William M. Tweed
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William Magear Tweed (3 April 1823 – 12 April 1878), known as Boss Tweed and often erroneously referred to as William Marcy Tweed, was an American politician and political boss of Tammany Hall who became an icon of urban political machines.
- I don't care a straw for your newspaper articles; my constituents don't know how to read, but they can't help seeing them damned pictures.
- On the political cartoons of Thomas Nast in Harper's Weekly, as quoted in "Article IV: An Episode in Municipal Government" by Charles F. Wingate in The North American Review (July 1875), p. 150
- I don't care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating.
- As quoted in Understanding American Government (2003) by Susan Welch, p. 224
Quotes about Tweed
- Three casual expressions attributed to Mr. Tweed, illustrated by his brief political history, indicate his theory of administration. The first was, "The way to have power is to take it;" the second, "He is human;" and the third, "What are you going to do about it?" In his career was exhibited the despotic phase of municipal administration. He got for himself and his associates offices, one after the other, by taking them with or without right, until he held the power of the State, and then fortified his position by enacting appropriate laws. His means of doing this was to approach men through their self-interests, and to buy their support by promises, offices, and money. His appreciation of this trait in the character of the men about him was expressed in his belief that they were "human." The arrogance of the full possession of power and the defiance against the remonstrances of honest men drove him to the extreme of audacity, "What are you going to do about it?" which preceded his fall.
There was no greater popular mistake than to call Mr. Tweed and his associates a "ring." They were so at the outset by the "cohesive power of public plunder," but, once in possession, like a crew of pirates who had gained the deck of a prize, they became arrayed against each other. If they had been a ring, their compactness of purpose might have constituted a government, but they had so little hold upon or confidence in each other that they dissolved at the first shock.
- William R. Martin, in "The FInancial Resources of New York" in The North American Review CCLXV (November-December 1878), p. 427