The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Tweed, William Marcy
TWEED, William Marcy, an American politician, born in New York, April 3, 1823. He learned the trade of chair making, and later in life was admitted to the bar. In 1852-'3 he was an alderman, in 1853-'5 a member of congress, in 1856 a supervisor of the city and chairman of the board, in 1856-'7 a school commissioner, from 1861 to 1870 deputy street commissioner, and from 1867 to 1871 a state senator. In April, 1870, he was appointed commissioner of the department of public works, and while he held this office he and his “ring,” especially in connection with the building and furnishing of the new city court house, appropriated vast sums of public money to private use. On Oct. 28, 1871, he was arrested in a civil suit on charges of malfeasance, brought by Charles O'Conor on behalf of the people, and gave bail in $1,000,000. In November of the same year he was reëlected to the state senate, but did not take his seat. On Dec. 16 he was arrested on a criminal charge of fraud, but was released on $5,000 bail. On Jan. 30, 1873, the first of the suits was tried, and the jury disagreed. On Nov. 19 he was found guilty of fraud, and was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment on as many different counts, and to pay a fine of $12,550. He was sent to the penitentiary on Blackwell's island, and subsequently was disbarred. On April 7, 1875, a suit was begun in the supreme court of New York on behalf of the people to recover $6,000,000 from him. These are the principal of several suits both civil and criminal brought against him. On June 15 the court of appeals decided that his further imprisonment was illegal, on the ground that the court below had exceeded its powers in its cumulative sentence, and ordered his discharge. He was then ordered to find bail to the amount of $3,000,000 in the pending civil suits, and in default of the same was sent to Ludlow street jail. On Dec. 4, while visiting his residence in charge of two keepers, he escaped from custody.