Monday, March 27, 2023

Boss Tweed: Corrupt Politician and Pig

With all the unsavory goings on these days in politics, it's pretty easy to see that there's nothing new under the sun.  I'd never heard of William "Boss" Tweed, but as far as corrupt politicians go, he's one of the worst of the worse. Check out the excerpt below from the History Collection article "Rolling With the Pigs."

Tammany Hall

William Tweed is perhaps the best known corrupt politician in American History that wasn’t ever a US President. The sad fact of the matter is that while there is and has been astonishing corruption in the White House, it is at the local and state level that we’ll find the worst offenders, of which William "Boss" Tweed was perhaps the worst ever.

William Tweed was a Democratic politician in New York City (and later in the state of New York) for much of the mid to late 1800s. At the pinnacle of his political and economic influence, Tweed was the third largest landowner in New York City. He controlled the most powerful Democratic Political Machine ever to exist throughout the city to the point where he ruled elections, dictated results by stuffed ballot boxes, and appointed who he wanted to posts throughout the city. By the time the 1869 election rolled around, Tweed and his cronies were in total control of the New York City government and much of the state government as well. His former protégé, John T. Hoffman, was elected governor, and Tweed was able to bring power back to the Democratically controlled City Hall (and away from Republican state committees) by bribing Republican legislators.

By returning control over the city’s finances to City Hall, Tweed was able to appoint members of the Tammany Hall to the Board of Audit, essentially giving him complete control over the city. Tweed also personally appointed several of his men in other positions within the city.

There is a lot to unravel surrounding Tweed’s power, so much more than we can cover here. Tweed committed a lot of crimes during his time in power, from voter fraud and intimidation to embezzlement and many other crimes. Estimates in the decades following Tweeds eventual arrest say that Tweed embezzled as much as $200 million from the city’s accounts over his reign (other reports say that it was between $25 and $45 million). You have to remember that is $200 million in 1860s money, it would be an astronomical amount today (well over $2 billion in 2015 dollars if our math is right).

Tweed was arrested in late 1871 and went on trial in 1873. He was found guilty but was eventually released. He was arrested again in November 1876 in Cuba and was imprisoned for the rest of his life. During the months that led up to his initial arrest, scandals surrounded Tweed and his Tammany Hall political machine. Thomas Nast was a political cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly and was often drawing cartoons depicting Tweed’s corruption, especially in those months leading up to Tweed’s arrest. Tweed is reported to have said a regarding those cartoons: “Stop them damned pictures. I don’t care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures!

He certainly got what he deserved! Had you ever heard of William Tweed? Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Your Novel Starring...

When asked what my favorite novel that I've written is, I say Masqueradebecause my bad girl protagonist was so much fun to write! Masquerade was published a while back in 2013 as the second book of my Unchained Trilogy. I certainly enjoyed writing all three books, but I loved writing Masquerade the most! 

A friend of mine asked if the story were ever made into a movie, who would I want to star in it? Well, we can all dream, so keep reading to see who I envisioned acting my story!

Lavinia Taylor Hargraves, my bad girl protagonist, is originally introduced in the first part of the trilogy, Escape.  She passes as white, despises her sister who is kind and good, and hates her mother for being a former slave. At seventeen, Lavinia runs off with fifty-four-year-old theater magnate Vernon Hargraves, only because he can make her a Broadway sensation. Although Vernon truly loves Lavinia, the feeling isn't mutual on her part.

If Lavinia had lived today, she'd probably be diagnosed with Narcissistic personality disorder.  According to Wikipedia, this "is a personality disorder  in which the individual is described as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity. This condition affects one percent of the population. First formulated in 1968, it was historically called megalomania, and is severe egocentrism."

In addition to her megalomania, Lavinia suffers from severe sibling rivalry issues. This is seen in Escape when we meet good sister Olivia.

Although Masquerade is Lavinia's story, Olivia, to Lavinia's dismay, also makes an appearance.  As I wrote the characters, two beautiful sisters of mixed race ancestry, I envisioned beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones as Lavinia and gorgeous Halle Berry as Olivia. 

