The Story of Boss Tweed

“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.”


– William “Boss” Tweed


From the earliest days of America political cartoons have played a colorful and powerful role in American political commentary. Benjamin Franklin was a political cartoonist. A cartoonist brought down William “Boss” Tweed, one of the most corrupt politicians in the old Tammany Hall days of New York City. Tweed, whose ring of City Hall cronies and appointees looted New York City of millions in the late 1870’s, was the poster boy of corruption. One of the heroes to stand against Boss Tweed – and even turned down a bribe to stop his pen – was cartoonist Thomas Nast.


Nast hammered away at Tweed and his crew in the pages of Harper’s Weekly, which prompted the quote above when Tweed bitterly complained to the editors of Harper’s. Tweed eventually fled the country with investigators snapping at his heels. He was captured on the run after someone recognized him … from one of Nast’s cartoons.


The art of political cartooning remains a powerful tool to memorably slice to the core of complex political issues and personalities in a way that sticks in the mind. In that spirit, Mark L. Taylor, a former professional political cartoonist with The Albuquerque Tribune, who also has done free-lance work for a number of other progressive groups and publications, including The Kickapoo Free Press, has dusted off his drawing board and is making political cartoons in support of progressive reform available for free to citizen activists. Some of the work from the Kickapoo Free Press is included in the Daily Call cartoon archive.


Check back for new Daily Call cartoons and editorial images and think of ways you can use these images to further much needed social, political and economic justice in the United States. You can reach cartoonist Mark Taylor at: [email protected]

Comments are closed.