How G.W. Plunkitt Made his Fortune

English L80 Essay

In Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, George Washington Plunkitt divulges in great detail how he made his enormous fortune. I believe he wrote such detail because he wanted to prove his honesty. Plunkitt undoubtedly received criticism from rival politicians’ questioning the legality of his fortune. This is not surprising because when politicians compete for office they will do everything in their power to win the most votes. Even if it means making someone else look bad so that the voters will no long want to vote for him. I believe this is why Plunkitt wanted to prove that he only has honest money, so that others couldn’t slander him. He most likely created his famous distinction between honest and dishonest graft, in response to these opponents.

Plunkitt contended that his enormous fortune was completely legitimate because he engaged in honest graft, what we now call applying insider information. In 1900, unlike today, there were no laws preventing the use of insider information, so at the time he was participating in perfectly legal enterprises.

Plunkitt detested rivals claiming he engaged in – as he called it – dishonest graft. Dishonest graft Plunkitt defined as making money by breaking the law, such as embezzling or blackmail. Plunkitt vehemently denied he ever broke the law. Therefore, in his autobiography, he spent a great deal of space proving how he was an honest politician, who never took part in criminal activity. Once you know what you are looking for, it is not hard at all to invest in good deals. When you can predict the flux of the market in the future, you can invest in property so that you can see it for a far greater price then when you bought it. This is not dishonest in anyway, if you can predict the market so that you can profit, you would be wrong to not take the necessary steps needed to make that profit.I believe this is why Plunkitt went into so much detail on how he amassed his fortune because he wanted to prove he was honest and trustworthy, and by doing so he invalidated his opponents’ arguments.

Plunkitt wanted to prove that he was rich because he was smart. He knew the market, and that is how he made is fortune, and nobody can say he ever did anything against the law to earn that wealth. I personally want to follow in his footsteps, not as a politician, but as a good investor. Predicting the market, earning profit because I made a good investment, and doing it over and over and over again.


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