Who do you imagine as some of your favorite characters in novels you've read or written?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Revelation Audio Edition 50% Off

If you enjoy listening to books, here's a deal for you! My audio edition of Revelation: Book Three of the Unchained Trilogy is now available at 50% off through April 7. Audio books can be a little pricey, and this one usually sells for $17.99, but for a limited time it's available for only $9.00. Click here for your discounted audio book and check out the summary below:

Light-skinned Selina Standish lives a life of emotional pain and torment. In 1906, at the age of eight, she is convinced by her mother, actress Lavinia Standish, the daughter of a slave, to pass as white. Although Selina yields to her mother's insistence to pass, she refuses to cut ties completely with her 'Negro' relatives, including her twin brother, a child her mother deems too dark.

However, at age seventeen, in the year 1915, Selina meets wealthy southerner Jack Cosgrove, the man of her dreams. Keeping her ancestry a secret, Selina is conflicted by Jack's negative attitude toward her race. She must determine if happiness with him could ever be a possibility, especially if she were to reveal her bloodline.

Later, a chance encounter with Pastor Tony Manning opens Selina's eyes to real love. Although he is a progressive thinker regarding race relations, Tony appears to draw the line at interracial marriage. In order to live as his wife, Selina decides she must completely disassociate herself from all her 'colored' relatives. While bound to a chain of secrecy, Selina struggles to live in honesty. How true can she be to her husband, if she can never reveal the truth about herself?

Discount available here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, March 6, 2023

Love Across the Color and the Money Lines

My latest novel, One Family Now, deals with love across the color line, as well as the socioeconomic line. 

Unsuspecting Jessica Leigh, a poor black girl from a disadvantaged family, believes wealthy college student Geoff Worth to be her knight in shining armor. Yet with no explanation, he ends their relationship, leaving her shattered and pregnant.

Twenty-six years later, Jessica and Geoff rediscover each other because their sons become friends by chance. Eager to mend their relationship and start afresh, Geoff reveals the ugly truth surrounding their past. Because she was deemed an unsuitable match by his powerful political WASP family, Geoff was forced to end his relationship with Jessica to prevent her from falling victim to a deadly “accident.”

Though their passion reignites, Geoff’s explanation of what transpired over two decades earlier is ignored by Jessica’s over-protective sister. She suspects Geoff’s family of being responsible for their father’s murder. Geoff’s mother refuses to accept Jessica because of a past scandal. And the two sons, once friends, find themselves pitted against each other as enemies once their relationship as half-brothers is divulged. As Jessica and Geoff examine the intersections of their parents’ lives, they uncover a history checkered with adultery, bribery and rumors of murder. How can Geoff and Jessica be together without losing their families?

Please consider giving it a read here.

With that bit of shameless self-promotion out of the way, I'll move on to today's post, which also deals with love across the color and socioeconomic lines. 

I'm a big fan of interracial love stories. But as with all love stories, sometimes things go wrong, as in the case of Alice Jones, a domestic whose father was a "colored man" and Kip Rhinelander, a rich white man. 

Here's a brief overview of the story, courtesy of Wikipedia:

In 1921, Leonard Kip Rhinelander, a member of a socially prominent wealthy New York family, began a romance with Alice Beatrice Jones, a domestic. The two met during Rhinelander's stay at the Orchard School in Stamford, Connecticut, an inpatient clinic where he was seeking treatment for extreme shyness and stuttering. 

They had a three-year romance before marrying at the New Rochelle, New York courthouse in October of 1924, not long after Rhinelander turned 21. The couple moved in with Jones' parents in Pelham Manor. Although Rhinelander didn't tell his family about the marriage, he continued to work at Rhinelander Real Estate Company.

The couple tried to keep their marriage secret, but news of it was soon announced by the press. Because of the Rhinelanders' wealth and social position, New Rochelle reporters wanted to learn about Jones' background. After they began investigating, reporters discovered that Jones was the daughter of English immigrants and her father, George, was a "colored man". 

At first, Rhinelander stood by his wife during the scathing national coverage of their marriage. But after two weeks, he gave in to his family's demands to leave Jones.  He signed an annulment complaint that his father's lawyers had prepared. The document claimed that Jones had deceived Rhinelander by hiding her true race and passing herself off as a white woman. Jones denied this stating that her race was obvious. Rhinelander later said that Jones hadn't deceived him outright but did so by letting him believe she was white.

Sad story, and it only gets worse.  To see how it ends, check out the article by Theodore Johnson III,
When One Of New York's Glitterati Married A 'Quadroon'.

I'd read about this case before, had you ever heard about it?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!