Columbia Library columns (v.42(1992Nov-1993May))

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  v.42,no.2(1993:Feb): Page 15  

Honest Graft?                                     15

Four hundred police were assigned to the district on the day of
the voting, and two calls for additional police help were put in dur¬
ing the day. More than fifty persons were arrested on charges rang¬
ing from voting fraud to assault. At midnight Plunkitt and his allies
conceded defeat, and the supporters of McManus paraded through
the district carrying a coffin at their head, symbolic of the political
death of Plunkitt. The next fall McManus completed his triumph
by nominating himself for the state senate seat that Plunkitt had
held and winning that, too. In 1907 Plunkitt made an attempt to re¬
take the district leadership that he had lost in 1905. Observers said
from the start the attempt was futile; the outcome was a three-
thousand vote slaughter that ended the Plunkitt era decisively.

Plunkitt lived on in political obscurity until 1924; yet the influ¬
ence of "his" book persists. But as the above has demonstrated,
Plunkitt of Tammany Hall is less a document describing how urban
politics was, than the product of a debate over what urban politics
might be. That debate continues today, as it should, because as the
story of Plunkitt demonstrates, neither the "bosses" nor the
"reformers" at the turn of the century had the final word.
  v.42,no.2(1993:Feb): Page 15