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Allison, William Boyd; Barrow, Middleton Pope; Brown, Joseph Emerson; Call, Wilkinson; Cameron, James Donald; Cockrell, Francis Marion; Dawes, Henry Laurens; Edmunds, George Franklin; Groome, James Black; Hawley, Joseph Roswell; Hoar, George Frisbie; Ingalls, John James; Morgan, John Tyler; Pendleton, George Hunt; Van Wyck, Charles Henry; Vest, George Graham; Williams, John Stuart. 'Debate in the Senate on the Civil Service Reform Act of 1883, December 20th, 1882' in 'The Congressional Record, 47th Congress' . Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1882. [format: journal], [genre: letter; government document; proceedings]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Mr. PENDLETON. I move that the Senate proceed to the consideration of the unfinished business.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio moves to postpone all other orders and proceed with the consideration of the unfinished business, being the bill known as the civil-service bill.
The motion was agreed to; and the Senate, as in Committee of the Whole, resumed the consideration of the bill (S. 133) to regulate and improve the civil service of the United States.
The PRESIDING OFFICER: The pending question is on the amendment of the Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. HOAR] to the amendment of the Senator from Iowa [Mr. ALLISON].
Mr. PENDLETON. I have the permission of the Senator from Iowa, who is not now in his place, but was here a moment ago, and I have sent for him, to ask that the pending amendment be temporarily withdrawn in order that I may offer an amendment, which I think has the concurrence of the whole committee that reported this bill; at least of a great majority of those whom I have seen. The Senator from Iowa is not in his place at this moment, but gave me authority to withdraw his amendment.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. If there be no objection, it will be considered as withdrawn for the time being.
Mr. PENDLETON. I now move to strike out lines 22 and 23 of section 2, as follows:
Third. That original entrance to the public service aforesaid shall be at the grade, and appointments thereto
And to insert in lieu thereof "appointments to the public service aforesaid;" so as to read:
Appointments to the public service aforesaid in the Departments at Washington shall be apportioned, as nearly as practicable, among the several States and Territories and the District of Columbia, upon the basis of population as ascertained at the last preceding census.
This amendment has been discussed, and I do not care to detain the Senate in the further discussion of it. It opens up the public service in all its grades to competition.
Mr. VEST. Mr. President, I have no disposition to discuss this bill at any length and certainly have no expectation of influencing the vote of any Senator upon it. It has been elaborately discussed for years. When I entered the Senate I became chairman of the Committee to Examine the Several Branches of the Civil Service, and for two years I was engaged with the rest of that committee in taking testimony upon the subject of civil-service reform. That very great evils exist there can be no sort of question, evils so monstrous, so deadly in their effects that men of all political parties have come to the conclusion that some remedy must be applied.
Civil-service reform, Mr. President, has labored under great disadvantages because it has been in the hands of men who have not appreciated the modes and methods by which public sentiment can be controlled, and I agree perfectly with the Senator from Connecticut [Mr. HAWLEY] in what he said the other day in regard to the dilettante politicians, the solar walkers, the philosophers of political Science, who make their campaigns in the reading-rooms and corridors of hotels and upon lecture platforms and never meet the people, face to face. It is easy enough for these gentlemen to sneer at professional politicians, and to claim that politics has become so corrupt in this country that they can not pollute themselves by any participation in it.
As the Senator from Connecticut very well said, it in the part of a brave man, if he believes that these abuses exist, to enter the arena of politics and attempt to reform them, and not from a solar walk and philosophical standpoint sneer at those who are bearing public abuse, who are sacrificing their private interests, and who, actuated by an honorable ambition, have the same right to claim patriotic motives that these distinguished gentlemen have who make a business of sneering at the public men of the whole country.
That evils exist there can be no sort of question. Money has become the great factor in the politics of the United States. If any doubt has ever existed in regard to this statement, the files of the papers within the last few days have given to the public such developments as will startle those whose attention has not been called to the monstrous extent of this great evil. I saw in one of the public prints, the New York Herald, but a day or two since, together with other correspondence, the following:
NEW YORK STATE COMMITTEE,
DEAR SIR: Mr. Morton desires me to inform you
This letter is addressed to Senator Dorsey
that he arrived this morning and has had conferences with Senator ALLISON, Mr. HUBBELL, and others.
He does not see any prospect for securing any money in time for your use from Mr. Gould, but as he has a telegram from Senator CAMERON saying that his father goes to Philadelphia to-day and that he goes to Pittsburgh himself. Mr. Morton feels confident that we shall be able to certainly send you altogether $100,000 (including the $10,000 he sent from Cleveland), and he hopes to increase this amount.
Very truly, yours,
P. S. Mr. Morton was assured by Mr. Bosler that he would collect and send him $20,000 or $25,000, in which expectation Mr. Bosler has been disappointed.
And throughout all this remarkable correspondence enormous sums of money are spoken of as glibly, with as little concealment, as little equivocation, as if the American public were expected to believe and to accept the proposition that money had become the great factor in the politics of the United States. This letter was addressed to Senator Dorsey, who was at that time in Indiana and who was afterward toasted by the Vice-President elect, now the President, as the distinguished Republican who had carried the Democratic State of Indiana with soap, and that at a public banquet, presided over by General Grant, where the lips were moistened with superior wines, and the appetite fed with excellent viands, and where the crême de la crême the Republican party were assembled to do honor to the man who had achieved this great triumph with money over the votes of the people.
Sir, the amendment which the Senator from Ohio [Mr. PENDLETON] has offered this morning, in his judgment furnishes a remedy for this monstrous evil in requiring competitive examination hereafter for all appointments in the civil service. Sir, I agreed to report this bill to the Senate, but I have never believed that it furnished a complete remedy for the evils which now exist in the politics of the United States. When I assented to its report, I merely wished to emphasize my opinion that something should be attempted, however feeble and however inefficacious. The civil service of the United States, like, American shipping, has come to this, that any remedy is better than to allow it to remain in its present condition. I do not believe that the provisions of this bill will give relief. While I am willing to vote for almost any bill that looks to a change in the present system, I am still compelled to declare my belief that this bill in its provisions does not give a complete remedy.
Sir, the great trouble under which the country labors to-day is that we expect civil-service reform from the men who are in their hearts and consciences opposed to it. You can not by giving this infant over to the hand of nurses who desire its death expect that it will grow to healthy and vigorous manhood. The Republican party are opposed to it, and for twenty years their practices have shown that they do not propose that civil-service reform shall obtain in this country.
In 1871 General Grant in a message to Congress recommended regulations almost identical with the provisions of the bill now before the Senate. What became of that message and of those recommendations? They fell stillborn.
Mr. ALLISON. Will the Senator allow me to interrupt him for a moment?
Mr. VEST. Certainly.
Mr. ALLISON. As I understand, there are regulations prevailing in every Department of this Government in Washington to-day with reference to examinations for promotion in the several Departments, and that is notably so in the Treasury Department. In other words, this bill enacts into law the practice now existing in most of the Departments at Washington.
Mr. VEST. Oh! Mr. President, we know, every Senator upon this floor knows, that those regulations which the Senator says are put into effect, amount simply to nothing. When General Schurz was Secretary of the Interior an attempt was made to put the regulations into force. Ostensibly they are in force to-day in the Treasury Department;
but let any Democrat go to that Department and ask for an appointment, and what is the reply? The response is invariably I say invariably, because there is not one Democrat; out of a hundred in office in the Departments in the city of Washington; and the result, whatever the response may be, is always that the applicant is rejected on account of his politics and without reference to qualification and the office is used for the purposes of the Republican party.
The First Assistant Postmaster-General to-day openly announces, and has done it in the public, press, that he proposes that the offices in that Department shall be used for the Republican party. He did it in an authorized interview, and he sneers at the idea that any other system should obtain in the Department which he virtually controls. I assert again, notwithstanding the declaration of the Senator from Iowa, that every Republican administration while pretending to be for civil-service reform has stabbed it to death and done it deliberately and done it effectually. After General Grant, in 1871, had notified Congress that these regulations had been adopted and that he proposed to put them in effect, what was the result? I leave it to the junior Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. HOAR] to say what was Grant's second administration of this Government. It was based upon the spoils system. It smelt rank to heaven, with all the abuse of this infamous code which teaches that the offices of the Government must be used if necessary to stamp out the will of the people. The men who profited by that system in the second administration of Grant to-day lead the Republican party, and high places were given to them for their loyalty and! fealty to General Grant in his attempted nomination for a third term at Chicago.
If we come to the next administration, which a distinguished Senator from New York, no longer a member of this body, called the "snivel-service administration of T'otherfraud Hayes," what spectacle was then presented to the American people? What a difference was illustrated between profession and practice? The first thing done by President Hayes after Louisiana had been wrested from the people of that State and made to play its part in putting a fraudulent President in the Executive chair of the nation, was to reward the men who stole the suffrages of a sovereign State with offices to the amount of $291,000 annually. I had occasion once on the floor of the Senate to read the list, taken from the Blue Book.
