Sunday, December 11, 2011

Boss Tweed: A few more cartoons, from people besides Thomas Nast

Thomas Nast of Harper's Weekly was not the only cartoonist to aim his pencil at William M. Tweed, Boss of Tammany Hall.  When the scandal broke in 1871 after The New-York Times published proof of massive frauds by Tweed and his circle, every paper in town with an artist on staff joined the frenzy.  Here are few samples:

This unsigned, front-page drawing from the Evening Telegram, a friendly newspaper (that was taking plenty of subsidy money from City Hall), shows Tweed before the scandal, celebrating New Year's Eve at a party for his Tammany crowd at the New York Academy of Music on Union Square.   

Just a few months later, the same Evening Telegram changed its tune after the Tweed frauds became public knowledge.  Holding onto the City Treasury vault are the core members of Tweed's Ring: (from left) City Chamberlain Peter ("Brains") Sweeny,  Comptroller Richard ("Slippery Dick") Connolly, Tweed, and the mayor, A. Oakey Hall. 

As the scandal worsened, Sweeny and Hall tried to save themselves by blaming Connolly, the Comptroller, for the massive thefts.  Here, they try to convince Connolly (seated in the center) to take the fall by resigning his post,  thereby admitting guilt.  Connolly, of course, refuses.  "Tamani Tycooni invite Connolli to Hari-Kari -- No-go-he."   From Frank Leslie's Illustrated, October 7, 1871.

In the end, all four of the Ring members are forced out, though only Tweed spends time in prison.  Sweeny and Connolly flee to Europe and Hall wins an acquittal after three criminal trials.  This drawing by artist A. Hoyt shows Tweed leading them off into the subset.

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