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How they take our money and the story of a cartoonist that brought down a corrupt empire

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posted on Jun, 4 2012 @ 12:51 PM
//*** Mods please move this thread and delete this line if necessary, I put it in general conspiracies because it deals with similar matters that people theorize about. However this story is fact so now that I think about it, it probably belongs somewhere else, you decide. ***

I've been meaning to make a thread about this, but I never had the motivation to do it really until a few things popped up and gave me the motivation to write about a little insight hidden inside our history as Americans. A couple of threads on ATS right now kind of played a part influencing me to write this, they are:
Pa. Welfare Agency Spends $20K ... on Flag Pole by jude11
What exactly DO we want? by PurpleChiten

So without further ado let me tell you the story of a man named Thomas Nast, a humble cartoonist in the 19th century that you may have already heard about. Perhaps he drew some of the characterizations we take for granted nowadays, some of them rather prominent; poke around a bit and find out which ones if you want, I won't go into that.

Mr. Nast was born in Germany in 1840, back when the world was a lot different than it was today. By his fathers bidding he found his way to America in 1846, settling down and studying art in New York, the city that would eventually become the heart of capitalism. Until the early 1860s Thomas moved around from the UK to Sicily working for the newspaper business and eventually marrying and having five children. Thomas was a very politically engaged person, living through the American Civil War in his prime. Some of his art during this time earned him a generous amount of fame.

Before Mr. Nast was ever born, there was a New York democratic political establishment in place called Tammany Hall that eventually grew to consume just about every corner of New York City. Through the evolution of control, Tammany Hall and the people within it developed to be major influences, politically, financially and socially through the newspapers.

Enter William Tweed, a man of large stature who did a bunch of odd jobs until he eventually became a Mason and a volunteer firefighter. In those times being a firefighter carried a lot of weight, you can imagine the support behind firefighters after the unfortunate events that happened in New York on September 11, 2001. Back then, structures were not made like they were today and much more prone to catching fire and enveloping a large area, everywhere was a 9/11 scale disaster waiting to happen (comparably by population ratio, etc). It didn't help that these Fire departments competed with each other for political weight, control and responsibility; the irony is that buildings often burned down because of the irresponsible feuds going on between depts.

Well Mr. Tweed wasn't such a nice guy on the inside apparently, known for his violent tendencies. Tweed was invited into the political community and scrambled around a bit before being elected into the house of representatives. He moved quickly up the ranks, opening up his own illegitimate law firm and rising to the top of New York Cities political elite and even taking control of the media. Sound familiar? That's right, the same thing is happening to us now in our modern time.

By 1871 Tweed and his ring of friends had virtually taken control of the city of New York. Railroads, newspapers, property entitlements... you name it. Tweed used independent contractors that were his associates to embezzle money from tax payers, among a host of other corruption and misdealings some we probably don't even know about to this day. Tweeds corruption was to such an extent that it could no longer be hidden and it began to spill out into public knowledge... the people "knew", they just didn't have and could not get "proof".

Thomas Nast facilitated this "people's knowledge" with cartoons, everyone knew what he was implying and they knew what was going on. In 1871 Mr. Nast conducted a propaganda campaign against Tammany Hall and Tweed in the form of mere cartoons. His cartoons become so widespread and conducted so much attention that Mr. Tweed himself said: "I don't care so much about the papers", "Stop those damn cartoons!". It was taking effect.

In the wake of the Orange riots of 1971, New York City was rife with partisan violence and chaos. Things had reached a breaking point, Tweed offered Nast a hefty bribe of $100,000 (you can imagine how much that was then) to leave NYC and study art abroad in Europe, eventually increasing this amount up to $500,000.

In response to this Thomas Nast, a man of principle, simply said:

"I don't think I'll do it."

That's it. That was the spark that developed into a fire that toppled a corrupt empire... "No, I'm not going to do that". The books began to be examined, people started to figure out what was going on, the Orange Riot changed everything even though it really didn't have much to do with the corruption. Strange isn't it? How something like that, that doesn't appear to even relate to the wrongdoing in question can open the eyes of people to a real problem. It really makes you think about the Tea party/Occupy movement/NATO protests/etc and how they "don't seem to be protesting the real problem", how they "are misguided and unorganized". This is true nature of chaos, unpredictability and randomness that can take great effect once it becomes focused and stones are overturned. All things came together not through order, but chaos.

