The American Commonwealth


Vol. 4: Illustrations and Reflections & Social Institutions








The American Commonwealth 4, J. Bryce

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9



ISBN: 9783849649755












































Although I have described in previous chapters the causes which have induced the perversion and corruption of democratic government in great American cities, it seems desirable to illustrate more fully, from the recent history of two of those cities, the conditions under which those causes work and the forms which that perversion takes. The phenomena of municipal democracy in the United States are the most remarkable and least laudable which the modern world has witnessed; and they present some evils which no political philosopher, however unfriendly to popular government, appears to have foreseen, evils which have scarcely showed themselves in the cities of Europe, and unlike those which were thought characteristic of the rule of the masses in ancient times. I take New York and Philadelphia as examples because they are older than Chicago, Brooklyn, and St. Louis, far larger than Boston and Baltimore. And I begin with New York, because she displays on the grandest scale phenomena common to American cities, and because the plunder and misgovernment from which she has suffered have become specially notorious over the world.

From the end of last century the State and (somewhat later) the city of New York were, more perhaps than any other State or city, the seat of intrigues and the battle-ground of factions. Party organizations early became powerful in them, and it was by a New York leader — Marcy, the friend of President Jackson, — that the famous doctrine of " the Spoils to the Victors" was first formulated as the practice of New York politicians. These factions were for a long time led, and these intrigues worked, by men belonging to the upper or middle class, to whom the emoluments of office were desirable but not essential. In the middle of the century, however, there came a change. The old native population of the city was more and more swollen by the immigration of foreigners: first of the Irish, especially from 1846 onwards; then also of the Germans from 1849 onwards; finally of Polish and Russian Jews, as well as of Italians and of Slavs from about 1883 onwards. Already in 1870 the foreign population, including not only the foreign born but a large part of their children who, though born in America, were still virtually Europeans, constituted a half or perhaps even a majority of the inhabitants; and the proportion of foreigners has since then varied but little. These newcomers were as a rule poor and ignorant. They knew little of the institutions of the country, and had not acquired any patriotic interest in it. But they received votes. Their numbers soon made them a power in city and State politics, and all the more so because they were cohesive, influenced by leaders of their own race, and not, like the native voters, either disposed to exercise, or capable of exercising, an independent judgment upon current issues. From among them there soon emerged men whose want of book-learning was overcome by their natural force and shrewdness, and who became apt pupils in those arts of party management which the native professional politicians had already brought to perfection.

While these causes were transferring power to the rougher and more ignorant element in the population, the swift developments of trade which followed the making of the Erie Canal and opening up of railway routes to the West, with the consequent expansion of New York as a commercial and financial center, had more and more distracted the thoughts of the wealthier people from local politics, which required more time than busy men could give, and seemed tame compared with that struggle over slavery, whereon, from 1850 to 1865, all patriotic minds were bent. The leading men, who fifty years earlier would have watched municipal affairs and perhaps borne a part in them, were now so much occupied with their commercial enterprises or their legal practice as to neglect their local civic duties, and saw with unconcern the chief municipal offices appropriated by persons belonging to the lower strata of society.

Even had these men of social position and culture desired to retain a hold in city politics, the task would not have been easy, for the rapid growth of New York, which from a population of 108,000 in 1820 had risen to 209,000 in 1830, to 813,000 in 1860, and to 942,000 in 1870, brought in swarms of strangers who knew nothing of the old residents, and it was only by laboriously organizing these newcomers that they could be secured as adherents. However laborious the work might be, it was sure to be done, because the keenness of party strife made every vote precious. But it was work not attractive to men of education, nor suited to them. It fell naturally to those who themselves belonged to the lower strata, and it became the source of the power they acquired.

Among the political organizations of New York the oldest and most powerful was the Tammany Society. It is as old as the Federal government, having been established under the name of the Columbian Society in 1789, just a fortnight after Washington's inauguration, by an Irish American called William Mooney, and its purposes were at first social and charitable rather than political. In 1805 it entitled itself the Tammany Society, adopting, as is said, the name of an Indian chief called Tamanend or Tammany, and clothing itself with a sort of mock Indian character. There were thirteen tribes, with twelve " sachems " under a grand sachem, a " sagamore " or master of ceremonies, and a "wiskinski" or doorkeeper. By degrees, and as the story goes, under the malignant influence of Aaron Burr, it took a strongly political tinge as its numbers increased. Already in 1812 it was a force in the city, having become a rallying center for what was then called the Republican and afterwards the Democratic party; but the element of moral aspiration does not seem to have become extinct, for in 1817 it issued an address deploring the spread of the foreign game of billiards among young men of the upper classes. At one time, too, it possessed a sort of natural history museum, which was ultimately purchased by the well-known showman, P. T. Barnum. Till 1822 it had been governed by a general meeting of its members, but with its increased size there came a representative system; and though the Society proper continued to be governed and its property held by the " sachems," the control of the political organization became vested in a general committee consisting of delegates elected at primary meetings throughout the city, which that organization was now beginning to overspread. This committee, originally of thirty-three members, numbered seventy-five in 1836, by which time Tammany Hall had won its way to a predominant influence in city politics. Of the present organization I shall speak later.

The first sachems had been men of some social standing, and almost entirely native Americans. The general democratization, which was unfortunately accompanied by a vulgarization, of politics, that marked the time of Andrew Jackson, lowered by degrees the character of city politicians, turning them into mere professionals whose object was lucre rather than distinction or even power. This process told on the character of Tammany, making it more and more a machine in the hands of schemers, and thus a dangerous force, even while its rank and file consisted largely of persons of some means, who were interested as direct taxpayers in the honest administration of municipal affairs. After 1850, however, the influx from Europe transformed its membership while adding to its strength. The Irish immigrants were, both as Roman Catholics and in respect of such political sympathies as they brought with them, disposed to enter the Democratic party. Tammany laid hold of them, enrolled them as members of its district organizations, and rewarded their zeal by admitting a constantly increasing number to posts of importance as district leaders, committeemen, and holders of city offices. When the Germans arrived, similar efforts were made to capture them, though with a less complete success. Thus from 1850 onwards Tammany came more and more to lean upon and find its chief strength in the foreign vote. Of the foreigners who have led it, most have been Irish. Yet it would be wrong to represent it, as some of its censors have done, as being predominantly Irish in its composition. There have always been and are now a vast number of native Americans among the rank and file, as well as a few conspicuous among its chiefs. It contains many Germans, probably more than half of the German voters who can be reckoned as belonging to any party. And to-day the large majority of the Russian and Polish Jews (very numerous in some parts of the city), of the Czechs and other Austro-Hungarian Slavs, and possibly also of the Italians, obey its behests, even if not regularly enrolled as members. For the majority of these immigrants are Democrats, and Tammany has been and is the standard bearer of the Democratic party in the city. It has had rivals and enemies in that party. Two now extinct rival Machines, — Mozart Hall, formerly led by Mr. Fernando Wood, and the " County Democracy," guided for some years by the late Mr. Hubert 0. Thompson, — at different times confronted, and sometimes even defeated it; while at other times "making a deal" with it for a share in municipal spoils. Once, as we shall presently see, it incurred the wrath of the best Democrats of the city. Still it has on the whole stood for and been at most times practically identified with the Democratic party, posing on the Fourth of July as the traditional representative of Jeffersonian principles; and it has in that capacity grown from the status of a mere private club to be an organization commanding more than 130,000 votes, a number usually sufficient to turn the balance in the great State of New York, and thereby, perhaps, to determine the result of a Presidential election.

