William Magear Tweed (April 3, 1823 – April 12, 1878) – often erroneously referred to as William Marcy Tweed, and widely known as "Boss" Tweed – was an American politician most notable for being the "boss" of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in the politics of 19th century New York City and State. Tweed was born April 3, 1823 at 1 Cherry Street, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Son of a third-generation Scottish-Irish chair-maker. His parents had been Quakers and "members of the old Rose Street Meeting house. On September 29, 1844, he married Mary Jane C. Skaden, and lived with her family on Madison Street for two years. He died in the Ludlow Street Jail on April 12, 1878 from severe pneumonia, and was buried in the Brooklyn Green-Wood Cemetery.
William worked as a bookkeeper and in 1848 he became a volunteer fireman and as a result acquired influence in his ward. He was an alderman from 1852 to 1853 and sat in Congress from 1853 to 1855. By 1857 he had a lot of power in Tammany. As chairman of the Tammany general committee and later as grand sachem, Tweed dominated the city Democratic party. He also became a state senator in 1868 and moved into state politics. He made many business deals, and by politically serving Jay Gould and James Fisk he became a director of the Erie Railroad. But it was from his control of New York City expenditures that Tweed made his great fortune. For a time the Tweed Ring, consisting of Tweed and his henchmen: Peter Sweeny (city chamberlain), Richard B. Connolly (city comptroller), and A. Oakey Hall (mayor), controlled the city without interference. They defrauded the city of at least $30 million through fake charges and also profited from tax favors. Votes were openly bought and other immoral vote-getting methods were used. City judges became incredibly corrupt. Attempts within Tammany to remove the Tweed Ring failed, and in 1870 Tweed forced through the state legislature a charter that increased the powers of the ring.
Tweed was tried for felony, but the jury could not reach a verdict. In a second trial he was convicted and given a 12-year prison sentence; this, however, was reduced by a higher court, and he served one year. Arrested once more on other charges, he escaped and went to Cuba and then to Spain, but was extradited (1876) to the United States. He died in prison two years later on April 12, 1878 of pneumonia.
"New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24ZR-4L1 : 20 March 2015), Wm. N. Tweed Jr. and Eliza A.D. Davis, 28 May 1868; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,544,133.
"United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCTZ-FXR : 12 April 2016), William M Tweed, New York City, ward 7, New York, New York, United States; citing family 128, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). Others in household: Mary J (1825), Wm W (1846), Richard (1848), Mary A (Oct 1849), Ann Kelly (1823), Bridget Larken (1826).
"New York State Census, 1855," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6QY-54G : 13 March 2018), William M Tweed, E.D. 1, Ward 7, New York City, New York, New York, United States; citing p. , line #42, family #210, county clerk offices, New York; FHL microfilm 1,018,654. Others in household: Mary J (1825), William M (1846), Richard (1848), Mary A (1849), Lizzie (1851), Josephine S (1852), Bridget Larkin (1825), margaret Larkin (1842).
"United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M869-YL7 : 12 April 2016), Wm M Tweed, New York, United States; citing p. 49, family 307, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 552,509. Records lists family members without ages: Wm M, Mary, Mary M, Josephine, Richard M, Jennie, Charles C, and George W, along with several servants. Record bears the notation, "Many fruitless attempts have been made to ascertain other data concerning family of Wm M Tweed & the returns are now forwarded."
"United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8J5-SF5 : 12 April 2016), William Tweed, New York, United States; citing p. 49, family , NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 552,544. Occupation Senator.
"New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W1H-M3N : 10 February 2018), William Maroy Tweed, 12 Apr 1878; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,565.
Find A Grave, database and images (Find A Grave: Memorial #1049 : accessed 07 June 2018), memorial page for William Magear “Boss” Tweed (3 Apr 1823–12 Apr 1878), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1049, citing Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave . Includes images.