Between  1870  and  1880,  consequent  to  the  "Crime  of  1873"
(abandonment of the  1792  silver  standard;  see  CN 11.07), the
numbers of homeless had doubled in the U.S. Josiah Flynt, born in
1869, grew up in those times.  Josiah, from  a  well-off  family,
nonetheless  spent his youth going on "tramps."  Josiah, in those
hobo times,  did  not  lack  companions.   The  trains  and roads
swarmed with tramps.  After each  adventure,  Josiah  was  "wiser
than  he  had  been  before,  and bolder in his dealings with the
criminals and tramps who were his companions."  (*The Muckrakers*
by Louis Filler. ISBN: 0-8047-2236-6)

Young Josiah called his wanderings "an insatiable longing for The
Beyond."  He enjoyed  meeting  people  "as  they really were when
stripped of conventions."  Friends  later  described  how  Josiah
"could  take  them  with  him to the slums of a city, then change
completely  before  their  eyes  merely  by  shifting  his  gait,
altering the movements of his hands and eyes, and talking rapidly
in a strange, unfamiliar [slang] language." (ibid.)

Josiah Flynt's chameleon  talent  later  helped  him in two ways:
(1) he was able to easily penetrate the "Under World" (his  term)
and  write  about  it;  and  (2)  when, for example, the New York
police didn't like what Flynt  wrote about them and threatened to
"get" him and "give him the Third Degree,"  Flynt  simply  melted
away before their eyes.

In  his  book,  *The  World  of Graft* (1901), Flynt enriched our
language by introducing  the  argot  of  the criminal to America;
words like "graft" and "underworld" come to us via Flynt.   Flynt
used  his  Jekyll  &  Hyde  ability to gain the confidence of the
criminal  element,  and  got  them  to  talk  openly,  from their
perspective, on how various U.S. cities *really*  operated.   His
book passes along what he'd learned.

*The  World of Graft* describes the two key elements in any city:
the "Under World" and the "Upper  World."  When one in the "Under
World" got lucky and "made his 'pile,'" he went "up-town" to "put
on  the  ritz"  and  pretend  to  be  "high  class."   When   the
aristocrat, inhabiting the "Upper World," needed money, he'd head
"down-town" and scrounge up a "pile" of his own.

Chicago  is described by Flynt as an "honest" city, and New York,
he says, is a  "dishonest"  city.   In Flynt's nomenclature, this
means *both* cities are corrupt, but Chicago is honest about  it.
"Reform"  comes  and  goes:   "When  the  present  administration
finishes  its  operations  in  the city, it is the opinion of the
Under World that  a  reform  administration  will be necessary in
order to save something for the next City Hall clique to  spend."
Regarding then-excitement in another city about various scandals,
one of Flynt's sources opined "that the present (1901) excitement
in  the  city  concerning  corrupt  policemen, gambling dens, and
disorderly houses, is  simply  a  passing manifestation of public
curiosity... the citizens will  get  tired  before  long  of  the
chatter  about  vice, and the town will then settle back into its
customary indifference to such  matters."   (*The World of Graft*
by Josiah Flynt)

Sure enough, that is the way of America:  it gets  fired  up  one
week,  then  next  week moves on to something else.  Last week it
was anger  at  the  Internal  Revenue  Service.   This  week it's
"shock" about videotapes of White House fundraising.   Next  week
it's  ________________.   Lincoln  Steffens, in *The Shame of the
Cities* (1904), takes what Flynt  dug  up and carries it one step
further, into "The Beyond" that young Josiah had been  insatiably
longing  for.   Steffens  says  that  our  corrupt  government IS

  The defeats  and  the  grafters  also  represent  us... the
  corruption that shocks us in  public  affairs  we  practice
  ourselves  in  our  private concerns... the bribe we pay to
  the janitor to prefer  our  interests  to the landlord's is
  the little brother of the bribe passed to the  alderman  to
  sell   a  city  street...   The  spirit  of  graft  and  of
  lawlessness is the American spirit... the "corruption which
  breaks out here  and  there  and  now  and  then" is not an
  occasional offense, but a common practice.

Steffens ends the introduction to his book with a dedication  "in
all  good faith, to the accused -- to all the citizens of all the
cities in the United States."

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