Every man connected with the returning board was given an office that applied for it, and it is safe to say that not one failed to apply. Here is the list; I read it once in the Senate, taken from the Blue Book. And not only that, but after the general distribution had been made Mr. Cassanave, a member of the returning board, whose property was levied upon to pay a judgment of $5,000, the fee of the lawyer who kept him out of the State penitentiary, came to this city and demanded of the administration, of the President and of the Secretary of the Treasury, now a member of this body, that the judgment should be paid; that he had earned it; that he had, under civil-service reform, done that for the party which entitled this debt to be paid. Mr. Cassanave addressed a letter to the President, stating distinctly his demand. Now see to what extent this system has gone, that a man! holding a public position in Louisiana dared to address such a letter to the President of these United States.
my property is sacrificed under that judgment it will render me bankrupt. I am a poor man and unable to sustain such a loss. I have always assumed a full share of the responsibility attaching to the official acts of the returning board, although I have never enjoyed any of the fruits resulting from its findings
There is the essence of civil-service reform. "I have done the work, and I want my part of the plunder, but I have never had it"
In this connection I respectfully remind you that I hold no office under your administration and have derived no pecuniary benefits whatever therefrom; but on the contrary I have sustained considerable loss in my business on account of my identity with the board. Messrs. Anderson, Wells, and Kenner, the other three members, and their numerous family connections are enjoying lucrative positions in the employ of the Government.
I called upon Mr. Sherman yesterday and he proffered me a contribution of $100 as the only relief he could offer me, which I was compelled to decline out of respect for the great finance minister or our Government.
Upon August 13, 1879, the following telegram was addressed from this city by Shellabarger & Wilson, the attorneys of the administration:
WASHINGTON, D. C., Aug. 13, 1879.
Meantime it must be understood that Cassanave was on the spot, threatening the administration, declaring that if his property was sacrificed he would divulge every thing connected with the returning board; he was determined not to be made a scape-goat of and that his property should not be sold. Messrs. Shellabarger & Wilson addressed this telegram:
WASHINGTON, D. C., Aug. 13, 1879.
E. NORTH CULLOM, New Orleans, La.:
Should we send $1,000 more on returning-board judgment will you give reasonable time for balance?
SHELLABARGER & WILSON.
To this dispatch come the following reply:
NEW ORLEANS, LA., Aug. 13, 1879.
Messrs. SHELLABARGER & WILSON, Washington, D. C.:
If you send me $250 more, making a total of $1,750, and Cassanave will give security not to dispose of his property, I will wait till Jan'y 1.
E. NORTH CULLOM.
Cassanave stated that on August 15,1879, Shellabarger gave him the following dispatch and directed him to sign and send to Cullom:
WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 15, 1879.
E. NORTH CULLOM, New Orleans:
Will cause $1,000 to be mailed to-day, provided you stop sale and wait until Jan'y 1 for balance. Answer immediately.
To which Cullom replied:
NEW ORLEANS, LA., August 15, 1879.
G. CASSANAVE, Washington, D. C.:
I will not. Sale goes on.
E. SMITH CULLOM.
Cassanave carried the answer to Shellabarger, who indorsed upon it the following:
To Secretary SHERMAN:
I telegraphed that I would send $1,000 to-day if sale would stop and the plaintiff wait for the balance till January, and this is the answer. What shall I do with the $1,000?
It is proper to state that this $1,000 had been sent Shellabarger by Mr. Hayes on August 13.
Cassanave delivered the indorsed dispatch to Sherman while at a Cabinet meeting, and the Secretary wrote upon it to Shellabarger as follows
You may offer the $1,250.
The property was not sold. How the balance of the judgment was paid after sending this I have no information. But I read this to show that the men who did the work for the Hayes administration in Louisiana, the men who throttled the voice of the free people of a sovereign State, dared to come here in the face of the American people and demand this money and the money was paid.
Mr. President, if we come to the next administration, that of General Garfield I speak of it, as I have a right to do, historically what a spectacle is there presented to the American public! General Garfield upon the floor of the House of Representatives, in his message to Congress, and in all his public utterances had denounced with the eloquence by legislation on the part of Congress; and yet no sooner was he nominated by the Republican party for the Presidency of the United States than this correspondence took place between him and Mr. Dorsey, secretary of the national Republican committee and the chief of the star-route defendants to-day a correspondence with which I will not weary the Senate, but which breathes throughout the spoils system. "Money," says the President, "must be used; money must be obtained; more money for Indiana; pour it out like water upon the soil of that Democratic State;" and he wrote here to Washington city about Brady, "What is Brady doing in the Departments?" He wrote to Hubbell to ask what Brady was doing in the Departments. What was he expected to do in the Deportments? What was his mission and his work among the officials of the Government? It was to levy assessments and raise money for the purpose of carrying on that campaign and of deluging the Democratic State of Indiana; and Mr. Dorsey was afterward banqueted under blazing chandeliers and sparkling wines at Delmonico's in New York for having successfully corrupted the franchise of that great State.
Mr. President, we are told that the Democratic party has been guilty of abuses in the way of political assessments. I defy gentlemen to produce in the annals and practices of the Democratic party any such infamous document as I hold in my hand now and which I propose to read a highwayman's letter, not even couched in the polite language of Dick Turpin or Claude Duval when, with pistol at the head of an unsuspecting traveler, they begged him in the most polite terms not to incommode himself, not to move, that they would take his pocket-book out of his pocket without any inconvenience whatever to him. This document was issued by the Republican party on October 25,1880, from the city of Philadelphia authoritatively:
PHILADELPHIA, October 25, 1880.
DEAR SIR: Our books show that you have paid no heed to either of the requests of the committee for funds. The time for action is short. I need not say to you that an important canvass like the one now being made in a State like Pennsylvania requires a great outlay of money, and we look to you as one of the Federal beneficiaries to help bear the burden. Two per cent. of your salary is . Please remit promptly.
At the close of the campaign we shall place a list of those who have not paid in the hands of the head of the Department you are in.
And that document was distributed from the headquarters of the Republican party in the second State of the Union, and yet my friend from Iowa [Mr. ALLISON] and my friend from Maine [Mr. HALE], both of whom have torn passion into very tatters on this floor in denouncing these practices, were then members of the national Republican committee and I have never yet heard even a feeble protest from those distinguished gentlemen against this document issued openly and boldly stating to these officials, "If you do not pay so much as an assessment upon your salary the head of the Department will be notified in order that your name may be stricken from the rolls."
Mr. ALLISON. Will the Senator allow me to interpose?
Mr. VEST. Certainly.
Mr. ALLISON. The letter the Senator reads from is a letter purporting
to have been written, or signed, or sent by the chairman of the Republican State central committee of Pennsylvania. It has no relation to the Congressional committee of which I spoke the other day, and I do not hesitate to say to the Senator from Missouri, having for the first time heard of such a circular, because I never heard of it before, that it is, so far as I am aware, unknown in the history of the Congressional committee, and I think it deserves the condemnation of every member of the Republican party.
Mr. VEST. Mr. President, I did not charge that this circular emanated from the Republican national committee, but I do charge that it came from the Republican committee of Pennsylvania, the second State in the Union, a Republican State; that it was published at the time, that it has gone all over the country, and no Republican until now has ever publicly denounced it. Not one of the national committee, no newspaper that I know of an organ of the Republican party, has denounced it. Money was collected under it and was used by the Republican party for its own purposes.
Mr. President, except for wearying myself and the Senate I could read from circulars of the gentleman's own committee too what amounts to the same thing circulars couched in polite language, it is true, and conveying no patent threat, but the object of which was well known to the recipients of those circulars. Why was it necessary for the gentleman's committee to put upon the face of these extraordinary documents "voluntary contributions?" There never was yet a man attempting to evade justice who did not try to manufacture testimony for himself. If these contributions were voluntary, why was it necessary for the committee to publish the fact and to stamp it upon the face of the application itself? I shall indulge in no hypercriticism in regard to that. We know the purpose of these circulars was to force these officials to pay money. The poor creatures who were assessed in 1880 three times in order to raise funds to carry on the campaign of the Republican party well understood that unless the money was paid the guillotine of the party would be put to work upon them.
Mr. President, I have said that I believed this bill did not give a remedy for these enormous evils, for they are enormous. The great evil exists in the single fact that when a State is imperiled, when the managers of the Republican campaign come to the conclusion that Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, or Indiana is trembling in the balance, there is in the city of Washington a helpless and entirely unprotected corps of office-holders upon whom they can levy these assessments with impunity and with the certainty that an amount of money will be raised for immediate necessities. ""It goes without saying," to use an executive expression, that these circulars implied involuntary and coercive assessments. The President of the United States so declares, and he but voices what was known by the whole country before he made that declaration.
The bill, even as amended by my distinguished friend from Ohio, does not give the remedy, because it leaves in office the trained cohorts of the Republican party who for twenty years have been accustomed to this system. What to-day is the reason that we find the gentlemen in the Senate who have inaugurated this system and who have held power under it for the last twenty years clamoring for, civil-service reform and against the abuses which manifestly exist? If the partial success of the Democratic party, if its success in State elections, has brought about this wonderful and almost miraculous change, what will be the effect of a complete triumph, when the executive offices of the country pass into the hands of the Democratic party? I do not believe that any remedy adequate to the evil will ever be obtained until there is a change of administration.
Mr. HOAR. Will it then, in the opinion of the Senator?
