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THE SPOILSMEN

THE SPOILSMEN - THE SPOILSMEN Hofstadter's essay is...

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THE SPOILSMEN: Hofstadter's essay is essentially an interpretation of the political animal -- his values and performance -- in the context of the late 19th century. The theme of the essay can be found in its title. Can you explain it? What does Hofstadter consider to be the primary force at work in determining the character of the late 19th century? What intellec- tual and ideological defenses were enacted by businessmen in this era? How do Grover Cleve- land's administrations validate the notion that "party differences have rarely been profound" and the assumption that there existed a "profound uniformity between Republican and Demo- cratic principles" ? What relationship can you discern among the businessmen, the Republi- cans, the reformers, and the Democrats and Hofstadter's "consensus of values" as stated in the introduction of APT? Is the title of the essay justified in view of Hofstadter's frame of reference? n the so-called gilded age of American politics, things went further. In the gilded age, with the rapid increase of industrialisation within the United States, the wealth generated not only set standards for consumption but, in the words of Richard Hofstadter: … it multiplied among politicians opportunities for pecuniary enrichment. Standards of success in politics changed. It was not merely self-expression or public service or glory that the typical politician sought – it was money. The United Kingdom observer, Lord Bryce, found that the cohesive force in American politics was “the desire for office and for office as a means of gainâ€s . Hofstadter summed up the nature of the spoils system in this period of American life in the following way: The spoilsmen looked upon political power as a means of participating in the general riches, of becoming wealthy in their smaller ways and by their lesser standards, as did the captains of industry. Never before had the motive been so strong; never before had the temptations been so abundant. Naturally enough political parties were based on patronage, not principle. They divided the spoils of office depending on which party got elected. Spoils were more important than policy. But it ought not to be thought that the spoils system was unique to the United States. That redoubtable legal reformer Jeremy Bentham had a lot to say about it in England. His fulmination against “placemen†and the ability of the Crown to influence outcomes by the use of them is famous. Referring to the requirements of reform to remedy the “mischief†and “misrule†of his time, Bentham stated: In American history , the "Gilded Age" refers to the post- Civil War and post- Reconstruction era, from 1865 to 1901, which saw unprecedented economic, industrial,
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and population expansion. The era overlaps with Reconstruction (which ended in 1877) and includes the Panic of 1873 . The era was characterized by an unusually rapid growth of railroads, small factories, banks, stores, mines and other family-owned enterprises,
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THE SPOILSMEN - THE SPOILSMEN Hofstadter's essay is...

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