Tim Sullivan – The mobster and perfect Tammany Hall politician

‘Big Tim’ as he is popularly called, was actually Tammany Hall hack.  It was he who is said to have given the correct meaning to ‘Crooked Politician’ term that is otherwise commonly used.

His early life

In 1863, it was at 25, Baxter Street, a slum building of the city of New York that Sullivan was born. This building according to an article in New York Times was called the city’s filthiest tenements to exist. His parents were poor and had immigrated from Ireland’s County Kerry province. At the age of 8, he was compelled to sell newspapers and shine shoes. However, he was quite enterprising from his childhood days and saved sufficient cash for establishing his very own newspaper delivery trade and had poor kids in dozens from the neighborhood to be employed for making the deliveries. Very soon, he owned four local bars. A Tammany Hall ward leader and a notorious one named Thomas ‘Fatty’ Walsh was one of his bar customers. Sullivan got influenced by Walsh and joined his political wing. He got elected to State Assembly of 3rd District in 1894.

His criminal activities

He was regarded to be quite corrupt in Tammany Hall and as appointed Lower East Side’s District Leader. This is when he bridged the gap that existed between street thuggery and public service and recruited well known mobsters of that time like Monk Eastman and Paul Kelly for performing his dirty work. Their activities included election site voter influence, beating up voters for failing Sullivan, etc., against which, he helped them to be away from jail. Moreover, he also enjoyed receiving shares from their activities in Lower East Side, which included gambling, prostitution, extortion and loan sharking. In the front, he also got into several legal endeavors like becoming partners with Loews and MGM Cinema operations.

His downfall

But in 1911, he contracted Syphilis which was due to his visits to the prostitution houses and became delusional and paranoid. Being judged to be mentally incompetent, he got removed from senate seat. Later his family in 1912 got him to a mental institution, making his condition all the more worse. He escaped the sanitarium in 1913, a fatal mistake committed by him. A day later, his body was noticed near Pelham Parkway’s railroad tracks and not being recognized was sent for disposal as a vagrant. But with one police officer recognizing at the morgue, he was given a proper burial.