all honest men; and the courts and legislative bodies became parties to the iniquity of men composing that most dangerous of all classes, the wealthy criminal class.
Matters reached their climax in the feats of the Tweed Ring. William M. Tweed was the master spirit among the politicians of his own party, and also secured a hold on a number of the local Republican leaders of the baser sort. He was a coarse, jovial, able man, utterly without scruple of any kind; and he organized all of his political allies and adherents into a gigantic ring to plunder the city. Incredible sums of money were stolen, especially in the construction of the new Court House. When the frauds were discovered, Tweed, secure in his power, asked in words that have become proverbial, What are you going to do about it? But the end came in 1871. Then the decent citizens, irrespective of party, banded together, urged on by the newspapers, especially the Times and Harpers Weekly,for the city press deserves the chief credit for the defeat of Tweed. At the fall elections the ring candidates were overwhelmingly defeated; and the chief malefactors were afterward prosecuted, and many of them imprisoned, Tweed himself dying in a felons cell. The offending judges were impeached, or resigned in time to escape impeachment.