Asa Bird Gardiner

Few individuals in the late nineteenth century more thoroughly epitomized the corruption of New York politics than Asa Bird Gardiner. After graduating from City College in 1859 and studying law at New York University, Gardiner served in the 31st New York Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. He transferred to the 1st Artillery Regiment in 1869, remaining until 1874 when he received an appointment as a professor of law at the West Point Military Academy. Gardiner returned to New York City in 1888 to establish a private law practice. He won election as district attorney on the Democratic ticket in 1897 and unashamedly used his position on every occasion to promote Tammany Hall and to defeat his political opponents. In 1900 Gardiner endorsed statements by William Devery, chief of police, that Tammany supporters should prevent their opponents from voting at the November elections. The governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, summarily removed Gardiner from office and appointed Eugene Philbin as the new district attorney. Gardiner died in 1919, two years after the U. S. Army revoked his Medal of Honor, claiming that no evidence existed that his military service was sufficient for such distinction.