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WILLIAM M. TWEED (1823-1878) and Tammany Hall This research pape

This research paper traces the rise and fall of William Marcy (Boss) Tweed, who, as the political boss of the Tweed Ring and Tammany Hall, controlled the affairs of the city of New York and much else in the state of New York during the mid-1860s and until late 1871, examines his role in the context of his times and assesses his performance as a political leader. Boss Tweed had the personal qualities and political skills needed to establish and rule for a decade a highly personalized system of political corruption and monolithic machine politics which was itself the product of the ethos and circumstances of urban life and politics in America during its Gilded Age. An unscrupulous individual, driven largely by his extraordinary greed and lust for power, Tweed planted the seeds of his own destruction by flaunting his power so blatantly, yet he was also one of the first of the nation's politicians to understand and exploit mass psychology and urban discontent.

Tweed and his henchmen accomplished little, if anything, of lasting value, beyond self-aggrandizement; however, the political machine he built and his modus operandi, if not his flamboyant style of manipulating the levers of power, had a lasting impact on the politics and governance of New York City. Tweed stands as a reminder of just how rotten municipal politics can become when the upper echelons of society neglect their civic duties and fail to respond to the needs of the populace.

Tweed was the great-grandson of a Scottish blacksmith family who emigrated to America in the mid-18th century. Tweed's father was a moderately prosperous chairmaker. He was born and grew up in the Cherry Hill District of downtown Manhattan. Except for a year, age 14-15, which he spent at a boarding school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey where he learned bookkeeping, Tweed had little formal education, leaving elementary school at 11. Tweed spent much of his youth on the streets as the leader ...

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