Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What was the Spoils System?

The spoils system was a form of corruption that was used extensively during the late 1800s. The spoils system consisted of jobs that were offered to citizens who would return the offer with loyalty to the city Bosses. Most people wouldn't turn down a government job: "these positions represented the first steps into the middle class" (Davidson 578).

Civil service reform became important during the 1880s due to the increased corruption from the political machine and bosses. Taxpayers were fed up with the amount of corruption in government. For example, "During his reign in the 1860s and 1870s, Tweed swindled the city of New York out of a fortune": over six million dollars (Davidson 578). The consequences of the spoils system eventually caused citizens to demand civil service reform: "Inflated taxes, extorted revenue, and unpunished vice and crime" were just too much to bare (Davidson 578).

Davidson, James, Brian Delay, Christine Heyrman, Mark Lytle, and Michael Stoff, Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic Volume II: Since 1865. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

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