Patronage and Civil Service Reform (Gilded Age)

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Stalwarts
Senator Roscoe Conkling (R-NY) and his supporters; engaged in party patronage, especially in New York Customs House; Chester A. Arthur, vice president and eventually president from NU, was a member of this faction
Halfbreeds
Senator James G. Blaine (R-ME) and his supporters; pushed for civil service reform; James A. Garfield, president from OH, was a member of this faction
Mugwumps
represented the part of the Republican party that neither supported nor condemned party patronage
Pendleton Act
passed in 1883 by Congress during Garfield’s term in order to end party patronage; it set up the Civil Service Commission and provided that federal employees would be selected based on performance on merit-based exams. Although it only affected a small fraction of government jobs initially, it grew to become the standard for almost all federal jobs. It also prohibited government employees from making political donations; decades later, the wealthiest Americans now support campaigns
Coxey’s Army
led by a populist leader, thousands of unemployed marched to Washington demanding the use of government funds for public works programs to create jobs; after several arrests, this group disbanded without having met its goal
Civil Service Commission
set up by the Pendleton Act in order to regulate employment based on merit, rather than on loyalty
spoils system (patronage)
loyalty to a particular candidate was rewarded with a government job if said candidate was elected
Categories: History