24th Amendment

Today in History, January 23: 1963 –

The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, prohibiting the use of poll taxes during voting.

In the 1890’s Southern Democrats, seeing their power slipping with the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment (power of citizens to vote shall not be abridged based on race, color or previous status of servitude), had instituted poll taxes to make it more difficult for poor black and white southerners to vote. The 24th Amendment took a two decade long fight to pass.

As Long as I Count the Votes…

Today in History, November 23: 1876 –

“It’s hard not to admire the skill behind Tweed’s system … The Tweed ring at its height was an engineering marvel, strong and solid, strategically deployed to control key power points: the courts, the legislature, the treasury and the ballot box. Its frauds had a grandeur of scale and an elegance of structure: money-laundering, profit sharing and organization.”

“Boss Tweed”, William Magear Tweed, is delivered back to US custody by the US Navy after being captured in Spain, where he was working as a sailor. Tweed had been elected to the New York Legislature in the 1850’s, but soon realized he would have more power on various commissions and controlling WHO got elected.

For several years he ruled New York and in a large part the nation through his corrupt control of votes and purchased positions via Tammany Hall. It finally led to potential financial collapse, which is when his friends finally turned on him and he was arrested.

Released to visit his family, he fled, ending up in Spain. Unfortunately for him, Thomas Nast of Harper’s Weekly had drawn him so many times, that he was recognized. Once he was out of options, he testified against his cohorts, but remained in prison until his death in 1878. This was the Democrat Party of the 19th century.