In politics and government, a spoils system (also known as a patronage system) is a practice in which a political party, after winning an election, gives government civil service jobs to its supporters, friends, and relatives as a reward for working toward victory, and as an incentive to keep working for the party—as opposed to a merit system, where offices are awarded on the basis of some measure of merit, independent of political activity.
Politics refers to a set of activities associated with the governance of a country, or an area. It involves making decisions that apply to members of a group.
A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state.
A political party is an organized group of people who have the same ideology, or who otherwise have the same political positions, and who field candidates for elections, in an attempt to get them elected and thereby implement the party's agenda.
The term was used particularly in politics of the United States, where the federal government operated on a spoils system until the Pendleton Act was passed in 1883 due to a civil service reform movement. Thereafter the spoils system was largely replaced by a nonpartisan merit at the federal level of the United States.
The United States is a federal republic in which the president, Congress and federal courts share powers reserved to the national government, according to its Constitution. The federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.
The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act is a United States federal law passed by the 47th United States Congress and signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur on January 16, 1883. The act mandates that most positions within the federal government should be awarded on the basis of merit instead of political patronage.
U.S. civil service reform was a major issue in the late 19th century at the national level, and in the early 20th century at the state level. Proponents denounced the distribution of government offices—the "spoils"—by the winners of elections to their supporters as corrupt and inefficient. They demanded nonpartisan scientific methods and credential be used to select civil servants. The five important civil service reforms were the two Tenure of Office Acts of 1820 and 1867, Pendleton Act of 1883, the Hatch Acts and the CSRA of 1978.
The term was derived from the phrase "to the victor belong the spoils" by New York Senator William L. Marcy,referring to the victory of Andrew Jackson in the election of 1828, with the term spoils meaning goods or benefits taken from the loser in a competition, election or military victory.
William Learned Marcy was an American lawyer, politician, and judge who served as U.S. Senator, Governor of New York, U.S. Secretary of War and U.S. Secretary of State. In the latter office, he negotiated the Gadsden Purchase, the last major acquisition of land in the continental United States.
Andrew Jackson was an American soldier and statesman who served as the seventh president of the United States from 1829 to 1837. Before being elected to the presidency, Jackson gained fame as a general in the United States Army and served in both houses of Congress. As president, Jackson sought to advance the rights of the "common man" against a "corrupt aristocracy" and to preserve the Union.
Similar spoils systems are common in other nations that traditionally have been based on tribal organization or other kinship groups and localism in general.
Localism describes a range of political philosophies which prioritize the local. Generally, localism supports local production and consumption of goods, local control of government, and promotion of local history, local culture and local identity. Localism can be contrasted with regionalism and centralized government, with its opposite being found in the unitary state.
Before 1829, moderation had prevailed in the transfer of political power from one U.S. president to another. Andrew Jackson's first inauguration, March 4, 1829, signaled a sharp departure from the past. An unruly mob of office seekers made something of a shambles of the event, and though some tried to explain this as democratic enthusiasm, the real truth was Jackson supporters had been lavished with promises of positions in return for political support. These promises were honored by an astonishing number of removals after Jackson assumed power. At the beginning of Jackson's administration, fully 919 officials were removed from government positions, amounting to nearly 10 percent of all government postings. 328–33:
United States presidential transition is the transfer of federal executive branch power from the incumbent President of the United States to the president-elect, during the period of time between election day in November, and inauguration day on the following January 20. At its heart, a single step—taking the presidential oath of office—accomplishes this transfer. However, a successful transition between the outgoing, or "lame duck" administration and the incoming administration begins with pre-election planning and continues through inauguration day. It involves key personnel from the outgoing and incoming presidents’ staffs, requires resources, and includes a host of activities, such as vetting candidates for positions in the new administration, helping to familiarize the incoming administration with the operations of the executive branch, and developing a comprehensive policy platform.
The first inauguration of Andrew Jackson as the seventh President of the United States was held on Wednesday, March 4, 1829 at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. The inauguration marked the commencement of the first four-year term of Andrew Jackson as President and the second term of John C. Calhoun as Vice President. Chief Justice John Marshall administered the presidential oath of office. Calhoun resigned 3 years, 299 days into this term, and the office remained vacant for the balance of it.
The Jackson administration attempted to explain this unprecedented purge as reform, or constructive turnover, aimed at creating a more efficient system where the chain of command of public employees all obeyed the higher entities of government. The hardest changed organization within the federal government proved to be the post office. The post office was the largest department in the federal government, and had even more personnel than the war department. In one year 423 postmasters were deprived of their positions, most with extensive records of good service. 334:
The presidency of Andrew Jackson began on March 4, 1829, when Andrew Jackson was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1837. Jackson, the seventh United States president, took office after defeating incumbent President John Quincy Adams in the bitterly-contested 1828 presidential election. During the 1828 presidential campaign, Jackson founded the political force that coalesced into the Democratic Party during Jackson's presidency. Jackson won re-election in 1832, defeating National Republican candidate Henry Clay by a wide margin. He was succeeded by his hand-picked successor, Vice President Martin Van Buren, after Van Buren won the 1836 presidential election.
A command hierarchy is a group of people who carry out orders based on others' authority within the group. It can be viewed as part of a power structure, in which it is usually seen as the most vulnerable and also the most powerful part.
By the late 1860s, citizens began demanding civil service reform. Running under the Liberal Republican Party in 1872, they were soundly defeated by Ulysses S. Grant.