I must, however, return to those early days when Tammany was young and comparatively innocent, days when the Machine system and the Spoils system were still but half developed, and when Chancellor Kent could write (in 1835), that '' the office of assistant alderman would be pleasant and desirable to persons of leisure, of intelligence, and of disinterested zeal for the wise and just regulation of the public concerns of the city "! In 1834 the mayoralty was placed in the direct gift of the people. In 1842 all restrictions on the suffrage in the city were removed, just before the opening of an era when they would have been serviceable. In 1846 the new constitution of the State transferred the election of all judges to the people. In 1857 the State legislature, which had during the preceding twenty years been frequently modifying the municipal arrangements, enacted a new charter for the city. The practice of New York State had been, and still is, to pass special laws regulating the frame of government for each of its cities, instead of having one uniform system for all municipalities. It is an unfortunate plan, for it goes far to deprive New York of self-government by putting her at the mercy of the legislature at Albany, which, already corrupt, is apt to be still further corrupted by the party leaders of the city, who are able to obtain from it such statutes as they desire. As I am not writing a municipal history of New York, but merely describing the action in that history of a particular party club, no more need be said of the charter and statutes of 1857 than that they greatly limited the powers of the Common Council. The chief administrative functions were vested in the mayor and the heads of various departments, while the power of raising and appropriating revenues was divided between a body called the Board of Supervisors and the legislature. Of the heads of the departments, some were directly chosen by the people, others appointed by the mayor, who himself held office for two years. To secure for their adherents some share in the offices of a city with a large Democratic majority, the legislature, then controlled by the Republicans, created a number of new boards for city administration, most of whose members were to be appointed by the Governor of the State. The police of the city in particular, whose condition had been unsatisfactory, were now placed under such a board, wholly independent of the municipal authorities, a change which excited strong local opposition and led to a sanguinary conflict between the old and the new police.

This was the frame of municipal government when the hero who was to make Tammany famous appeared upon the scene. The time was ripe, for the lowest class of voters, foreign and native, had now been thoroughly organized and knew themselves able to control the city. Their power had been shown in the success of a demagogue, the first of the city demagogues, named Fernando Wood, who by organizing them had reached the mayoral chair from beginnings so small that he was currently reported to have entered New York as the leg of an artificial elephant in a travelling show. This voting mob were ready to follow Tammany Hall. It had become the Acropolis of the city; and he -who could capture it might rule as tyrant.

William Marcy Tweed was born in New York in 1823, of a Scotch father and an American mother. His earliest occupation was that of a chair-maker — his father's trade; but he failed in business, and first became conspicuous by his energy in one of the volunteer fire companies of the city, whereof he was presently chosen foreman. These companies had a good deal of the club element in them, and gave their members many opportunities for making friends and becoming known in the district they served. Tweed had an abounding vitality, free and easy manners, plenty of humor, though of a coarse kind, and a jovial, swaggering way which won popularity for him among the lower and rougher sort of people. His size and corpulency made it all the easier for him to support the part of the genial good fellow; and it must be said to his credit, that though he made friends lightly, he was always loyal to his friends. Neither shame nor scruples restrained his audacity. Forty years earlier these qualities would no more have fitted him to be a popular leader than Falstaff's qualities would have fitted him to be the chancellor of King Henry the Fifth; and had any one predicted to the upper classes of New York that the boisterous fireman of 1845, without industry, eloquence, or education, would in 1870 be ruler of the greatest city in the western world, they would have laughed him to scorn. In 1850, however, Tweed was elected alderman, and soon became noted in the Common Council, a body already so corrupt (though the tide of immigration had only just begun to swell) that they were commonly described as the Forty Thieves. He came out of it a richer man, and was presently sent to Washington as member for a district of the city. In the wider arena of Congress, however, he cut but a poor figure. He seems to have spoken only once, and then without success. In 1857 he began to repair his fortunes, shattered at the national capital, by obtaining the post of Public School Commissioner in New York, and soon afterwards he was elected to the Board of Supervisors, of which he was four times chosen president. There his opportunities for jobbery and for acquiring influence were much enlarged. "Heretofore his influence and reputation had both been local, and outside of his district he had hardly been known at all. Now his sphere of action embraced the whole city, and his large figure began to loom up in portentous magnitude through the foul miasma of municipal politics."

