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Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Tweed, William Marcy

TWEED, WILLIAM MARCY, an American politician; born in New York City, April 3, 1823; began life as a chair-maker; became an alderman; was in Congress in 1853-1855; was chairman of the board of supervisors of New York City in 1856, and school commissioner in 1856-1857. He was twice sent to the State Senate, and in 1870 was appointed commissioner of public works for the city. He had previously been chairman of the general committee of Tammany Hall and grand sachem. As head of the “Tweed Ring,” composed of influential and unscrupulous politicians, he succeeded in obtaining control of the funds of the city government and distributed almost unlimited patronage to his friends. He was brought to trial in 1873; convicted on no less than 12 charges of fraud; and was sent to the penitentiary for 12 years. A reversal of his sentence was obtained in 1875, but he was again imprisoned for lack of bail on a series of civil suits. He broke jail and escaped to Spain, but was captured, sent back to New York on a warship, and recommitted to Ludlow street jail, where he died, April 12, 1878.