By George Washington Plunkitt

A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics, Delivered by

Ex-senator George Washington Plunkitt, the Tammany Philosopher, from His

Rostrum--the New York County Court House Bootblack Stand

Recorded by William L. Riordon


Preface by William L. Riordon

A Tribute by Charles F. Murphy

Chapter 1. Honest Graft and Dishonest Graft

Chapter 2. How To Become a Statesman

Chapter 3. The Curse of Civil Service Reform

Chapter 4. Reformers Only Mornin' Glories

Chapter 5. New York City Is Pie for the Hayseeds

Chapter 6. To Hold Your District: Study Human Nature and Act Accordin'

Chapter 7. On The Shame of the Cities

Chapter 8. Ingratitude in Politics

Chapter 9. Reciprocity in Patronage

Chapter 10. Brooklynites Natural-Born Hayseeds

Chapter 11. Tammany Leaders Not Bookworms

Chapter 12. Dangers of the Dress Suit in Politics

Chapter 13. On Municipal Ownership

Chapter 14. Tammany the Only Lastin' Democracy

Chapter 15. Concerning Gas in Politics

Chapter 16. Plunkitt's Fondest Dream

Chapter 17. Tammany's Patriotism

Chapter 18. On the Use of Money in Politics

Chapter 19. The Successful Politician Does Not Drink

Chapter 20. Bosses Preserve the Nation

Chapter 21. Concerning Excise

Chapter 22. A Parting Word on the Future Party in America

Chapter 23. Strenuous Life of the Tammany District Leader


THIS volume discloses the mental operations of perhaps the most

thoroughly practical politician of the day--George Washington Plunkitt,

Tammany leader of the Fifteenth Assembly District, Sachem of the Tammany

Society and Chairman of the Elections Committee of Tammany Hall, who

has held the offices of State Senator, Assemblyman', Police Magistrate,

County Supervisor and Alderman, and who boasts of his record in filling

four public offices in one year and drawing salaries from three of them

at the same time.

The discourses that follow were delivered by him from his rostrum, the

bootblack stand in the County Court-house, at various times in the

last half-dozen years. Their absolutefrankness and vigorous

unconventionality of thought and expression charmed me. Plunkitt said

right out what all practical politicians think but are afraid to say.

Some of the discourses I published as interviews in the New York Evening

Post, the New York Sun, the New York World, and the Boston Transcript.

They were reproduced in newspapers throughout the country and several

of them, notably the talks on "The Curse of Civil Service Reform" and

"Honest Graft and Dishonest Graft," became subjects of discussion in

the United States Senate and in college lectures. There seemed to be

a general recognition of Plunkitt as a striking type of the practical

politician, a politician, moreover, who dared to say publicly what

others in his class whisper among themselves in the City Hall corridors

and the hotel lobbies.

I thought it a pity to let Plunkitt's revelations of himself--as frank

in their way as Rousseau's Confessions--perish in the files of the

newspapers; so I collected the talks I had published, added several new

ones, and now give to the world in this volume a system of political

philosophy which is as unique as it is refreshing.

No New Yorker needs to be informed who George Washington Plunkitt is.

For the information of others, the following sketch of his career is

given. He was born, as he proudly tells, in Central Park--that is, in

the territory now included in the park. He began life as a driver of

a cart, then became a butcher's boy, and later went into the butcher

business for himself. How he entered politics he explains in one of his

discourses. His advancement was rapid. He was in the Assembly soon after

he cast his first vote and has held office most of the time for forty


In 1870, through a strange combination of circumstances, he held the

places of Assemblyman, Alderman, Police Magistrate and County Supervisor

and drew three salaries at once--a record unexampled in New York


Plunkitt is now a millionaire. He owes his fortune mainly to his

political pull, as he confesses in "Honest Graft and Dishonest Graft."

