This week in English class I started reading George Washington Plunkitt’s autobiography (more like a biography that was anonymously published, but that is a different matter). In the chapters that I have read so far it was very obvious that Plunkitt hated the civil service exam. He thought it extinguished the patriotism of the people. In this essay I am going to talk about how Plunkitt thought patriotism attributed to Tammany winning the election.
First, let me clarify what Tammany is. When I first saw the name Tammany I thought it was a person, but it is actually a name of the political party Plunkitt was a part of. The proper name of this party is Tammany Democrat.
During the time when the book was written (late 1800s) the civil service exam determined if a person would get into the army or not. The exam was a lot like the exams we students take nowadays. There would be math word problems and other academic subjects. Plunkitt claimed he saw many men with undying loyalty to their country take the exam and fail, leading to the death of their patriotism.
When Plunkitt saw this he would find these young men and put them in any available job he thought they would be suitable for. Plunkitt had a saying: “be at the fire before the firefighters.” Judging by what the book said, Plunkitt was always looking out for the people. He got up close and personal with each and every inhabitant of Manhattan. He knew the name of every man, woman, and child. He remembered their interests and likes. If he knew of a person with a good arm he would invite them to join the town’s baseball team. If he knew of a person who thought they had a good voice, he would be invited to the Glee Club at City Hall.
In the book he said that he would give the children candy. “They learnt that Uncle George coming meant candy.” He claimed that one little girl “held on to her Father’s whiskers until he promised to vote for Plunkitt.”
The people got the impression that Plunkitt was always looking out for them. This made people think that the Tammany party would bring prosperity to their country, causing them to vote for the party.
As you can see, Plunkitt knew that the people only wanted what was best for their country. He knew that if he portrayed the hero looking out for the citizens he would get a good reputation for his party and convince the people that voting Tammany would help their country. After all, who would not want their country to prosper?