Reconstruction Scandals: Boss Tweed In New York City

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Reconstruction Scandals

tweed ring

William "Boss" Tweed began his rise to influence in the late 1840s as a volunteer fireman in New York City. From this inauspicious beginning, Tweed managed to build a power base in his ward. He served as an alderman in 1852-53 and then was elected to a term in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1853-55. State and local affairs were his prime concern and he remained active in Tammany Hall, the organizational force of the Democratic Party in New York. Tweed emerged as the focal point of patronage decisions, giving him immense power.Boss Tweed gathered a small group of men who controlled New York City 's finances. They dispensed jobs and contracts
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This included the issuing of fiat greenbacks, not backed by gold, but were required to be accepted for the payment of federal debt. It was generally believed that the U.S. Government would ultimately redeem the "greenbacks" with gold. In 1869, a group of speculators, headed by James Fisk and Jay Gould, sought to profit from this by cornering the gold market. Gould and Fisk first recruited Grant 's brother-in-law, a financier named Abel Corbin. They used Corbin to get close to Grant in social situations, where they would argue against government sale of gold, and Corbin would support their arguments. Corbin convinced Grant to appoint General Daniel Butterfield as assistant Treasurer of the United States. Butterfield agreed to tip the men off when the government intended to sell gold. In the late summer of 1869, Gould began buying large amounts of gold. He never sold this gold. This caused prices to rise and stocks to plummet.[2] After Grant realized what had happened, the federal government sold $4 million in gold. On September 20, 1869, Gould and Fisk started hoarding gold, driving the price higher. On September 24 the premium on a gold Double Eagle (representing 0.9675 troy ounces (30.09 g) of gold bullion at $20) was 30 percent higher than when Grant took office. But when the government gold hit the market, the premium plummeted within minutes. Investors scrambled to sell their holdings, and many of them, including Corbin, were ruined. Fisk and Gould escaped significant

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