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Rev. George L. Prentiss had made an address which was afterwards published as a pamphlet in 1877, on our "National Bane, or the Dry Rot in American Politics." Dr. Bellows, whose activity not only in the religious work of his own church, but in the Sanitary Commission during the War, should never be forgotten, and many other leading clergymen, had also done their part as prophets of righteousness. It is not surprising, therefore, that a few reformers met in May, 1877, at the house of Mr. Dorman B. Eaton in New York City, to consider the formation of a Civil Service Reform Association. They summoned friends to aid them, and met at what was then known as Municipal Hall

, 67 Madison Avenue, New York City, on the 16th of May, 1877. There the first Civil Service Reform Association was formed. Its first President was Dr. Bellows, and Dorman B. Eaton was entrusted with the task of formulating legislation. He had made a study of the reform system in England, had written and published a book upon the subject. He had retired from the active practice of the law, and was eminently qualified, both in heart and intellect, to deal wisely with the growing disease in the body politic.

The abuses to which I have briefly called attention, ending with the election of 1880, stimulated public interest, and the Association was reorganized in December

of that year. George William Curtis, a name never to be · mentioned without reverence and gratitude, became its

President. He had been one of the founders of the Republican party. Perhaps no man in that party had greater influence with its better element. It was thought best on the other hand that a Democrat should be appointed Chairman of the Executive Committee, and I was honored with that position.

George H. Pendleton, Senator from Ohio, and who shares with John Sherman, tlie melancholy honor of being the last statesmen to represent that great state in the Senate, had introduced a bill to provide for the reform of the civil service. It should be remembered that the New York Association at that time was really a National Association. It had attracted members from all parts of the country, and may fairly be called the mother of the many Associations that have since sprung up and done such noble work in the good cause. Thus it came to pass that not only the New York Committee on Legislation set to work on a bill which it should propose to Senator Pendleton as a substitute for his, but it was aided by the counsel and experience of many associates in different parts of the country. Among these especially should be mentioned Wayne Macleagh and Carl Schurz, who were then in the Cabinet. Dorman B. Eaton drafted the bill, and in the Committee Room, in Municipal Hall, he, Mr. Curtis, Mr. Burt, Orlando B. Potter and myself sat for many evenings revising the work and secking assistance from all available sources. At an early date we communicated to Senator Pendleton what we were doing, and received from him prompt and generous assurances of his cordial co-operation. We submitted our bill to him. It met with his approval, and was introduced by him January 10, 1881. The new bill was referred to a special Committee. The Civil Service Reform Association had a hearing before that Committee, and the Committee reported in its favor early in the year 1881. But the session ended on the 4th of March, and the bill did not come up for a vote in the Senate.

It should be stated as part of the history of the time, that a bill also drafted by the New York Association, to extend the laws against the levy of political assessments, was introduced in the Ilouse by Mr. Willis of Kentucky. Both he and Mr. Pendleton were our cordial supporters and friends during all the Congressional controversies that followed.

President Garfield was inaugurated on the 4th of March, and at once a controversy arose, not as to any great measure of statesmanship, not as to our foreign relations or our tariff policy, but as to who should be appointed to the office of the Collector of the Port of New York. Senator Conkling claimed the right to control that particular piece of patronage. The President thought proper to exercise the power of appointment which the Constitution conferred upon him, and appointed William H. Robertson, in spite of Mr. Conkling's protest, It seems hardly possible that so much bitterness should

have been stirred up within a great party on such a subject, but it was, and Guiteau shared this bitterness to such an extent, that he shot the President in the station at Washington, on the 2nd day of July, 1881. I well remember a cartoon which had a great run at the time, which represented Guiteau as pointing a pistol at the President, with the cry “An office or your life!"

