Andrew Jackson

A new government

The story and histography of Andrew Jackson is often mixed between positive and negative accounts of his life.  Some have argued that Jackson's reign as President gave America a chance to propser, expand, and grow.  While others say that the prosperity and growth of America under Jackson's presidency could be characterized as unlawful.  While historians and political scientists differ on the overall positive or negative image of Jackson's presidency, it is hard to argue that Jackson accomplished many goals during his Presidency.  His success as President can be linked to the enthusiasm of his loyal supporters.  And, the rewards given to their loyalty. 

In 1829, Andrew Jackson, "Old Hickory" was elected to become the sixth President of the United States of America.  Before Jackson's election, political appointments were often awarded by service and merit, but still loyalty.  However, after Jackson's election most political appointments were rewarded based on political loyalty. This process created the American 'Spoils system'. 

In 1829, just months after the election of Jackson, over nine hundred government officials were fired, and replaced with Jackson appointments.  The majority of these appointments were made in the Post Office.  Jackson explained this as a government purge, but in reality it was done to reward those who were loyal to him during his bid for President of the United States. 

So, what were the overall consequences of Jackson's government purge.   Let's examine the facts first, he removed hundreds of entrenched officials who had been given power previously for their merit and competency.  He removed these officials and replaced them with his friends, supporters, and loyalists.  They were given the posts for their loyalty not for their competency.  So one can wonder what the overall effect was. 

Daniel Howe (2007) writes on page 324, of What hath God wrought, The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 that the overall consequences of Jackson's purge and spoil system was negative.  And this is an entirely feasable conclusion to make.  Jackson's purge would have replaced dedicated government workers with incompetent loyalists.  The problems of the spoil system would persist throughout the 1800's.. more on this later.