The Board of Aldermen was notoriously corrupt in the 19th century, sometimes earning itself the nickname “Forty Thieves.” The 1884 Board of Aldermen became nicknamed the “boodle board” when it was discovered that several aldermen took bribes so that Jake Sharp could acquire a Broadway railroad franchise at a greatly reduced cost.
“Boodle” is a Dutch word meaning “bribe money” that was popularly used in New York City in the 19th century. The term “boodle board” was most specifically applied to the 1884 board, but was also sometimes used for boards of other years. The Board of Aldermen was replaced by the City Council in 1938.
Wikipedia: New York City Council
The History of the New York City Council can be traced to Dutch colonial days when New York City was called New Amsterdam.
On February 2, 1653, the town of New Amsterdam, founded on the southern tip of Manhattan Island in 1625, was incorporated as a city under a charter issued by the Dutch West India Company. A Council of Legislators sat as the local lawmaking body and as a court of inferior jurisdiction.
During the 18th and 19th centuries the local legislature was called the Common Council and then the Board of Aldermen. In 1898 the amalgamation charter of the City of Greater New York renamed and revamped the Council and added a New York City Board of Estimate with certain administrative and financial powers. After a number of changes through the ensuing years, the present Council was born in 1938 under a new charter which instituted the Council as the sole legislative body and the New York City Board of Estimate as the chief administrative body. Certain functions of the Council, however, remained subject to the approval of the Board.
Main Entry: boo·dle
Etymology: Dutch boedel estate, lot, from Middle Dutch; akin to Old Norse būth booth
1: a collection or lot of persons : caboodle
2 a: bribe money b: a large amount especially of money
31 March 1886, New York (NY) Times, pg. 5, col. 4:
AN EX-ALDERMAN WANTED
The worry and bother about the whereabouts of ex-Alderman Waite, who was one of the “boodle” board of 1884 and who presided at the August early morning meeting at which the franchise was voted away, was kept up all day yesterday.
3 April 1886, Dallas (TX) Morning News, pg. 6:
BAGGING THE BOODLE BOARD.
ARRESTS FOR BROADWAY BRIBERIES.
Aldermen and Ex-Aldermen of New York Ac-
cused of Illicit Relationship with Jake
Sharp’s Check Book.
An Eastern Tour at Home
by Joel Cook
Philadelphia, PA: David McKay
The yellow horse-cars move rapidly and closely together along Broadway upon the road whose franchise was got by Jacob Sharp’s bribery of the New York “boodle” Board of Aldermen, several of whom, including Sharp himself, have paid the penalty of their knavery.
How the Other Half Lives:
Studies Among the Tenements in New York
by Jacob A. Riis
New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons
Of what that means, successive Boards of Aldermen, composed in a measure, if not a majority, of divekeepers, have given New York a taste. The disgrace of the infamous “Boodle Board” will be remembered until some corruption even fouler crops out and throws it into the shade.
New York (NY) Times
JAEHNE OUT OF PRISON.; THE LAST OF THE CONVICTED BOODLE BOARD RELEASED.
October 16, 1892, Wednesday
Page 5, 848 words
SING SING, N.Y., Oct. 15.—Henry W. Jaehne, the first to be punished and the last to be released of the New-York “boodle” Board of Aldermen of 1884, walked out of Sing Sing Prison at 6:55 o’clock this morning a free man.
1 June 1895, Duluth (MN) News Tribune, pg. 4:
When he (Hugh J. Grant—ed.) entered New York city politics, he became a protege of John Kelly and was elected alderman in 1883. He belonged to the notorious “boodle” board, but was one of the two aldermen who were not indicted for receiving bribes from Jake Sharp in payment for their votes upon the Broadway surface railroad franchise.
24 June 1906, New York (NY) Times, pg. 9, col. 6:
ROBERT E. DE LACEY DIES.
None of His Old Cronies at Funeral
of 1884 “Boodle” Alderman.
Robert E. De Lacey, a member of the “boodle” Board of Aldermen of 1884, which passed Jake Sharp’s Broadway railroad franchises, died last Tuesday at 247 West 126th Street. De Lacey, who was about 70 years of age, had been living there for years, trying to hide his identity even from the friends of former days.
The New Encyclopedia of Social Reform
by William Dwight Porter Bliss and Rudolph Michael Binder
New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls Company
The first grant of a franchise in the Borough of Manhattan was in 1832. Since that time the Board of Aldermen have bestowed the city’s franchises with a lavish hand. The city’s most valuable properties have literally been disposed of by wholesale. Most of the franchises were given away without any compensation being received by the city. Eighth, Sixth, Third, Second, and Ninth Avenues were rapidly acquired by the franchise grabbers. Several attempts to secure Broadway were made before Jake Sharp finally obtained the present franchise from the “Boodle Board of Aldermen” of 1884.
New York (NY) Times
CHARLES B. WAITE DEAD.; Member of “Boodle” Board of Aldermen of 1884 Who Became Informer.
July 8, 1911, Saturday
Page 9, 409 words
9 January 1938, New York (NY) Times, pg. SM18:
FOR nearly 300 years, New York’s Board of Aldermen grappled with municipal problems, but the new Council’s predecessor is more commonly identified with such phrases as “Boodle Board” and “Forty Thieves.”
Fighting Organized Crime:
Politics, Justice, and the Legacy of Thomas E. Dewey
by Mary M. Stolberg
The aldermen had few supporters outside of Tammany. During the nineteenth century the board’s peopling by political hacks had earned it the nicknames “Boodle Board” and “Forty Thieves.”
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, April 20, 2008 • Permalink