During the 1860s and early 1870s, Boss Tweed and the Tammany Hall political machine ruled New York. He was such a potent figure that he was able to steal what amounted to billions of dollars (adjusted for inflation) from New York City taxpayers’ coffers with relative ease. But, in the end, it was a series of drawings that helped topple Tweed.
Thomas Nast’s drawings pierced the veil of Tweed’s machinations and conveyed the corruption in a powerful way. So effective were these drawings, that according to legend, Tweed urged his henchmen to bribe Nast into ceasing, exclaiming: “Stop them damn pictures! I don’t care what the papers write about me. My constituents can’t read. But, damn it, they can see the pictures!”
It was too late. Nast’s drawings gave the public a visual imagine of the corruption they all knew was taking place; they just needed a common point to rally around.
On a side note, I’m on Oprah’s blog today. Didn’t expect that, did you? Yeah, me either.