Tweed was by this time a member of Tammany Hall, and in 1863 he was elected permanent Chairman of the General Committee. Not long after he and his friends captured the inner stronghold of the Tammany Society, a more exclusive and hitherto socially higher body; and he became Grand Sachem, with full command both of the Society, with its property and traditional influence, and of the political organization. This triumph was largely due to the efforts of another politician, whose fortunes were henceforward to be closely linked with Tweed's, Mr. Peter B. Sweeny, a lawyer of humble origin but with some cultivation and considerable talents. The two men were singularly unlike, and each fitted to supply the other's defects. Sweeny was crafty and taciturn, unsocial in nature and saturnine in aspect, with nothing to attract the crowd, but skillful in negotiation and sagacious in his political forecasts. He was little seen, preferring to hatch his schemes in seclusion; but his hand was soon felt in the arrangement by which the hostility of Mozart Hall, the rival Democratic organization, was removed, its leader, Fernando Wood, obtaining a seat in Congress, while Tammany was thus left in sole sway of the Democratic vote of the city. The accession of Mozart Hall brought in another recruit to the Tammany group, Mr. A. Oakey Hall. This person was American by origin, better born and educated than his two associates. He was a lawyer by profession, and had occasionally acted as a lobbyist at Albany, working among the Republican members, for he then professed Republican principles, — as Mr. Sweeny had worked occasionally among the Democrats. He had neither the popular arts, such as they were, of Tweed nor the stealthy astuteness of Sweeny, and as he never seemed to take himself seriously, he was not taken seriously by others. But he was quick and adroit, he had acquired some influence among the Mozart Hall faction; and his position as member of a well-known legal firm seemed to give a faint tinge of respectability to a group which stood sadly in need of that quality. He had been elected District Attorney (public prosecutor) in 1862, by a combination of Mozart Hall with the Republicans (having been previously Assistant District Attorney), and had thus become known to the public. A fourth member was presently added in the person of Richard B. Connolly, who had become influential in the councils of Tammany. This man had been an auctioneer, and had by degrees risen from the secretaryship of a ward committee to be, in 1851, elected County Clerk (although not then yet naturalized as a citizen), and in 1859 State Senator. His friends, who had seen reason to distrust his exactness as a counter of votes, called him Slippery Dick. His smooth manner and insinuating ways inspired little confidence, nor do his talents seem to have gone beyond a considerable skill in figures, a skill which he was soon to put to startling uses. Another man of importance, who was drawn over from the Mozart Hall faction, was Albert Cardozo, a Portuguese Jew, only twenty-six years of age, but with legal talents only less remarkable than the flagrant unscrupulousness with which he prostituted them to party purposes. He was now, through Tammany influence, rewarded for his adhesion by being elected to one of the chief judgeships of the city; and two other equally dishonest minions of the Tweed group were given him as colleagues in the persons of George Barnard and John H. McCunn.

In 1865 Tweed and the other Tammany chiefs, to whom fortune and affinity of aims had linked him, carried for the mayoralty one of their number, Mr. John T. Hoffman, a man of ability, who might have had a distinguished career had he risen under better auspices; and at the election of 1868 they made a desperate effort to capture both the State and the city. Frauds of unprecedented magnitude, both in the naturalizing of foreigners before the election and in the conduct of the election itself, were perpetrated. The average number of persons naturalized by the city courts had been, from 1856 to 1867, 9200. In 1868 this number rose to 41,000, and the process was conducted with unexampled and indecent haste by two of the judges whom Tammany had just placed on the bench to execute its behests. False registrations, repeating on a large scale, and fraudulent manipulation of the votes given rolled up for Tammany a majority sufficient to secure for its friend Hoffman the governorship of the State. The votes returned as cast in New York City were eight per cent in excess of its total voting population. The vacancy caused by Hoffman's promotion was filled by the election of Mr. Hall. Thus at the beginning of 1869 the group already mentioned found itself in control of the chief offices of the city, and indeed of the State also. Hall was mayor; Sweeny was city chamberlain, that is to say, treasurer of the city and county; Tweed was street commissioner and president of the Board of Supervisors; Connolly, comptroller, and thus in charge of the city finances. Meanwhile their nominee, Hoffman, was State Governor, able to veto any legislation they disliked, while on the city bench they had three apt and supple tools in Cardozo, Barnard, and McCunn. Other less conspicuous men held minor offices, or were leagued with them in managing Tammany Hall, and through it, the city. But the four who have been first named stood out as the four ruling spirits of the faction, to all of whom, more or less, though not necessarily in equal measure, the credit or discredit for its acts attached; and it was to them primarily, though not exclusively, that the name of the Tammany Ring came to be thenceforth applied.