Mr. VEST. The Senator from Massachusetts asks me if it will then. In my judgment it will, because self-preservation, if nothing else I claim no more patriotism in the personnel of the Democratic party than of the Republican party self-preservation and that instinct alone will cause us to voice the public sentiment expressed at the polls.
Mr. HOAR. My question, if the Senator will pardon me, was this: Does he claim that if the present system goes on the Democratic party or any other party in the future will not be liable to the same temptations and to resort to the same methods that he complains of in the past?
Mr. VEST. Is the Senator through?
Mr. HOAR. Yes, sir.
Mr. VEST. Mr. President, I do not undertake to say that in the course of time the Democratic party would not resort to the same methods if they were permitted to hold this Government as long as the Republican party have held it, and to come to the opinion that the offices belonged to them and not to the people. Then probably the same results would follow; but I do claim that for at least one or two administrations the Democratic party would in any event administer this Government not as it has been administered by the Republican party for the last ten years.
Mr. HOAR. Then, if the Senator will pardon me, is not his remedy for this vast evil which he has depicted, taking his own description of it, simply this: That instead of adopting the legislation changing the method of entry to the civil service, which is proposed here, he thinks the American people should occasionally change their administration without any reference to the questions whether in the great measures of legislation or administration either party is right or wrong, simply to prevent this evil in the civil service? In other words, suppose a majority of the American people should be of opinion that the Republican party has committed the great abuses which the Senator describes, and the Democratic party would commit the same in time but would not immediately, and that the Republicans in their constitutional opinions, their opinions in regard to finance and foreign policy, and all the other great questions pending, are right, his theory still is that instead of resorting to some legislation of this kind we should change the party administration without reference to the opinions of the people on the questions which divide parties. Is that his view?
Mr. VEST. Mr. President, it is enough for me to say that I have attempted to make the Senator understand that so far as this bill goes it in a step in the right direction, as almost any step changing the present system would be a step in the right direction, but I say the remedy is utterly inadequate unless there is a change of administration. I do not believe that this or any other reform can be carried out by the men who are inimical to it. I do not believe that any party which has indicated, as the Republican party has so often, its hatred to what is called civil-service reform will ever be true to this or any other bill in that direction.
The Senator suggests that a party may be in favor of great principles that the American people indorse. Yes, Mr. President; and still if one single abuse becomes so monstrous in time as the spoils system has become in American politics it overshadows, as it did in the last elections, sentiments and opinions almost crystallized with the people of the United States, and especially with the members of the Republican party. We have heard on this floor that the liquor interest carried the elections for the Democracy. We have heard that a failure to reduce taxation did it. These doubtless did contribute to the result; but I say now, after having been in that canvass for sixty days and the people of one State are fairly typical of the people of all the States that the issue which went to the very marrow of that conflict, and which hurled the Republican party from power in almost all the States where elections were held, was the repudiation of the spoils system and of the gross and disgraceful conflicts which were patent to the American people among the leaders of the Republican party over office and over plunder.
The imperial State of New York presented the spectacle of the time-honored leaders of the Republican party grappling at each other's throats over Federal patronage. In Pennsylvania the war-cry was the independence of bossism. In my own State of Missouri the Democrats were not even assailed during the canvass, because the two factions of the Republican party were tearing each other to pieces over the dispensing of the offices at Washington city. The people saw then that long possession of power had caused the Republicans to believe that office, was the great object and the only object in public affairs, and that the offices belonged to them.
To-day in the city of Washington the officials of this Government who have been here for twenty years and more have come to believe that the offices are their property and not the property of the people, and a plain man, though of the sovereign people, can not transact business in the Departments unless chaperoned by a United States Senator or a member of Congress in order to command attention.
Sir, is this a partisan utterance? My friend from Illinois [Mr. LOGAN], who but a moment ago was in the Chamber, told us the other day that the Republicans of the Senate adjourned at 2 or 3 o'clock in the beginning of the last session for the purpose of putting "our man out of the Presidency of the Senate and putting their man in." I want to read a few remarks from their "man" to show the sort of gentleman, and the kind of opinions he possessed, who was put into that chair as the lineal constitutional successor of the President of the United States, and what he thinks of the Republican party that gave him that position. I read from a letter of Hon. DAVID DAVIS written during the campaign of 1880. It is so eloquent and so conclusive that I feel very much disposed to read the whole of it.
Mr. GROOME. Read it all.
Mr. VEST. I will ask the Chief Clerk to read it.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The letter will be read at the desk.
The Acting Secretary read as follows:
BLOOMINGTON, ILL., August 4, 1880.
MY DEAR SIR: The training and habits of my life naturally lead mo to prefer civilians to soldiers for the great civil trusts. But as parties are organized voters must choose between the candidates they represent or stand aloof indifferent or neutral, which no good citizen ought to do at a Presidential election.
I have no hesitation in supporting General Hancock for the best of all reasons to my mind, because his election will put an end to sectional strife and to sectional parties, and will revive a patriotic sentiment all over the land, which political leaders and factions for sinister ends have sought to prevent. There can be no permanent prosperity without pacification. Great as were the achievements of General Hancock in war, his conduct in peace when in command of Louisiana and Texas in 1807 was still greater and justly commends him to the confidence of the country. That was a time when position ruled in the public counsels, and military power was exerted to silence civil authority. The temptation was strong to sail with the rushing current, for an inflamed partisan opinion was too ready to condone excesses and to applaud oppression.
General Hancock's order No. 40, in assuming charge of the fifth military district, announced "the right of trial by jury, the, habeas corpus, the liberty of the press, the freedom of speech, the natural rights of persons, and the rights of property must be respected." These principles are the basis of free government and the proclamation of them by General Hancock stands out in striking contrast with the action of his superior, who soon after rebuked and drove him from that command for uttering sentiments worthy of all honor.
The soldier clothed with extraordinary power voluntarily uncovered before the civil authority, sheathed his sword, testified his fealty to the Constitution, and set an example of obedience to law which will pass into history as his proudest claim to distinction. The man who in the midst of the excitement of that stormy period was cool enough to see his duty clearly and courageous enough to execute it firmly may be well trusted in any crisis. His letter to General Sherman, recently brought to light, lifts General Hancock far above the past appreciation of his civil ability. It marks him as one of the wisest of his time, with a statesman's grasp of mind and with the integrity of a patriot whom no sense of expedition could swerve from his honest convictions.
Long and unchecked possession of power by any party leads to extravagance, corruption, and loose practices. After twenty years of domination by the Republicans, chronic abuses have become fastened upon the public service like barnacles on the bottom of a branded ship.
There in no hope of reform by leaders who have created a system of maladministration and who are interested in perpetuating its evils. Nothing short of the sternest remedy gives any promise of effective reform and the first step toward it is in a change of rulers. The Government must be got out of the ruts in which it has too long been run. New blood must be infused into the management of public affairs before relief can be expected. The people demand a change, and being in earnest they are likely to be gratified.
Hon. JAMES E. HARVEY,
Mr. VEST. Now, Mr. President, coming from so distinguished a source, from a gentleman entirely independent in politics, and who yet was chosen by the Republican party in this Senate as the lineal constitutional successor to the Presidency, I take it that we will hear no more of the Greeley movement during the remainder of this or at any subsequent session. If voting for a gentleman, if elevating him to the second office in the government is a political estoppel on any political organization, I take it that an estoppel both en pais and of record exists in the Senate Chamber against the Republicans who adjourned at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, who struggled and sweated and agonized to put this gentleman into the Presidency of the Senate, whose words were scarcely cold at the time declaring that they were barnacles upon the bottom of the Ship of State, that their leaders could not be trusted with the administration of the Government, that the machinery of the Government must be got out of the ruts in which they had landed it, and that the people proposed to make this change. In that letter is expressed the idea which I have feebly attempted to bring out in the course of my desultory remarks to-day.
I say that the great evil which rests upon the civil service is crystallized in the fact that the Republican party have come to believe that the offices belong to them, and therefore they ignore the people, and are tearing each other to pieces in order to obtain the Federal patronage for their own purposes.
That caused the overwhelming defeat which that party received in the recent election more than any other cause. When against the political sky in collossal form could be seen the great leaders of the Republican party in all the great States utterly indifferent to the spectacle they presented to the American public, locked in the embrace of death, like wild animals whose instinct for blood had overmastered everything else; when the people saw this they turned away in disgust from that party, and said, "They have come to believe that we are slaves, that they are not our agents but our masters, and that these offices belong to them."
Sir, is this to be remedied? Is the complete remedy to be found in competitive examination? Is it to be found in the provisions of this bill which keep in office 10,000 trained office-holders, the servile accomplices and tools of the party in power? Is the Democratic party to be told to-day that hereafter a Democrat must be examined in order to obtain office, but the old barnacles, the fossilized remnants of many a political fight, are to remain in the Departments constituting the corps de réserve of the Republican party in every subsequent contest?
Mr. President, I believe in doing away with the evils that exist, and especially "with this great evil of furnishing the offices of the country to the political leaders of the respective States for campaign purposes; but I do not belong to that superlatively honest or assumed to be honest set of gentlemen who say that seeking office is a stigma and a stain upon the man who engages in it. I believe that an honorable ambition and a desire to serve the country is no stigma and no stain. The evil does not exist in that; it exists in the practice, as I have said before, that the offices are used as an electioneering fund furnished to gentlemen in their respective States to meet the exigencies of political warfare.
