Entry in progress—B.P.
Wikipedia: Alexander S. Williams
Alexander S. Williams (July 9, 1839 – March 25, 1917) was an American law enforcement officer and police inspector for the New York City Police Department. One of the more colorful yet controversial figures of the NYPD, popularly known as “Clubber Williams” or “Czar of the Tenderloin”, he oversaw the Tenderloin and Gas House districts as well as breaking up a number of the city’s street gangs, most notably, the Gas House Gang in 1871. He, along with William “Big Bill” Devery and Thomas F. Byrnes, were among several senior NYPD officials implicated by the Lexow Committee during the 1890s.
In response to frequent criticism of excessive force, Williams once said “There is more law in the end of a policeman’s nightstick then in a decision of the Supreme Court”.
The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
Grover A. WHalen
U.S. businessman and government official, 1886-1962
“There’s a lot of law at the end of a nightstick.”
Quoted in Quentin Reynolds, Courtroom (1950). Whalen was New York City’s police commissioner from 1928 to 1930. Reynolds also states, “Much earlier, in the 1870’s Inspector Alexander S. Williams...had observed, ‘There is more law in the end of a policeman’s nightstick than in a decision of the Supreme Court.’”
23 March 1911, New York (NY) Times, “Attacks the Mayor for the Crime Wave,” pg. 3:
Former Police Inspector Alexander Williams, one of the old-timers of the department, when acquainted with Magistrate Corrigan’s views last night, said:
“The Police Department is a good body of men and may be compared favorably with any similar force in the world, but they must be properly treated.”
More than this Mr. Williams would not say. He has been credited with saying in time past: “There is more law at the end of a nightstick than in all the statute books.”
28 April 1911, New York (NY) Times, “Flynn Harried Into Quitting the Police,” pg. 4:
“There’s no doubt that there’s a whole lot of law and order in the end of a nightstick.”
17 February 1919, Greater New York (Bulletin of the Merchants’ Association of New York), pg. 20, col. 1:
This incident makes me believe that Inspector Williams had the right dope when he used to say “there was more law in the end of a night stick than there was on the books of law.”
29 April 1928, New York (NY) Times, pg. BR2:
Perhaps the best chapter of Mr. Asbury’s book (The Gangs of New York—ed.) is that entitled “When New York Was Really Wicked.” Its superior excellence derives from the fact that it is not wholly compounded of gangsters and their doings. It chronicles the growth of Satan’s Circus, that area between Twenty-fourth and Forty-second Streets bounded by Fifth and Seventh Avenues. This section was the original Tenderloin, so christened by Inspector Alexander S. Williams, who enunciated the famous ‘There is more law in the end of a policeman’s nightstick than in a decision of the Supreme Court.”
23 December 1928, Decatur (IL) Review, “New Commissioner Steps Out Against All SPeak-Easies” by Harvey Anderson, pg. 22, col. 6:
At the start, Commissioner Whalen paraphrases a remark of an old-time policeman about the potency of “the law in the end of a nightstick.” This goes back to Alexander S. WIlliams, who was made police inspector in 1887. He said, “there’s more law in the end of a policeman’s club than there is in the whole supreme court.” He made his remark sound convincing by leading his men in clubbing campaigns which put the gangsters, particularly the gas house outfit on the run.
American Sayings: Famous phrases, slogans, and aphorisms
By Henry Fitzwilliam Woods
New York, NY: Duell, Sloan and Pearce
“There is more law at the end of a policeman’s nightstick than in a decision of the Supreme Court.”
They constituted a serious police problem, which was paroly solved by the forthright methods of the commander of the precinct, a robust police captain known as “Clubber” Williams. His remedy for conditions was an order to his men to break up the gangs by the vigorous wielding of their nightsticks upon lawbreakers. He did not hesitate himself to carry out his orders to his men and became one to be feared by the gangsters. Whether or not he originated the aphorism that “There is more law at the end of a policeman’s nighystick than in a decision of the Supreme Court,” it is certain that he applied the theory of nighstick law in his precinct.”
25 November 1955, New York (NY) Times, “letters to the Times,” pg. 26:
Someone once said; “There is more law at the end of a nightstick than there is in all the courts.”
Manhattan Minute (Borough President Blog)
Manhattan Historian’s Quiz # 6—LaGuardia’s mouth
by: Mike Miscione | 3/27/2009
C. “There is more law at the end of a policeman’s nightstick than in a decision of the Supreme Court.”
Quote C is attributed to the brutal and crooked 19th century New York City police captain named Alexander “Clubber” Williams (1839-1917). He famously busted street gangs in some of the city’s roughest neighborhoods, but was not above taking bribes to look the other way.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Wednesday, July 08, 2009 • Permalink