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Boss Tweed

Posted by: | October 16, 2012 | No Comment |

William Marcy Tweed was the epicenter of corruption in New York city during the 1860s-1870s. Immigrants fell servant to his bribes and played pawn in his game to take over the city.

Tweed either owned or payed off every single New York Daily except the New York Times and Harper’s Weekly.

“In 1862, New York aldermen passed a resolution to pay individual reporters $200 a year for “services” to the city, and in the expansive manner of Tammany Hall this figure had been increased tenfold. Even more fundamental to the administration’s ability to influence the editorial content of the newspapers was the city advertising budget. Tweed subsidized the largest papers in New York City—the World, Herald, and Post—by annually placing some $80,000 worth of city advertising in each. During the ring’s reign of corruption, the city treasury funneled $7 million to the newspapers in exchange for their silence.”

Streitmatter, Rodger (2011-12-27). Mightier than the Sword: How the News Media Have Shaped American History (Kindle Locations 992-996). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.


Tweed tried to suppress the news, but the truth could not be hidden. The New York Times published expenditures from Boss Tweed’s books to unveil his corruption. But what proved to be more effective were Thomas Nast‘s cartoons.


CREDIT: Nast, Thomas, artist. “Tweed-le-dee and Tilden-dum,” 1876. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction Number LC-USZ62-117137.


The New York Times based its readership among the upper middle class. Nast’s power was appealing to all audiences.

“I didn’t care a straw for the newspaper articles—my constituents didn’t know how to read. But they couldn’t help but see them damned pictures”  Tweed said in response to Nast’s cartoons.

Overall, Boss Tweed attempted to control the press but ended up failing miserably. The press exposed him and his parties corruption to and us the citizens of New York city. Meanwhile Thomas Nast fought boldly against the Tweed Ring using his pictures to convey his message to the public.


under: Comm 455, newspapers
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