensibly trying to say that they were providing a service to society.

Tweed's imprisonment, and then his sudden escape from jail (well, he actually escaped from his own house as he did get special treatment from the wardens) makes for the stuff of fiction. How he got away, and then made it as far as Spain before being brought all the way back to New York, is almost hard to believe. Ackerman unfortunately does not explain why Tweed suddenly left the house he was hiding in over in New Jersey, going to Florida and then Cuba and then Spain. He does chronicle Tweed's deteriorating health during this time period (Tweed was a huge man, 300 pounds) and how the endless trials and the imprisonment, combined with the depletion of his ill-gotten fortune, caused him to age prematurely and die in middle age (later for that time period).

Ackerman is sympathetic, I think, to Tweed. No, he does not excuse anything untoward that Tweed did, and shows that even when he was helping poor immigrants it was more out of political calculation than actual concern for peoples' well-being. But he focuses on how the rest of the Ring really got away Scot-free, and how Tweed was at the short end of the stick of several people (such as Tilden) who had their own less-than-noble motives in trying to imprison him and then keep him in prison. Fair point, and I do think that Tweed bore the brunt of the punishment. Several others were almost as guilty as Tweed, if not just as guilty, and they served no prison time. So could one say that Tweed was treated unfairly? Yes, I think so. Yet I could not summon much sympathy for someone who so blatantly stole from the public trough and would have kept right on stealing had he not been caught.


ɻoss Tweed'

TWEED WAS DYING that morning, locked inside New York City's Ludlow Street Jail at Grand Street on the Lower East Side. At about 11:40 A.M., he began to whisper his lawyer William Edelstein had to lean close and place his ear near Tweed's lips to hear over the noise of horses on the street, women haggling at the nearby Essex Street Market. "Well, Tilden and Fairchild have killed me," he said. Tweed had saved his last words for his tormentors: Charles Fairchild, the New York State attorney general who had cheated him, broken his pledge to free him in exchange for a full confession, and Samuel Jones Tilden, the New York governor whoɽ built a national political career on Tweed's downfall and now demanded that he die behind bars.

"I hope they are satisfied now." He smiled faintly. A few minutes later, he lost consciousness.

For two weeks, Tweed had borne a cascade of ailments: fever, bronchitis, pneumonia. Months earlier, heɽ suffered a heart attack, aggravated by kidney failure brought on by Bright's disease. His huge body, once three hundred pounds and known for its swagger, now sagged on the narrow bed, struggling to breathe his sporadic coughs hung in the cool, dank air. Hollowed cheeks and a thin ghost-white beard dominated his long face. Blue eyes that had once twinkled for friends and glared at enemies seemed vacant, haunted by depression.

At noon, just as midday bells sounded from the Essex Street Market tower, Tweed died, prematurely old at fifty-five years, surrounded by strangers.

It had been almost five years since Tweed had walked the streets of New York City, his lifelong home, as a free man. A year before that, Tweed had stood at the height of power and could laugh at bureaucrats like Fairchild and Tilden whoɽ begged him for favors like everyone else. He, William Magear Tweed, had been the single most influential man in New York City and a rising force on the national stage. Physically imposing and mentally sharp, Tweed reigned supreme. He was more than simply boss of Tammany Hall, commissioner of Public Works, and state senator. He controlled judges, mayors, governors, and newspapers. He flaunted his wealth, conspicuous and garish beyond anything supportable by his government salaries or even traditional "honest graft" as practiced by generations of politicians before and since. Tweed was the third-largest landowner in the city, director of the Erie Railway, the Tenth National Bank, and the New-York Printing Company, proprietor of the Metropolitan Hotel, and president of the Americus Club. He owned two steam-powered yachts, a Fifth Avenue mansion, an estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a shirtfront diamond pin valued at over $15,000 ($300,000 in today's money). Still, he gloried as friend to the poor, champion of immigrants, builder of a greater New York, and arbiter of influence and patronage. And he stole . on a massive scale.

Once the proof of Tweed's thefts from the city exploded in banner newspaper headlines, his house of cards collapsed. City investigators ultimately estimated that Tweed and his city "ring," during a three-year period, had made off with a staggering $45 million from the local treasury-an amount larger than the entire annual U.S. federal budget before the Civil War. Even then, political enemies and lawmen couldn't touch him it would take a popular uprising to topple Tweed, led by a newspaper, the New-York Times, and a magazine, Harper's Weekly. Only after newspapers had produced the evidence did prosecutors like Tilden and Fairchild dare to put Tweed behind bars.

