Spirit of Tweed is Mighty Still, 1886


The Spirit of Tweed is Mighty Still, 1886

This 1886 cartoon features the ghost of William Marcy “Boss” Tweed, who had died eight years earlier. It shows him in prison, leaning against a placard that depicts men placing sacks of money on the lap of Justice. The placard reads, “Bribery & corruption right under her nose every day in the week.” During the Progressive Era, urban reformers had to contend with a political climate that was rife with corruption. At the top of the social ladder, vested interests bribed and lobbied politicians; at the bottom, an exploited, ethnically diverse immigrant working class sold not only its labor, but also its votes, most often to political bosses such as Tweed. Cartoon by Thomas Nast, published in Harper's Weekly, December 18, 1886.