George W. Plunkitt was part of the Tammany Hall political machine in New York. It was part of the Democratic Party at the time named after Tamanend (leader of the Lanape - a native american tribe). Many of its traditions were deeply rooted in an "American Identity", but essentially what they were able to do was create an identity of their own that has shaped many parts of American culture. The power of Tammany Hall stemmed from their power over New York politics at almost every level, that culminated with the reign of Boss Tweed (William M. Tweed), who happens to be the most famous character in all of Tammany Hall History. Plunkitt began his career around the same time as Boss Tweed, and was able to rise to the position of US Senator. From his positions he was able to amass consistently more power and wealth. His book offers an odd insight into what appears to have been the law of the land at the time. He defines it as "honest graft". Graft is a form of corruption of government, where an elected official uses political power for personal gain. Still the longterm support these people had makes it hard to believe that graft, in its purest sense, was the rule of the day. Honest graft, a concept that seems to originate with this book, makes a little more sense.
Graft is something that all around the world still clearly exists. While not ideal, as long as it exists the system should be understood. Understanding it from the mind of the people who developed the system that brought the US into the "Gilded Age" and the "Golden Age" of American history, may help the world achieve much more than it seems to be achieving now.