The Tweed Ring

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William Magear Tweed was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan on April 3, 1823. He was a volunteer fireman in the early 1940's, he organized the American Fire Company No. 6 and thats what got him into politics. In 1852 Tweed served as an alderman and then was elected to the U.S. House of Represntatives, in 1856 the New York City Board of Advisors, and in 1867 the New York State Senate. Tweed was made a director of the Erie Railroad by two finaciers, Big Jim Fisk and Jay Gould, and of course in turn Tweed arranged favorable legislation for them. Tweed organized a group of men who controlled New York's finances such as the mayor, the comptroller, and the commisioners of parks and public works. They dispensed jobs and contracts in return for political support and bribes. How this worked was, the contractors would submit invoices for inflated amounts or work that had not been done.The actual amount of money stolen has never been able to be tabulated, but is no less than $30 million. He had over 1,000 workers at his command in only a period of two years and eight months, with few costs or expenditures to show, in 1868 debts increased from $36 million to about $136 million by 1870. As they say, the truth always comes out. Tweed was finally accused of defrauding the city. The charges were divided between Tweed, his subordinates and the contractors. Sheriff James O'Brien gave The New York Times evidence of embezzlement because Tweed refused to autorize the Orange Parade. Five million dollars was reportdly offered not to publish the evidence. Thomas Nast, famous for his political cartoons in Harper's Weekly, targeted Tweed. He used a format understandable to recent immigrants and those who could not read, this angered Tweed because he knew this would scar his reputation. In the end Tweed was convicted of larceny and forgery, then sentenced to a 12 year term. After serving just one year he was released, but soon after was re-arrested on another corruption

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