Having a majority in the State legislature, the Ring used it to procure certain changes in the city charter which, while in some respects beneficial, as giving the city more control over its own local affairs, also subserved the purposes of its actual rulers. The elective Board of Supervisors was abolished, and its financial functions transferred to the recorder and aldermen.

The executive power was concentrated in the hands of the mayor, who also obtained the power of appointing the chief municipal officers, and that for periods varying from four to eight years. He exercised this power (April, 1870) by appointing Tweed Commissioner of Public Works, Sweeny Commissioner of Parks, and (in pursuance of a subsequent enactment) Connolly Comptroller. In a new board, called the Board of Apportionment, and composed of the Mayor (Hall), the Comptroller (Connolly), the Commissioner of Public Works (Tweed), and the President of the Board of Parks (Sweeny), nearly all authority was now practically vested, for they could levy taxes, appoint the subordinate officials, lay down and enforce ordinances. Besides his power of appointing heads of departments, the mayor had the right to call for reports from them in whatever form he pleased, and also the sole right of impeachment, and he had further, in conjunction with the comptroller, to allow or revise the estimate the board was annually to submit, and to fix the salary of the civil judges. The undisguised supremacy which this new arrangement, amounting almost to dictatorship (purchased, as was believed and may well be believed, by gross bribery, conducted by Tweed himself, in the State legislature at Albany), conferred upon the quatuorvirate was no unmixed advantage, for it concentrated public attention on them, and in promising them impunity it precipitated their fall.

In the reign of the Ring there is little to record beyond the use made by some of them of the opportunities for plunder, which this control of the municipal funds conferred. Plunder of the city treasury, especially in the form of jobbing contracts, was no new thing in New York, but it had never before reached such colossal dimensions. Two or three illustrations may suffice.

Large schemes of street-opening were projected, and for this I. purpose it became necessary to take and pay compensation for private property, and also, under the State laws, to assess betterment upon owners whose property was to be benefited. Sweeny, who knew something of the fortunes amassed in the rebuilding of Paris under the prefecture of Baron Haussman, and was himself an admirer (and, as was said, an acquaintance) of Louis Napoleon, was credited with knowing how to use public improvements for private profit. Under the auspices of some members of the Ring, Commissioners for the carrying out of each improvement were appointed by the King judges, — in the famous case of the widening of Broadway by Cardozo in a perfectly novel manner. Those members and their friends then began quietly to purchase property in the spots which were eventually taken by the Commissioners, and extravagant compensation was thereupon awarded to them, while other owners, who enjoyed no secret means of predicting the action of the Commissioners, received for similar pieces of land far smaller sums, the burden of betterment also being no less unequally distributed as between the ringsters and other proprietors. In this way great sums passed from the city to those whom the Ring favored, in certain cases with commissions to some of its members. Among the numerous contracts by which the city treasury was depleted, not a few were afterwards discovered to have been given for printing to three companies in which Tweed and his intimates were interested. Nearly $3,000,000 were paid to them within two years for city printing and stationery. Other contracts for wood-paving and concrete were hardly less scandalous.

