10 FEBRUARY 2001, Page 26

Tweed or Weed?

From Mr Conrad Black Sir: Bruce Anderson's otherwise excellent article (Politics, 20 January) states that 'President Lincoln's party was also the party of Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed'. Almost from its founding in 1789, and certainly from its incorporation in 1805, Tammany Hall was the executive committee of the Democratic party of New York City, and William Marcy Tweed was a Democrat from his political beginnings in the 1830s until he was extradited from Spain and sent to prison for corruption, where he died in 1878. Is it possible that Mr Anderson is confusing him with the much more reputable Thurlow Weed who was, with Abraham Lincoln and William Seward, one of the founders of the Republican party, but who had no connection with Tammany Hall and was a newspaper editor in Albany? Tammany continued to be identified with the Democrats into the 1960s, though its influence was drastically reduced by Franklin D. Roosevelt and other subsequent Democratic leaders.

Conrad Black

Chairman, Telegraph Group Ltd, Canary Wharf, London E14