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general storekeeper of the Washington yard, Mr. Putnam, recommending certain promotions and saying:
“ 'In the event of the promotions being made as requested above, the vacancy created for a special laborer at $2 per diem need not be filled, as under the system of promotions for merit I am getting a more efficient service.'
"That is just one little instance. We have reduced by one the small force in his office, because when he is allowed to promote men for merit he gets so much more efficient service.
"The Constructor at the navy yard, being asked about his force some little time ago, said he had ten clerks appointed for political reasons, by whose aid he could not quite get his work done, and that if they should ever be turned out and he could have five chosen under the rigid competitive examination system, he would guarantee to get the work done. The ten were turned out and the five appointed, and the work is well done.
"Just recently I had another such case as this, where two vacancies occurred, as under the system of having promotions for merit, they were getting so much better material that there was no need of employing as many men as formerly. We have been introducing the system of promotions for merit, in co-operation with or subordination to the Civil Service Commission, during the last year. It was started toward the end of Secretary Herbert's administration. Secretary Long has promulgated and formulated the rules."
The Assistant Secretary further stated that practically Secretary Tracy classified the laboring force in 1890. Up to that time there had been almost a complete sweep of laborers after each election. The men who were in prominent positions in the labor force almost never survived in their situations a change in the politics of the administration. When Whitney came in they were all turned out, and when Tracy came in they were all turned out. On one occasion in the navy-yard, a Senator and three members of the House, with Roosevelt, spent the better part of two working days “on the earthshaking question, not of armor, not of ships, not of ordnance, but whether or no the commandant had the right to promote a man from a $1,200 to a $1,400 position without consulting the Senators and representatives from that State."
The witness related of the clerks and messengers, who had not been classified under Tracy: “When Secretary Herbert came in, he kept all the labor force, but made an absolutely clean sweep of 'the clerks and messengers' who went out with a jump, and some pretty eerie gentlemen got their places; and now they had been classified. There was no change under the McKinley administration."
The Chairman-"They are still in service.
eerie gentlemen. They are being weeded out through the semi-annual reports, and their places are being taken by the promotion of men who more often than not were appointed under Secretary Herbert, but appointed through the regular Civil Service examinations. We are weeding out the bad men, but the decent men are kept in.
“Then, there is one point I should like to make. We found the old system in vogue as regards two very small branches of employment. One was the minors under instruction, or apprentices, in the different yards. There were only a few dozen appointed annually. There was not any way that we could appoint them. People say, 'If you did not have the Civil Service examinations the head of the Department could appoint the men to please himself. I should just like to see that experiment made once to observe the effect of it upon the Senate and the House."
Senator Lodge inquired of Assistant Secretary Roosevelt whether he was still annoyed by Senators and Representatives asking him to make promotions, and the answer was, “It is continually becoming less.” When asked when an occurrence took place, Roosevelt said, "I am going to ask you not to request me to give the names.” The chairman was satisfied by asking whether an incident given was a recent occurrence. Roosevelt's reply was: “It was a few months ago. They were all first-rate fellows, and I am very fond of them.” As to certain persons turned out, Mr. Roosevelt had received a letter asking, “Why have you turned out a worthy man merely because he is a Democrat?" The answer was that the man was not turned out as a Democrat, “but because of the trivial fact that he got drunk.” The next letter would probably be to this effect: “An excellent man and a Republican has just been turned out. His leading man has reported against him. But I am creditably informed that that leading man voted for Bryan last year.” The case was looked up, and it was ascertained “the worthy Republican slept seven hours inside of a boiler which he was supposed to be mending." And the Assistant Secretary said, as the most glittering of his illustrations "we happened by good luck to strike Jew, Catholic, and Protestants in turning out, and in every instance, people would write to me saying that the men were turned out because they were Jews, or Catholics, or Protestants, as the case might be.” As a great principle the Secretary stated, “I have been impressed that it is the men who are least fit who are apt to have the greatest amount of influence brought on their behalf.”
Asked whether in his opinion more weight should be given to the questions that tested practical knowledge, the Assistant Secretary gave the answers to some of the questions, and referred to a scholastic test of certain general questions of United States History, and stated: “We felt that a policeman is an important executive officer, who, to a large percentage of the foreign born population of New York, stands in the place of the constitution and town meeting and governor, and everything else. One question I recollect we asked the candidate for the position was: 'Give a brief statement of the life of Abraham Lincoln.' Out of some hundreds of applicants we had ten who said he was the President of the Southern Confederacy. We had one man who said he was assassinated by Thomas Jefferson; two who said he was assassinated by Jefferson Davis; another who said he was assassinated by Garfield; three who said he was assassinated by Guiteau; and one man, who evidently did not feel friendly to the Salvation Army, said he was assassinated by Ballington Booth.
"We asked who was the chief officer of the United States. One of the candidates responded 'Parkhurst;' another, probably of different political faith, said ‘Croker;' two with deft flattery, named me.
“One of the questions was to name certain of the States that were in the Confederacy in 1861. Nearly half of the applicants names States like Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. It was at the time of the silver campaign, and they had a vague impression that there was something wrong out there, but they did not know what.
“We also asked them-I dislike to state this answer before Senator Lodge, but I must—to name five of the New England States. There were three answers to that question which I specially liked. One man named New York, Albany, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The next two answers I am going to give are so extraordinary that I kept the record; I kept the questions and answers. The five New England States, one man said, were England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and Cork. The gentleman was of foreign origin, I may explain. Another man, presumably of different religious faith, named Belfast instead of Cork.”