He is in the contracting, transportation, real estate, and every

other business out of which he can make money. He has no office. His

headquarters is the County Courthouse bootblack stand. There he receives

his constituents, transacts his general business and pours forth his


Plunkitt has been one of the great powers in Tammany Hall for a quarter

of a century. While he was in the Assembly and the State Senate he

was one of the most influential members and introduced the bills that

provided for the outlying parks of New York City, the Harlem River

Speedway, the Washington Bridge, the 155th Street Viaduct, the grading

of Eighth Avenue north of Fifty-seventh Street, additions to the Museum

of Natural History, the West Side Court, and many other important public

improvements. He is one of the closest friends and most valued advisers

of Charles F. Murphy, leader of Tammany Hall.

William L. Riordon

A Tribute to Plunkitt by the Leader of Tammany Hall

SENATOR PLUNKITT is a straight organization man. He believes in party

government; he does not indulge in cant and hypocrisy and he is never

afraid to say exactly what he thinks. He is a believer in thorough

political organization and all-the-year-around work, and he holds to the

doctrine that, in making appointments to office, party workers should

be preferred if they are fitted to perform the duties of the office.

Plunkitt is one of the veteran leaders of the organization; he has

always been faithful and reliable, and he has performed valuable

services for Tammany Hall.



Chapter 1. Honest Graft and Dishonest Graft

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. There's all the difference in the world between the

two. Yes, many of our men have grown rich in politics. I have myself.

I've made a big fortune out of the game, and I'm gettin' richer every

day, but I've not gone in for dishonest graft--blackmailin' gamblers,

saloonkeepers, disorderly people, etc.--and neither has any of the men

who have made big fortunes in politics.

There's an honest graft, and I'm an example of how it works. I might sum

up the whole thing by sayin': "I seen my opportunities and I took 'em."

Just let me explain by examples. My party's in power in the city, and

it's goin' to undertake a lot of public improvements. Well, I'm tipped

off, say, that they're going to lay out a new park at a certain place.

I see my opportunity and I take it. I go to that place and I buy up all

the land I can in the neighborhood. Then the board of this or that makes

its plan public, and there is a rush to get my land, which nobody cared

particular for before.

Ain't it perfectly honest to charge a good price and make a profit on my

investment and foresight? Of course, it is. Well, that's honest graft.

Or supposin' it's a new bridge they're goin' to build. I get tipped off

and I buy as much property as I can that has to be taken for approaches.

I sell at my own price later on and drop some more money in the bank.

Wouldn't you? It's just like lookin' ahead in Wall Street or in the

coffee or cotton market. It's honest graft, and I'm lookin' for it every

day in the year. I will tell you frankly that I've got a good lot of it,


I'll tell you of one case. They were goin' to fix up a big park, no

matter where. I got on to it, and went lookin' about for land in that


I could get nothin' at a bargain but a big piece of swamp, but I took it

fast enough and held on to it. What turned out was just what I counted

on. They couldn't make the park complete without Plunkitt's swamp, and

they had to pay a good price for it. Anything dishonest in that?

Up in the watershed I made some money, too. I bought up several bits of

land there some years ago and made a pretty good guess that they would

be bought up for water purposes later by the city.

Somehow, I always guessed about right, and shouldn't I enjoy the

profit of my foresight? It was rather amusin' when the condemnation

commissioners came along and found piece after piece of the land in the

name of George Plunkitt of the Fifteenth Assembly District, New York

City. They wondered how I knew just what to buy. The answer is--I

seen my opportunity and I took it. I haven't confined myself to land;

anything that pays is in my line.

For instance, the city is repavin' a street and has several hundred

thousand old granite blocks to sell. I am on hand to buy, and I know

just what they are worth.

How? Never mind that. I had a sort of monopoly of this business for a

while, but once a newspaper tried to do me. It got some outside men to

come over from Brooklyn and New Jersey to bid against me.

Was I done? Not much. I went to each of the men and said: "How many of

these 250,000 stories do you want?" One said 20,000, and another wanted

15,000, and other wanted 10,000. I said: "All right, let me bid for the

lot, and I'll give each of you all you want for nothin'."

