“A most revolting state of affairs”: Theodore Roosevelt’s aldermanic bill and the New York assembly city investigating committee of 1884
Kohn, E. P.
American Nineteenth Century History
71 - 92
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In 1884 Theodore Roosevelt chaired a special committee of the New York Assembly, charged with investigating corruption in New York City departments. Roosevelt had also presented to the Assembly a bill to strip the city’s Board of Aldermen of their power to confirm mayoral appointments. The “Roosevelt bill” sought to break the power of Tammany over these appointments, and reduce waste and corruption. While the committee’s investigation provided the press lurid examples of corruption and incompetence, in the end it did little to diminish Tammany’s power. For Roosevelt, however, the committee hearings served as a perfect backdrop to his Aldermanic bill which was eventually signed into law by Governor Grover Cleveland. The parallel paths of the bill and the committee revealed Roosevelt as a shrewd politico building his reputation as an urban reformer.