What is the Spoils System?

Whenever Jefferson took office in 1801, he was able to place different policies that he preferred over that of the previous President’s policies. This idea of implementing your own policies upon selection as President is known as the ‘Spoils System’. Similar to being victorious in a war and receiving the defeated’s property and valuable items, the winner in the Presidential race received the right and power to overturn previous policies and enact new ones. Jefferson highlights this idea in some of his changes as President. He removed federalist office-holders and placed new, Republican office-holders. He repealed the Alien Act. The Sedition Act expired and all those arrested under this act were released, and their fines were repaid. In 1801, the Judiciary Act of 1801 was passed, which was an attempt to give federalist judges a permanent position in the judiciary system. However, Jefferson managed to pass the Judiciary Act of 1802, which removed all 42 of the federalist judges.

Jefferson and the Spoils System


by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: January 14, 2021