Why do I Think Plunkitt Was so Open About How He Made His Money

George W. Plunkitt(1842-1924), was a Tammany Hall politician during the 19th/20th century. During the past few weeks I have been reading Plunkitt’s autobiography, which is not really a personal autobiography(there is absolutely no information on his personal life in the book), but more of a political autobiography. Plunkitt’s autobiography contains many details on his political beliefs, but also how he made his money from politics. Plunkitt himself had accumulated a great deal of wealth from politics. Plunkitt called his way of making money “honest graft.” But why was Plunkitt so open about how he made his money in his autobiography? Why do I think he was so open about this matter?

Like I mentioned above Plunkitt mentioned how he made money from politics many times in his autobiography. He didn’t seem that he was ashamed or felt guilty whatsoever about the way he had accumulated his wealth, which is probably the reason why he put those details in the book. From reading his book I have a pretty good idea on why he was open about his money making. Here are the reasons why he was so open about this, in my opinion. He called the way he made money “honest graft,” which meant that he made an honest living. At the time there was a bit of a stereotype that politicians made money from cheating and dishonest means, which was probably true in some scenarios. So he probably wanted to disprove that fact when it came to himself, in other words clearing his name, and putting himself in a better light. 

The second reason why I believe he was so open about how he made his money was to show his followers how to make money the way he did himself, which is with “honest graft.” He even explained the methods in the autobiography. But this is something I believe is less of a reason than the first one I mentioned. On that note who knows what Plunkitt’s actual intentions were with this, I am not Plunkitt after all, but I believe it does have something to do with putting himself in a better light like I mentioned above, but also maybe he did it to brag a little about his wealth and how he accumulated it from politics which was a great deal of it, so really who knows.

In conclusion, the main reason why I believe Plunkitt was so open about how he made his money was to put himself in a better light and to prove that he wasn’t a cheat. If the way he was making money was not illegal why not be open about if you have nothing to hide. I am not Plunkitt himself and he may have had other reasons for being so open, but what I have gathered and read I believe that the reason I stated above was probably one of the reasons why he was so open about the matter.


  1. Samuel Preus says:

    Plunkitt’s “honest” graft wasn’t exactly honest in some circumstances. It may have been legal but that doesn’t make it right. He would buy land that he knew would be used for public services so he could sell it at an inflated price. This is taking an advantage of his power. However, he did believe there was nothing wrong with what he was doing, so he called it “honest” graft.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed, what he was doing is probably illegal today.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Samuel Preus says:

        Yeah, it is a wonder that it was ever legal. But I guess most things are legal at some point in time and then have to be illegalized.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, but there are people who still do what Plunkitt did.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Samuel Preus says:

        Yeah there really isn’t any stopping that. There will always be corrupt politicians.

        Liked by 1 person

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