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"goods captured in time of war," ; see spoil (v.). Spoils system in . politics attested by 1839, commonly associated with the administration of President Andrew Jackson, on the notion of "to the victor belongs the spoils."
Early in his first term, Jackson had to contend with the Eaton Affair. Washington elite and Jackson’s own cabinet members socially ostracized Secretary of War John Eaton and his wife over perceived social differences. Eaton had defended Rachel Jackson during the presidential campaign, and Jackson felt honor-bound to reciprocate. At the same time, many of his cabinet members thought he would be a one-term president and were trying to position themselves as candidates in the next election. To solve both problems, in 1831 Jackson dismissed his entire cabinet except for the postmaster general. The controversy caused him to rely heavily on a group of trusted advisors—his opponents called this group Jackson’s "Kitchen Cabinet" because of the unofficial access they had.
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