spoils system

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spoils system,

in U.S. history, the practice of giving appointive offices to loyal members of the party in power. The name supposedly derived from a speech by Senator William Learned MarcyMarcy, William Learned,
1786–1857, American politician, b. Southbridge, Mass. He settled in Troy, N.Y., where he practiced law and, after serving in the War of 1812, held local offices.
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 in which he stated, "to the victor belong the spoils." On a national scale, the spoils system was inaugurated with the development of two political parties, the Federalists and the Democratic Republicans, and was used by the earliest Presidents, particularly Thomas Jefferson. The system soon became entrenched in state politics and was practiced more extensively on a national scale during the administration of Andrew JacksonJackson, Andrew,
1767–1845, 7th President of the United States (1829–37), b. Waxhaw settlement on the border of South Carolina and North Carolina (both states claim him). Early Career

A child of the backwoods, he was left an orphan at 14.
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, who declared (1829) that the federal government would be bettered by having civil servants rotate in office. He replaced incumbent officeholders with members of his own party. Nevertheless, during Jackson's eight years in office not more than one fifth of officeholders were replaced. The dispensation of offices by strict party allegiance was followed in succeeding years and critical opposition grew. The corruption and inefficiency bred by the system reached staggering proportions in the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, and reaction against this helped bring about civil servicecivil service,
entire body of those employed in the civil administration as distinct from the military and excluding elected officials. The term was used in designating the British administration of India, and its first application elsewhere was in 1854 in England.
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 reform, which was inaugurated by creation of the Civil Service Commission in 1871. The spoils system has, however, continued for many federal offices and is even more prevalent in state and local governments.


See A. A. Hoogenboom, Outlawing the Spoils (1968); W. d. Foulk, Fighting the Spoilsmen (1974).

References in periodicals archive ?
Looting the public purse is one way to divert public funds to the hands of the elite and funding the patronage system.
For more about the patronage system of ancient Rome, see the article on the subject in Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh's Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992).
With the exception of few pro-government business groups who are benefiting immensely from the patronage system through which lucrative government contracts and tenders were awarded, the business community in Turkey is not getting along with Erdoy-an's political choices.
As slaves and free blacks moved into Tennessee, they replaced paternalism with a patronage system by forging church ties with whites, performing military service, and selling goods and services in frontier markets.
of America) digs deeply behind our assumptions about the patronage system, and finds it much more complex and delicate than we had thought.
The author first establishes the parameters of his work, discussing the patronage system and status of actors, the public theaters and their audiences, and de Vega's dramatic theory and practice.
But as authors Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood note in their book Dream City, Barry's approach was theoretically no different from the patronage system employed by mayors elsewhere.
What could be more logical unless one wants to maintain a political patronage system based upon campaign contributions to the governor?
Yet, dynasts and their cunning conspirators in the bureaucracy have perpetuated a patronage system in order to strengthen their grip on power.
Nevertheless, political Islamists sometimes found it hard to resist the temptation of exploiting economic policies in order to enrich themselves as well as boost their ideological base so that they can remain in power with the patronage system.
On the other side of the bargain, this patronage system afforded sheikhs freedom from accountability to their constituencies.
The Salih Regime: The patronage system and declining oil revenues Yemeni President Salih differs from many of Yemen's rulers in that he is a member of the tribesmen class rather than a member of the sayyid class (descendents of the Prophet) from which the Imams were drawn.