Thursday, October 28, 2010


                                       October 27th, 1871                                

                                               Dear Journal,

It’s my first day in prison, and I realize I always saw my life as a pattern of black and white. But now that I’m here in this cold, dark, prison cell, I start to think to myself, is the pattern black with white or white with black? This is a question that has no answer which relates to where life goes. Life has no answer, my life can relate to that. Now that I look back, I try to understand, why am I here? Was it my cruelty to others? Was it that I committed fraud and let down all the people who trusted me with their money? What did I do to deserve this? If I could relive my life, would I have done it differently? This is the type of question you ask yourself when there is nothing else to live for, when everything you worked for is lost. But why now? Why is it that you see your mistakes after you did them instead of knowing what is wrong when you have a chance to change it? I guess that is the game of life. It was right in front of my eyes, but it took all my mistakes to be able to see it clearly. I deserve to be here, don’t I? I’ve learned from my mistakes… but what difference does it make, I’m still stuck. Mistakes are the only way to figure out what is right and wrong. Without mistakes, you aren’t human.

                                  October 28th, 1871

                                             Dear Journal,

It is now my second day of prison. The time here goes by very slowly, but it gives you time to think about everything, amd it also makes you feel your emotions more intensely. I feel loneliness, stress, sadness, regret; those emotions get stronger and stronger as I sit in the same place for hours and hours.

            I met some people today in the prison. I observed them, and they didn’t seem like me. They have no expression and were angry with life, but why am I here? Why am I with people who did crimes like verbal abuse or robbery, or are just mentally insane and go crazy. How do I relate to that? But then it hit me: What I did hurt people mentally, financially, emotionally, physically… I should be stuck with these people because I did a crime that is worse than all the terrible things they did put together. I committed fraud. I stole money that supported people’s lives all because of my selfishness. But at the same time, I am proud of myself. No matter how awful the things I did are, I can admit that I did something wrong, I have regrets. Regret is the one thing that I have that everyone else here doesn’t. That is one of the reasons prisons exist, to think about what you’ve done wrong. Before I was isolated from my life, before I had something to live for, but now, nothing. I’m starting to feel nothing, only sorrow, and when that happens, the only answer is pity. Pity on myself. As much as I try to deny it, I know it’s there. I know it’s wrong to feel bad for myself, but who wouldn’t? Sometimes you can’t help but feel bad for yourself, even though you know that it’s all completely your fault.

                                                       October 29th, 1871

                                                            Dear Journal,

            Day three. Prison is still as torturous as ever. I spend most of my time looking out the window, the little window that allows my cell to be at least a little bit brighter. I look out that window. For me it is a symbol of hope and freedom. But those rotten bars! Those bars that stand in between me and that freedom. They prevent me from escaping, from reliving my life all over again, and having a chance to live it right this time. I would do it right, if I ever had the chance. But will I ever be able to erase that guilt that builds up inside me more and more every day? Would I be able to relive my life pretending that there aren’t people suffering in this world because of me? Then I'm shaken back into reality; that chance will never happen… I’m stuck here to rot, but then again, I deserve it. When I first planned out my scheme I thought it was full proof, I didn’t know that I’d end up in jail. My life was so perfect, my job, my house, until it got out of hand. I started to lie and cheat, just for a more perfect life. I was willing to take people’s lives that were already miserable and make them worse just to make mine even better. Something so successful soon turned into losing everything. I was a selfish person, and I only thought about myself. Why should I care about other people’s lives? That doesn’t get me anywhere.

            My life has one description. What would life be like if you knew you could never fail? Would it be a hassle or a relief? The whole point of life, the thrill, is the risk that things could not turn out the way you plan. If you knew you could never fail, there would be no point to living life, but what would that give you? If someone asked me to tell them one thing I accomplished in my life, what would it be? Stealing a bunch of money by cheating, treating my clients with disrespect, being sent to jail? I never really accomplished anything, it was all about money. I never cared about others. The only thing that mattered was me and where my life goes. My family turned their back on me; all my friends just wanted my money for investments, all my life was about earning money! That was the biggest mistake I ever made: I have mistaken money for something that you need to call your life accomplished instead of realizing that it was only an accessory.

                                   November 27, 1871 

                                                    Dear Journal,        

 It’s my first full month in prison as I again look back on my life, thinking of the reason I got here in the first place. In the life I used to have I was a very successful politician. People would come to me about their money problems.  Money is so valuable and everyone wants it and will do anything for it… even me... or at least I did. My fraud will always haunt me, in this life and the next. I took 13 millions dollars from the bank. I don’t know why I stole the money; it was like someone possessed my body and I couldn’t control my actions any more. Once I started I couldn’t stop. I knew that eventually the police would find out that I was the reason the money from my bank was missing every day. I remember the horror on my clients' and co-workers' faces; they are like pictures that always appear in my mind. Even though my crime is a few months past me, it’s like I’m reliving it every day. I look around and see the prison gates closed around me, I used to have a big house with a huge bed and servants to serve me. People would look up to me. I would have only the finest, but it is all gone now. I traded my beautiful geese feathers for a bed out of iron that was already slept in and my three square meals a day for one baloney sandwich with dry bread. I miss my old life, but I’m here because of my theft.       