Asked whether these gentlemen whose answers the Assistant Secretary gave had been appointed, the answer was “Yes," and specified “One man was appointed who thought Abraham Lincoln was President of the Southern Confederacy, and another man who said he was a great General, and fought the battle of Bunker Hill.” The Assistant Secretary explained that both of these men were of foreign birth, and except as to Abraham Lincoln, passed excellent examinations, and a failure of one question did not bar a man out.
“I have received a little clipping from a San Antonio paper that goes to my heart on the question of practical examinations. Always, when you start to make a rather revolutionary change, you meet opposition from very excellent people who are of a conservative habit of thought. Two or three years ago I enlisted Mr. Proctor, whose views and mine were always identical on all these matters, and we invariably worked together in every respect, in a scheme for the examination of customs inspectors on the Texas border. I know all about the cow country. Therefore I am fit to deal with it. I knew I could get up a bully set of competitive tests for customs inspectors on the border, because it happens to lend itself to a good system of competitive tests. You want to have a man who is a first-rate horseman, who knows about brands, who is a good shot, and is able to write a clear report. First of all, you have to get recommendations of character, of course. Then I wanted to have enough of a written examination to test the candidate's handwriting, his arithmetic, and his capacity to write a good letter, and then to test his revolver shooting, exactly as they do on any range. On a range, as you know, Senators, the results of the competition are put down numerically. Such and such a man gets 87 out of a possible hundred, another 67, another 93, the bull's-eye being marked 5, the next line 4, the next line 3, the next 2, and the outer line 1. That lent itself very readily to competitive tests.
“Then for the brand reading you have to trust a little bit to good fortune, but in order to show knowledge of horsemanship and cattle, it was only necessary to have what is a favorite test of cow punchers on the round-up. Let each man take any horse he wishes and if a man has not a good horse he will get one,-turn loose a steer for each man, and test him according to the rapidity with which he can overtake, rope, throw, and tie down the steer. It was not deemed practicable at that moment to put that competitive test in, especially as I could not get down there to oversee it myself. But it was adopted to a certain extent, and I this morning received in the mail a slip from a San Antonio paper as follows:
“For mounted inspector-He who gets the job must read brands, ride bronchos, and shoot with both hands.
“ 'The Civil Service Commission announces that, on March 15, an examination will be held in Brownsville, Texas, for the position of mounted inspector in the customs district of Brazos de Santiago, with headquarters at Brownsville. The examination will be of a light educational character, but applicants will be required to file special vouchers showing their knowledge of the Mexican language and of the country embraced in the district, as well as their ability to read brands and their experience in horsemanship and marksmanship.'”
It was suggested that in December, 1896, fifteen steel examiners in the Navy Department were appointed without examination, and the Assistant Secretary was asked whether he knew anything about that. He said there was a very rigid Civil Service examination held for those fifteen steel inspectors under the best men there were in the Department,—this was just after the extension of the classified service,-just as was done in the railway mail service when the small free delivery postoffices were classified. The Assistant Secretary observed that it was not possible when 30,000 men were put in for the Commission of Civil Service to undertake their examination. The local people would have to be trusted to conduct examinations until the examination machinery was well under way.
Up to that time the temporary examinations would be a makeshift. The extension referred to in Washington the year before, was not too large, and if the President did consult him, as was very unlikely, he would advise just then that the Deputy Internal Revenue Collectors be not classified. That might ultimately be done, but it was a scattered service. When he recommended the classification originally, he thought there would be but one classification made at a time, and that the Commission could turn all its energies to dealing with 2,000 places, not thinking that the whole would be classified as a part of a tremendous and sweeping transaction; but in a scattered service, it would take a good long time to develop thoroughly satisfactory machinery for such an extension. He did not think the Commission, as to the fifteen steel inspectors, “could have handled the matter at the time, unless it had been composed exclusively of Angel Gabriels with a double-jointed capacity for doing ten times as much as an ordinary mortal. Mr. Proctor, Commissioner, asked the Assistant Secretary whether he did not believe, that if a promotion examination such as he had instituted in the Navy Department and navy yards, were carried forward by all the Departments, it would automatically do away with any dread of life tenure. The answer of the Assistant Secretary was, “It would automatically do away with much of the dread of life tenure." Any form like that does not accomplish everything. It accomplished a great deal. The examination for promotion to which Mr. Proctor referred, was not a written examination, but one where the man's record stood as a competitive test.
In closing his testimony, Assistant Secretary Roosevelt said of Mr. John R. Proctor, “He is the only member of the Commission with whom I served. He and I radically differ on politics; but there were no points of policy or practice in which we did not work hand in hand absolutely, and I happened to see Mr. Proctor put to pretty severe tests in standing up for Republicans who were menaced; take it in the Treasury, under Mr. Carlisle; for colored Republican letter-carriers menaced in Southern offices by Southern white Democratic postmasters, who belong to his own party, and he rang more than true on every occasion.”
In the course of the testimony given by Assistant Secretary Roosevelt, there was some difference of opinion in relation to the examination of fifteen steel inspectors, and their appointment, and the Secretary desired to make inquiry before stating the case fully, and mentioned that he would write a letter on the subject which is as follows: