Harper’s Weekly – January 6, 1872

Mayor Abraham Oakey Hall, or A. Oakey Hall as he signed himself, was the Ring’s advisor on most legislative and legal matters. Nast referred to him on occasion as “O.K. Haul.”

If Tweed had been able to elect John Hoffman as Governor in 1866, Hall would have succeeded him then as Mayor. With the help of fraudulent votes for Hoffman and himself in 1868, he had no trouble becoming “Mare” as Nast frequently portrayed him.

“Elegant Oakey” was a vain fun-loving charlatan who used suavity, flamboyance and wit to cover up his swindling. He was a poet, playwright, actor and punster whose jaunty manner, shameless insolence and fancy wardrobes helped him and the Ring disguise their schemes.

Hall was a small man with a heavy mustache and black beard. Nast focused on his owlish eyes and pince-nez glasses, worn on a black string. Secondarily, he projected Hall’s debonair manner, stage flair and foppish wardrobe to depict the flamboyant narcissist of the Ring.

Although the Tweed Ring lost its power after its defeat at the polls in November 1871, Hall’s term as Mayor didn’t expire until year-end 1872. Two months after the election, Nast depicted him as Touchstone the Jester (from Shakespeare’s As You Like It) reading: “ ‘Where Ignorance is Bliss, ‘tis Folly to be Wise.’ I am in Blissful Ignorance of Every Thing that has happened since I have been Mayor of New York.” Beyond Hall’s left knee, the face of a second fool/jester peeked out with an expression of incredulity at Hall’s statement.