The claims outstanding against the Board of Supervisors, previous to 1870, furnished another easy and copious source of revenue, for under a statute which the Ring had procured these claims, largely fraudulent or fictitious, were to be examined and audited by an ad interim Board of Audit composed of the Mayor, the Comptroller, and Tweed. The board delegated the duties of auditing to an ex-bankrupt creature of Tweed's named Watson, who had been appointed city auditor, and who went to work with such dispatch that in three and a half months he had presented warrants for claims to the amount of $6,312,000 to the members of the ad interim board — for the board itself seems to have met only once — on whose signature these bills were accordingly paid out of the city treasury. Subsequent investigation showed that from 65 to 85 per cent of the bills thus passed were fictitious, and of the whole Tweed appears to have received 24 per cent. But all the other financial achievements of the Ring pale their ineffectual fires beside those connected with the erection and furnishing of the County Court House. When designed in 1868 its cost was estimated at $250,000. Before the end of 1871 a sum variously estimated at from $8,000,000 to $13,000,000 (£1,600,000 to £2,600,000) had been expended upon it, and it was still unfinished. This was effected, as was afterwards proved in judicial proceedings, by the simple method of requiring the contractors, many of whom resisted for a time, to add large sums to their bills, sums which were then appropriated by Tweed, Connolly, and their minions or accomplices. Nothing could have been more direct or more effective. The orders were given by Tweed, the difference between the real and the nominal charge was settled by the contractor with him or with the auditor, and the bills, passed and signed by the members of the Board of Supervisors or Board of Apportionment (as the case might be), were approved by the auditor Watson and were paid out of the city funds at the bank. The proceeds were then duly divided, his real charges, or perhaps a little more, going to the contractor, and the rest among the Boss and his friends.

Under such a system there was nothing surprising in the growth of the city debt. Fresh borrowing powers as well as taxing powers had been obtained from the State legislature, and they were freely used. According to the published report of the committee which subsequently investigated the city finances, the bonded debt of the city rose from $36,293,000 at the beginning of 1869, to $97,287,000 in September, 1871; that is, by $61,000,000. Adding to this the floating debt incurred during the same two years and eight months, viz. $20,000,000, the total price which the city paid for the privilege of being ruled by Tammany during those thirty-two months reached $81,000,000 (£16,200,000), or more than twice the amount of the debt as it stood in 1868. And for all this there was hardly anything in the way of public improvements to show.

What, it may be asked, did the people of New York, and in particular the taxpayers at whose expense these antics were proceeding, think of their rulers, and how did they come to acquiesce in such a government, which, not content with plundering them, had degraded justice itself in the person of the Ring judges, and placed the commerce and property of the city at the mercy of unscrupulous and venal partisans? I was in New York in the summer of 1870, and saw the Ring flourishing like a green bay-tree. Though the frauds just described were of course still unknown, nobody had a word of respect for its members. Tweed, for instance, would never have been invited to any respectable house. I was taken to look at justices Barnard and Cardozo as two of the most remarkable sights of the city; and such indeed they were. I inquired why such things were endured, not merely patiently, but even with a sort of amused enjoyment, as though the citizens were proud of having produced a new phenomenon the like whereof no other community could show. It was explained to me that these things had not come suddenly, but as the crown of a process of degradation prolonged for some fifteen years or more which had made corruption so familiar as to be no longer shocking. The respectable leaders of the Democratic party had, with few exceptions, winked at the misdeeds of those who commanded a vote which they needed for State and national purposes. The press had been largely muzzled by lavish payments made to it for advertising, and a good many minor journals were actually subsidized by the Ring. The Bench, though only partially corrupt, was sufficiently in league with the Ring for the sanction which the law required from it in certain cases to be unavailable as a safeguard. As for the mass of citizens, on whose votes this structure of iniquity had been reared, nearly half of them were practically strangers to America, amenable to their own clubs and leaders, but with no sense of civic duty to their new country nor likely to respond to any appeals from its statesmen. Three-fourths or more of them paid little or nothing in the way of direct taxes and did not realize that the increase of civic burdens would ultimately fall upon them as well as upon the rich. Moreover, the Ring had cunningly placed on the pay rolls of the city a large number of persons rendering comparatively little service, who had become a body of janizaries, bound to defend the government which paid them, working hard for it at elections, and adding, together with the regular employees, no contemptible quota to the total Tammany vote. As for the Boss, those very qualities in him which repelled men of refinement made him popular with the crowd.

I asked what under such circumstances the respectable citizens proposed to do. My friends raised their eyebrows. One, of a historical turn, referred to the experience of Rome in the days of Clodius and Milo, and suggested the hiring of gladiators.

