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placed by Theodore Roosevelt in the few he gave of the Representatives in Congress who were helpers of “Philip” on his way.
The Charleston, South Carolina, News and Courier said of the appointment of Civil Service Reform members of the Commission, that Harrison deserved credit, yet the delay in making appointments had been harmful; but, "at any rate,” Harrison appointed two of the best men in the United States Civil Service Commissioners. The News and Courier added: “In character, ability, and devotion to the cause of reform, the new Commission is all that could be desired. Mr. Lyman, the hold-over member of the Commission, is thoroughly in sympathy with his work. In his recent address before the Civil Service Reform Association of New York, Mr. George William Curtis referred to Mr. Roosevelt, one of the new Commissioners, as one of the few ‘recognized local leaders of the dominant party who have publicly insisted that the declared policy of the party on this subject shall be rejected.' The peculiar fitness of ex-Governor Thompson, of South Carolina, for the office to which he has just been appointed was recognized by Mr. Cleveland.”
The Baltimore “American,” May 27th, 1889, observed :
“Civil Service Reform is likely to receive more practical attention from the new Civil Service Commission appointed by President Harrison, and to make more progress under their wise supervision, than at the hands and through the methods of those who have somewhat superciliously proclaimed themselves its custodians.”
In the Century Magazine for February, 1890, Theodore Roosevelt defined his Civil Service Reform position to be, “If a party victory meant that all the offices already filled by the most competent members of the defeated party were to be thereafter filled by the most competent members of the victorious party, the system would still be absurd, but would not be particularly baneful. In reality, however, this is not what the system of partisan appointments means at all. Wherever it is adopted it is inevitable that the degree of party service, or more often of service to some particular leader, and not merit, shall ultimately determine the appointment, even as among the different party candidates themselves. Once admit that it is proper to turn out an efficient Republican clerk in order to replace him by an efficient Democratic clerk, or vice versa, and the inevitable next step is to consider solely Republicanism or Democracy, and not efficiency, in making the appointment; while the equally inevitable third step is to consider only that peculiar species of Republicanism or Democracy which is implied in adroit and unscrupulous service rendered to the most influential local boss.”
The Review of Reviews for August, 1890, referred to the effort of Mr. Schurz to defeat Colonel Roosevelt for Governor, as an instance of the manner in which “a cause like Civil Service Reform may suffer its worst wounds at the hands of its friends,” and continued: “Mr. Roosevelt stands before the country as the most eminent and influential Civil Service reformer the country has produced, with the exception of the Hon. Dorman B. Eaton, whose pioneer position with regard to this reform is historic. There was certainly as strong reason why Civil Service reformers should have supported Mr. Roosevelt as why they should have supported Mr. Schurz himself if he had been running for the governorship. Moreover, it is to be remembered that the only possible alternative was the turning over of the State of New York to the absolute control of Tammany Hall. The election came at a time when the interests of the State imperatively demanded that the Governor should be courageous, disinterested, and a believer in the principle of appointing men to office on the ground of their honesty and fitness. Fortunately the attitude of reformers like Mr. Schurz did not succeed in bringing upon the State of New York the calamity of Mr. Roosevelt's defeat. The voters were true to the real issues. But although the foremost American Civil Service reformer was put into a position to effect a vast improvement in the public service of the State of New York, the conduct of officers and leaders of the Civil Service Reform League in opposing him was undoubtedly a serious blow to the cause."
It was officially reported that from July 1st, 1890, to June 30th, 5,251 applicants were examined for the departmental service at Washington, of whom 3,366 passed and 1,885 failed to pass. For the customs service 1,579 were examined, 992 passed, and 587 failed; for the postal service 8,538 were examined, 5,840 passed, and 2,698 failed to pass; for the railway mail service, 3,706 were examined, 2,588 passed, and 1,118 failed to pass. The whole number examined for the four branches of the classified service was 19,074, of whom 12,786 passed and 6,288 failed to pass. Compared with the previous year this shows a decrease of 3,920 in the whole number examined, a decrease of 1,161 in the whole number who passed, and a decrease of 2,759 in the whole number who failed to pass. The whole number appointed in the year covered by this report is as follows: Departmental service, 1,152; customs service, 320; postal service, 2,861 ; and railway mail service, 1,062 ; total, 5,395.
“An excellent feature in the Southern States,” the report held, "was the elimination not only of the questions of politics and religion, but of the question of race. A fair proportion of the men appointed from these States has been colored, these successful colored applicants being in many cases graduates of the colleges or higher institutions of learning established especially for their race. They rarely belonged to the class of colored politicians which has hitherto been apt to monopolize such appointments as colored men received at all. On the contrary, they were for the most part well educated, selfrespecting, intelligent young men and women, who, having graduated from
their colored schools and colleges, found but few avenues open for the employment of their talents. It is impossible to estimate the boon to these colored men and women of being given the chance to enter the Government service on their own merits in fair competition with white and colored alike. It is noticeable that a much larger proportion of colored people receive appointments under the Civil Service law than under the old patronage system. The Civil Service law has been the means of materially enlarging the fields of pursuits open to those members of the colored race who have contrived to get a good education and to fit themselves for the higher walks of life.”
This statement was signed by United States Civil Service Commissioners, Charles Lyman, Connecticut, President; Theodore Roosevelt, New York; Hugh S. Thompson, South Carolina.
