Talk:Spoils system

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Article Evaluation[edit]

The article could have gone into more depth, such as why the system was created to begin with and was this a system that was happening before hand. Also what is the spoils system now? Is it still active or inactive due to certain reasons? There is no aftermath type section that can explain what it lead to and how or if it is happening currently, which could be helpful for research. The sentences could also be worded to be more clear and not so bunched up together of information that can be overwhelming. Mrk34 (talk) 15:48, 18 September 2015 (UTC)Mrk34


Seems to me this is a hit piece used in order to smirch the name of Andrew Jackson, for dismantling the Second National Bank. Jackson is a true hero. Every President fills executive positions, and they all fill them with contributors. (talk) 14:51, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

Are you honestly going to try and justify Andrew Jackson firing 10% of the federal workforce without cause and replacing them with cronies with little to no experience? That's blatant corruption by any definition. (talk) 14:50, 28 September 2016 (UTC)


Page needs to be reverted!! someone is graffiti tagging all over. revert "president andr dick" to what it was before Ruick (talk) 16:48, 11 March 2010 (UTC)


IN the start of the second section it says, "Presidents after Jackson" without ever having referred to any President Jackson previously. Thanks, (talk) 11:25, 9 June 2009 (UTC)Geoff

In the second paragraph, the quote "to the victors belong the spoils" is attributed to a particular New York senator; however, in clicking through and reading the reference, on the site there is no particular senator mentioned by name. MinisterMalice (talk) 23:16, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

added a reference1 clarifying that the Senator is indeed William Learned Marcy and another2 that includes the full quote Ianm1121 (talk) 20:03, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Has the spoils system ended?[edit]

As someone who does not hail from the US i view the current system of appointments as a spoils system. Take for instance the list of United States Ambassador to the Netherlands. The last ones are all friends & fundraisers. Especially Clifford Sobel & Roland Arnall stand out in this regard. Having the former owner of Citigroup as a diplomat at a time the housingmarket collapses is not a clever move. ;-) Having grown up with independent an/or neutral officials/civil servants & institutions like the CBS this is really alien to me. But the last line of the article says "Modern variations on the spoils system are often described as the political machine." But that article is also talking about past things like tammany hall and such. Shouldn't there be some information about the continuing proces & how it is done today? Leaf huntress (talk) 08:45, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

[Leaf huntress] there is in every administration a group of people who have been appointed and who are politically affiliated with the prior adminitration and would be expected to be carrying out its policies. There are on the other hand, people who are employed or appointed whose positions are not political; their job is to run the government regardless of who is in power. Thus, when there is a transfer of administrations, there is an expectation that some people will be resigning, while others continue working just as they did the day before.
Because they are heavily involved in carrying out government policy, the top layer of every Cabinet Department will tender a resignation and it is expected that the new adminitration will appoint a different group of people to fill these positions. There are exceptions, such as with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates whose resignation was not accepted by the Obama Administration. Ambassadors are also considered to be political appointees whose job is to carry out a particular administration's policies. This is not considered a "Spoils System" as it would clearly be anathema to be required to keep people on who will not carry out the new administration's policies or who may try to undermine those policies. Those employed at the lower levels - civil servants - have some protection from arbitrary removal through their employment contracts. Then there are a lot of positions in the middle. While the top layers are usually changed immediately, the middle levels undergo a more gradual change. I don't think there is anything preventing this turnover from becoming a Spoils System, other than public opinion and the need for legitimacy, or the appearance of legitimacy.
It's expected that in any transfer of power there are some people who are appointed to certain cushy jobs as political favors, but this doesn't make it a "Spoils System." What makes something a Spoils System is a matter of degree. If too many people lacking qualification are appointed, or if too much of the middle level is changed too quickly, then there may be a Spoils System underway, particularly if the individuals being appointed are supporters, especially big campaign contributors, of the new administration. If an administration generally appoints qualified people to top level positions and does not make too many changes at the middle, it will be perceived more favorably by the U.S. public and by foreign governments. As you may have heard, getting elected President in the United States is a very costly endeavor. If it continues in this way, it is feared that more people will be appointed to positions as political favors rather than because of their qualifications.
I do agree with you that the article needs to have more information about the process, but it isn't something that can easily be explained. It might be interesting to compare the U.S. to the appointment systems in other countries; take for example, Saudi Arabia, where every appointee seems to be a relative of the ruling royal family. Ileanadu (talk) 21:40, 30 September 2012 (UTC)
For lower level civil servants, like post office employees, the spoils system has ended. For higher level political appointees like ambassador, it's pretty much fully up to the discretion of the president, and yes they usually do fill it with members of their party and people who share their political views. Such high level appointments basically have to be fully up to the discretion of the president. (talk) 14:52, 28 September 2016 (UTC)

Opinion, not fact....emotive word.[edit]

Hi. The following has no reference, and so comes across as opinion, not fact:

"In one year 423 postmasters were deprived of their positions,*** most with extensive records of good service***. ".

