Lesson 80 “Why do you think Plunkitt was so open about how he made his money?”


In this essay I will be looking at and answering the essay question which is, why I think Plunkitt was so open about how he made his money. This question is taken from the autobiography of George Washington Plunkitt.
Main body

George Washington Plunkitt was a New York politician who lived in the early nineteen hundreds. As a politician he was elected leader of the 17th district several times. In later life, he allowed somebody called William R. Riordan to write an Autobiography for him. At the beginning of the Autobiography, Plunkitt reveals how he made his money. This was done through what he called honest graft. But why was this put in the Autobiography?
I think there are two possible answers to this question.

Firstly, Plunkitt may have revealed the way he made money to escape accusations of sabotage and robbery. While ‘honest graft’ was still not completely legal, it was still better than outright stealing taxes from the people. So maybe, in a cunning and unobtrusive way, Plunkitt was trying to direct scandalous gossip away from himself?

The second solution, which is actually much more probable than the first, comes down to the writer of the autobiography. Though Plunkitt gave Riordan permission to write the autobiography, Riordan may not have been that trustworthy. Throughout the autobiography there are scenarios where Plunkitt exposes himself to his enemies in almost an unreal way. Why would he want his enemies to know something that could be used against him?

It seems bizarre, until you realise that Riordan may have had something to do with this. Plunkitt had been counting on the fact that future generations would read the book, not his enemies in politics.


To summarise and conclude, this essay was about how Plunkitt made his money and why he was so open about it. The answer to this question comes in two parts, with the first being that maybe Plunkitt wanted people to understand how he made money, so they could not accuse him of theft. The second reason is that William Riordan, the writer of the autobiography, wanted to expose Plunkitt to his enemies, knowing that many thought he was already a dishonest man.


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