They agreed, of course. Then the auctioneer yelled: "How much am I bid

for these 250,000 fine pavin' stones?"

"Two dollars and fifty cents," says I.

"Two dollars and fifty cents!" screamed the auctioneer. "Oh, that's a

joke! Give me a real bid."

He found the bid was real enough. My rivals stood silent. I got the

lot for $2.50 and gave them their share. That's how the attempt to do

Plunkitt ended, and that's how all such attempts end.

I've told you how I got rich by honest graft. Now, let me tell you that

most politicians who are accused of robbin' the city get rich the same


They didn't steal a dollar from the city treasury. They just seen their

opportunities and took them. That is why, when a reform administration

comes in and spends a half million dollars in tryin' to find the public

robberies they talked about in the campaign, they don't find them.

The books are always all right. The money in the city treasury is all

right. Everything is all right. All they can show is that the Tammany

heads of departments looked after their friends, within the law, and

gave them what opportunities they could to make honest graft. Now, let

me tell you that's never goin' to hurt Tammany with the people. Every

good man looks after his friends, and any man who doesn't isn't likely

to be popular. If I have a good thing to hand out in private life, I

give it to a friend--Why shouldn't I do the same in public life?

Another kind of honest graft. Tammany has raised a good many salaries.

There was an awful howl by the reformers, but don't you know that

Tammany gains ten votes for every one it lost by salary raisin'?

The Wall Street banker thinks it shameful to raise a department clerk's

salary from $1500 to $1800 a year, but every man who draws a salary

himself says: "That's all right. I wish it was me." And he feels

very much like votin' the Tammany ticket on election day, just out of


Tammany was beat in 1901 because the people were deceived into believin'

that it worked dishonest graft. They didn't draw a distinction between

dishonest and honest graft, but they saw that some Tammany men grew

rich, and supposed they had been robbin' the city treasury or levyin'

blackmail on disorderly houses, or workin' in with the gamblers and


As a matter of policy, if nothing else, why should the Tammany leaders

go into such dirty business, when there is so much honest graft lyin'

around when they are in power? Did you ever consider that?

Now, in conclusion, I want to say that I don't own a dishonest dollar.

If my worst enemy was given the job of writin' my epitaph when I'm gone,

he couldn't do more than write:

"George W. Plunkitt. He Seen His Opportunities, and He Took 'Em."

Chapter 2. How to Become a Statesman

THERE'S thousands of young men in this city who will go to the polls for

the first time next November. Among them will be many who have watched

the careers of successful men in politics, and who are longin' to make

names and fortunes for themselves at the same game--It is to these

youths that I want to give advice. First, let me say that I am in a

position to give what the courts call experttestimony on the subject. I

don't think you can easily find a better example than I am of success

in politics. After forty years' experience at the game I am--well, I'm

George Washington Plunkitt. Everybody knows what figure I cut in the

greatest organization on earth, and if you hear people say that I've

laid away a million or so since I was a butcher's boy in Washington

Market, don't come to me for an indignantdenial I'm pretty comfortable,

thank you.

Now, havin' qualified as an expert, as the lawyers say, I am goin' to

give advice free to the young men who are goin' to cast their first

votes, and who are lookin' forward to political glory and lots of cash.

Some young men think they can learn how to be successful in politics

from books, and they cram their heads with all sorts of college rot.

They couldn't make a bigger mistake. Now, understand me I ain't sayin'

nothin' against colleges. I guess they'll have to exist as long as

there's book-worms, and I suppose they do some good in a certain way,

but they don't count in politics. In fact, a young man who has gone

through the college course is handicapped at the outset. He may succeed

in politics, but the chances are 100 to 1 against him.