In December 1873, a jury had convicted Tweed on 204 counts of criminal misdemeanor fraud growing from the famous "Tweed Ring" scandals, and Judge Noah Davis had sentenced him to twelve years' imprisonment on Blackwell's Island. Judge Davis had overstepped. Laws at the time actually capped penalties in multiple-count misdemeanor indictments to a single small fine and a single one-year jail term and an appeals court had freed Tweed a year later over the discrepancy, but Tilden had intervened again and ordered Tweed immediately rearrested and Judge Davis had set bail at an impossibly high $3 million.

Now, after four years in jail, Tweed alone remained behind bars. All his friends and fellow thieves, the other Ring fugitives, had fled the country or settled their charges with the government. Tweed alone had become the scapegoat, the face of corruption. Increasingly, reformers criticized the prosecutors for their clumsy handling of the case, running up huge legal costs while failing to recover more than a pittance of the stolen city funds.

Tweed hated prison it defied him-despite the fact that the jailers gave him every comfort money could buy: a private room, hot meals, a bathtub, a window to the street, and friends to visit. He grew impatient at the lawyers' wrangling. In December 1875, he escaped and fled. One night that month, he sneaked away from his jail guards and secretly crossed the Hudson River to New Jersey. He later admitted paying $60,000 in bribes to finance the dramatic breakout. Once loose, he traveled in disguise, wearing a wig, a clean-shaven face, and workman's clothes, and using a false name. He reached Cuba and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Spain, only to face arrest there. Spanish authorities had seized him on his arrival at Vigo and handed him back to a United States Navy frigate that returned him to New York City.

Then, back behind bars, exhausted, destitute, and sick, Tweed tried to surrender: "I am an old man, greatly broken in health, cast down in spirit, and can no longer bear my burden," heɽ written from jail, agreeing with Fairchild and Tilden and throwing himself on their mercy. After years of denials, he now offered them a full confession of his crimes, including names of accomplices, surrender of all his property, and help in any legal steps to recover stolen city funds-all in exchange for his freedom. He wanted to be with his wife and children, he said, to live out his last years.

He delivered his confession both in writing and through eleven days of riveting public testimony before a committee of city aldermen. Newspapers carried full transcripts of the startling disclosures as Tweed appeared day after day in a packed City Hall chamber and poured out his secrets, explaining how heɽ bribed the state legislature, fixed elections, skimmed money from city contractors, and systematically diverted public funds. Parts of his story had little or no corroboration, raising suspicions that heɽ exaggerated his own guilt simply to flatter his jailers and help win his release. He made no excuses, no alibis, and no complaints sitting in the stuffy room, he answered every question, rarely showing temper or impatience.

New Yorkers who earlier had despised Tweed for his arrogance and greed now grudgingly grew to respect "the old man"-for his terrible mistakes, his punishment, and his apparent atonement. The aldermen who took his testimony supported Tweed's plea for release from jail, as did old political rivals like "Honest John" Kelly, Tweed's replacement as leader of Tammany Hall.

But Tilden and Fairchild, sitting at the state capitol in Albany, were deaf to his pleas. Samuel Tilden had already run for president in 1876 heɽ received more popular votes than Rutherford B. Hayes and lost the presidency by a single electoral vote in a contested outcome. He was considering a second try in 1880. Fairchild too saw higher political office in his future, including a possible run for the New York governor's mansion. Why should either risk his reputation now over Tweed?

Tweed's last appearance outside the Ludlow Street Jail came on March 26, 1878, two weeks before his death. Sheriffs had taken him to the state Supreme Court to testify in one of the many lawsuits resulting from his scandals. As guards led him through the marble courthouse corridors, he eagerly greeted the two or three old-timers who weren't ashamed to shake his hand. Newsmen noticed how Tweed now walked with a limp and spoke in a rasping voice. When Tweed took the witness stand, he delivered a prepared statement: "Under promises made to me by the officials of the state and the city, I was induced to give evidence before the Common Council of this city . as to what are called 'Ring Frauds,'" he read. "I am advised by my counsel not to answer a single question put to me on this case . until the promises made to me . are fulfilled and I am liberated."

The judge accepted Tweed's response at face value and allowed him to leave the court without being cross-examined by any of the lawyers.

