Lexow Committee

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Report and proceedings of the Senate committee appointed to investigate the police department of the city of New York. Volume III

Lexow Committee (1894 to 1895), is the name given to a major New York State Senate probe into police corruption in New York City.[1] The Lexow Committee inquiry, which took its name from the Committee's chairman, State Senator Clarence Lexow, was the widest-ranging of several such commissions empaneled during the 19th century. The testimony collected during its hearings ran to over 10,000 pages and the resultant scandal played a major part in the defeat of Tammany Hall in the elections of 1894 and the election of the reform administration of Mayor William L. Strong. The investigations were initiated by pressure from Charles Henry Parkhurst.


Robert C. Kennedy writes:

The Lexow Committee, ironically headquartered at the Tweed Courthouse on Chambers Street, examined evidence from Parkhurst's City Vigilance League, as well as undertook its own investigations. The Lexow Committee uncovered police involvement in extortion, bribery, counterfeiting, voter intimidation, election fraud, brutality, and scams. Attention focused on [William] Devery, then a police captain, who stonewalled before the committee by only responding vaguely to questions: "touchin' on and appertainin' to that matter, I disremember." The state probe and Devery's impudent testimony prodded the police commissioners to clean house. Charged with accepting bribes, Devery feigned illness and his case never reached trial, although he was temporarily demoted.

The Players[edit]



Social reformer[edit]

Policy dealers[edit]

  • Al Adams "Al has the most [...] sheets, and he is the biggest man, and has the most money, and has the biggest pile." "He is called the king of the policy dealers." "Al Adams has from Fourteenth street up on the west side mostly."
  • Jake Shipsey
  • Cornelius P. Parker
  • Charles Frederick Lindauer (1836-1921), a.k.a. Charlie Lindauer
  • William Meyers a.k.a. Billy Meyers "Billy Meyers is a backer on the east side, around the Hebrew district, and up about as far as Sixth street"
  • Edward Hogan a.k.a. Ed Hogan
  • Richard Gammon, a.k.a. Dick Gammon
  • William Morton a.k.a. Billy Morton "he has mostly down about South and Broad streets."


  1. ^ "New York Police Parade, June 1st, 1899". World Digital Library. 
  2. ^ "The Squad Room". Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  3. ^ "The Last Police Chief". Retrieved 2010-03-25. William Stephen Devery, New York City's last chief of police, was either an "illiterate ruffian" or an amazing, openly corrupt, and utterly likable eccentric. Born in New York City around 1855, Big Bill worked as a Bowery bartender until 1878, when he bribed a Tammany politician to become a policeman. 
  4. ^ "M.F. Schmittberger Police Chief, Dead. Inspector, a Veteran of 43 Years' Service, Dies of Pneumonia at His Home. Survivor Of Lexow Fight. Won Enmity of Tammany When He Revealed Police Graft in 1894. Excelled in Handling Mobs". New York Times. November 1, 1917. Retrieved 2010-03-28. Max F. Schmittberger, Chief Inspector of the Police Department of the City of New York since 1909 and the principal survivor of Lexow's fight against Tammany to end graft twenty-three years ago, died last night of pneumonia at ... 
  5. ^ "Paid $500 To Schmittberger; Forget Says This Tribute Went To The Police Captain. The Agent Of The French Line Tells The Lexow Committee Of The Money Transaction. Complete Exposure Of The Policy Business In This City. A List Of 600 Places Where The Gambling Was Conducted. Only One Precinct Free From The Evil". New York Times. October 12, 1894. Retrieved 2010-03-28. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Fogelson, Robert (1977). Big-City Police. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. pp. 1–5
  • Isabelle K. Savell, Politics in the Gilded Age in New York State and Rockland County; A Biography of Senator Clarence Lexow.

External links[edit]