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Who Should Govern Congress? Access to Power and the Salary Grab of 1873

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  • Lee J. Alston
  • Jeffery A. Jenkins
  • Tomas Nonnenmacher

Abstract

We examine the politics of the %u201CSalary Grab%u201D of 1873, legislation that increased congressional salaries retroactively by 50 percent. A group of New England and Midwestern elites opposed the Salary Grab, along with congressional franking and patronage-based civil service appointments, as part of reform effort to reshape %u201Cwho should govern Congress.%u201D Our analyses of congressional voting confirm the existence of this non-party elite coalition. While these elites lost many legislative battles in the short-run, their efforts kept reform on the legislative agenda throughout the late-nineteenth century and ultimately set the stage for the Progressive movement in the early-twentieth century.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11908.

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Date of creation: Dec 2005
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Publication status: published as Alston, Lee J. & Jenkins, Jeffery A. & Nonnenmacher, Tomas, 2006. "Who Should Govern Congress? Access to Power and the Salary Grab of 1873," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(03), pages 674-706, September.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11908

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  1. John Lott, 1987. "Political cheating," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(2), pages 169-186, January.
  2. McGuire, Robert A., 1981. "Economic Causes of Late-Nineteenth Century Agrarian Unrest:New Evidence," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(04), pages 835-852, December.
  3. Poole, Keith T & Romer, Thomas, 1993. " Ideology, "Shirking", and Representation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 77(1), pages 185-96, September.
  4. Johnson, Ronald N. & Libecap, Gary D., 1994. "The Federal Civil Service System and the Problem of Bureaucracy," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226401713, April.
  5. Matthew Gentzkow & Edward L. Glaeser & Claudia Goldin, 2006. "The Rise of the Fourth Estate. How Newspapers Became Informative and Why It Mattered," NBER Chapters, in: Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History, pages 187-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. James R. Vanbeek, 1991. "Does the Decision to Retire Increase the Amount of Political Shirking?," Public Finance Review, , vol. 19(4), pages 444-456, October.
  7. Ronald N. Johnson & Gary D. Libecap, 1994. "The Federal Civil Service System and The Problem of Bureaucracy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number john94-1, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Karsten Mause, 2014. "Self-serving legislators? An analysis of the salary-setting institutions of 27 EU parliaments," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 154-176, June.

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