" These be thy gods, Democracy: these are the fruits of abstract theory in politics. It was for this then that the yoke of George the Third was broken and America hailed as the dayspring of freedom by the peoples of Europe — that a robber should hold the keys of the public treasury, and a ruffian be set to pollute the seat of justice." So might the shade of Alexander Hamilton have spoken, if permitted to revisit, after seventy years, the city his genius had adorned. Yet it was not such a democracy as Jefferson had sought to create and Hamilton to check that had delivered over to Tweed and to Barnard the greatest city of the Western World. That was the work of corruptions unknown to the days of Jefferson and Hamilton, of the Spoils system, of election frauds, of the gift of the suffrage to a host of ignorant strangers, and above all of the apathy of those wealthy and educated classes, without whose participation the best-framed government must speedily degenerate.

In the autumn of 1870 the Ring seemed securely seated.

Tweed, the master spirit, was content to scoop in money, and enjoy the licentious luxury which it procured him; though some declared that he had fixed his eyes upon the American legation in London. Sweeny preferred the substance to the ostentation of power; and Connolly's tastes were as vulgar as Tweed's, without the touch of open-handedness which seemed to palliate the latter's greed. Cardozo, however, had his ambitions, and hungered for a place on the Supreme Federal Bench; while Hall, to whom no share in the booty was ever traced, and who may not have received any, was believed to desire to succeed Hoffman as Governor of the State, when that official should be raised by the growing influence of Tammany to the Presidency of the United States. No wonder the Ring was intoxicated by the success it had already won. It had achieved a fresh triumph in re-electing Hall as Mayor at the end of 1870; and New York seemed to lie at its feet.

Its fall came suddenly; and the occasion sprang from a petty personal quarrel. A certain O'Brien, conspicuous as a leader in a discontented section of the Democratic party, was also personally sore because he had received an office below his hopes, and cherished resentment against Sweeny, to whom he attributed his disappointment. A henchman of his named Copeland, employed in the auditor's office, happened to find there some accounts headed " County Liabilities " which struck him as suspicious. He copied them, and showed them to O'Brien, who perceived their value, and made him copy more of them, in fact a large part of the fraudulent accounts relating to the furnishing of the Court House. Threatening the Ring with the publication of these compromising documents, O'Brien tried to extort payment of an old claim he had against the city: but after some haggling the negotiations were interrupted by the accidental death of Watson, the Auditor. Ultimately O'Brien carried his copies to the New York Times, a paper which had already for some months past been attacking Tammany with unwonted boldness. On the 8th of July, 1871, it exposed the operations of the Ring; and denounced its members, in large capitals, as thieves and swindlers, defying them to sue it for libel. Subsequent issues contained extracts from the accounts copied by Copeland; and all were summed up in a supplement, published on July 29th, and printed in German as well as English, which showed that a sum of nearly 110,000,000 in all had been expended upon the Court House, whose condition everybody could see, and for armory repairs and furnishings. Much credit is due to the proprietor of the Times, who resisted threats and bribes offered him on behalf of the Ring to desist from his onslaught, and perhaps even more to the then editor, the late Mr. Louis J. Jennings, whose conduct of the campaign was full of fire and courage. The better classes of the city were now fully aroused, for the denials or defenses of the mayor and Tweed found little credence. On September 4th a meeting of citizens was held, and a committee of seventy persons, many of them eminent by ability, experience, or position, formed to investigate the frauds charged, which by this time had drawn the eyes of the whole State and country. It is needless to recount the steps by which Connolly, the person most directly implicated, and the one whom his colleagues sought to make a scapegoat of, was forced to appoint as deputy an active and upright man (Mr. A. H. Green), whose possession and examination of the records in the comptroller's office proved invaluable. The leading part in the campaign was played by Mr. Samuel J. Tilden, chairman of the Democratic party in the State, afterwards Governor of the State, and in 1876 candidate for the Federal Presidency against Mr. Hayes. Feeling acutely the disgrace which the Ring had brought upon the Democratic party, he was resolved by pursuit and exposure to rid the party of them and their coterie once for all; and in this he was now seconded by all the better Democrats. But much was also due to the brilliant cartoons of Mr. Thomas Nast, whose rich invention and striking drawing presented the four leading members of the Ring in every attitude and with every circumstance of ignominy. The election for State offices held in November was attended by unusual excitement. The remaining members of the Ring, for Connolly was now extinct and some of the minor figures had taken to flight, faced it boldly, and Tweed in particular, cheered by his renomination in the Democratic State Convention held shortly beforehand, and by his re-election to the chairmanship of the General Committee of Tammany, now neither explained nor denied anything, but asked defiantly in words which in Kew York have passed into a proverb, " What are you going to do about it? " His reliance on his own district of the city, and on the Tammany masses as a whole, was justified, for he was re-elected to the State Senate and the organization gave his creatures its solid support. But the respectable citizens, who had for once been roused from their lethargy, and who added their votes to those of the better sort of Democrats and of the Republican party, overwhelmed the machine, notwithstanding the usual election frauds undertaken on its behalf. Few of the Ring candidates survived, and the Ring itself was irretrievably ruined. Public confidence returned, and the price of real estate advanced. Sweeny forthwith announced his withdrawal from public life, and retired to Canada. The wretched Connolly was indicted, and found so few friends that he remained in jail for six weeks before he could procure bail. Tweed, though dispirited by the murder of his boon-companion, the notorious Fisk (who had been carrying through the scandalous Erie frauds by the help of the Ring judges), stood his ground with characteristic courage, and refused to resign the office to which the mayor had appointed him. However, in December he was arrested, but presently released on insignificant bail by Judge Barnard. The State Assembly, in which the reformers had now a majority, soon afterwards took steps to impeach Barnard, McCunn, and Cardozo. Cardozo resigned; the other two were convicted and removed from the bench. The endless delays and minute technicalities of the courts of New York protracted Tweed's trial till January, 1873, when, after a long hearing, the jury were discharged because unable to agree. He was thereupon rearrested, and upon his second trial in November, when special efforts had been made to secure a trustworthy jury, was found guilty and sentenced to twelve years' imprisonment. After a while the Court of Appeals released him, holding the sentence irregular, because cumulative; he was then rearrested in a civil suit by the city, escaped, was caught in Spain, identified by a caricature, and brought back to prison, where he died in 1876. Hall was thrice tried. On the first occasion the death of a juryman interrupted the proceedings; on the second the jury disagreed; on the third he obtained a favorable verdict. Connolly fled the country and died in exile. None of the group, nor of Tweed's other satellites, ever again held office.