Another mistake: some young men think that the best way to prepare for

the political game is to practice speakin' and becomin' orators. That's

all wrong. We've got some orators in Tammany Hall, but they're chiefly

ornamental. You never heard of Charlie Murphy delivering a speech, did

you? Or Richard Croker, or John Kelly, or any other man who has been a

real power in the organization? Look at the thirty-six district leaders

of Tammany Hall today. How many of them travel on their tongues? Maybe

one or two, and they don't count when business is doin' at Tammany

Hall. The men who rule have practiced keepin' their tongues still, not

exercisin' them. So you want to drop the orator idea unless you mean to

go into politics just to perform the skyrocket act.

Now, I've told you what not to do; I guess I can explain best what to

do to succeed in politics by tellin' you what I did. After goin' through

the apprenticeship of the business while I was a boy by workin' around

the district headquarters and hustlin' about the polls on election day,

I set out when I cast my first vote to win fame and money in New York

City politics. Did I offer my services to the district leader as a

stump-speaker? Not much. The woods are always full of speakers. Did

I get up a hook on municipal government and show it to the leader? I

wasn't such a fool. What I did was to get some marketable goods before

goin' to the leaders. What do I mean by marketable goods? Let me tell

you: I had a cousin, a young man who didn't take any particular

interest in politics. I went to him and said: "Tommy, I'm goin' to be a

  • series [´siəri:z] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.连续;系列;丛书   (初中英语单词)
  • politics [´pɔlitiks] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.政治(学);政治活动   (初中英语单词)
  • tribute [´tribju:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.贡物;献礼;颂词   (初中英语单词)
  • politician [,pɔli´tiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.政治家;政客   (初中英语单词)
  • preserve [pri´zə:v] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.保藏 n.保藏物   (初中英语单词)
  • volume [´vɔlju:m, ´vɑljəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.卷;书籍;体积;容量   (初中英语单词)
  • mental [´mentl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精神的;心理的   (初中英语单词)
  • assembly [ə´sembli] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.集会;装配;与会者   (初中英语单词)
  • absolute [´æbsəlu:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.绝对的 n.绝对   (初中英语单词)
  • discussion [di´skʌʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.讨论;辩论   (初中英语单词)
  • recognition [,rekəg´niʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.认出;认识;承认   (初中英语单词)
  • striking [´straikiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.显著的,明显的   (初中英语单词)
  • moreover [mɔ:´rəuvə] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.再者,此外,而且   (初中英语单词)
  • whisper [´wispə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.耳语 n.低语;沙沙声   (初中英语单词)
  • system [´sistəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.系统,体系,制度   (初中英语单词)
  • sketch [sketʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.素描;短剧 v.草拟   (初中英语单词)
  • career [kə´riə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.经历;生涯;职业   (初中英语单词)
  • proudly [´praudli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.骄傲地;傲慢地   (初中英语单词)
  • combination [,kɔmbi´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.结合;联合;团体   (初中英语单词)
  • mainly [´meinli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.主要地;大体上   (初中英语单词)
  • transportation [,trænspɔ:´teiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.运输;运送;运费   (初中英语单词)
  • estate [i´steit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.财产;庄园;等级   (初中英语单词)
  • faithful [´feiθfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.忠实的;可靠的   (初中英语单词)
  • distinction [di´stiŋkʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.差别;特征;卓越   (初中英语单词)
  • undertake [,ʌndə´teik] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.从事;承担;担保   (初中英语单词)
  • neighborhood [´neibəhud] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.邻居;邻近;附近   (初中英语单词)
  • charge [tʃɑ:dʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.收费;冲锋 n.费用   (初中英语单词)
  • frankly [´fræŋkli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.直率地;慷慨地   (初中英语单词)
  • bargain [´bɑ:gin] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.买卖合同 v.议(价)   (初中英语单词)
  • instance [´instəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.例子,实例,例证   (初中英语单词)
  • awhile [ə´wail] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.少顷;片刻   (初中英语单词)
  • jersey [´dʒə:zi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.毛织运动衫;毛线衫   (初中英语单词)
