Boss Tweed’s Birthday.

By the way, in case you missed it, this past Wednesday (April 3) was the 185th birthday of my own favorite icon of American civic virtue, Wm. Magear Tweed, The Boss, who presided over New York’s Tammany Hall as grafter in chief from the Civil War until late 1872. By then, Tweed and friends has stolen as estimated $45 to $200 million from the city and county treasuries — a sum worth billions in modern money. Along the way, they also did more good, did more to build the City, help the poor and immigrants get a foothold in society, and give government a friendly human face than just about anyone else of their generation.

Here the link to an interview I did on the occasion for NPR’s Bryant Street Project:

In honor of the occasion, I give you my two favorite pictures of The Boss. First, here is Thomas Nast’s classic “Twas Him,” from the Harper’s Weekly of August 19, 1871. The caption reads “Who stole the peoples’ money?” Tweed is the chubby man holding his hat:
Then, there is this cover drawing from the January 6, 1871 Evening Telegram showing Tweed leading the dancers at Tammany’s New Year’s celebration at the NY Academy of Music:
So Happy Birthday, Boss. They don’t make politians like you any more and, frankly, we are all poorer as a result. –KenA

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