This illustration of the wickedness of the passions that were aroused by the prevailing system of political management made a profound impression upon the public conscience. It led to the assembling of a conference at Newport on the inth of August, 1881. · At this conference, Mr. Curtis, who presided, introduced the following resolution, which was adopted :

Resolved, That the bill introduced in the Senate by Mr. Pendleton, of Ohio, provides a constitutional, practicable and effective measure for the remedy of the abuses known as the Spoils System, and that the Associations represented at this conference will use every honorable means, in the press, on the platform, and by petition, to secure its passage by Congress.

It appeared that the Boston Association had taken steps towards the publication in cheap form of 100,000 copies of the Pendleton bill. It was voted to promote the circulation of petitions in support of its passage, and it was also voted to approve the bill introduced by Mr. Willis of Kentucky, on the subject of political assessments. The meeting was most enthusiastic. It was resolved to form a National organization. In a few closing sentences, Mr. Curtis made use of these memorable words:

"We have laid our hands on the barbaric palace of patronage, and begun to write on its walls Mene, Mene.' Nor I believe will the work end till they are laid in the dust.”

The agitation went on vigorously. Orlando B. Potser in particular, gave the sum of $2,000, to circulate in a broadside the utterances of Mr. Garfield on the subject of Civil Service Reform. This was printed in a form commemorative, as it were, of the great President, who had meanwhile died at Long Branch.

The Reform propaganda extended to every part of the country. The newspaper press gave it efficient support, and the result was that when Senator Pendleton on the 6th of December, 1881, introduced in the Senate the Civil Service Reform bill, as drawn by the Association, it met with general approval.

Some objections were, however, made to its details, the most important being that it might centralize the administration too much at Washington, and that applicants in the remote states would have no practical opportunity to apply for admission to the service. The Legislative Committee of the Association drafted an amendment to the bill to obviate this objection. This required an apportionment of appointments to the public service among the several states and territories, and the District of Columbia. These amendments met with the approval of the Association, and were submitted to Senator Pendleton. They met his entire approval, and were substantially incorporated in the bill as passed. It was amended in the Senate in several details, but the essential features of the draft were embodied in the Act as adopted. Its distinctive features are two fold:

1. A Commission was created to have charge of the administration of the civil service of the United States Government.

2. Admission to and promotion in this service was to be upon a "basis of merit and competition.” The fitness of applicants was to be ascertained by open competitive examination, and all offices should be filled by selection "from among those graded highest as the results of such competitive examinations.” Original entrance to the public service should be at the lowest grade. (This particular provision was stricken out in the Senate.)

The making of rules for the administration of the system was wisely left to the President, and the classification of offices which were to come within its scope was also left to him.

The Legislative Committee felt that the system was so great an innovation that it would be unwise to under-take at first to extend it to all branches of the public service. We were well aware that to inaugurate it would be a task of great difficulty, and that if too much were

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undertaken at once, the whole system might break down of its own weight.

Thus the Pendleton bill, as we very justly designate it, came into being. It passed the Senate, it passed the House. A majority of the members of each party voted for it. It was opposed by some of the spoilsmen, who brought forward the hackneyed argument that it would create a permanent tenure of office and that there was something American in the hoggish scramble for spoils which had prevailed since it was introduced by Andrew Jackson. But the true American heart was too wise to be taken in by such trash, and the bill as a whole met the approval of the American people, and was approved by the President January 16, 1883.

Dorman B. Eaton was very properly appointed Chairman of the first Commission. There were some Reformers who thought that his administration was too conservative, but they perhaps overlooked the curious streak of conservatism that runs through the American character, and is constantly mingling with the progressive temper of our people. For one, I must say that in my humble judgment the result has justified the wisdom of Mr. Eaton's general administration of his great and difficult office. We have gone on “conquering and to conquer." When the condition of the civil service of the country is contrasted with what it was in 1881, we cannot but feel devoutly thankful to Almighty God for the evident blessing that has attended our labors, and can certainly congratulate the American people that it has as a whole supported the reform against the constant and insidious assaults of selfish and greedy politicians. The heart of the public has been right, whatever superficial indications there may have been to the contrary.

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