  • reform [ri´fɔ:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.改革;改良;革除   (初中英语单词)
  • banker [´bæŋkə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.银行家   (初中英语单词)
  • election [i´lekʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.选举;选择   (初中英语单词)
  • supposed [sə´pəuzd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.想象的;假定的   (初中英语单词)
  • conclusion [kən´klu:ʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.结束;结论;推论   (初中英语单词)
  • expert [´ekspə:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.专家;内行   (初中英语单词)
  • headquarters [´hed,kwɔ:təz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.总部(署),司令部   (初中英语单词)
  • philosopher [fi´lɔsəfə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.哲学家;思想家;哲人   (高中英语单词)
  • municipal [mju:´nisipəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.市政的;地方性的   (高中英语单词)
  • concerning [kən´sə:niŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  prep.关于   (高中英语单词)
  • senate [´senit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.参议院;上院   (高中英语单词)
  • unique [ju:´ni:k] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.唯一的 n.独一无二   (高中英语单词)
  • millionaire [,miljə´neə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.百万富翁   (高中英语单词)
  • influential [,influ´enʃəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有力的,有影响的   (高中英语单词)
  • indulge [in´dʌldʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.(使)沉迷;沉溺;放任   (高中英语单词)
  • veteran [´vetərən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.老兵 a.老练的   (高中英语单词)
  • reliable [ri´laiəbl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可靠的;可信赖的   (高中英语单词)
  • everyday [´evridei] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.每日的,日常的   (高中英语单词)
  • perfectly [´pə:fiktli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.理想地;完美地   (高中英语单词)
  • granite [´grænit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.花岗岩   (高中英语单词)
  • monopoly [mə´nɔpəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.垄断(权);专利事业   (高中英语单词)
  • campaign [kæm´pein] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.战役;行动 vi.从军   (高中英语单词)
  • testimony [´testiməni] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.证明;证据;表明   (高中英语单词)
  • parting [´pɑ:tiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.分离(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • strenuous [´strenjuəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.费力的;奋发的   (英语四级单词)
  • alderman [´ɔ:ldəmən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.市参议员;总督   (英语四级单词)
  • drawing [´drɔ:iŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.画图;制图;图样   (英语四级单词)
  • advancement [əd´vɑ:nsmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.前进;促进;提升   (英语四级单词)
  • bridge [bridʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.桥(梁);鼻梁;桥牌   (英语四级单词)
  • believer [bi´li:və] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.信徒   (英语四级单词)
  • foresight [´fɔ:sait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.先见,深谋远虑   (英语四级单词)
  • shameful [´ʃeimfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可耻的;猥亵的   (英语四级单词)
  • policy [´pɔlisi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.政策;权谋;保险单   (英语四级单词)
  • indignant [in´dignənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.义愤的,愤慨的   (英语四级单词)
  • orator [´ɔrətə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.演说者;雄辩家   (英语四级单词)
  • dishonest [dis´ɔnist] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不诚实的   (英语六级单词)
  • ingratitude [in´grætitju:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.忘恩负义   (英语六级单词)
  • supervisor [´su:pəvaizə, ´sju:-] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.管理人;监督人   (英语六级单词)
  • frankness [´fræŋknis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.坦白,直率,真诚   (英语六级单词)
  • notably [´nəutəbli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.显著地;著名地   (英语六级单词)
  • publicly [´pʌblikli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.公然;公众所有地   (英语六级单词)
  • courthouse [´kɔ:thaus] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.法院大楼   (英语六级单词)
  • hypocrisy [hi´pɔkrisi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.伪善   (英语六级单词)
  • epitaph [´epitɑ:f] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.墓志铭   (英语六级单词)
  • denial [di´naiəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.否认;拒绝   (英语六级单词)
  • practiced [´præktist] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.经验丰富的;熟练的   (英语六级单词)
  • apprenticeship [ə´prentisʃip] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.学徒工身份   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:34:47
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