Boss Tweedboss-tweed-1-sized.jpg

Background Information

William "Boss" Tweed was born on April 3, 1823 in New York City. He started his life in politics after he organized the Americus Fire Company No. 6 as a volunteer fire company. In 1852 Tweed was elected to the United States House of Representatives. In 1856 he was elected to the New York City Board of Advisors. In 1867 he was elected to the New York State Senate. Then he was appointed the director of the Erie Railroad by Jay Gould and Jim Fisk.external image moz-screenshot-6.pngexternal image moz-screenshot-7.png

Political Machines

Political machines were the tightly organized groups of politicians that political parties in major cities came under the control of. The political machines each had a boss. The boss was usually the top politician. The party bosses knew how to manage the social, ethnic, and economic groups in the city. The political machines brought new services to the city, like welfare. They would also find jobs, find houses, and give food to the poor. Because they did all this, they asked for the people's votes on the election day. The most famous political machine in New York was Tammany Hall.tammany-hall.jpg

Tammany Hall

Tammany Hall had support from many immigrants, which made it a very powerful force in New York politics. It controlled businesses, politics, and even sometimes law enforcement. Boss Tweed was the most famous of the Tammany Hall's bosses. Tweed was the face of a huge scandal, in which his cronies and him stole money from New York's taxpayers.

The Scandal

Boss Tweed and his cronies were thieves. In the 1860s in New York City, around 65 percent of the public building funds ended up in the pockets of Tweed and his cronies. Tweed masterminded dozens of schemes to steal the money. At the end, the Tweed Ring stole about 200 million dollars from New York's taxpayers. Tweed's scandal was Boss_tweed.jpgexposed to the public in 1871 when The New York Times and the famous cartoonist Thomas Nast posted a cartoon about him in the newspaper. He was arrested in October 1871 and then rearrested later on civil charges.

Later Life

After being arrested once and then being released, Tweed was then rearrested. But the surprising thing is that he was able to escape from custody and he fled to Spain. In Spain he worked on a Spanish ship as a seaman. The United States government discovered that he had fled to Spain and then he was again arrested in 1876. Then on April 12, 1878 William "Boss" Tweed died from a severe case of pneumonia.


American History Textbook