Further, the word "deprived" is clearly wrong. One is deprived of something when something THEY OWN or are OWED is wrongly taken away. Since when is a person "owed" a job? They were fired, rightly or wrongly.

You are deprived of something you have. Someone can deprive you of a job, if they take away a job that you previously had. (talk) 14:54, 28 September 2016 (UTC)

Was everything calm before Jackson?[edit]

The main section of the article begins thus:

Before March 8 , 1831, moderation had prevailed in the transfer of political power from one presidency to another.

I don't know enough history to know whether this is true, moreover, it's a factual statement that needs verification by citation. I do know that the case of Marbury v. Madison calls this notion somewhat into question. This is the most succinct statement of the facts that I have ever seen:

On his last day in office, President John Adams named forty-two justices of the peace and sixteen new circuit court justices for the District of Columbia under the Organic Act. The Organic Act was an attempt by the Federalists to take control of the federal judiciary before Thomas Jefferson took office.
The commissions were signed by President Adams and sealed by acting Secretary of State John Marshall (who later became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and author of this opinion), but they were not delivered before the expiration of Adams’s term as president. Thomas Jefferson refused to honor the commissions, claiming that they were invalid because they had not been delivered by the end of Adams’s term.
William Marbury (P) was an intended recipient of an appointment as justice of the peace. Marbury applied directly to the Supreme Court of the United States for a writ of mandamus to compel Jefferson’s Secretary of State, James Madison (D), to deliver the commissions.

It comes from this case brief summary:

Clearly there was an attempt by Adams to fill positions prior to Jeffereson's inauguration. I would hardly call this "moderation." There is however, an implication that if Marbury's appointment had been properly made, the Jefferson administration would have accepted them; whereas it appears that with the Jackson administration this was not the case. President Jackson appears to have been removing prior appointees from office. Perhaps you mean moderation insofar as keeping appointees from the prior administration. The statement that "moderation had prevailed in the transfer of political power from one presidency to another" is vague insofar as it doesn't help someone who is unfamiliar with the U.S. political system, particularly its early years. The beginning needs a bit more context than this. Ileanadu (talk) 20:47, 30 September 2012 (UTC)

It's important to note that the transfer of power from Adams to Jefferson was really the only transfer of power from one political rival to another that occurred before Andrew Jackson, so there never really much of a temptation to do what Jackson did beforehand. The transfer from the Federalists to the Republicans was about as close as it came - they tried to ensure they had long term control over the judiciary. But Jefferson didn't do what Jackson did, fire large numbers of civil servants and replace them with cronies. (talk) 14:57, 28 September 2016 (UTC)

Spoils of war:[edit]

When it is not from current personel excess nor surplus, but from another entities platform base (which would have to be destroyed), then that is not a spoil, but blood money. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:12, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

Not likely.—Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:59, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

"Democratic defalcation"[edit]

I'm not sure of the purpose of the bold text emphasizing the word "Democratic" in the quote below. I don't see any good reason to emphasize that, and it almost seems to me that someone is trying to suggest that the original intent of the quote is that Democrats like Jackson were more prone to embezzling money than Whigs. Even if that's not the case, I don't think that word was meant to be emphasized; it is merely to differentiate this from embezzlement from a business or by someone working in a monarchistic government. It refers to embezzlement by a member of a Democratic government, which some people consider the US Government to be (although that's debatable). — Preceding unsigned comment added by .45Colt (talkcontribs) 19:32, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Why U.S. only?[edit]

Pacerier (talk) 18:35, 29 February 2016 (UTC): ❝

The first line of the article writes:

In the politics of the United States, ...

Why is this limited to the United States only?

...a practice in which a political party, after winning an election, gives government jobs to its supporters, friends and relatives as a reward for working toward victory, and as an incentive to keep working for the party...

—is a concept that is applicable everywhere, not just in the U.S.