The Spoils System, was a system that was based on rewarding the friends and supporters of the political group in power. This developed into the firing of political enemies and the hiring of political friends.
Andrew Jackson advocated the Spoils System. He was distrustful after having been betrayed early in his presidency by The Peggy Eaton Affair; it greatly divided his cabinet, which led Jackson to request the resignation of his entire cabinet. Despite establishing a new cabinet, Jackson only considered the advice of his trusted and loyal friends, who came to be known as the “Kitchen Cabinet,” a word coined by his enemies.
The Spoils System was also based on the principle that anyone who held an office for too long became corrupt; this led Jackson to advocate rotation in office. Jackson was a “man of the people” and firmly believed that there were too many aristocratic, career politicians in the upper-class Congress that were out of touch with the American public. He adopted the policy of removing the old officeholders and replacing them with those recommended by the winning candidates in his party. The implementation of the system of rotation in office, and Jackson's belief in loyalty, evolved into the spoils system.
Through the Spoils System, Jackson rewarded his allies—Martin Van Buren and James Buchanan. He also had the support of Senator William Learned Marcy of New York. These powerful men built strong party machines in their states. In one of his speeches Marcy said "...to the victor belong the spoils." Martin Van Buren, Buchanan and Marcy saw nothing wrong in the principle that to the victors belong the spoils of victory. When they won, they rewarded their party workers with government offices.
Source: Spoils System #1
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