George Plunkitt was a man who was clever in how he invested his money and time. His ability to gain followers was the reason why he was frequently elected as a New York politician. His autobiography has been famous for the distinction between honest and dishonest graft, or gain. This week, I have had the chance to take a look at it for myself. Along side this, he made many arguments for and against many different things, and one which he fought against very often was the Civil Service Reform. Now with this in mind, take a look at the question I was presented with this week.
“How serious was Plunkitt about patriotism’s connection to obtaining a job after Tammany won an election?” Well, first off, let me explain what Tammany is. Tammany was a political organization that was mainly in control of New York in the early 20th century. They had mostly expanded this control by gaining new loyalties from the immigrant community, the most obvious of which is the Irish. So, now that you know that, let me answer the question at hand.
So, how serious was he? Very serious. Let me elaborate on my reasoning. One of the major reasons, he argued, that patriotism is dying is because of the thing he fought the most: Civil Service Reform. This is because it is mainly centered around isolating specific jobs that only politicians that can pass a really strange exam will be able to obtain. And, to make sure that those jobs stay occupied, they made it so that if these politicians’ parties do not get re-elected, then they can’t be fired.
To express why he believed that this is the reason why, listen to what he himself said about a man who’s patriotism was smashed by it:
“Tammany won, and the young man determined to devote his life to the service of the city. He picked out a place that would suit him, and sent in his application to the head of department. He got a reply that he must take a civil service examination to get the place.”
The result was that he didn’t pass, and so, with his patriotism turned to hatred, he left America. There are a few other stories he described, but I think I should leave this for if you read the book. But the results are almost identical. Since their dreams were denied, their patriotism went ‘down with the ship’. I can see why Plunkitt was serious about the connection between the two.