Plunkitt of Tammany Hall by William L. Riordon




George Washing Plunkitt's Belief System as Protrayed by William L. Riordon 


Describe an aspect of George Washing Plunkitt's belief system as portrayed by William L. Riodon in the Plunkitt of Tammany Hall that was seen by him as an "acceptable" form of political and/or governmental behavior which is not acceptable by today's legal standards.

be sure to illustrate how specific reforms of the day interacted and clashed with Plunkitts views including the goal behind such reforms and Plunkitts reaction to such.

Make sure to cite the sources and instances it back up and support your oversations, arguments and assertions. 




The Plunkitt of Tammany Hall Mid-Term Paper


George W. Plunkitt was an American politician situated in New York and was both a member of the Tammany Hall political machine and served in the houses of the New York State Legislature (Plunkitt et al.). Among many other aspects, he is greatly known for two prime factors: the manner in which he acquired and accumulated his wealth; through the controversial practice of honest graft in politics and his heavy reliance on patronage and spoils systems. This paper will primarily discuss the aspects of George Washing Plunkitt’s system as portrayed by William L. Riodon in the Plunkitt of Tammany Hall that was viewed by him as an “acceptable” form of political and governmental behavior which is not acceptable by today’s legal standards. Moreover, there will be an illustration of how specific reforms for the day interacted and clashed with Plunkitt’s views including the objective behind such reforms and Plunkitts reaction to such.

Graft refers to a form of political corruption that involves the utilization of authority and public resources for personal gains; it can be explicated in various ways. Firstly, it involves an employee in the private sector directly purchasing services and goods from a particular private institution at a cost far above the actual market prices. Through this, the latter will continuously siphon a certain percentage of the gratuitous profits to the respective officials to ensure the development of a lucrative relationship where both parties benefit at the expense of the taxpayers. Another form of the political graft is whereby government officials directly misappropriate public funds and the utilization of inside knowledge based on fundamental government decisions for private economic interests; insider trading. This is generally intentional misdirection of public official resources. Nowadays, this is sometimes referred to as influence peddling, political embezzlement, and other forms of corruption.

George W. Plunkitt derived the majority of his wealth through the deliberate buying of land that he was well aware would be required in the completion of public projects. He would purchase these properties, retain them and would later resell them at inflated rates as compared to the regular market price. According to him, this was referred to as honest graft; despite the numerous negative presses that surrounded such actions. Instead, he justified his actions by stating that dishonest graft would be the buying of these parcels and utilizing one’s influence in developing public projects on them. He defended himself saying that he just knew how to accurately spot and adequately use the opportunities presented to him; being a good entrepreneur.

The other primary factor was his belief in patronage spoils, appointments and another form of rewards for his loyal supports that were termed as illegal by the civil service law. For him, this was part of the tools he utilized in ensuring continuous patriotism and loyalty from the people who played an instrumental role in guaranteeing his success. According to the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act (Ch. 27, 22 Stat. 403), enacted on January 1883, it demands that the political positions within the federal government ought to be awarded on the primary basis of merit rather than political affiliation (Plunkitt et al.). This required prospective employees to sit for examinations and through the assessment of the results, they would get employed. Moreover, it established a system that prohibits the demotion or termination of governmental officials for personal reasons and made it illegal to solicit campaign funds on Federal government property. To further guarantee the enforcement of these rules and regulations, the United States Civil Service Commission was established (Plunkitt et al.).

This, in turn, resulted in a significant shift in the parties’ politics and functioning capabilities; they now solely relied on general funding from private institutions since they could no longer rely on patronage hopefuls.  The machine politicians had to find another source of income due to the lack of donations from wealthy counterparts in exchange for job opportunities. Machine politics is a situation in which one authoritative individual garners the support a division of businesses and supporters and tends to reward them for their efforts. George W. Plunkitt argued that the civil service reform would result in multiple patriotic individuals turning into anarchists due to the unavailability of vacant public offices despite there being ten thousand good offices available. He detested the fact that people were required to sit for an examination to determine their capabilities in spite of claiming that the government was of the people, by the people, and for the people (Plunkitt et al.). If it really was, then the party members of Tammany ought to occupy all the positions based on the fact that the citizens of the nation elected them; due to their transparency and honesty. His general point of view was the fact that the government was made of parties, and these, in turn, were made up of patriotic individuals; loyal to both their political affiliation and the country.  Without something that gives them hope or allows them to serve their nation at their own capacities, the resultant effect would force them to work for the opposing nations.

In today’s society, the above policies refer to as political corruption and hundreds of billions of dollars of the taxpayers’ revenue tends to benefit a particular fraction of the population over the public interest. This tends to result in a weakened or slowed economic growth rate and government structural deficit. The problem does solely lie on the justice department since there are ways in which political figures can utilize and still manage to evade punishment due to the existence of loopholes. An excellent example is George Washington Plunkitt’s spoils systems and honest graft methods.





Plunkitt, George Washington et al. Plunkitt Of Tammany Hall. 2001.

Interested in our services?