Plunkitt of Tammany Hall Summary

The Plunkitt of Tammany Hall Summary
In the book Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Policies written by William L. Rioirdon, George Washington Plunkitt goes against all odds by becoming the greatest politician of U.S history.   Reformers condemned this political machine as a plague on American democracy. Plunkitt brings about the idea that the machine’s existence is justified because it never participated in illegal activities and actually significantly helped the struggling working class immigrants. However, this claim proves vacuous when it is revealed that Tammany Hall was actually rank with corruption and probably did more harm than good for the people of New York City.
First, the heart of a political machine is based on a patronage system. Special favors are performed for people in the area who are in favor by voting for the machine. They are pretty much being bribed to vote. Progressive reformers saw this as anti-democratic. It moved the constituents’ focus away from the actual political issues occurring, using the people as a way to end political empowerment and wealth for those who ran the machine. Indeed, although all politicians court their voters to a certain extent, there usually still exists a dialogue on political issues. In Tammany Hall’s case, however, it was nearly nonexistent.
Second, although Plunkitt denied that he owned a dishonest dollar, “Now, in conclusion, I want to say that I don’t own a dishonest dollar” (E-book pg. 22), the political machine did grow rich on graft. Plunkitt attempted to make a distinction between honest and dishonest graft. Graft is the abuse of one’s position of public trust for personal gain. Plunkitt also admitted that while he never used his political position to levy “blackmail on disorderly houses”(E-book pg.22) or rob “the city treasury,” he had gotten “tips” from the inside. Particularly, once his party was in power, he would find out that they were going to initiate...