As a matter of course the Republicans are stating every thing but the true reason for the result of their recent reverses. We heard from the Senator from Maine [Mr. HALE] the other day, who I am sorry to see is not in the Chamber, that an alliance offensive and defensive had been made between the Democratic party and the whisky interest of the country, and the Senator from Ohio [Mr. SHERMAN] told us that this was the great cause of the defeat of the Republican party in that great State. For many years we have been accustomed to the claim on the part of the Republican party that it represented the temperance, the religion, and the respectability of the American people. It has been par excellence the God-and-morality party of this country. Whisky and Democracy we have been told are convertible terms, and that the great pabulum of the Democratic party has been the fluid which was the subject-matter of debate in our deliberations of yesterday.
I am not astonished that this old stale slander is revamped in this debate, and that it is done by a Senator from the State of Maine. That State has had a prohibitory liquor law for thirty-one years, and yet the reports of the Internal Revenue Department show that in the last four years the number of saloon-keepers and retail liquor-dealers in the State of Maine has increased more than 100 per cent. In the reports of the Internal Revenue Department I find the singular fact that in 1877 Maine had 402 retail liquor-dealers; in 1878, 412; in 1870, 694; in 1880, 747 the year of the defeat of the Democratic party and the success of the Republican; and in 1881, 820; an increase of retail dealers and saloon-keepers from 1877 to 1881 from 402 to 820. So it seems that in the State of Maine and throughout the country, and even in this Senate, a large number of respectable gentlemen vote with the Republican party but tenaciously adhere to the alleged habits of the Democratic party. But this is not all.
If we analyze the reports in regard to the consumption of alcoholic stimulants in the United States some most remarkable facts are developed. Mr. Garfield received for the Presidency, 4,450,921 votes; General Hancock received 4,447,888 votes, giving Garfield a majority over Hancock of 3,033. In the States which voted for General Garfield there are by the last internal-revenue report 108,198 retail liquor-dealers. In the States which voted for General Hancock there are 57,742, giving to our brethren upon the opposite side of this Chamber, who represent the intelligence, the morality, the religion, and sobriety of the entire country, a clear majority of 50,456 saloons. But that is not all.
Without meaning to be at all offensive to particular States, let us take the population of the respective States and compare them the States voting for Garfield and those voting for Hancock. We will commence with the State of Maine. Maine, by the census of 1880, has a population of 648,936, and has had a prohibitory law for thirty-one years. West Virginia has a population of 618,457; a difference of about 30,000 in population, and has no prohibitory law. In Maine there are 820 retail liquor-dealers, or 1 to each 791 inhabitants; and in West Virginia there is 1 to every 816 inhabitants. There are in Maine: wholesale liquor-dealers, 10; retail dealers in malt liquors, 78; and wholesale dealers in malt liquors, 9; in West Virginia, wholesale dealers, 11; retail dealers in malt liquors, 46; and wholesale dealers, 7.
Take the two States, of Wisconsin with a population of 1,315,497 and Georgia with a population of 1,542,180. In Wisconsin there 4,986 retail liquor-dealers, or 1 to each 256 inhabitants. They have almost got it there in each household. [Laughter.]
Mr. CAMERON, of Wisconsin. Wisconsin has recently gone Democratic. That accounts for it.
Mr. VEST. In Georgia, with a population of 1,542,180, there is one retail liquor-dealer to each 612 inhabitants; and Georgia gave something like fifty or sixty odd thousand Democratic majority.
Mr. BROWN. A little over 62,000.
Mr. VEST. Take the State of Iowa with a population of 1,624,615: retail liquor-dealers 4,313, or one to each 376 inhabitants. Texas has a population of 1,591,749, and there is one retail liquor-dealer to each 548 inhabitants. New Hampshire has a population of 346,991, together with a prohibitory liquor law, and she has retail dealers 922, or one to each 376 inhabitants. Florida, coming nearer in point of population on the other side, has 269,493 inhabitants and 487 retail liquor-dealers, or one to each 553 inhabitants. Kansas, with a population of 996,086 and also with a prohibitory law
Mr. INGALLS. And a Democratic governor-elect.
Mr. VEST. With a Democratic governor, but an immense majority I believe for the rest of the Republican ticket, represented on this floor by two Republican Senators
Mr. COCKRELL. And a solid Republican delegation in the other House.
Mr. VEST. Yes, with a solid Republican delegation in the House of Representatives, Kansas has a population of 996,086, and has 1,132 retail liquor-dealers, or one to each 879 inhabitants. South Carolina has a population of 995,577, a difference of only 500 in population, and has one retail liquor-dealer to each 917 inhabitants. Take the State of Massachusetts, for I certainly would not make any statement here and leave out Massachusetts. It has a population of 1,783,085; retail liquor-dealers, 7,279; or one to each 244 inhabitants. Under the shadow of Plymouth Rock, in the land of essentially steady habits, one liquor saloon to each 244 people! North Carolina, with a population of 1,399,750, has retail liquor-dealers 1,975; or one to each 708 inhabitants, instead of one to each 244 inhabitants, as in Massachusetts.
Mr. President, these are official statistics; and I submit to the gentlemen upon the other side of the Chamber whether they can now say that the whisky interest of this country and the saloons of the country have given success to the Democratic party over them at the last or at any other election. For twenty-odd years the whisky interest of this country has voted steadily with the Republican party. All the leading distillers and brewers have been arrayed upon the side of the Republican party. If this interest has given the Republicans defeat in the recent conflict, what gave the Democratic party defeat in all the contests from 1865 down to this hour? Who has availed itself of this interest in the past? They themselves by making the charge assert the fact that the liquor interest of the country by supporting them has enabled them to achieve success and to hold the offices and power of the country in their hands.
Mr. President, the Democratic party of the United States is not held together by the cohesive power of public plunder. If offices had been necessary to hold us together we would have gone to pieces years and years ago. For twenty-odd years, through defeat and disaster, often-times without a gleam of sunshine, not even the starlight of heaven to guide us upon our path, we have struggled and fought and sacrificed for what we believed, to be right. No power has been with us; no political assessments to give us a campaign fund. No corruption fund has been in the hands of the Democratic party to purchase the franchises of the country. If plunder, if office, had been the pabulum upon which our party fed, it would have starved to death years and years ago.
I say now to the gentlemen on the other side of this Chamber, you may defeat us again; it is in the hands of God and in the future; but so long as the love of local self-government exists in the hearts of the American people, so long as the divinity that presides over the hearth-stone of every citizen is the germ of the great political idea of State sovereignty and of the right of each community to govern itself, so long under God will we meet you face to face and hand to hand and dispute your supremacy.
The offices may be in your grasp, political assessments may be at your commands, administrations may be the supple tools of party to trample out the free suffrages of the people, but again and again will we meet you and test your right to ignore what we believe to be the great principles of this Government, local self-government and the right of each individual to govern himself so long as he interferes not with the rights of others.
Mr. President, if I believed that office and power were necessary to the existence of the Democratic party I should despair of its future, but I know that they are not necessary.
I shall vote for this bill much more cheerfully if an amendment shall be placed upon it such as has been offered by the Senator from Alabama [Mr. PUGH], or the Senator from Texas [Mr. COKE], and the Senator from Georgia [Mr. BROWN], which shall declare that all the incumbents of office shall submit to the same competitive examination which is demanded for those who originally apply. If competitive examination is necessary for one class it is necessary for all.
I shall not undertake to say now what my vote will be if the bill should not be so amended. If I vote for it at all it is to emphasize my opinion that the monstrous evils now existing should be denounced in every shape and at every opportunity, and not that I believe a full and complete remedy will ever be had until those who now hold the offices of the country and who are inimical to civil-service reform shall be made to give way to others who will honestly and faithfully discharge the trust.
Mr. BARROW. Mr. President, as one of those whose purpose it is to vote against this bill in anything like its present shape, it has seemed to me proper, if not necessary, that a portion at least of the reasons for that vote should accompany it.
The bill comes to the Senate in so fair a shape and is apparently in so good a cause and is advocated by its friends upon the floor of the Senate with so many plausible arguments as being really a measure intended to purify and reform the civil service of the country, that the imputation may rest at the door of any Senator who votes in silence against the bill that he is therefore opposed to the purification of the civil service of the country.
I shall not undertake to detain the Senate by any extended remarks upon the bill, but in view of the peculiar character of this measure, and the peculiar attitude of those whose minds are already made up to vote against it in anything like its present shape, of whom I am one, I desire, I say, that the reasons for so voting shall go with the vote.
Mr. President, it is because I am a friend to a reformation and a purification of the civil service of this country that I am opposed to this bill; it is because I am one of those, who believe that this measure does not touch the real evil of which the people of this country complain and which they have a right to have remedied and corrected that I oppose it.
I do not understand that anybody makes any complaint of the civil-service of this country as a system. I do not understand that any clamor exists anywhere against the system as a system. No charge| has been made here, no charge has been made elsewhere that has reached my ears or to which my attention has been called, against the rule or regulation or the law under which the civil service of this country has been conducted. Neither the bill of indictment which has been framed by the Republican party against these evils nor the one which has been preferred by the Democratic party attacks the system as a system. The gravamen of the complaint of both parties is that under a vicious and pernicious system of appointment which has been carried on for years, even under a good system, a set of men who are inefficient, incompetent, or worse have been packed upon the country. The complaint is in regard to the men who now occupy these offices and whose duty it is to administer the system, and not in regard to the system itself.
I have heard no intimation that in the Treasury Department or the Post-Office Department or any other Department of this Government the rule and law and regulation, the machinery, in other words, of the system is not adequate, is not complete, and is not satisfactory. The complaint of the people, the complaint of Republicans, and the complaint of Democrats is that the men who are there in charge of that machinery are in many cases incompetent or inefficient.
We are not left to mere conjecture on this subject. We have high Republican authority upon it. As every Senator will remember, in 1871, in pursuance of an act of Congress which was passed responsive to an appeal made by President Grant in his annual message upon this very question of a reformation of the civil service, a commission was appointed. It was composed exclusively of Republicans; it was composed of Republicans high in rank. One of them, Judge Walker, of my State, was one of the most estimable gentlemen in many respects whom I have ever had the happiness to know. He, I am qualified to testify, was a man whose recommendations and whose statements upon this subject may be implicitly relied upon, and I have the right to infer that the other gentlemen who composed that commission were men of similar character. What do they say? On page 12 of the report which was made in the year 1871 by the commission we find the following words:
The courage and fidelity that might, under a better system, have disclosed and removed great abuses were overawed and silenced, while every ambitious politician, equally on his own account and that of the mercenary elements of his party, used every means to crowd the Departments with his retainers.
When, for example, in 1868, Congress sought information of the abuses in the Departments, a member declared in a speech in the House that "nothing impressed me more with the rottenness and corruption of our present want of system than the tears of those old and faithful servants, who begged that they might not be placed on record as witnesses of the faithlessness of their associates, and that it might not be known that they had been called as witnesses. Nothing but the assurance of secrecy could procure us evidence of how the people were being plundered."
Again in the same report they emphasize this precise point, and I desire that the precise point to which I am attempting to address myself may not be lost sight of, and that is, that in this title of office-holding which swells and increases and grows under the system of appointments which has been practiced year after year, in those who now occupy the offices, according to this Republican testimony, lies the evil; not in those who may hereafter be appointed and against whom the bill is directed, not in those who may possibly approach the doors of office and ask to be admitted in some future years, but those, who are in there now are the ones that this testimony is addressed to. The commission say farther in their report:
The effect upon the minor official and clerical force of the Government has been injurious. These officials and employés, however worthy the greater portion of them were, suffered all the disparagement and injustice by which public opinion distinguishes persons selected through political or personal influence from those who have won the just prizes of character and intelligence in a fair field of competition. To that discriminating and stern judgment and to the facilities afforded for foisting upon the civil service so many broken-down knights of politics, so many servile favorites of great politicians, so many fortunate objects of official sympathy are due the disgraceful facts that, by many at least, the civil service of the nation was regarded more as an asylum for imbeciles and a play-ground for favorites than as an honorable field of duty and ambition.
What shall we think of a bill for an "'sylum for imbeciles," in the language of a Republican commission? What shall we think of a bill which provides that when one of these "imbeciles" dies (for they sometimes die, although they never resign) there shall be a competitive examination between all the other "imbeciles," shutting out everybody else unless he belongs to the very lowest grade? I am addressing myself now to the bill in its present shape.
Further on in the same report (and I shall not consume the time of the Senate by reading all that the report contains upon this particular point; I shall content myself by reading one other quotation) I find the following:
Outside the great Departments and offices, want of integrity might have been the more general evil, but within them the Administration suffered much more from want of capacity. It would have been too disreputable to commend a person known to be dishonest; but persons of influence systematically foisted their incompetent and unfortunate relatives und favorites upon the public service. Pressure, menace, selfish influence, and sympathy were used to overcome the scruples of a reluctant officer and to gain a Government salary for an unsuccessful cousin or an unemployed friend. It needs but little experience in official circles to learn how many people tremble at the bare suggestion of an economical measure for weeding out incompetents.
"For weeding out incompetents." That is what is now needed, and measure that is directed against the possible incompetent of the future, not a measure the whole force of which is spent in preventing the future entrance into the public service of those who may be incompetent or unworthy, but what is needed, is a measure, in my humble judgment, that will go into these Departments as they are now organized and subject to the examination to which it is proposed to subject future applicants those who are there now, and who are declared upon this testimony to be incompetent.
I know it may be replied that the, burden of proof is upon those who charge that the present officers are incompetent, on account of the fact that there is a presumption in their favor from experience. I know that it will be said and argued that experience in public office and long years of training in the discharge of the duties entitle them to be exempt from the examination; but I submit that with such testimony as this before the country from such sources as this, from Republican sources of high rank and of high character, the onus has been shifted, and that the presumption that the people in there now ought not to be relieved from the examinations is done away with.
The commission proceeds:
Large as was the majority of persons of intelligence and capacity in the clerical service, there can be no doubt that the spoils system was tending more and more to convert the Departments into something like asylums for incompetents. Overwhelming evidence might be quoted, but a few sentences from the mass must suffice. A report of a committee of the Thirty-ninth Congress says, that "of the officers employed in the New York custom-house, it is believed a majority of them have no special qualifications for their places." In 1867 the chairman of an investigating committee declared in the House, as the result of his inquiry, that, "as a general rule, those who, for some defect or incorrect habit in mind of character, have been unable to succeed in the open competition of business, have been forced by their relatives or political friends upon the public service."
Does this bill relieve anything of that? Does this bill remove one single "imbecile?" Does it apply any test to a single one of the people who according to this testimony are not fit to be there?
For my own part I shall never bring myself to support any measure in the face of such testimony and other testimony that might be added to it the declarations made by President Grant in his message that there were persons in these Departments not fit to be there; the allusion made to it by President Arthur in his message; the cry that comes up from both parties and from every section wherever this subject-matter is touched I say I shall never bring myself to vote for any measure which will climb over the heads of sixty or seventy thousand incompetent Republican officials in order to get at a possible Democratic applicant in the future and strike at him and leave them untouched.
The amendment which has been proposed by the Senator from Alabama [Mr. PUGH] will relieve the bill, I admit, of at least a portion of this obnoxious feature, so far as my objections are concerned. But I pass on.
I am one of those who believe that in this country and under our form of government the people have a right that those who occupy the places of trust and confidence shall be the exponents of the views of the people. I am one of those who believe that the people of the United States have a right to have agents to transact their public business who are of their own way of thinking about public business. I believe that when there is a change in public sentiment, and a majority of the people of the United States reverse the decrees of their previous opinions or previous convictions, they have a right to have a change in their agents to correspond with their own convictions. I do not believe in any false sentiment or false doctrine which would force the people of this country to intrust the execution of their public affairs into the hands of agents who differ with them as to the methods by which that business ought to be conducted.
I am not arguing now for the right of any man to hold an office. I offer no word in behalf of him who may be a possible applicant hereafter for an office. I am not speaking of those Democrats or of those Republicans who will want to hold the offices or who will hold the offices; I am speaking of the right of the people to have the offices filled by men of their own way of thinking, and not of the imaginary right of those who want to, hold the offices. The right of the non-office-holding people who have constituted these recent majorities in the States, who never want an office, who never held an office, the right of the principal and not of the agent, is the right to which I am addressing myself.
I care nothing about office-holding as a mere personal right or claim to the office. The right to which I allude is the right which the people possess, which they are determined to protect, which they will never forget and never forsake, the right to have servants and agents of their own choice.
I say that there has been something of a recent change in the aspect of affairs. In the last fall elections the vote of Colorado, for instance, for judge of the supreme court of that State was 29,819 Democrats, 30,335 Republicans, and 1,200 Greenbackers. In Connecticut the vote for governor was 59,014 Democrats, 54,853 Republicans, and Temperance, 1,034, Greenbackers, 697. I will say to the distinguished Senator from Connecticut [Mr. HAWLEY] as a sort of postscript to the admirable remarks made by the distinguished Senator from Missouri [Mr. VEST] in regard to temperance and the localities in which it flourishes, that out of over 100,000 who voted in the State of Connecticut the Temperance ticket received only about 1,000 votes, or one vote in every 100. In Massachusetts the vote for governor was 133,946 Democrats; 119,997 Republicans, and 2,137 Prohibitionists. In Ohio for secretary of state, 316,874 Democrats, 297,759 Republicans, 12,202 Prohibitionists, and 5,345 Greenbackers. There has been some change there also. In Pennsylvania the vote for governor was 355,791 Democrats, 315,589 Republicans, 43,743 Independent Republicans, 23,996 Prohibitionists, and 5,196 Greenbackers.
I believe that these recent changes in popular sentiment indicate further changes. The point I make and the principle I insist upon and adhere to is that with these changes in the sentiment of the people of this country goes the corresponding right to have a change in their agencies of government.
I have no intent of charging our friends on the other side of this Chamber with insincerity in support of this bill. I impute to them a perfectly sincere and earnest desire to purify the civil service of this country, but I desire to call to their attention the failure of the previous effort made under Republican auspices to purify the civil service of this country.
