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Tweed

york, commissioner, street and city

TWEED, twed, William Marcy, American politician: b. New York, 3 April 1823; d. there, 12 April 1878. He was by trade a chairmaker and first gained political foothold through his popularity as foreman of the "Americus" Fire. Engine Company No. 6, known as "Big Six." He was an alderman in New York in 1852-53, United States congressman in 1853-55, chairman of the New York board of supervisors in 1856, school commissioner in 1856-57, deputy street commissioner in 1861-70 and State senator in 1867-71. From his appointment as deputy street commissioner the power of the famous Tam many Ring really dates. He was practically at the head of the department and with his sup port of unscrupulous political friends his power increased until when elected commissioner of public works in 1870 the Ring" con trolled practically every department of munici pal expenditure. He increased enormously the city pay-roll, giving to political allies high salaried sinecure positions. His largest scheme for robbing the city treasury was that of the county courthouse, begun in 1868 and planned to cost $250,000, but upon which $8,000,000 was re ported as expended in 1871, leaving the build ing uncompleted. The charter of 1870 which placed the power of auditing accounts with cer tain city offices occupied by Tweed and his friends removed all restraints from the system of plundering devised by the unscrupulous poli tician and the amounts appropriated extended into the millions. A secret account of these

depredations was kept in the auditor's office and in the winter of 1870-71 the items were copied by a clerk in the office and were printed in the New York Times in July 1871, resulting in the downfall of the "ring" in the election of the following November. Tweed was brought to trial in 1873 on a charge of grand larceny and forgery and sentenced to 12 years' im prisonment and a heavy fine. His sentence was reversed in 1875, but he was unable to furnish bail pending certain civil suits brought against him and was committed to jail. He escaped to Spain in 1875 but was brought back to New York on a warship and again committed to the Ludlow Street jail, where he died. Consult Bryce, The American Commonwealth) (new ed., 2 vols., New York 1910) ; McGuire, J. K., The Democratic Party of the State of New York' (ib. 1905); Myers, G., (History of Tam many Hall' (ib. 1901).