A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 21, 2005
“To the victor belongs the spoils” (Spoils System)
"To the victor belongs the spoils" is the famous quote by New York Senator William Learned Marcy (1786-1857), recited in the U. S. Senate, 25 January 1832. The "spoils system" became popularly used after the speech.


Wikipedia: William L. Marcy
William Learned Marcy (December 12, 1786 – July 4, 1857) was an American lawyer, politician, and judge who served as U.S. Senator, Governor of New York, U.S. Secretary of War and U.S. Secretary of State. In the latter office, he negotiated the Gadsden Purchase, the last major acquisition of land in the continental United States.
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In 1831, he was elected U.S. Senator from New York by the state legislature as a Jacksonian Democrat, and served from March 4, 1831, to January 1, 1833. He resigned upon taking office as governor, to which position he was elected in 1832. He sat on the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary in the 22nd Congress. Defending Jackson's nomination of Martin Van Buren as minister to the United Kingdom in 1832, Marcy used the phrase "'to the victor belong the spoils," from which the term spoils system is derived to refer to patronage political appointments.

18 February 1832, Frederick (MD) Town Herald, pg. 2:
Mr. Marcy, now a senator from New York, in the discussion on Mr. Van Buren, thus plainly avowed the creed of his party.
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"It may be that the politicians of the United States (a mistake in the print we presume for the state of New York) are not so fastidious as some gentlemen are, as to disclosing the principles on which they act. They boldly preach what they practice. When they are contending for victory, they avow the intention of enjoying the fruits of it. If they are defeated, they expect to retire from office -- IF THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL, THEY CLAIM, AS A MATTER OF RIGHT THE ADVANTAGES OF SUCCESS. THEY SEE NOTHING WRONG IN THE RULE, THAT TO THE VICTOR BELONGS THE SPOILS OF THE ENEMY.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Sunday, August 21, 2005 • Permalink