Harper’s Weekly – September 30, 1871

On September 7, Judge George Barnard, a close friend of Tweed, saw the handwriting on the wall and tried to save his job (unsuccessfully) by double-crossing the Boss and issuing an injunction prohibiting Comptroller “Slippery Dick” Connolly from any further issuance of bonds or contracts.

On Saturday, September 9, a sub-committee of the Seventy, requested Connolly to produce his 1870 accounts and paid vouchers for inspection and audit the following Tuesday. On Sunday night, vandals — later revealed to be the janitor, his wife and his assistant — used a diamond to cut glass and unfasten a window in the office in the new courthouse where the papers were stored, and stole a dozen bundles of vouchers; much later they reportedly were found half-burned in a City Hall attic. Conveniently, the watchman was at dinner and ignored the broken window when he returned; the theft wasn’t reported to the next-door police station until Connolly showed up the next afternoon.

The Times responded with “Heartless Robbery”, a tongue-in-cheek editorial: “. . . people burst into a loud laugh when the story got wind, and went about asking each other with a broad grin, ‘Have you heard of this robbery in the Comptroller’s office?’ Even the City Hall officials, instead of showing any proper feeling, went about saying, in the slang of the hour, that it was ‘too thin.’ Are their hearts made of stone?”

“Too Thin” was custom-made for Nast as he elongated Sweeny’s hair, Tweed’s diamond and Hall’s glasses for Harper’s cover. It also was made into a campaign poster.