The Tweed Ring

 “Not a Bailable Case”
  Source:  Harper’s Weekly
  Date:   August 12, 1871, p. 752

Click to see a large version of this cartoon...

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Still in active direction of the Tribune editorial page in July and August 1871, Greeley was naturally upset that The New York Times published the secret Tammany accounts of flagrant theft from the city treasury before the Tribune could get ahold of them.  In a July 21 editorial, Greeley urged Mayor Oakey Hall and City Comptroller Richard Connelly to prove their innocence of the charges leveled by suing The Times for libel.

Nast addressed the hissing match between the Tribune and Times in the August 2 issue of Harper’s Weekly.  In the cartoon “Not a Bailable Case,” “Mare” (Mayor) Hall lies bloated and gravely ill in an ornate marble stall embellished with the initials “WT” (for “William Tweed”).  Greeley stands nearby, while behind him the heads of Peter “Brains” Sweeny and “Boss” Tweed appear barely visible over the elegantly carved partition (itself a slam at Tweed Ring extravagance in matters of building and ornamentation).  The cartoonist intended his audience to associate Hall’s illness with a “horse plague” that broke out in New York City in mid-June, causing chaos in the horse-reliant transportation system.

In this cartoon, Greeley is “The Great American Farmer Troubled with the Milk of Human Kindness Again.”  The papers in his pocket assert “N. Y. Times Secret/Accounts” and “N. Y. Tribune/Every Body Lies Except H. G.”  Comptroller Connolly is on his knees trying to comfort the afflicted “mare” with a “City Fan/Cost $10,000.”  The tart allusion to “A Bailable Case” serves forcibly to remind readers of Greeley’s controversial action in May 1867 to help guarantee the security of a bond for the release from federal custody of Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy.



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