Writing in 1895, Commissioner Roosevelt put the case in the words following: "Where we allow the offices to form part of an immense bribery chest, the effect upon political life is precisely the same as if we should allow the open expenditure of immense sums of money in bribing the voters. In New York State, for instance, there are over fifty thousand appointive offices under the National, State, and local governments. The average salary paid would be over $500. This means that the aggregate annual salaries must be in the neighborhood of $25,000,000. Suppose, however, that it is but $10,000,000. Think what it means to our political life in that State to have a corruption fund of such size as to be scrambled for at every election. If $10,000,000 were expended in bribery at every election, and the expenditure were allowed by law and connived at, or even applauded, by public sentiment, the effect would be to give immediate prominence to the men who had that money to spend, to the men who knew how it should be spent, and to the men who accepted it and did work in consideration of receiving it. In a very short time these three classes would monopolize nine-tenths of the influence and power in our political life, and decent people could overthrow them only in some time of special and great political excitement. This is precisely what happens under the spoils system.
"As soon as we cease to put a premium upon the political activity of the man who is in politics from the worst motives, and thereby remove the incentive for his political activity, we enormously, incalculably, increase the power for good. Now men feel that the struggle is hopeless because they are pitted against trained mercenaries paid out of the public chest. Remove these mercenaries from the political arena, and decent citizens will have the same chance that others have. The man most benefited by the Civil Service law is the plain, quiet citizen who does not want an office, but holds strong views on political affairs and believes that by every law of honesty and decency he is entitled to have his say in the management of our Republic."
The Atlantic Monthly, of February, 1891, contains an article written by Theodore Roosevelt, on “An Object Lesson in Civil Service Reform.” The object lesson was the campaign of 1890, and he said: “We have succeeded in getting such a number of applications from the Southern States to enter our examinations that these States have now received their full share of appointments in the departmental service at Washington; and the most gratifying feature about this is that the great bulk of the men and women thus appointed to position in the Government service from these States are politically opposed to the party in power.”
Touching the difficulties, there were named as particularly obstinate:
First. “Facing the intense and interested hostility of the great mass of self-seeking politicians, and of the much larger mass of office-seekers, whose only hope of acquiring office rests in political influence, and is immediately cut off by the application of any, even the most modest, merit test.”
Second. “We have to overcome popular indifference or ignorance, and do constant battle with that spirit of mean and vicious cynicism which so many men, respectable enough in their private life, assume as their attitude in public affairs."
Third. “The slowness with which the popular mind takes to any new theory, and from its inability, by no means wholly unnatural, to discriminate between the branches of the service where the law does apply and those where it does not.”
And after some work was done, this is what happened: "In July, Louisiana was the farthest behind in its apportionment of all the States of the Union, having had only about half of the appointments she was entitled to. In November she stood among those States at the head of the list, having had two more than she was entitled to. In all, the South obtained nearly three hundred of the six hundred appointments, and the Southern States now stand almost exactly level with the Northern as regards their quotas. Everyone was examined, marked, and certified without the least reference to anything but the record he himself made in the examination, and in nine cases out of the ten the appointing officers chose the men in the order of their standing. . . . . .
“Of the new appointees from the Southern States, a proportion—in the neighborhood of a fourth, I believe—were people of color; and, indeed, one merit of the system has been the utter disregard of color. The colored people thus appointed were mostly graduates of the different colored colleges; in a very few instances did a colored politician of the stamp so well known to the ordinary dispensers of government patronage secure a place. Hardly any men who were Northern by birth got on the lists of these States, and over two-thirds of the appointees were native-born Southern whites, who had lived practically all their lives in the districts from which they came. In the overwhelming majority of cases, these native-born Southern whites were Democrats."
Commissioner Roosevelt, of the Civil Service, it will be observed, was always on the outside of the breastworks, when the enemy showed themselves; and instead of waiting for them to fire on him, he fired on them and charged straight for them. He was eager to put forward the incidents of Civil Service reformation that the opponents of the system held to be most alarming. There were two classes of Southern people he had special pleasure to see secure appointments under the rules of the classified service: First, Democrats under a Republican Administration; and second, colored men of the States of the South.
A great many practical politicians beheld these things and read of them in Roosevelt's approving official reports with anger and a tendency to panic, but they made sure no man holding such deplorable principles could ever again be permitted to occupy a place of authority. The appearance of things was to that effect, for the Civil Service reformers as a rule, Roosevelt being the steadfast exception, were much more given to eloquence than to business. Roosevelt's early activities as a reformer were regarded effusions of his literary gifts that would soon extinguish themselves. However, he persevered, and seemed to have a faculty of picking up places according to his wish. When he got into a situation he expanded it, and the unexpected happened day after day. The astonishing feature of his proceedings was that they were based on calculation and took on business formations. This was a new style of reformation.
Civil Service Reform had hard times. It was not tenderly treated in the houses of its friends. There was a queer game played by one eminent person after another of getting his own folks snugly fixed, and then raising obstacles through Civil Service classification, to their removal; but this was not Roosevelt's method. He desired to cover additional ground and elevate it, did not confine himself to personal matters, but rushed the fixed rules and regulations, in the advance of which those in the way had to look out for the reaping machinery. He was not an apologist. At the critical hour of the great new policy of getting the Government to do business instead of playing politics, of course the Commissioner of New York was at the storm centre. President Cleveland had views of reform in several directions, but his tendencies did not seem to his partisans auspicious, and the Civil Service was largely personal in its nature-Republicans going out, and Democrats in-but mathematics displayed in this a certain movement of equalization. The crisis arrived when Harrison was inaugurated, and the Democracy lifted up their voices to the effect that reformation of the Civil Service was their own favorite way of