« PreviousContinue »
merit plan, whereby each worker for our government should stand on his merit, so that he could not be removed from his position without just cause.
This merit system is in operation today and is a most excellent thing, only becoming dangerous when extended too far.
There were two other commissioners besides Mr. Roosevelt on the Commission, but all worked together in harmony, although in many moves taken Mr. Roosevelt was the leader. About this work he has written a notable essay called “Six Years of Civil Service Reform,” in which he reviews much of the work done. In this essay, among many other things, he says:
“No republic can permanently endure when its politics are corrupt and base; and the spoils system,— the application in political life of the degrading doctrine that to the victor belong the spoils, - produces corruption and degradation. The man who is in politics for the offices might just as well be in politics for the money he can get for his vote, so far as the general good is concerned.” Certainly wise words and well worth remembering.
The work of the Commission was by no means easy, and the members were often accused of doing some things merely to benefit their own particular party or friends. Politicians of the old sort, who wanted everything they could lay hands on, fought civil service bitterly, and even those who might have been expected to help often held back, fearing they would lose their own popularity. Yet on the other hand, some members of Congress upheld the Commission nobly, and when President Garfield was assassinated by a half-crazy office-seeker many more came forward and clamored to put public offices on the merit system by all
Part of the work of the Commission was to prosecute the head of any bureau or department where an employee had been discharged or had suffered without just cause. Such cases came up in large numbers and were prosecuted with all the vigor of which the Commission were capable.
“We were not always successful in these trials,” says Mr. Roosevelt.
" But we won out in the majority of cases, and we gave the wrong-doing such a wide publicity that
those who were guilty hesitated to repeat their actions.” And he goes on to add that during his term of service not over one per cent. of those who worked for Uncle Sam were dismissed purely for political reasons. This was certainly an excellent record, and our government will do well to maintain such a high standard in the future.
To give a further idea of the work required in the way of examinations for positions under our government, let me state that during the year from July 1, 1890, to July 1, 1891, 5251 applicants were examined for the departments service, 1579 for the customs service, 8538 for the postal service, 3706 for the railway mail service, making a total of nearly 20,000, of which about 13,000 passed and the balance failed. Since our war with Spain, the work of the government has been vastly increased, and the places to be filled every year run up into figures that are startling.
One of the best and wisest acts of the Commission was to place the colored employees of the government on an equal footing with the white employees. In the past the colored employees had occupied their
places merely through the whim or goodwill of those over them. Now this was changed, and any colored man who could pass the examination, and who was willing to attend strictly to his labor, was as safe in his situation as anybody.
A TRIP TO THE SHOSHONE MOUNTAINS CAUGHT IN A
DRIVING SNOW-STORM — BACK TO WORK — RESIGNA-
NOTWITHSTANDING the great amount of labor involved as a Civil Service Commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt did not forego the pleasures of the hunt, and in 1891 he made an extended trip to the Shoshone Mountains in Wyoming, going after elk and such other game as might present itself.
On this trip he was accompanied by his ranch partner, a skilled shot named Ferguson, and two old hunters named Woody and Hofer. There was also in the party a young fellow who looked after the packhorses, fourteen in number.
The start was made on a beautiful day in September, and the party journeyed along at a gait that pleased them, bringing down everything that came to hand and which could be used as meat. Two tents were