Jackson and the Spoils System
The spoils syste
President Jackson inaugurated what became known as the Spoils system. To the political victor came the right to apppoint people to all types of government jobs and fire those who previously held them.
The one phrase that stood out in Jackson’s inaugural address was his “Call for Reform. ” More specifically, Jackson was calling for reforming the structure of the positions and replacing employees in the government. Over the years, when presidents came into office, they only replaced the “top players” in government, (i. e. the cabinet members.) Even Thomas Jefferson, who was replacing the hated “Federalists” kept almost all those employed by the government in their jobs. However, President Jackson had other plans. He intended to engage in large scale “reform”. That meant removing many government employees, especially the Postmasters, and replacing them with people who were his political supporters. It was not the appointments that were remarkable, since Presidents had always appointed their supporters to positions; rather, it was the removals that were a great surprise. Jackson removed people who had long held their positions.
To this day, it’s not known exactly how many government employees were replaced under Jackson, in what became known as “The Spoils System”. Though most historians believe the changes only affected 10 percent of the federal employees at the time. It would take until 1883, when the “Pendleton Civil Service Act” was passed before rank and file federal employees would be protected against being replaced by political appointees.