Six days later, Tweed got his answer. Attorney General Fairchild issued a public letter denying heɽ made any deals with Tweed-despite contrary statements heɽ given earlier to Tweed's own lawyer and to John Kelly. Fairchild declared the whole incident a sham and a trick he never bothered even to send Tweed a copy of the letter: Tweed read it in the newspapers. When he saw Fairchild's denial, he knew the game was up. A few days later came the fever, then the cough, then pneumonia.

John Murray Carnochan, Tweed's physician at the Ludlow Street Jail, didn't hesitate to pinpoint the cause of death. "Behind all these phases of disease," he told newspaper writers after the autopsy, "was [Tweed's] great nervous prostration, brought about by his prolonged confinement in an unhealthful locality"-the moldy jailhouse on Ludlow Street-"and by the unfavorable result of the efforts recently made to effect his release."

Tweed's family had largely abandoned him by the time he died: public shame had driven them away. Mary Jane, his wife of thirty-three years, had gone to Paris with their grown son William, Jr. she traveled under the false name "Weed" to avoid any connection with her disgraced husband. "My wife! . She is God's own workmanship," he confided to an interviewer. "The only thing against her is that she had such a worthless husband." Tweed's two youngest sons, ten-year-old George and fourteen-year-old Charles, had been kept in a New England boarding school for the past five years and forbidden to see their father. His two oldest daughters, Mary Amelia and Lizzie, both lived with husbands in New Orleans, over a thousand miles away, both taking the same married name, Maginnis.

Of all Tweed's children, only his daughter Josephine, twenty-four years old, still lived in New York City. She came frequently to the Ludlow Street Jail to visit her father and always tried to act cheerful around him. Sheɽ come quickly this morning on hearing from the doctors, but had stepped away from her father's bedside to fetch him his favorite treat of tea and ice cream. She hadn't come back yet when he died at noon.

News of Tweed's death spread quickly through the busy metropolis of nine hundred thousand souls. New Yorkers had known him for twenty-five years as hero, villain, and criminal. He once had counted his friends and colleagues in the thousands. "Nine men out of ten either know me or I know them," heɽ bragged back in the 1860s, when he still commanded the city's respect, "women and children you may include." Now crowds gathered at newspaper offices and government buildings with public bulletin boards-over a hundred people at City Hall alone. Boys selling extra editions of the New York Sun, a Mundo, e as Arauto made a fast business. The Boss dead? It couldn't be true! One rumor had it that Tweed had faked his own demise as just another gimmick to win release from jail.

Most New Yorkers sympathized at the news. "Poor old man, poor man, but perhaps it was best for him," Judge Van Vorst of the Court of Common Pleas told a reporter. "Tweed had a great many friends among the poor and friendless," added Bernard Reilly, sheriff of New York County. "Other people will regret his death because they think he has been rather harshly dealt with . he cannot be considered wholly as a bad man. He erred deplorably. And he has paid for his errors by dying in prison."

But self-styled reformers rejected any pity for Tweed. Theyɽ won a great victory by overthrowing his corrupt machine and refused to compromise now over misplaced sentiment for a sick old man. o New-York Times had dramatically unearthed and disclosed the Tweed Ring's secret accounts-the greatest journalistic scoop to that time, directly leading to Tweed's downfall now it led the assault: "Such talents as [Tweed] had were devoted to cheating the people and robbing the public Treasury," insisted its lead editorial the next day, adding that "his tastes were gross, his life impure, and his influence, both political and personal, more pernicious than that of any other public man of his generation."

Thomas Nast, the brilliant young illustrator whose cartoons in Harper's Weekly had made Tweed a laughingstock in New York City, still featured the ex-Boss in his weekly drawings. These days he portrayed Tweed as a tiny parakeet-no longer the fierce Tammany Tiger but instead a pathetic "jailbird" with prison stripes on his feathers and a ball and chain locked to his ankle. Nast's final drawing of Tweed before the Boss's death, published in January 1878, had mocked the appeals for Tweed's release by showing miniature jailbird Tweed gripped in a giant hand called "Prison," ready to crush him at a whim. "[I]f it be right that men should be punished for great offenses, there was nothing unkind, unjust, or unreasonable in the punishment of Tweed," echoed a Harper's Weekly editorial that week. It was right that Tweed should die in jail a broken man, others said. "Without his boldness and skill the gigantic Ring robberies would not have been committed," concluded James Gordon Bennett, Jr.'s New York Herald. The "finger of scorn," as Tom Nast had drawn it, must follow him to the grave.