The act which was passed in 1871 by the Republicans responsive, as I said, to the appeal of President Grant for a purification of the service was put into operation. The commission was appointed. It was declared by the same commission, in the same report from which I have read, that the second election of President Grant was due in a large measure to the promises and pledges which were made by the Republican party after the passage of that act for a reformation of the civil service. I will read the precise words used by the commission in their report:
Aided by the more patriotic members of all parties, the President and the Congress, elected by the dominant party, inaugurated the reform in its present shape; and, while it was in full force, the resolutions of that party commended itself and its President to the people, and he secured a triumphant re-election, in some degree at least, on the pledge and basis of that reform.
The national Republican convention, the Illinois Republican convention, the Minnesota, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia Republican Conventions all passed resolutions indorsing the measure of civil-service reform which had thus been inaugurated and the commission declared that upon the faith and credit of those pledges the second election of President Grant was largely achieved.
What was the fate of that measure? After the election of 1872, when an appropriation of only $25,000 was asked to continue this work, the appropriation was refused, and the commission was discontinued when it only required $25,000 to carry it on, when the control of the entire Government, as the Senator from Texas [Mr. MAXEY] well suggests, was in the hands of the Republican party.
For these reasons, Mr. President, and for others which I do not desire to detain the Senate by an elaboration of at this time, as I said in the outset, I shall vote against this bill.
Mr. DAWES. Mr. President, I am not a new convert to the support of this measure, and therefore I have not felt a necessity for crowding into the front of the debate, having concurred nearly two years ago in the report of this bill to the Senate. In a public discussion in the country a year and a half ago, in which I endeavored to do something to attract the public attention to the necessity of a legislative cure of this evil, I then, in reference to this bill, used this language:
The bill seeks to bring about these radical changes: First, the establishment of a non-partisan civil service; second, entrance into that service only through examination for it primarily competitive; third, promotion in it to depend on the capacity and progress developed by actual trial. These are the great ends to be attained, and their advancement is worthy any honest labor and discussion of differences of opinion as to methods.
In that discussion I was so impressed with the public indifference to this great reform, and with the fact that whatever had been said in it had fallen upon such indifferent ears, that so far as I was concerned I concluded it with the exclamation that in order to secure legislation upon it there must be a reform in public opinion itself that would force upon the country this legislation, and I declared that the demand of the hour was for an omnipotent public opinion that would force reform. Even that declaration was flung back in my face by the reformer himself, who declared that the public opinion must be created by the legislator here, and that regardless of that nothing but legislation here was required or expected.
Still, this reform slept as in the stupor of death. The bill itself, first reported more than two years ago, lay upon the table without even being called up for a vote. Only last August in this body a proposition to direct the expenditure of $15,000, to be placed in the hands of the President of the United States to so direct it that it would promote the efficiency of the civil service and official accountability, rejected in committee, when offered here as an amendment to an appropriation bill encountered the sneer of this body.
But now, sir, things are changed. What the preacher and the platform lecturer have failed to do the politician here has accomplished, and the manifestation of the omnipotence of public opinion upon legislation is manifest all about us. It is true that the politician has accomplished a state of things that makes legislation upon this subject a necessity of this hour at a sorry cost, and that in counting up after the battle the killed and wounded and missing the mourners go about the street. Yet there is something fitting in the fact that those who have at this great cost borne so large a share in creating the necessary public opinion, to which we all bow and give ear to-day, should contribute what they may toward the repair of the damage and loss sustained.
Now, quite another difficulty besets the cause, quite another apprehension surrounds the patient. He is liable now to suffer from a multiplicity of doctors; they stand round about him with their prescriptions so persistently applied, whether well-considered of not it does not become me to say, that if he escapes this ordeal he will, in my opinion, be upon the sure road for recovery.
It is for this reason that I do not propose to join this multitude in any amendment to the bill that I shall offer. My views upon it have been presented heretofore; the points upon which I thought it possible to improve it I have presented to the Senate and to the public, and have embodied them in an amendment which; it one time, before this development to which I allude became apparent, I thought perhaps I would offer; but I am for what this bill undertakes to accomplish, and though I may differ as to the best method of accomplishing it, so far as its vital principle and essence remains unimpaired I hold it to be my duty as well as my pleasure to support the measure in whatever manner or
method those who have charge of it shall on the whole deem best to put it into execution.
I can support it with greater pleasure because all the amendments suggested by me except one have already been conceded to the bill, and though I thought that its principle could be carried out better and in a more simple and safe and efficient way by enacting into law just what is being administered in the New York post-office and custom-house, without the intervention of a commission, yet the commission is simply a method, and the bill contains that and that alone which will answer and carry out the three elements which were in it in the beginning, and which a year and a half ago I commended to the public as such as were worthy of the public support.
In my opinion there is no other way to secure a non-partisan civil service except by a competitive examination which shall be open to all, and intelligently and faithfully and honestly administered.
Mr. VAN WYCK. Will the Senator allow me right there to ask him a question?
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. PLATT in the chair). Does the Senator from Massachusetts yield to the Senator from Nebraska?
Mr. DAWES. Yes, sir.
Mr. VAN WYCK. I wish to ask the Senator if in the New York custom-house the mode which he supports has not been established there for selecting employés?
Mr. DAWES. I have so said.
Mr. VAN WYCK. Very well. I understand my friend further to say that this is the only way in which there can be secured non-partisan action in the appointment of employés. I ask him if it has had that effect in the New York custom-house?
Mr. DAWES. I have the statement under path of those who initiated it there that since its application to the appointments and the administration of that office two or three years ago they are utterly unable to give the political bias of a single official who has entered into the service in this way.
Mr. HAWLEY. I do not know that I understood it as strongly as that, if the Senator will permit me. I do not remember the exact expression; but the political party of the candidates is not known. The greatest care is taken in that respect, so that the appointments are governed entirely by the selection made in the examination.
Mr. DAWES. That is what I said that the result has been, so far as those who administer it are concerned, that they are unable to tell to-day the political affiliations of those who have entered into the service. The same is true of the New York post-office, under an administration which extends several years further back than the application of it to the custom-house.
Mr. VAN WYCK. Confining it to the two years, does the Senator from Massachusetts or the Senator from Connecticut believe that Democrats have been appointed in the New York custom-house or in the post-office at New York not that they should have been, but has that been the result of that system?
Mr. DAWES. I give all that I know about it. I believe the fact to be just as I state.
I know of no other way by which you ran secure entrance into the public service without regard to party, except it be under a competitive examination open to all parties, honestly, fairly, and intelligently conducted and abided by. If that is done, I do not see why a man of one party is not just as secure of a place in the public service as a man of any other party. It puts each and all upon their merit.
I ask the Senator to recall the conditions which I apply to this matter, that the examination shall be open to everybody; it shall be conducted intelligently; that is, so as to determine the comparative merit of all; that it shall be done fairly and honestly, and the result adhered to. If any Senator can conceive of any other way of administering the public service and the appointment of the employés in it which will secure the employés against political influence, he will succeed in doing that which it is utterly impossible for me to understand. I concede perfect honesty to the professions of officials that they will administer the system regardless of political bias; I have no doubt they feel when they say so that they are capable of accomplishing that result, but poor human nature is not enough. A public official without any political bias is an anomaly in this Government. A public official who has no convictions upon public affairs, who has no political principle, who has no political affiliations, and does not take enough interest in the Government under which he lives, a portion of which he is and a part of which he is administering, to cast a vote for one as against another, confesses himself unfit for any place in the public service; and having this, and having patronage to dispense at his disposal, it is asking too much of him to forget it or lay it all aside and make his judgment and his feelings and his affiliations and his desires all a blank sheet of paper.
Mr. VAN WYCK. One question more. Does this bill affect the matter of appointments and removals in the same manner?
Mr. DAWES. I am not talking about the bill now.
Mr. VAN WYCK. I am asking the Senator about the bill. Does the bill change the present mode of appointment or removal?
Mr. DAWES. I ask my friend to wait till I come to talk about the bill.
Mr. VAN WYCK. Certainly.
Mr. DAWES. I am just at this moment insisting upon it that this element is the essential element of reform in the civil service if you are honest in the desire to have a non-partisan service. If you do not want a non-partisan service, if you desire to have the service still continue to be a party service, a partisan service, into which your friends, and yours alone, are to be called for whatever use, for whatever influence, then you do not want a reform in the civil service in any sense contemplated by this bill. I suggest to Senators a little self-examination just, at this point; and that should determine the vote of every Senator in this Chamber upon the bill; otherwise it will be what the Senator from Kansas [Mr. INGALLS] himself proclaimed it to be.
It is because that principle is in the bill and it is because the bill rests upon the principle of competitive examination open to all and strives to make that intelligent and fair and to secure the result achieved by such an examination, that I vote for it. There are infirmities in the bill, I do not doubt, in endeavoring to carry out the principle. Every one who honestly desires to attain that result, I have no doubt, sees points at which he thinks he can make it more secure than it is in the bill. It was with this idea, as I said a little while ago, that I suggested several amendments, all of which, except one, are already conceded. It is because the bill will achieve, even though it may be at points imperfect, what has never been yet achieved in legislation in this country, and what is absolutely necessary a step, a grand step, which I believe once taken will be irretraceable whatever party shall come into power, that, regretting that it is not a more perfect bill, that it does not reach a larger area and have a broader scope, I shall give it a very hearty support.
