Spoils System

AP U.S. Government and Politics


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Fast Facts


Spoils system: "The Spoils System" was the name given to the practice of hiring and firing federal workers when presidential administrations changed in the 19th century. The practice began during the administration of President Andrew Jackson, who took office in March 1829. Jackson supporters portrayed it as a necessary and overdue effort at reforming the federal government. Jackson's political opponents had a very different interpretation, as they considered his method to be a corrupt use of political patronage.


And the term Spoils System was intended to be a derogatory nickname. The phrase came from a speech by Senator William L. Marcy of New York. While defending the actions of the Jackson administration in a speech in the U.S. Senate, Marcy famously said, "To the victors belong the spoils."


Firing bad federal government workers should not be difficult


AP U.S. Government and Politics



  1. Who benefited from the spoils system?

  2. What was a negative consequence of the spoils system?

  3. What was the main reason the U.S. government ended the spoils system?

  4. What was the spoils system replaced with?

  5. What would America be like if we returned to a spoils system?

AP Studio Art

Now draw Spoils System! Take 10 or 20 seconds. That’s all you need. Nothing fancy. Don’t expect a masterpiece. Draw with symbols or stick figures if you wish. Now Look at your drawing. You’ve got it. That’s all.