After the assassination of James A. Garfield by a rejected office-seeker in 1881, the calls for civil service reform intensified. Moderation of the spoils system at the federal level came with the passage of the Pendleton Act in 1883, which created a bipartisan Civil Service Commission to evaluate job candidates on a nonpartisan merit basis. While few jobs were covered under the law initially, the law allowed the President to transfer jobs and their current holders into the system, thus giving the holder a permanent job. The Pendleton Act's reach was expanded as the two main political parties alternated control of the White House every election between 1884 and 1896. After each election the outgoing President applied the Pendleton Act to jobs held by his political supporters. By 1900, most federal jobs were handled through civil service and the spoils system was limited only to very senior positions.
The separation between the political activity and the civil service was made stronger with the Hatch Act of 1939 which prohibited federal employees from engaging in many political activities.
The spoils system survived much longer in many states, counties and municipalities, such as the Tammany Hall machine, which survived well into the 1930s when New York City reformed its own civil service. Illinois modernized its bureaucracy in 1917 under Frank Lowden, but Chicago held on to patronage in city government until the city agreed to end the practice in the Shakman Decrees of 1972 and 1983.
Modern variations on the spoils system are often described as the political machine.
Hatch Act may refer to:
The civil service is independent of government and is also composed mainly of career bureaucrats hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leadership. A civil servant or public servant is a person employed in the public sector on behalf of a government department or agency. A civil servant or public servant's first priority is to represent the interests of citizens. The extent of civil servants of a state as part of the "civil service" varies from country to country. In the United Kingdom, for instance, only Crown employees are referred to as civil servants whereas county or city employees are not.
George Hunt Pendleton was an American politician and lawyer. He represented Ohio in both houses of Congress and served as the Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States in 1864.
Jacksonian democracy was a 19th-century political philosophy in the United States that expanded suffrage to most white men over the age of 21, and restructured a number of federal institutions. Originating with the seventh president, Andrew Jackson, and his supporters, it became the nation's dominant political worldview for a generation. The term itself was in active use by the 1830s.
Nonpartisan democracy is a system of representative government or organization such that universal and periodic elections take place without reference to political parties. Sometimes electioneering and even speaking about candidates may be discouraged, so as not to prejudice others' decisions or create a contentious atmosphere.
The Mugwumps were Republican political activists who switched parties from the Republican Party by supporting Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland in the presidential election of 1884. They switched because they rejected the financial corruption associated with Republican candidate James G. Blaine. In a close election, the Mugwumps supposedly made the difference in New York state and swung the election to Cleveland. The jocular word "mugwump", noted as early as 1832, is from Algonquian mugquomp, "important person, kingpin", implying that they were "sanctimonious" or "holier-than-thou" in holding themselves aloof from party politics.
The merit system is the process of promoting and hiring government employees based on their ability to perform a job, rather than on their political connections. It is the opposite of the spoils system.
The United States Civil Service Commission was a government agency of the federal government of the United States and was created to select employees of federal government on merit rather than relationships. In 1979, it was dissolved as part of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978; the Office of Personnel Management and the Merit Systems Protection Board are the successor agencies.
Elections to the United States House of Representatives were held in 1882 for the 48th Congress, during President Chester A. Arthur's term.
The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, (CSRA), reformed the civil service of the United States federal government, partly in response to the Watergate scandal. The Act abolished the U.S. Civil Service Commission and distributed its functions primarily among three new agencies: the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), and the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).
Historians and political scientists consider the Second Party System to be a term of periodization to designate the political party system operating in the United States from about 1828 to 1854, after the First Party System ended. The system was characterized by rapidly rising levels of voter interest, beginning in 1828, as demonstrated by Election Day turnouts, rallies, partisan newspapers, and high degrees of personal loyalty to parties.
The United States federal civil service is the civilian workforce of the United States federal government's departments and agencies. The federal civil service was established in 1871. U.S. state and local government entities often have comparable civil service systems that are modeled on the national system, in varying degrees.
The George H. Pendleton House is a historic house at 559 Liberty Hill in the Prospect Hill Historic District of Cincinnati, Ohio. It was built in 1870 in the French Second Empire style. From 1879 until his death in 1889, this was the residence of Senator George Hunt Pendleton (1825-89). As a U.S. Senator (1879-1885), Pendleton spearheaded civil service reform, meeting here in 1882 to draft the Pendleton Act, which created the Civil Service merit system. The building, now in mixed commercial and residential use, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.
The "Half-Breeds" were a political faction of the United States Republican Party in the late 19th century.
The presidency of Chester A. Arthur began on September 19, 1881, when Arthur became the 21st President of the United States upon the assassination and death of President James A. Garfield, and ended on March 4, 1885. Arthur, a Republican, had been Vice President of the United States for only 199 days when he succeeded to the presidency. In ill health and lacking the full support of his party by the end of his term, Arthur made only a token effort for the Republican nomination in the 1884 presidential election. He was succeeded by Democrat Grover Cleveland.
Chester Alan Arthur was an American attorney and politician who served as the 21st president of the United States from 1881 to 1885. He previously was the 20th vice president of the United States, and he succeeded to the presidency upon the death of President James A. Garfield in September 1881, two months after Garfield was shot by an assassin.
Human resource management in public administration concerns human resource management as it applies specifically to the field of public administration. It is considered to be an in-house structure that ensures unbiased treatment, ethical standards, and promotes a value-based system.
According to the United States Office of Government Ethics, a political appointee is "any employee who is appointed by the President, the Vice President, or agency head". As of 2016, there are around 4,000 political appointment positions which an incoming administration needs to review, and fill or confirm, of which about 1,200 require Senate confirmation.
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