I do not flinch, and I shall not, from any amendment to the methods of carrying out competitive examination, open to all, for every place for which appointment can be made, according to such suggestions as experience and wisdom and the nature of the case will suggest. Any such amendment shall receive my hearty support. I do not think any Senator has any stronger political convictions than I have. I do not think any Senator would regret more than I to see, the administration of this Government pass out of the hands of those who, with all their short-comings, have saved the nation have made it free have made every man born on our soil a citizen of this great Republic, and have declared that, without regard to race, color, or previous condition, he shall have a share in its administration equal to that of every other citizen. But, sir, when it is necessary to maintain that party, with all its glories behind it and all its hopes and promises before it, in power by the prostitution of the patronage of this Government to the purpose of controlling free thought with a free ballot, in this country, it will cost more than it is worth. And though under the administration of a bill based upon the principle of this bill, that the public-service is open to those in this country, without regard to their party affiliation, who can demonstrate, under a rigid competitive examination intelligently conducted and honestly adhered to, their fitness above others to place, every political friend of mine in the country shall have to give place to those who entertain other principles, there will have been such an advance in the purity of administration in this Government, so much will have been accomplished, that no man will mourn, who loves purity of administration and who desires the best interests of his country.
But, sir, there is another reason beside this why what this bill seeks and what will certainly grow out of it in my opinion, if this step shall become a fixed part of the legislation of this country, should be accomplished; and that I commend to our friends on the other side, who find it so difficult in considering this question to forget or to lose sight of what they call the promised land. That is the consideration that the method of appointment to office in this country has got to be changed. It can be administered but little longer in the methods of the past. It has outgrown those methods adapted for an old system of things never sufficient for them; but it was never dreamt by those who created it that it would be applied to the condition of things now existing in this country. It can no longer be that 200,000 office-holders can be appointed in the methods that were fit and proper for the appointment of 1,000. Two hundred thousand in the very near future are to be appointed to administer the offices of this Government from Maine to the Gulf, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, over an area thirty times as great as that for which the system itself was created; for administering a government the yearly receipts and expenditures of which are $300,000,000, to be collected from points a thousand miles from the eye of the appointing power here, when in the beginning it was only to disburse three millions and a half among office-holders in the old thirteen States along the line, of the Atlantic coast.
One has but for a moment to contrast the Government of to-day with the little Republic of 1789, and he will come to understand that if there were no political passions and biases, and debts contracted to be defrayed, no disturbance of the elements by political considerations; if it were the same calm summer morning which ushered in the Constitution itself, it were utterly impossible for us upon whom the Constitution and the laws to-day confer the appointing power to make an intelligent and safe exercise of that power. But when, notwithstanding this, there come in the passions and the elements never known in those days, which control political action now, it is clear that were it not for the debauchery of this service itself the necessity of a safe administration would be so
apparent that the thoughtful and earnest statesman of whatever party, and most of all he who hopes soon to enter into this promised land and assume the responsibilities and dispense the patronage incident thereto would see that this must be changed somehow. In what way? Institute an open competitive examination; let it by some machinery which shall be determined the best be carried out as perfectly as you can, and then he who enters upon the public service will not depend for his place either on the political bias or the desire of him who appoints him, but on his personal knowledge and acquaintance with the details of the office that he fills, and of the qualities of him who is to enter it. Secure this, and you will have reached to a considerable extent this demand as well as the other; but it is the omnipotent public opinion created by what we have seen within the last few months that demands at our hands that we shall respond by such legislation as shall forever make the repetition of the evil impossible.
I trust, therefore, that we shall not lose ourselves in the multitude of amendments to this bill that we may he able to suggest; I understand there are twenty now upon the table of the Presiding Officer in print ready to be offered. In the other branch there are bills pending which, in the zeal of new-born converts, have lost sight of this very element of life and power and efficacy in the legislature itself of open and competitive examination. I trust no amendment will be adopted that will impair its efficacy as it is found in the bill. No other legislation can reach this evil.
Mr. MORGAN. Mr. President, the Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. DAWES] makes a broader statement in respect to the history of the Republican party than I think the facts of history justify him in making, when he says that that party has made free and has covered with the rights of citizenship every human being who is born on the American continent. The original proprietors of the soil in this country to whom the Senate has appointed the Senator from Massachusetts as chief guardian, he being the chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, have never been made free in that sense, either by the Republican or the Democratic party. The colored people have been made free and they have known the benefits of the provisions of the Constitution and the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments which relate to the denial to any man of position or place or of certain civil, religious, and political rights in consequence of his color, his race, or his previous condition of servitude.
The remark of the Senator is therefore a little too broad. It is not true, also, that the Republican party in its first organization intended even to make the negroes free, for immediately after the battle of Bull Run was fought it is well known to the country that the Republicans in the Congress of the United States came to a sudden and firm resolve that they would preserve the institution of slavery by additional guarantees, if necessary, if the rebels in the South would lay down their arms and restore the laws and Constitution of this country throughout the entire country in their full efficiency.
These facts of history ought not to be disregarded when statesmen are making statements which are to go down to posterity for their information. It is not true either that the Republican party have maintained the rights of the negroes, their peculiar pets and wards; it appears in all parts of the United States, for it is one of the facts of history, it is positively undeniable, that the Republican party have disfranchised the negroes in the District of Columbia, beneath the very shadow of the Capitol, and the white people also, disfranchising the whites because they were compelled, if they gave the right of local self-government to the people of this District, to associate the negroes with them in the ballot and perhaps in the holding of office for the conduct of public business in this District.
There is a great deal of assumption, some of which might be characterized as sheer hypocrisy, upon this subject, and I find it to be my duty very frequently to call the attention of the country to the substantial facts which surround those declarations, for the purpose of correcting questions which gentlemen pride and plume themselves on so much when they are boasting of the prowess and the success and the wonderful achievements of the Republican party in this country.
But, sir, I do not desire to argue this question in any political view. I have an honest and a sincere desire that the Government of the United States shall be afforded such opportunities of inducting people into office who are worthy as that the benefit to he derived therefrom will inure to coming generations of men without respect to the fact whether these generations shall be under the political control of the Republican or the Democratic party. We have a country grandly progressive, wonderful in its development, reaching far beyond the broadest and most heated imagination of the greatest American enthusiast that now exists upon this continent. There are successive changes of administration every four years. These changes may throw the political power into the hands of the one party or the other; but the American people still exist as a people, under a constitution and system of laws which ought to be adapted to the bettering of their interests, it makes no difference what political party may have the charge of the Government. I therefore will advocate and support any measure which will tend to put in office a class of persons who are the best qualified and the most faithful and the most to be relied upon in the conduct of the affairs and business of this Government.
In looking over this question and in endeavoring to address my own thoughts to a practical view of the subject, I have first considered what are the evils of the existing system.
It is not necessary in the discussion of this bill to enlarge this inquiry so as to include the evils which attend the appointment of men to the post-offices or in the Army or in the Navy or in the land offices, which are beyond the precincts of the city of Washington. It is our business to confine ourselves to the evils which are to be corrected in reference only to that class of persons who are not office-holders in the proper sense of the term, but who are mere employés of the Government, holding positions here in Washington city, and in the custom-houses and post-offices of this country where the employés exceed fifty persons in number.
Now, confining my observations entirely to the class mentioned in the bill, what are the facts in respect of the difficulties of getting proper persons into these places, I will say, in the city of Washington? Is it not that Senators and Members of the House of Representatives and other persons in place and influence in this Government are found continually humiliating themselves and the States and districts which they represent by chaperoning men and women to go before the different heads of Departments and bureaus and petitioning them in a personal sense for their employment in the service of the Government of the United States? Is not that after all the great evil against which we have to contend?
There was in former times in this Government a set of men who felt themselves superior to services of this kind to he rendered either to personal or to political pets or favorites. I have heard a tradition mentioned among older Senators of this body in reference to a conversation that occurred once between Mr. Benton and Mr. Cass. When Mr. Cass asked Mr. Benton to indorse and recommend a certain person whom he presented for office in the State of Michigan, Mr. Benton, who was on terms of great intimacy and friendliness with Mr. Cass, observed: "Sir, I will recommend you to the President of the United States as a gentleman worthy of credit, but I can not so recommend your client; not that I know anything about him, certainly nothing against him; but I have no right to prejudge his case by a recommendation which I should feel bound to adhere to when that subject came up for consideration, in the event of a nomination, in the executive sessions of this body." Mr. Cass acknowledged the justice of the remark and the impropriety of the question that he had asked Mr. Benton. But, sir, those were the better days of this Republic. Now nothing is more common than to have persons apply, some for charity's sake, some for the sake of politics, some for the sake of personal friendship, to a Senator of the United States to go to the head of a Department and to recommend a certain person and press the recommendation for an appointment to one of these little offices graded as employments in classes 1, 2, 3, and 4.
