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A Personality Of William “Boss” Tweed

William “Boss” Tweed

A brilliant democrat and overall genius. William “Boss” Tweed became a deceptive politician. He used people’s lack of knowledge and understanding, so he could gain power. His early childhood influences and negative media conflicts eventually lead his demise. “The way to have power is to take it.”(Tweed)

To start off with, Boss Tweed was born with the name William Magear Tweed on April 3, 1823, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He was born to Richard and Eliza Magear. Tweed was an only child. He dropped out of school at the young age of 11 to join his dad in his business; becoming a chair maker. At the age of 13, he was an apprentice for a horse saddle maker. Not until his teen years did he begin to get a taste of what his future would be like. At the age of 17, Boss Tweed worked as a bookkeeper for a brush company. During his teen years, he developed a reputation for streetfighting. At the age of 19, he joined a firm and a volunteer fire department. In that time, local fire companies were closely connected with local politics. Fire companies had interesting names, and Tweed came to identify himself with Engine Company 33, whose nickname was “Black Joke.” The group was famous for causing fights with other companies that tried to outrace it to fires. In 1852 he was elected the alderman of the Seventh Ward, an area in lower Manhattan.This all started his ruthless reign in politics.

Adding on to the influences in early life, when people caught wind of Tweed’s fraud and brutality, he was then exposed all over the media. Political cartoons and negative newspaper articles were the two major ways that exposed Tweed not be so innocent as he tried to play off as. A famous cartoonist by the name of Thomas Nast became one of Boss Tweeds most hated adversaries. He contributed to his Tweeds downfall. Nasts’ cartoons attacked Tammany Hall corruption ever since 1867. He became more passionate about uncovering Tweeds fraudulence. He intensified his focus on the four main principles of his campaign in 1870 and 1871. Nast’s description of Tweed being excessively heavy helped prove the political leader’s crime. His images captured public attention and helped incite public violence. While he couldn’t force people to act or vote in a specific way, Nast altered public opinion of Tweed and the infamous Tammany Hall. Political cartoons and negative news articles were ultimate reasons for Boss Tweeds collapse and exposure.

In addition, William “Boss” Tweed shaped his era with “The Tweed Ring” as well his political positions and influence with Tammany Hall. Tammany Hall was a New York City political organization that lasted for close to two centuries. It was formed in 1789 upon opposing to the Federalist Party. Its leadership often reflected that of the local Democratic Party’s executive committee. Although its popularity came from a need to help the city’s poor and immigrant populations. Tammany Hall became known for charges of corruption levied against leaders such as Tweed. Tweed always had a small group of moguls around him who controlled New York City’s finances. That became known as the Tweed Ring. Tweed’s Ring mostly controlled New York City until 1870, using larceny, bribery, and their sharp knowledge to pilfer massive amounts of New York’s budget into their own pockets. They took anywhere from $40 million to $200 million or $1.5 billion to $9 billion in 2009 dollars! Companies under the power of the Tweed Ring would charge the city for work not done or would bill them extra for work they did, and the benefits would go back to Tweed and his colleagues. Those companies, under city contracts, would also do below adequate work that would eventually require many repairs, which would then be completed by other Tweed Ring controlled companies. Also, because Boss Tweed owned a large part of the New York’s transportation system, he postponed the construction of the subway system for years. He was eventually caught, served time in jail, escaped to Cuba and died of pneumonia. Boss Tweed lived an unstable life.

In conclusion, William “Boss” Tweed used his deception to take advantage of people with lack of knowledge and understanding about politics. He managed his way into the Tammany Hall system and stole millions of dollars. He ripped people off and abused the system for his own benefit, using the Tweed Ring as a cover.

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