William Tweed had left enormous footprints on his city he had built as grandly as heɽ stolen. His monuments dotted every corner of Manhattan-the new Brooklyn Bridge rising across the East River, the opulent new County Courthouse by City Hall, the widened, paved streets up Broadway and around Central Park. Just as striking were shadows of his crimes-the huge debt and ruined credit that would haunt city finances for a generation, the broken lives and shattered trust of former friends. Tweed had defined a grimy reality of American politics, perfecting forms of graft and voting-box abuse mimicked by political bosses for the next century, but never on so grand a scale. His fall had created a new role for a free, skeptical press in the public arena, and his legal persecution had set a tone for political scandals lasting generations.


Boss Tweed

Famously, Tweed is known for the construction of the New York Courthouse. It wasn't until the New York Times wrote an expose on Boss Tweed that his grafting became publicly known and finally consequences caught up with his actions. William M. Tweed was born the son of a chair maker in New York in 1823. He attended public school and then followed in his father's footsteps by learning the trade also. Tweed was born on April 3, 1823 in New York City, New York. He started as a street fighter in the Cherry Hill section of the Lower East Side where he was one of eight children. Because of this, he was sent to a boarding school in New Jersey for a year, where he focused on accounting.

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William ‘Boss’ Tweed and the bitter days of Tammany Hall

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You cannot understand New York without understanding its most corrupt politician — William ‘Boss’ Tweed, a larger than life personality with lofty ambitions to steal millions of dollars from the city.

With the help of his ‘Tweed Ring’, the former chair-maker had complete control over the city — what was being built, how much it would cost and who was being paid.

How do you bring down a corrupt government when it seems almost everyone’s in on it? We reveal the downfall of the Tweed Ring and the end to one of the biggest political scandals in New York history. It began with a sleigh ride.

TB: Find out how Tammany Hall, the dominant political machine of the 19th century, got its start — as a rather innocent social club that required men to dress up and pretend they’re Indians.

William M. Tweed, son of a chair maker, as photographed by Matthew Brady in 1865. The Lower East Side would not spawn a man as powerful as Tweed until the rise of Al Smith in the 20th Century. Tweed’s influence, however, came at great expense to the city.

The M. in his middle name is something of a controversy. Marcy or Magear? It’s commonly assumed to stand for Marcy however, there’s no real documentary evidence for this (according to biographer Kenneth Ackerman) while Magear is his mother’s maiden name.

Below: a younger-looking Tweed appears on a tobacco box

The powerful Democratic machine Tammany Hall (or, officially the Tammany Society) was actually in a hall, located at Frankfurt and Nassau streets, near City Hall. Built in 1811, the new headquarters saw the once benign social organization morph into an influential and often ruthless group with political objectives.

During Tweed’s reign, Tammany Hall was actually located at 14th Street between 3rd Avenue and Irving Place. Tammany moved here in 1867 and would remain until the late 20s, when they would move just around the corner to Union Square. This photo was taken in 1914. Today the Con Edison building, with its beautiful clock tower, stands in its place.

The Tweed Ring — on in this case ‘the Four Knaves’ — as interpreted by their harshest critic, illustrator Thomas Nast. The Ring was composed of Tweed, Mayor A. Oakey Hall, chamberlain Peter Sweeny and ‘Slippery Dick’ Connolly, the comptroller. Emanating from this core group would be other underlings and associates who would assist in the Ring’s graft and embezzlement

Nast’s charges of voting fraud below weren’t hyperbole. The elections of 1868, which installed Hall into the mayor’s seat and Tammany disciple John Hoffman into the governor’s chair, was one of the most manipulated in American history. Fraud was only too common in New York elections in the 19th century.

The New York County Courthouse, also known as the Tweed Courthouse for the vast amount money supposedly thrown at it during construction. Contractors would wildly overbill for their often shoddy work, with members of the Tweed Ring skimming from the totals. It would take over 20 years for the building to finally be completed — longer than it took to build the Brooklyn Bridge.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS: If you want to learn more about Boss Tweed, go immediately to Kenneth Ackerman’s excellent ‘Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York’. For a broader overview on Tammany Hall, seek out a copy of Oliver E. Allen’s ‘The Tiger: The Rise And Fall of Tammany Hall’ which I believe it out of print but worth looking for.

RELATED PODCASTS: Listen to our prior show on Greenwood Cemetery, where Tweed is buried. Re-visit our Union Square show to get a taste of Tammany’s wily Fernando Wood. Last year I wrote about the Ludlow Street Jail, where Tweed saw his final days.