This post was written by Marybeth Kavanagh, Reference Librarian
On December 4, 1875, William Magear “Boss” Tweed, notorious grand sachem of New York City’s Democratic political machine Tammany Hall, escaped from the Ludlow Street jail where he was being held on charges of stealing somewhere between $20 and $300 million from the city treasury. While awaiting trial, Tweed was granted special privileges not offered to other inmates, such as a luxurious cell, catered meals, carriage rides and home visits. It was on a family visit at his home on 647 Madison Avenue that Tweed escaped his jailer and fled to New Jersey.
This poster, offering a $10,000 reward for his capture, was released two days after he absconded.
It features a photograph of Tweed along with this physical description:
“He is…about five feet eleven inches high, will weigh about two hundred and eighty pounds, very portly, ruddy complexion, has rather large, coarse, prominent features and large prominent nose…head nearly bald on top…and bare part of ruddy color.”
After Tweed was found guilty in absentia in March 1876, he fled to Cuba and then to Spain. However, he was quickly captured and returned to New York City to serve out his sentence. He died in prison on April 12, 1878, and is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.