Wilson, James Grant, The memorial history of the City of New-York (v. 3)

([New York] :  New York History Co.,  1892-93.)



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  Page 548  

548                                    HISTORY   OF   NEW-YORK

Elbert A. Woodward. "As I understood it," said he, "Mr. Tweed had
to pay the money [to bribe the legislature], and I thought it right
and proper for him to reimburse himself." In Tweed's own words:
" I found it was impossible to do anything there [in the State senate]
without paying for it, and money had to be raised for the passage of
bills up there. That was the way the ring flrst became organized—to
pay for bills to protect ourselves in the city."

From this time the system of "reimbursement" was carried on like
clockwork, an exact account being kept of all transactions, under the
title "County Liabilities," and the proflts divided daily. Much of the
mythical work on the county court-house was contracted for by a
friend of Tweed's named James H. Ingersoll, who sent in bills for la¬
bor done by himself or sublet to others. He obtained for carpeting
alone the sum of $4,829,426.26,—enough to have carpeted Union
Square several times over,—and in the name of George S. Miller he
drew additional warrants for $1,404,307.99. Garvey, the contractor
already mentioned, sent in bills for acres of plastering, for which he
was paid $3,495,626.26, and to a plumber named John H. Keyser was
given $1,508,410.89.

The ring was now assailed on all sides, not only by opponents
who were clamorous merely for their share of the spoils, but also by
leading citizens anxious for reform. Among other acts of the ring, its
espousal of the cause of the Roman Catholics in the school question,
then for the flrst time coming to the front, had made it unpopular
with Protestants, and had involved it in a struggle with the Board of
Education. By the aid of the legislature, and especially through the
efforts of Sweeny, the board was abolished, an act which increased
opposition to the schemers. When, after the election of 1869, the
Democrats obtained majorities in both branches of the legislature,
the reform branch of the party, which called itself the Young Democ¬
racy, set about the task of legislating Tweed and his associates out of
office; and when they failed in this they tried to depose Tweed from
the general committee of the party; but here they were equally un¬
successful, owing to the fact that the ring controlled the use of Tam¬
many Hall, and hence forced their opponents to appear as " strikers"
and "irregulars." In the successful efforts of the ring to retain their
hold on the regular meeting-place of the party, they were seconded
by eight hundred of the metropolitan police.

On the very night of this barring out, Tweed introduced for the
second time the celebrated Tweed-Frear city charter, which had al¬
ready been unanimously disapproved. The efforts of the Young De¬
mocracy to pass a charter of their own had been defeated by Tweed
in his committee on cities, and now he brought up his discredited
measure, this time backed by a huge corruption fund, which he used
  Page 548