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enough to study law or medicine or some other profession or to find good places as bookkeepers or stenographers in large private establishments; then they leave us, and we resume the grateful labor of educating competent subordinates to replace them in those private establishments, as they receive there the advancement which the Government could, but won't give them in its own service. A great deal of fuss has been made about the superannuation of public servants, a matter, according to my observation, of altogether minor consequence, and, so far as it is or may become an evil, open to complete remedy by the mere discharge of their full duty on the part of responsible superiors; the want of fixity in the service, however, a practical evil, to say the least, ten-fold as serious, and for which a cure is far less readily found, is hardly mentioned either in Congress or by the press.
In the Navy Department this situation would be greatly improved if effect were given by law to a recommendation contained in my last annual report, and which will be repeated in my next, to the effect that a small corps of civilian commissioned officers, having military rank and right of retirement, as the Chaplains, Civil Engineers and Professors of Mathematics have, be recruited from particularly deserving civil employees of the department. In non-inilitary branches of the service an appropriate remedy would be furnished by the abolition of fixed terms for all officials whose positions are in no wise political, and the requirement that such positions when not professional or otherwise peculiar, be filled by promotion.
Another change in the law, of but slight importance in itself, would greatly facilitate the recruiting of the departmental civil service; I mean the modification of that provision of the civil service law which requires certification of eligibles to be distributed among the States and Territories. There were certified to me a short time ago to fill an unimportant clerkship three young ladies residing respectively at Helena, Montana, Houston, Texas, and San Juan, Porto Rico. Since the government does not furnish transportation to the place of employment, the one accepting the place must have paid out in advance no small percentage of her annual salary to get to Washington; and, while I do not remember what happened in this particular case, in many instances we have met with refusal after refusal, ending in a great deal of correspondence and no employee. I should not advise that the law be changed with respect to positions sufficiently remunerative to induce the distant eligible to take the journey, for in its purpose, the provision is just and salutary; but there is no injustice in giving residents of the District of Columbia and the neighboring states a monopoly of employments which residents of more distant localities do not want and cannot afford to take; if, therefore, only positions paying say $800 or even $1,000 per annum were made subject to distribution, no one would have cause for complaint and heads of department would be spared a tedious and useless delay in filling insignificant places,
Finally, I should like to see the privilege of specifying the sex of eligibles in requisitions abridged, and men and women taken without discrimination according to marks, except when both the head of the department and the Commission hold that the duties of the position to be filled can be properly discharged only by a man or a woman, as the case may be. According to my observation, I am not now referring particularly to the Federal service, wherever women can be chosen by favoritism the place will swarm with them (for the most part widows or female orphans), but where the choice must be made for merit they will not get the square deal. I have done what I could to give them a fair field and no favor in matters of promotion, and to encourage their more general employment in the first instance; but one encounters here a prejudice which can be fully overcome, in my judgment, only by positive law.
As a last word, let me strongly advise the National Civil Service Reform League to imitate the French statesman, who, when asked what he had done during the Reign of Terror, replied: "J'ai vecu." One of the most important duties, perhaps I should say the most important duty, which can be fulblled by the League to the American people, is to live, to live active, courageous and in good repute; and, with itself, to keep alive public knowledge and public belief that its great work, although happily commenced, is so far from completion that only the united, unselfish, untiring labors of all our best citizens, of whatever politics or party, race, creed or tongue, continued through many administrations and for more than one generation, will crown this work with final and with glorious victory.
The Birth of the Pendleton Bill Twenty-five
IION. EVERETT P. WHEELER.
The passage of the Pendleton Bill marked a new era in American politics, and it is fitting that some record should now be made of the part which the Civil Service Reform Association took in its preparation.
Many things happened during the decade from 1870 to 1880 to rouse the public conscience of the nation. The enormous expenditure which accompanied the Civil War and the development of railroads and manufactures which were incident to that great struggle, the lavish expenditure which accompanied and followed it, had brought to the front great numbers of men to whom politics was only a gainful trade, who were ready to accept the opportunities afforded by Governmental activity for their private profit. To avail of these opportunities it was necessary to keep their own party in power. As they were making politics a trade, they thought it legitimate to make Government offices and the ballots of the voters part of the merchandise. The shameful abuse of the power of appointment and removal which had sprung up in the administration of Andrew Jackson had not been abated under his successors. Not all the eloquence and politcal force of Mr. Webster had sufficed to diminish its intensity. To use his own expression in 1832:
“There is no civilized country on earth in which on a change of rulers there is such an inquisition for spoil as we have witnessed in this free republic. When, Sir, did any British Minister, Whig or Tory, ever make such an inquest? When did he ever get down to low-water mark to make an ousting of tide-waiters? When did he ever take away the daily bread of weighers, and gaugers, and measurers? When did he ever go into the villages to disturb the little post-offices, the mail contracts, and everything else in the remotest degree connected with Government? A British Minister who should do this and should afterwards show his head in a British House of Commons would be received by a universal hiss."
In the delightful "Reminiscences of a Long Life" by Carl Schurz, which is now appearing in McClure's, he expresses his own observation of the occupation of Congressmen in 1852.
The evils which Mr. Webster had thus attacked in 1832, and which Mr. Schurz describes twenty years later, had gone on progressively increasing. As part of the trade a system had sprung up of assessing officeholders. This perhaps reached its culmination during the campaign of 1880. Assessments then were openly levied upon officeholders throughout the country in aid of the campaign for Garfield and Arthur. It went so far that a New York Police Justice took a room at the Astor House, took off his coat, sent for all the clerks in the Post Office across the street, and levied a tax on each. The moneys thus accumulated were partly spent in legitimate expenses no doubt, but were also largely expended in bribing voters. Dudley's expression of "marshalling the floaters in blocks of five” described what took place not only in the Indiana election of that year, but in many other states.
The progressive increase of the evils which I have thus briefly pointed out, ran side by side with an increased zeal for reform and a quickened political conscience. Governor Tilden and his associates in New York on the Democratic side of politics, and President Ilayes and his administration at Washington, had shown that it was possible to administer the Government honestly, and to use the power of appointment for the public good. With Carl Schurz as Secretary of the Interior, and Wayne MacVeagh as Attorney General, an administration could hardly go far astray. In point of fact, I'resident Ilaves did establish in the Custom House and Post Office of New York, and Mr. Schurz did establish in the Interior Department, a system of selecting clerks and other employees on the ground of merit only, and refused to make removals except for cause. It was not in vain that the