Corruption nourished by these changes permeated the executive and legislative branches of the federal government throughout the nineteenth century, peaking in the scandals that rocked the Grant administration in the mid-1870s. What most aroused concern, though, was corruption identified with municipal and state governments—focal points of business pressure for concessions and privileges, and nurseries of the great nineteenth-century political machines. Its characteristic form, pioneered by New York’s Tammany Hall, was a web of understandings between party leaders, officeholders, and businessmen willing to cut corners. In return for getting out the vote, the machine received exclusive control of government appointments and programs—the spoils of office. Its placemen returned a fixed percentage of their salaries to the organization, along with a cut of whatever bribes, kickbacks, and the like they could devise. The resulting stream of “boodle” (a lush new vocabulary of corruption was being created, too) then passed down to county and district leaders, ward heelers, and precinct captains. They completed the cycle by distributing the gifts and favors that ensured voter loyalty to the organization on election day.
Instructions: In a separate document, answer each of the following questions based on the above provided text. For each question, identify the most correct answer and provide a brief explanation (1-3 sentences) of why it is the most correct.
1. According to this passage, the area of political corruption of most concern in the late 19th Century was:
a. The extent of corrupting business influences within the Grant Administration of the mid-1870’s.
b. Insidious networks of understandings developed by local and state political machines between business and party leaders and officials.
c. The bribery of officials elected to federal office by local governmental political machines.
d. The equitable distribution of “boodle” between party officials, government appointees, and other officials.
2. It can be inferred from this passage that groups such as Tammany Hall:
a. Were highly organized and effective organizations devoted to developing and maintaining political power for their operators.
b. Devoted themselves to the betterment of their constituencies through whatever means necessary.
c. Could never have been successful without the increases in corruption at the level of the federal government as exhibited within the Grant Administration.
d. Were ultimately ineffectual in maintaining a political hold over their various localities.
3. Based on this passage, it would be most correct to say:
a. The executive branch of the 19th Century lacked the will, political or otherwise, to deal with issues of corruption at the local and state levels.
b. The leaders of the local business communities were the true driving forces behind Tammany Hall.
c. Many members of a political machine paid into the system, which was used to maintain and expand its hold on power.
d. The political machines were a mechanism created to redistribute an excess of wealth held by the industrial barons of the 19th Century.
4. Based on this passage, political corruption:
a. By the mid-1870’s, it could be found at alarming levels throughout all areas of government: local, state, and federal.
b. Was only problematic in certain, confined regions and sectors, in particular New York and Washington, D.C.
c. Served to benefit large portions of the population who had been previously disenfranchised by the government.
d. In the 19th Century it eventually collapsed under the weight of its own hypocrisy.
5. “Boodle” was the result of what?
a. Party loyalists contributing to a specific party to aid them in their election bid.
b. Members of the federal legislature providing kickbacks to their local party officials.
c. Bribes paid by businessmen looking for political favors from local officials or other members of the political machine.
d. Members of the machine returning a portion of governmental salaries, kickbacks, bribes, and any other income earned as a result of their appointed position.