The 1870 New York City charter, written by Tammany Hall political boss William Marcy Tweed and his associates, gave the "Tweed Ring" carte blanche to deplete the city's treasury. This cartoon, probably issued shortly after the charter's passage, is critical of the leeway given Tweed by some of New York's leading public figures.
Tweed, as the Indian Tammany, raises his tomahawk to decapitate an unidentified man whose head lies on a stump. On his arm is tattooed a large "6," a reference to the Americus or "Big Six" Fire Company, which Tweed led in his earlier days. The victim moans, "Putty can't save me." Three severed heads already hang from Tweed's belt. Beside him an unidentified man standing beneath a hangman's rope remarks, "Bad noose for me."
Behind a podium or railing in the background stands New York mayor A. Oakey Hall, who proclaims, "I am monarch of all I appoint." The new charter gave Hall authority to appoint all city officials. Governor John T. Hoffman, next to Hall, cries, "Save me from my friends."
City Chamberlain Peter Barr Sweeny (right) holds a key and sits on a chest, vowing, "Upon this charter let us build." City Comptroller Richard B. Connolly rests his hand on a bag "New York City Treasury" and remarks, "Richard is himself again." At far left an unidentified man (possibly President Ulysses S. Grant) holding a pen asserts, "My voice is still for peace." ("Let us have peace" was Grant's 1868 campaign slogan.)
A group of men including several New York journalists stand together at left, evidently prospective victims of Tweed's ax. Each holds a copy of his respective newspaper and comments.
Joseph Howard, Jr., of the "Morning Star" (holding a bottle of "Soothing Syrup"): "I feel--I feel like the Morning Star."
Manton Marble of the New York "World:" "I weep because there are no more worlds to lose." Marble was instrumental in exposing the "Tweed Ring."
Charles Anderson Dana of the New York "Sun:" "The sun shines--but alas!--in vain."
New York "Tribune" editor Horace Greeley and New York Congressman John Morrisey embrace. Morrisey: "I have fought--played cards--but cant get a hand in the treasury." Greeley: "This means business."
On the basis of style the work can be attributed to the Currier & Ives shop.