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For five years, from 1866 to 1871, William Marcy Tweed and his colorful cronies led a ""great treasury raid"" on public funds from their political base in New York City which depended for its support on the corruption of the government, the courts, the police, and the State Legislature. But as illustrated here in a balanced, amply documented study, the success of the ""Tweed Ring"" was not simply a matter of evil men abusing the public trust which the reformers, led by the New York Times, narrowly insisted. Post Civil War conditions, social, economic and political, presented problems, particularly in the urban centers, which were beyond the ken of the traditional Anglo-Saxon Protestant ruling classes whose ideal of a working democracy went back to the town meeting. For the masses of immigrants and native poor this concept was totally inadequate, and so they turned to men like Tweed, here described as ""a first rate political manager."" The book goes on to annotate in detail how Tammany operated and sustained its power until Tweed and the other rascals were routed. The reformers did not go far enough however, leaving the city machine intact to be perfected by succeeding bosses....Callow's orderly presentation of a multitude of facts and his careful writing results in an instructive, entertaining book.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1966
Publisher: Oxford