Under immense pressure beginning to come from multiple fronts, Tweed was thrown in jail where he escaped and attempted to flee to Spain. He was captured later, extradited to America where he eventually died in the Ludlow Street Jail, a fitting end for such a corrupt and greedy man who would trample on others for his own personal gain. I wonder if he was able to see through his anger and understand why and where he deviated from a righteous cause, if he was ever there in the first place.

I admit this story is biased towards Thomas Nast, as I see him as an everyday hero. He was only a small part in what brought down Tammany Hall and William Tweed.
edit on 4-6-2012 by RSF77 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 4 2012 @ 12:51 PM

Tweed and his friends also garnered huge profits from the development of the Upper East Side, especially Yorkville and Harlem. They would buy up undeveloped property, then use the resources of the city to improve the area – for instance by installing pipes to bring in water from the Croton Aqueduct – thus increasing the value of the land, after which they sold and took their profits. The focus on the east side also slowed down the development of the west side, the topography of which made it more expensive to improve. The ring also took their usual percentage of padded contracts, as well as raking off money from property taxes. Despite the corruption of Tweed and Tammany Hall, they did accomplish the development of upper Manhattan, though at the cost of tripling the city's bond debt to almost $90 million.

Connolly, as Controller, had charge of the books, and declined to show them. With his fellows, he also 'controlled' the courts and most of the bar."[11] Contractors working for the city – "Ring favorites, most of them – were told to multiply the amount of each bill by five, or ten, or a hundred, after which, with Mayor Hall's 'O. K.' and Connolly's indorsement, it was paid ... through a go-between, who cashed the check, settled the original bill and divided the remainder ... between Tweed, Sweeny, Connolly and Hall".

For example, the construction cost of the New York County Courthouse, begun in 1861, grew to nearly $13 million – about $178 million in today's dollars, and nearly twice the cost of the Alaska Purchase in 1867.[13] "A carpenter was paid $360,751 (roughly $4.9 million today) for one month's labor in a building with very little woodwork ... a plasterer got $133,187 ($1.82 million) for two days' work".

Green and Tilden had the city's records closely examined, and discovered money that went directly from city contractors into Tweed's pocket. The following day, they had Tweed arrested.

Now read this thread:
Pa. Welfare Agency Spends $20K ... on Flag Pole

And ask yourself if you really believe that they spent 20k on a flag pole?

edit on 4-6-2012 by RSF77 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 4 2012 @ 01:25 PM
Great story, well written, thoroughly enjoyed.

Left only one thign to be desired: A modern day counterpart.

Now to dig up some of those cartoons.. =D

posted on Jun, 4 2012 @ 01:30 PM
About the characterizations: From what I have read he is the guy behind the (R) elephant and the (D) donkey as well as the modern version of Uncle Sam and Columbia (female personification of America that was replaced by the statue of liberty) as well as the fat and jolly version of Santa Claus.

Says public domain, correct? I would assume for something so old the copyright would have long expired.
edit on 4-6-2012 by RSF77 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 4 2012 @ 02:09 PM

"The pen is mightier than the sword" is a metonymic adage coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839

The pen does not only have to write words, it can draw pictures instead, and be just as effective. Wonderful thread, well done OP,

posted on Jun, 4 2012 @ 02:36 PM
reply to post by Iamschist

Yep, products of the mind can be just as effective as products of the body, both kind of for equal and opposite purposes. I suppose they are a duality all to themselves much like good/evil, order/chaos.

The world is truly and interesting place and I feel that people need to know about this because the same trends tend to repeat themselves. We can learn from this, but whatever we have to deal with now will be much more advanced than the obvious corruption that existed back then.
edit on 4-6-2012 by RSF77 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 4 2012 @ 03:56 PM
Well done!

It seems fitting that the pole issue might very well be a symbol of corruption with the flag at the top for all to see. Too bad that we couldn't have a cartoon created by the master.



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 01:33 AM
Another thing I forgot to mention:

When they captured William Tweed in Spain, the reason they recognized him was from Thomas Nast's political cartoons.

When Tweed attempted to escape justice in December 1875 by fleeing to Cuba and from there to Spain, officials in Vigo, Spain, were able to identify the fugitive by using one of Nast's cartoons.[10]
Wiki - Thomas Nast

I can't believe I forgot to mention that in the story.

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