When this cartoon appeared in 1871, the first of America’s great municipal bosses, William Marcy Tweed—here “Boss Leech”—was in full retreat, publicly accused of using the construction of a new New York County courthouse (lower right) to funnel off some §13,000,000 in graft. Tweed’s chief accomplices were the city controller, Richard “Slippery Dick” Connolly, shown at left as a snake; the city chamberlain, Peter Barr “Brains” Sweeny, drawn here at upper left center as a “dead beet”; and Abraham Oakey “The Elegant Oakey” Hall, of whom it was said that as mayor of New York City he had only one defect: a lack of ability. Cartoonist C. S. Reinhart, no subtle satirist he, pictured the Mayor as a mare in pince-nez, wounded by the arrows of newspaper revelations. The courthouse scandal finished the Tweed Ring and dealt a damaging (though not fatal) blow to the Tammany organization. Elsewhere, the political boss as an American institution was just getting started; over the next three quarters of a century most of the major cities of the nation —and even entire states—were boss-ruled for at least limited periods. Within the span of a single lifetime, all but one of the once-vigorous machines have died. As younger, better-educated, more independent mayors seek to cope with their legacy, it may be instructive to look back at the old-time bosses. We consider them in this issue from two perspectives: “The Age of the Bosses,” beginning on page 26, gives an over-all view of their rise and fall; “I Am the Law” (page 32) focuses on the career of one of the last of their company, Frank Hague of Jersey City.