New York City Politics in the Mid-1800s
By the mid-1800s, New York City was the American center for trade, commerce, and industry. People of every race and religion flocked to the Big Apple and by 1850 the city was teeming with more than 500 million residents. Although business was booming, the average person lived in squalor. Politicians were called upon to improve conditions, but offices were often appointed to those who were willing to be bribed and not those who were most qualified. Soon New York City politics became riddled with “swindlers, liars, and thieves.” By 1870, tens of millions of dollars had been illegally siphoned from the public into politicians’ pocketbooks. Investigations finally curtailed the corruption, but not before New York City had been branded as a center of political corruption and fraud.