George W. Plunkitt and His Money
“I seen my opportunities, and I took ’em.” George W. Plunkitt
George W. Plunkitt; New York politician made infamous by his own biography (Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, written by William I. Riordon), where he openly admitted where and how he earned his money; through “honest graft.” As an example; he’d get tipped off that the state legislature was planning to build a bridge, and he would buy up all the land around the possible areas to build the bridge, and sell it for a profit when the government went to build the bridge. The land was worth nothing before, now its value has gone way up, and he benefits from the increase, tax-payers lose. As he said, why would a politician go for dishonest graft when there is so much “honest graft” to be had?
Why would someone like Plunkitt write such a book, which was so open about his use of “honest” graft? The answer might be the fact that he was defeated an election or two before and also three weeks after the autobiography was published. He seems to have been trying to defend himself by having Riordon write the biography. It apparently didn’t work, as, even though it was a success, as it was only ammunition for his opposition immediately after.