Politician George Washington Plunkitt Part 1

About politician George Washington Plunkitt and some of his plain talk style politics.

GEORGE WASHINGTON PLUNKITT (1842--1924). Politician.

Plunkitt, the son of poor Irish immigrants, was born in a rundown section of New York that was sometimes known as "Nigger Hill." He quit school at the age of 11 and went to work in a butcher shop. By the time he cast his 1st vote at the age of 21, young George had already decided that politics was his true vocation, and with his considerable cunning and charm he quickly worked his way into the Democratic hierarchy of New York's Tammany Society organization (later known as Tammany Hall).

In this era, the Tammany machine maintained firm control over New York politics, and Plunkitt was elected to a long succession of public offices as a reward for his loyalty to the organization. In 1870, through a strange combination of circumstances, he was simultaneously an assemblyman, an alderman, a police magistrate, and county supervisor, and he drew 3 salaries at once--a record still unequaled in New York politics. Plunkitt's political connections helped him amass a considerable fortune and when he died in 1924 at the age of 82, his 60 years of service to Tammany Hall had made him a millionaire.

Despite this illustrious career, Plunkitt is remembered today for his words rather than his deeds. In 1905, he took time from his busy schedule to talk with a reporter named William L. Riordon. The result was a series of celebrated interviews called "Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics." Most of these interviews were conducted at Plunkitt's "office": Graziano's shoeshine stand in the basement of the old county courthouse. Today, in an era in which politicians are not always completely can did, Plunkitt's straight talk about American politics is particularly refreshing. For example--

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