Plunkitt's Arguments Against Civil Service Reforms in Riordan's Plunkitt of Tammany Hall

Plunkitt's Arguments Against Civil Service Reforms in Riordan's Plunkitt of Tammany Hall

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George W. Plunkitt of Tammany Hall may have been one of the most arrogant & intelligent men of his time, he saw his opportunities when they arose and he took them as soon as he possibly could. Not only did he make a huge fortune but he made it using, what he called, "honest graft". With this sentence in the first chapter,"Everybody is talkin' these days about Tammany men growin' rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin' the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft." Plunkitt sets the tone for his short treatise on New York City politics while Tammany Hall ran the show. George W. Plunkitt was a senator in New York at the turn of the 19th Century to the 20th Century. He was very successful in politics, and at one time he held four offices at once and collected salaries from three of them. G. W. Plunkitt securely held one and possibly other offices in Tammany Hall for over forty years. He was somewhat of a shady politician who took care of his constituents and his bank account. Plunkitt was never shy about becoming rich in politics because he did nothing illegal by the standards of the time. Moreover, Plunkitt never broke the penal code and therefore never spent a day in jail.
However, Plunkitt had to defend himself against reformers by distinguishing between honest graft and dishonest graft. He would explain this difference as well as his wealth by saying, "I seen my opportunities and I took 'em." In Plunkitt's own mind, as seen through his writings, he did not regret his actions because he did so much to help the Tammany supporters. Plunkitt's main complaint was against civil service examinations, but in his talks he also instructed young men how to be successful in politics by examining human nature and doing as he...


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... in their neighborhoods than the rich have in theirs." Plunkitt certainly understood people and knew how to attract them to his ticket.

The book Plunkitt of Tammany Hall is not only a monument to George W. Plunkitt's 40 plus years as a senator, it is also a monument to his enormous ego. G. W. Plunkitt was a well-liked man among his supporters and Tammany men alike. He had opposition from reformers who accused Tammany Hall of illegal activities involving graft. But, according to Plunkitt he never engaged in, "blackmailin', gamblin' or disorderly people." He said that "the politician that steals is worse than a thief. He is a fool." Plunkitt made a fortune in politics, and he did it all through honest graft. He says that even if his worst enemy wrote his epitaph that he could not do more than write: "George W. Plunkitt. He Seen His Opportunities and He Took 'Em."

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