Book Report on Plunkitt of Tammany Hall
1. Honest Graft and Dishonest Graft- When Plunkitt was tipped off about something in the city or someone wanting to built a park or something, he sees the opportunity and he takes it. He buys up the land before they do. When they see that they are going to need the land, he sells it to them at a much higher price than what he paid for it, giving him a nice profit. That is honest graft. Several politicians are accused of stealing dollars from the states treasury, this is an example of dishonest graft.
The condemnation commissioners came along and found piece after piece of land under the name George Plunkitt of the Fifteenth Assembly District, New York City. They wondered how he knew just what to buy. Plunkitt sees the opportunity and he takes it.
2. How to Become a Statesman- If you want to make a fame and fortune for yourself in politics, do not come at them with all of your book smarts and saying how smart you are. That is a big mistake. Get a person to follow you, even if it is only one person and say that you want to join the organization. Do not go at them with your book smarts because they will say that they have no use for you here.
3. The Curse of the Civil Service Reform- Men who have patriotism get it blasted away when they take the civil services examination. The civil service law is the biggest fraud of the age. There are ten thousand good offices, but we cannot get no more than a few hundred of them. When we cannot place these men who wanted to serve their country, they become an Anarchist. There is nothing in the game.
4. Reformers Only Morning Glories- Many reform movements were started during PLunkitts forty years in politics, but none have lasted more than a few years. Morning glories looked great in the beginning but folded in short time. These reformers have been going into things without much practice while the politicians, have been practicing all of their lives and know ever fine point of the game.
5. New York City Is Pie for the Hayseeds- New York farmers wanted their taxes lowered because they were too high. The Republican Legislature will make a rush for the farmer and tell him that if he does not see what he wants to ask for it. After they cut the farmers tax , they raise taxes on liquor and some other taxes in New York City. They take half of the proceeds from the State Treasury and cut down the farmers taxes to suit. New York City is a big fat goose. Come along with your carvings knives and have a slice.
6. To Hold Your District: Study Human Nature and Act According- Plunkitt talks about books being a hindrance and the only way to last is to know everyone in your district. He talks about looking after the people, know what they are interested in and help them with what they want. Help the people and they will help you on election day.
7. On the Shame of the Cities- In Lincoln Steffens, The Shame of the Cities, Plunkitt says that he does not know how to make decisions. He talks about the Philadelphia Republican Gang and Tammany Hall being almost the same. Plunkitt thinks he is all wrong. Plunkitt seems to talk about politicians stealing, saying that they in 1905 are no worse than 1835 as a class. It just means that the old timers had nothing to steal, while the politicians in 1905 were surrounded by temptations.
8.Ingratitude in Politics- Plunkitt talks about how he was back stabbed by one of the people he took in hand, The McManus. His friends told him that this would happen but he did not believe them. McManus ran ahead of Plunkitt in their own district. He later broke his ties with him. When a district leader is voted in it is like a solemn contract. If you do good and help us out, we will re-elect you next term. If you do not, you will be swatted down and will not be reelected.
9. Reciprocity in Patronage- Plunkitt talks about him being on top and doing favors for the republicans, and when they are on top, they do not forget him. He also tells another story how this young man was very patriotic and took the civil services examination and lost all patriotism for his country.
10. Brooklynites Natural Born Hayseeds- Brooklynites will never be New Yorkers, because Brooklyn is like no other place on earth. Some upstate members of the State Committee call themselves Democrats. Uptate democrats do not make contributions that much.
11. Tammany Leaders Not Bookworms- Plunkitt talks about all of the people of the district. Talk about Tammany leaders being illiterate men, and Plunkitt says that they do not know what they are talking about. Every District leader is fit to their district and would not fit in any other district.
12. Dangers of the Dress Suit in Politics- Try to make your neighbors, even if they are the poorest of individuals, feel as if they are equal to you, or even a bit superior to you. Above all things avoid a dress suit. When making a speech, talk the language that the people talk. Talk to them in words that everyone will understand.
13. On Municipal Ownership- Plunkitt is for municipal ownership on one condition, the civil service law be repealed. There would be thousands of new places for the workers in Tammany. The city is better off running things than the government. Salaries would also go up is there was municipal ownership.
14. Tammany the Only Lasting Democracy- Many democracies over the years have come and gone, but Tammany is the only one that still stands. You could start your own democracy for only $50. New York papers would even advertise it for free, just to see a new democracy take over Tammany.
15. Concerning Gas in Politics- Gas houses were worse than open sewers. If the gas houses were removed the property surrounding the gas houses would go up 100%. Plunkitt gave the city magnificent chain of parks, its Washington Bridge, its Speedway, its Museum of Natural History, its One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Street Viaduct, and its West Side Courthouse.
16. Plunkitts Fondest Dream- Plunkitt thinks that in the near future, New York City will become its own state. Things will get resolved much quicker, bills will go through without any problems . He thinks the rest of New York would be helpless because they have been living off of New York City for so long.
17. Tammanys Patriotism- The very constitution of the Tammany society requires that they must assemble at the Wigwam on the Fourth, regardless of weather, and listen to the reading of the Declaration of Independence and patriotic speeches. These speeches would go on for roughly four hours. Men just sitting there in that boiling hot room, parched, while champagne and kegs of beer were just two flights of stairs down. They were dedicated to patriotism.
18.On the Use of Money in Politics- Candidates for both parties have to chip in for expenses when running for office. They pay sums according to their salaries, and the length of term, if elected. Four men wanted one position at once one time. They held an auction in the back and the highest bidder was the one who was able to run.
19. The Successful Politician Does Not Drink- Plunkitt believes that drink is the greatest curse of the day, except, civil services, and that it has driven more young men to ruins than anything except civil service examinations. A drinking man would not last two weeks as leader of Tammany Hall.
20. Bosses Preserve the Nation- New York City owes pretty much what it all is today to the bosses of Tammany Hall in the last 20 years. With bosses everything runs smoothly, like noiseless machinery.
21. Concerning Excise- Every time there is an increase of the fee in The Raines Liquor Law, there is an increase in the suicide record of the city. If it is a right to tax a saloonkeeper $1000, its right to put a heavy tax on dealers in other beverages- in milk, for instance- and make the dairymen pay up. If the Raines law gave the money extorted from the saloonkeepers to the city, there might be some excuse for the tax.
22. A Parting Word on the Future of the Democratic Party in America- One issue that would set this country on fire is the abolition of the civil service laws which are destroying patriotism and taking away good jobs from people that have earned them.
23. Strenuous Life of the Tammany District Leader- Plunkitt plays politics day in and day out with no rests. He helps feel the hungry and bury the dead. Plunkitt keeps watch on men, women, and children of his district. He knows their needs, likes and dislikes, troubles and hopes, and helps them to get what they want or need.