Tweed, William M. "Boss"

Boss Tweed approves an invoice for newspaper advertising while New York City's Deputy Street Commissioner

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Description:
(1823-1878) Tammany Hall "Boss", led the Democratic machine that had a major role in 19th century NY City and State politics. At his height, he was the 3rd-largest NYC landowner. By1853 he was running the 7th Ward for Tammany. Albany GOP reformers tried to control Democratic-dominated NYC government by beefing up the NY County Board of Supervisors' power. The Board had 12 members, 6 appointed by the mayor, 6 elected. In 1858 Tweed was appointed to the Board, his1st vehicle for large-scale graft. He and other Supervisors made vendors pay a 15% overcharge on City business. He was chosen to head Tammany in Jan. 1863; in April, he became "Grand Sachem", called "Boss" after creating a small cabal to run the club. He had himself appointed Deputy Street Commissioner with access to City contractors and funding; he bought the City's official printer and its stationery supplier, and both companies then overcharged. His greatest influence came from board and commission appointments, controlling patronage through Tammany, and ensuring voter loyalty via jobs he created and dispensed. He got reform support by proposing a new City charter returning power to City Hall from GOP-led state commissions. The new charter passed thanks to $600K in bribes Tweed paid to Republicans, signed into law by ally Gov. Hoffman in 1870. Tammany took over the City Council winning all 15 alderman seats. The new charter put City financial control in a Board of Audit consisting of Tweed, the Commissioner of Public Works, Mayor Hall, and the Comptroller, Tammany men. City contractors, "Ring" favorites, multiplied each bill by 5, 10, or 100%, paid thru a go-between, with the Mayor's & Comptroller's approval, who settled the bill and divided the overage between Tweed and his allies. Tweed and his pals made huge profits developing the Upper East Side, buying undeveloped property, using City money to improve the area and increasing its value, after which they sold and split the profits. To ensure the Brooklyn Bridge project would go forward, Tweed demanded $60K to close the deal; the contractor sent cash in a carpet bag. Tweed had for months been attacked by the New York Times and Thomas Nast of Harper's Weekly. The Times published inside information daily, leading to a July 29, 1871 supplement, "Gigantic Frauds of the Ring Exposed". The financial and business community knew that if City credit collapsed, every city bank could collapse. A Sept. Cooper Union meeting led to "the Committee of Seventy" which attacked Tammany by cutting off city funding. Property owners refused to pay municipal taxes, the Comptroller was enjoined from issuing bonds or spending money, unpaid workers marched to City Hall demanding to be paid. Tweed was arrested, forced to resign his positions, and replaced as Tammany leader. His Jan. 1873 trial ended in a mistrial; his Nov, retrial led to convictions on 204 of 220 counts, a fine of $12,750 and a prison sentence reduced to 1 year. The State sued to recover $6M in embezzled funds. He was sent to the Ludlow Street Jail although allowed home visits. He escaped to Spain, where, recognized from Nast's cartoons, he was caught and returned to prison where he died. Tweed's name is synonymous with political graft and corruption! He and his pals most assuredly got a "piece" of this payment, Partly printed DS as New York City Deputy Street Commissioner on 7 x 8 1/2 grey, red and blue lined form, New York City, November 20 1869, certifying and approving payment of $49.60 to the New York Daily News from an appropriation for the Contingencies Street Department for advertising on November 10. Signed also by Charles Boice, Deputy Superintendent of Repairs and Supplies, Comptroller John G. Brennan and by one David Jackson. On verso is docket with signature of the Auditor of Accounts and printed notation that this is voucher #44, requisition #494 in red ink.

Condition: Very good, small paper loss at top and bottom left corners, center horiz. fold with slight break at left
Type:Document






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