                                                    December 1st, 1874

                                                           Dear Journal,

             It’s that feeling of solitude that wrapped me like a blanket on my fifth day in prison. I could see that throughout my life I never really had friends; it was always about… money, that horrid thing that made so many people fall in a turbulent fever of greediness. I had done the exact same. 13 million dollars (178 million) vanished. Done. Gone. Forgotten. It's like it never really existed, it just disapeared, all because of a single but huge lie, a fraud. I had dug into people’s trust to find nothing but cash. That disgusting cash. It’s hard even to pronounce the word because it burns on my tongue. I destroyed the lives of so many many people, young and old, and to hear this in my own head it’s all overwhelming. Someone once told me that if you get your throne maliciously, you’re either going to win a horrible victory or fall from it head first. And this is too true. My motto was once: it is better to be feared than loved. But this is so unfairly persuading that for some time I believed it. I can only see this now when I should have realized it before. There is so much regret in me it’s devouring me whole and I truly don’t know if I can get away from it. I found a little hope somewhere way down in my destroyed and disheveled soul because I realized my fault, and not many people can do that.

No one really understands how it is to be me because no one wants to know now. I feel alone in this world and it is quite infuriating to the mind. Maybe I shall become mad. Or maybe I shall end here, in this cell. But it bothers me even more to think that this could be the place where I would say good-bye. Because I know that I shouldn’t be here. Yes I know of the things I have done but nobody heard my story. Until now.

                                                      December 4th, 1874

                                                           Dear Journal,

You know that I am a wretched cheater. You know I stole the people’s trust. You know I don’t deserve a second chance. But you don’t know my side of the story. I am strong. I traveled through a hard life. A sandstorm of harsh realities. But life is that exactly, and no one can change it. I ran from rage and fury and it only resulted in failure because you can’t run from your own fears. You have to turn around and look at them in the face. Glare at them fiercely and conquer them. And I became strong. I found courage and determination. Pride filled me to a drastic extent. I then turned sour and vain. Too preoccupied with money and my own benefit, I became what I was not too long ago, which was not pretty. Moreover I had transformed into something unnamable. But my determination remained and I was sure to get myself out of jail. I passed around in my cell, looking for something to do during my long sojourn. Stupidly enough, somebody had left a short ladder, and since the window was not far from my reach I climbed easily up to its level. Gazing out willingly through the rotten iron bars, I saw the truth because the truth is present in freedom and all I rested my eyes upon was that. Purity covered the hills before me and I wondered why a place so somber could be dropped on such a beautiful scene. Finally in a breath of fresh air I discovered hope and I became so stable in my mind that every bit of fear escaped me entirely. Confidence strolled into me. I was fierce and furious. I knew I would find a way to get out.

                                          December 6th, 1874

                                                  Dear Journal,

Through much thought and pondering I found a way. My distant friend William C. Conner is happily going to formulate a
 plan and sooner or later I’ll be gone from this horrifying place. It’s only a matter of time, hopefully by the end of next week, but that’s only in the ideal. Reality is all that I live in at the current time, and that can cause some minor problems. Reality is something people don’t want to comprehend, something people don’t want to approve of, and so it’s quite difficult to face reality. So the chances of me getting away are very uncertain and may be improbable, but there is a strength that is burning like fire and it won’t leave. I know that it is in the harshest of times, when all is lost, that you realize what you have.

I think of jail like a forest of vast clouds that I can’t see through. Soon the sky will clear out and all will be open and visible. I keep walking, looking ahead at the horizon line. I stand tall when I most feel like falling. I lift my head proudly and triumphantly, when all I feel is guilt. Believe me. Trust me. See me. Hear me. It’s only a matter of time.

                                           December 30th , 1875
                                                  Dear Journal,

I am now in Spain. I managed to escape prison in New York with the help of Sheriff William C. Conner, but I knew that I couldn’t stay in New York. I had to leave the country. My new job is nothing like the one I had back in New York. I’m a seaman in Spain and I live in a small studio and I am struggling to keep paying the rent. I can’t afford the rent and I am always late to pay the bills. I can’t stop thinking of my old life; money was no problem for me and I could afford anything. But now this is reality and I have to deal with it. This is better than the prison cell.
March 15th, 1876: Work is tough! I never worked this hard and the Spanish are treating me like a slave and never in a million years would my employees have talked to me like I was a dog. I have never been so offended in my life. I am starting to think that leaving was a bad idea but there is no turning back. If I go back I will end up back in jail and I will be miserable.
 November 21st, 1876: Today, I was walking around when I passed by an open window. I heard a radio, and they were talking about some man who escaped prison, then mentioned my name: “William Marcy Tweed, or “Boss” Tweed, escaped prison with the help of an officer William C. Conner. William Tweed was convicted for stealing 13 million dollars. If you find him, you will get a reward of 10,000 dollars.” I wouldn’t believe I couldn't escape. It’s like I’m back in prison, trapped behind the bars all over again.`
 November 23, 1876:Two days later I was working when I saw policemen armed and looking for someone and knew that they were here for me. They took me and before I knew it I was on a warship back to New York

                                                            April 10 1878
                                                             Dear Journal,

I am back in jail and I feel foolish, I actually thought that I could escape prison and escape my past, but I can’t because the past is a part of me. I am ashamed and feel guilty about what I did. I’m back in the same cell that I was in when I first got here in Ludlow Street Jail. The window I would look through and dream of the outside is still the same except there are more dead flies, and the familiar feeling that would warp around me like a blanket is back. Something is different but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I feel weak and I have this wearied burning feeling in my chest. I may be imagining, but as I keep writing in my journal the more I feel that death is approaching me. My heart is slowing down and I can’t think clearly anymore. I fear that I will never get out of here. While I was in Spain, I realized that that was the way my customers were living like now. Struggling for money and not even able to borrow money from the local bank because they don’t have enough money to loan, or the loaners wont be able to pay them back. Well good-bye journal as I fear that this is the last time that I will be able to write as I breathe my last breaths and prepare to say good bye to the world and get ready for the after life.
So Farewell.      

No comments:

Post a Comment