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Tobacco Label Showing Boss Tweed Seated
Boss Tweed's likeness even made it onto a tobacco label from 1869

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Boss Tweed Escaped From Prison
December 4, 1875

On December 4, 1875, William Marcy Tweed, better known as Boss Tweed, escaped from prison and fled to Europe. How he landed in prison in the first place is a story of American politics and corruption.

Tweed started out as a bookkeeper and volunteer fireman in New York City. He was elected alderman (a member of a city's legislative body) in 1851, and later he was also elected to a term in Congress. By 1870, he was so powerful and had so many of his friends (known as his "Tweed Ring" cronies) in political positions that he was able to pass a new city charter allowing him and his friends to control the city treasury. Between 1865 and 1871, Tweed and his associates stole between $30 million and $200 million from the city.

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