Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The above picture is, of course, of actor Daniel Day-Lewis in a loosely fact based portrayal of the real Bill The Butcher.  I could not find a picture of the actual William Poole (1821-1855),  Bowery Boy, butcher, bare-knuckle boxer, and brutal leader of the "Know-nothing" political movement.

So far, Bill the Butcher would win the toughest THUG OF THE DAY title.  After being shot in the leg, the heart and the abdomen at close range, Bill screamed at his assailant, ex-cop Lewis Baker, that he would tear his heart from his living flesh.  Then he went on to live for fourteen days after the shooting, much to the astonishment of his physicians, dying with the famous parting words:  "Good-bye boys; I die a true American."

The "true American" Nativist and his gang was known for starting violent riots and stealing ballot boxes to further their political agenda against Irish -Catholic immigrants known as the Tammanyites. 

At more than 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds, The Butcher was an intimidating boxer and street thug.  According to a New York Times report of October 23, 1851:

A Brutal Outrage in Broadway. We learn that at an early hour yesterday morning, two noted pugilists entered Florence's Hotel, corner of Broadway and Howard street, and without any provocation seized the bar-keeper and beat his face to a jelly. It appears that Thomas Hyer, William Poole, and several others entered the above hotel, and while one of the party held Charles Owens (the bar-keeper) by the hair of his head, another of the gang beat him in the face to such an extent that his left eye was completely ruined and the flesh of his cheek mangled in the most shocking manner. After thus accomplishing the heartless act, all of them made an effort to find Mr. John Florence, the proprietor of the hotel, with a view of serving him in the same manner, but not succeeding in their latter design, they found the hat of Mr. Florence and wantonly cut it into strips, and trampled it under their feet. The desperadoes then left the house, and in the meantime Mr. Owens was placed under medical attendance, and in the course of a short time he proceeded to the Jefferson Market Police, in company with Mr. Florence, where they made their affidavits respecting the inhuman outrage, upon which Justice Blakeley issued his warrants for Hyer, Poole, and such of the others who were concerned in the affair, and the same were placed in the hands of officer Baldwin for service. Since the above was written we have been reliably informed that the affray originated from the fact of the barkeeper having refused them drinks, after they had been furnished with them twice in succession.
In other words, you didn't want to deny the Butcher his third pint of stout!

1 comment:

  1. These "nonstopbullet" stories are both fascinating and horrifying.

    I don't know if it's because I'm a woman, or what, but it is incomprehensible to me how men can do such horrible things to one another.