De non apparentibus et non existentibus eadem est ratio

Those who have grasped the singular condition of New York and its population, will find it less surprising that this government should have proved itself so hard to overthrow. In 1890 a great effort to overthrow it was made. A section of the Democrats leagued itself with the Republicans to bring out what was understood to be " a joint ticket," while the Independent Reformers blessed the alliance, and endorsed its candidates. Success had been hoped for; but Tammany routed its adversaries by 23,000 votes. It turned out that about 30,000 Republicans had not voted, — some because their bosses, secretly friendly to Tammany, did not canvass them, some because they did not care to vote for anything but a Republican ticket, some out of sheer indifference and laziness. Strongly entrenched as Tammany is, Tammany could be overthrown if the " good citizens" were to combine for municipal reform, setting aside for local purposes those distinctions of national party which have nothing to do with city issues. The rulers of the wigwam, as Tammany is affectionately called, do not care for national politics, except as a market in which the Tammany vote may be sold. That the good citizens of New York should continue to rivet on their necks the yoke of a club which is almost as much a business concern as one of their own dry-goods stores, by dividing forces which, if united, would break the tyranny of the last forty years, — this indeed seems strange, yet perhaps no stranger than other instances of the power of habit, of laziness, of names and party spirit. In such a policy of union, and in the stimulation of a keener sense of public duty rather than in further changes of the mechanism of government, lies the best hope of reform. After the many failures of the past, it is not safe to be sanguine. But there does appear to be at this moment a more energetic spirit at work among reformers than has ever been seen before, and a stronger sense that the one supreme remedy is to strike at the root of the evil by arousing the conscience of the better classes, both rich and poor, and by holding up to them a higher ideal of civic life.