De Witt Clinton and the Origin of the Spoils System in New York

De Witt Clinton and the Origin of the Spoils System in New York

by Howard Lee McBain

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De Witt Clinton and the Origin of the Spoils System in New York by Howard Lee McBain

From the introductory:

CHAPTER I. Early Patronage Under The Constitution

The name of DeWitt Clinton has been associated for a long time with all that is reprehensible in connection with the introduction of the so-called spoils system into the politics of New York. Not only has the extent to which he carried the policy of removal from office been overestimated but many other phases of his plan of distributing the patronage have been the subject of misrepresentation. Even so eminent a scholar as Mr. Henry Adams expresses the opinion that he was hardly less responsible than Burr for lowering the standard of New York politics and indirectly that of the nation, and in another connection this distinguished historian makes the unqualified assertion that Clinton, urged on by political self-interest, swept out of office every federalist in New York to make room for his republican supporters. Nor is extravagance of statement the only error into which Mr. Adams has fallen. He quite unjustly accuses Clinton of giving undue preferment to his own family connections and of adopting a policy of total exclusion toward the political adherents of his rival, Aaron Burr, in the distribution of both federal and state offices. Similar views have been expressed by historians both before and since Mr. Adams wrote, and a general impression has gone abroad that, when Clinton first came to wield his power in New York, he instituted so drastic a proscription of his political opponents and so thoroughgoing an exclusion of those elements of his own party that were inimical to his personal interests that his conduct can find explanation only in the belief that he was moved by an overmastering spirit of selfishness, and that anything like a guiding principle must have been wholly foreign to his thought and purpose.

Unfortunately for the fame of Clinton the materials for a complete study of his policy in the distribution of the New York patronage have never been carefully sifted, although they have not been wholly inaccessible. The manuscript files of the council of appointment, which throw a flood of light upon the history of patronage, lie as yet unorganized and unmounted. The manuscript minutes of the council have been used to some extent, but nothing like an exhaustive study of them has hitherto been made. The public papers of George Clinton, which have received only occasional investigation, offer an invaluable source of information upon every phase of New York politics during the interesting period of his life; while the DeWitt Clinton papers, the newspapers and pamphlets of the time, the legislative journals and the numerous printed collections of correspondence and writings are alike indispensable aids to a fair understanding of the share which the younger Clinton had in the introduction of the system of spoils in New York. It is primarily upon these documents and papers that the present study is based.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781547268665
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 06/08/2017
Pages: 162
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

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