Teaching Students About the History of Spoils System in the US
The spoils system was a controversial and often corrupt practice in American politics that lasted from the early 1800s until the late nineteenth century. The spoils system was based on the principle of rewarding political supporters with government jobs, contracts, and other perks. This practice led to widespread corruption, as unqualified individuals were often given important government positions simply because of their political connections.
Teaching students about the history of the spoils system is important because it provides them with a clearer understanding of the evolution of American politics. Students will learn about the early days of American politics, when political parties were becoming more established and powerful, and how the spoils system became a part of that institutionalization. Students will also learn about the controversies and challenges that came with the spoils system, such as accusations of corruption and nepotism.
To teach students about the spoils system, teachers can use a variety of resources, including textbooks, primary sources, and multimedia presentations. Teachers can begin by explaining the historical context surrounding the spoils system, including the emergence of political parties and the expansion of the federal government. Next, teachers can explore the evolution of the spoils system itself, from its early days under President Andrew Jackson, to its gradual decline during the administration of President Chester A. Arthur.
As part of this exploration, teachers can discuss key figures in the history of the spoils system, such as Martin Van Buren, James Garfield, and Roscoe Conkling. Students can analyze primary sources related to these figures, such as speeches, letters, and political cartoons, to gain a deeper understanding of their role in shaping American politics.
Another way to teach students about the spoils system is to have them engage in debates and role-playing activities. For example, students can be divided into political parties and engage in a debate over the pros and cons of the spoils system. Alternatively, students can act out historical events related to the spoils system, such as the 1881 assassination of President Garfield, and analyze how these events impacted American politics.
Finally, teachers can use multimedia presentations to provide students with a deeper understanding of the spoils system. This might include video documentaries, podcasts, or interactive online tools that allow students to explore the history of the spoils system in a more interactive and engaging way.
In conclusion, teaching students about the history of the spoils system is an important component of American history education. It provides students with a deeper understanding of how American politics evolved over time, as well as the challenges and controversies that came with that evolution. By engaging students in debates, role-playing activities, and multimedia presentations, teachers are able to provide students with a rich and interactive learning experience that will help them better understand the history of American politics.