"The feeling between this city and the hayseeds. . .is every hit as hitter as the feelings between the North and South before the War. . . . Why, I know a lot of men in my district who would like nothin' better than to go out gunnin for hayseeds."
Plunkitt Tammany Hall, 1905
Plunkitt lived in the days before garbage scows, Tawana Brawley, Nelson Rockefeller, radioactive waste, and the decimation of local government. In the Upstate-Downstate marriage, Plunkitt's was the Era of Good Feelings.
Sectional enmity in New York used to be served with a wink and a smile. They were slickers, we were appleknockers; they were swells, we were yokels. Stanley Walker of the New York Herald Tribune could call Upstaters "earthbound clodhoppers, with inferiority complexes dating from a boyhood passed in shoveling out the barnyard," and no great offense was taken.
Upstaters knew their history back then; every schoolchild could recite the glories of his region. We gave birth to women's suffrage, the Liberty Party, Mormonism, spiritualism, Anti-Masonry, and the Oneida community. Mantics and kooks and visionaries—Jemima Wilkinson and the Fox Sisters and Frederick Douglass—took root in our soil. Shanty Irishmen built the Erie Canal; Gerritt Smith bought John Brown his guns.
At the great...