I confess that it has been to me personally a source of the greatest embarrassment and trouble; and while I am willing to put myself to any reasonable degree of trouble to represent my constituents or to represent others whom I may think worthy of holding office under the Government, it has still been a source of great embarrassment and trouble, I may say even affliction, to me that I have had such numerous applications continually made for what is termed my influence in getting appointments. Luckily, perhaps, for the Government I do not know it has turned out, that my politics have not been in accord with those of the ruling powers of the Government since I have been here, and my influence has been simply nil, and so I have not succeeded at least in inflicting any injury upon this Government by any appointments that have been made at my request. I would almost as soon be the keeper of a poor-house as to be in Washington city subject to be besieged and called upon by any persons who may come to invite, to ask, to press or even to demand of me the exercise of my power of recommendation in their behalf for these little offices. I speak of them as being little offices not in the sense of their being inferior offices merely, but I speak of them as offices which while they are important in themselves, ought not to engage the consideration of gentlemen concerned in the greater affairs of the Government in this very great country.
I have believed, and I still believe, and I think upon this subject I shall have at least the acquiescence of opinion of every Senator upon this floor, that one of the best remedies we can possibly adopt is one that I suggest in the amendment I shall send to the Secretary's desk and ask to have read for information against this evil, which has become a very burdensome affair.
The Acting Secretary read the proposed amendment, as follows:
SEC. That no recommendation of any person who shall apply for office or place under the provisions of this act which may be given by any Senator or member of the House of Representatives shall be received or considered by any person concerned in making any examination, or appointment, or employment under this act, unless the opinion or statement of such Senator or Representative is first asked in writing, by one or more of the officers or persons engaged in making such examination, employment, or appointment.
Mr. HOAR. May I ask the Senator before he proceeds why he has the last clause in that section? If this is a competitive examination, why should the examiners be permitted to ask the opinion of any Representative or Senator?
Mr. MORGAN. In reference to character only, not qualifications.
Mr. HOAR. If a man has a good character he must be able to find
some person to certify it and prove it. The examination is in his own State, while the Senator is here. I suggest to the Senator to strike out the last clause of the amendment.
Mr. MORGAN. It might improve the amendment to strike out that part of it, though I thought it was the right of every person to apply to his Senator or Representative to testify in regard to his character.
Mr. HOAR. If the Senator will pardon me, I think his amendment is in the main a good one and ought to go into the bill, but I think he will see that what he is referring to is not the general matter of recommendation to office but only the officers embraced in this bill who are to be selected by competitive examination in the States, in the neighborhood of their homes. If a Senator or Representative puts in a recommendation, even if it is confined to character, it will give great possibility of suspicion in the public mind that that recommendation has a weight which the excellence of the examination did not have; and it can not be necessary that such a certificate should be required.
Mr. MORGAN. I am not offering the amendment now, and I will consider the suggestions of the Senator from Massachusetts and see if they will better the amendment, so that we am act upon them when the time comes for considering the amendment. I merely desired to bring the subject to the attention of the Senate. I believe that that feature introduced into this bill will relieve us of a great deal of trouble that we have already experienced with reference to these appointments.
Mr. WILLIAMS. I ask the Senator if that amendment is broad enough to cover outside offices, such as the post-offices of the country?
Mr. MORGAN. The bill only relates to
Mr. WILLIAMS. It only relates to eight or ten thousand people.
Mr. MORGAN. The bill only relates to employments they are not offices really in the District of Columbia and in those custom-houses and post-offices where fifty or more employés are employed. Of course I conform my amendment to the tenor of the bill.
There is another amendment which I propose to offer, which I find is not at all in conflict with that of my colleague [Mr. PUGH]. I will read it now for the purpose of bringing the attention of the Senate to this part of the subject. It is to come in in section 3, line 23, after the word "Washington;" so that the whole clause would read, as I propose to amend it, as follows:
The commission may be at Washington and in each of the States designate and employ five examiners, not in the employment of the United States, of whom not more than three shall be adherents of the same political party, who shall examine such persons actually residing in such States or in the District of Columbia, who shall apply for appointment to or employment in any place or office under the provisions of this act. And the commissioners may at any time substitute any person in such boards of examiners, having regard to the qualifications herein expressed, in place of the persons removed.
The evil that I attempt to prevent by the introduction of that amendment is the immigration of persons from the States to the District of Columbia for the purpose of following the business of seeking office. As matters are now conducted, thousands and tens of thousands of men and women leave their homes in the States and Territories and come here to be on hand, to be everlastingly present to drop into the pool when the angel has stirred the waters, or when the angel of death has drawn some person abroad, lying by, like lazzaroni, like poor afflicted people, as many of them are, to get the benefit of an appointment if they happen to be within reach at the proper moment of time. Washington city has been colonized with people in these unfortunate circumstances, and the policy and practice of the Government has been such as to induce these people continually to flock to this capital. Without expressing any opinion as to whether they are better than the people that they leave behind at home, I believe that the civil service of the Government, so far as filling up the offices in Washington is concerned, would be greatly improved if the examiners were appointed, we will say, at the capitals of each of the States, there to make the examination of actual residents in the States.
Then we should get what is termed new blood and of a superior quality. The examiners in the different States would have pride in the selection of the best persons to fill these different posts or places, and we should avoid what I conceive to be a very great evil, that of drawing from the country a set of people to the city of Washington whose sole business is office-seeking. During the six years I have been here I have become thoroughly well acquainted with a number of people who are always on hand at the beginning and close of every session, and who whenever any new appropriation bill is passed or any new office is created are ready with a pile of old papers, some of them grown absolutely greasy in service, recommendations running back through five and six and seven and eight and ten years they are ready with these indorsements to come and ask you to put on an additional indorsement to get them a place. They will tell you they have been here lo these many years seeking employment at the hands of the Government, and have always been disappointed, and now it is surely time that there was some division of offices made so that they might have a chance a the public crib!
Mr. President, I speak of this in sorrow indeed; I speak of it as a temptation that we have, held out to this class of people to come here; but it certainly must be recognized as a fact that this is not a proper method in which to reform the civil service of this country. If we expect to get good material to put into the offices of this country we had better go home for it among men and women who have not left their homes for the purpose of getting office, but who, perhaps, may be found willing to come when the offices are tendered to them by a board of examiners in their own States.
These boards of examiners in the different States will have a very careful eye to the character of every person. There will be no bad or false material thrust upon the Government here, or if there is, it will be an accident, it will be a mistake; but in the main, in the great aggregate, we shall by methods of this kind succeed in getting a very much better class of people to fill the offices in Washington than we have ever had before.
I am in favor also of stability in the public service in respect to the progressive information which is acquired by office-holders in these different Departments concerning the duties which they are expected to perform. I have many instances in my eye where my own experience in the Departments has taught me that it is necessary to have persons qualified in a specialty in some of the different Departments, who must acquire these qualifications by even years of experience and practice. At the same time there is an evil which grows up in consequence of long continuance of the same set of people in office, which is to be dreaded; and that is the evil of combinations in bureaus and in divisions and in sections in the different offices of the Government. Four or five men and women become thoroughly well acquainted with each other in a department from long association; they ascertain each others' traits and qualities, moral and mental; they know how far success can be gained in forming little rings and combinations to slight work or to do things for persons which may yield profit to them and injury to the Government. It is better to change these appointees once in a while; it is better, at all events, to inject into every section, division, and bureau of his Government some new material occasionally for the purpose of presenting the practice which too frequently arises of forming these combinations.
I object very much indeed to that feature of the bill which requires the competitive examinations to commence at the bottom of the list. I can give an illustration to the Senate which I think is conclusive upon that subject. It was made my duty as a member of the Committee on Public Lands to take charge of a sub-committee to investigate the General Land Office. We went through each division of the General Land Office and made a complete examination of each division, putting the chief of each division upon oath and asking him such questions as we thought would bring out the exact condition of affairs in the different divisions. I ascertained there that there were at least ten or perhaps as many as twelve chief clerks over the different divisions into which the Land Office is arranged, each of whom has to perform very important judicial functions in the decision of questions which relate to the very homes of the people of this country. I ascertained that there were 150,000 suspended cases in that bureau of which there are perhaps as many as 100,000 contested; and I ascertained that among those contested cases there were somewhere the records would reach as many as a thousand pages of manuscript, and that the controversy, if not in the particular case at least in the principle which was to be determined by it, would involve, millions of dollars in money.
I found that these different divisions were presided over by chief clerks. I believe them to be a very conscientious and very honest and well-informed set of men; but it is impossible that these men can get the information necessary to make of them chief clerks to preside in this great land court, and over the different divisions of this great land court, by the experience which is to be acquired when they enter as copyists. You must find men of sufficient capacity to take hold of this subject at the head of it; you must have them examined, if you do it properly, before an enlightened board of lawyers, to determine as to their capacity to discharge these high judicial functions. You may start in the Land Office every employé there at the foot and spell him up it may take twenty years to do it, until he gets to the highest grade to be chief clerk in the division of class 1, and you have merely drawn from three-fourths of that man's time in the effort to qualify him for the discharge of lower duties, without giving him any opportunity at all of understanding the higher duties which he is required to perform in this judicial character.
This bill, in its application to that department, would ruin it. If every man who is to go into the General Land Office, and who is expected after a while, by his studies and his proficiency, to attain to that degree of knowledge which will enable him to be a competent chief of a division, is to go in at the fourth grade and spell up to the first, we should be fifteen or twenty years on the average, perhaps, in getting men there who can discharge the duties of these important positions.
I speak now of what exists, not of what I hope will exist, when the General Land Office has undergone a revision by the Congress of the United States and is put upon a basis of better practical common sense.
So it would be in the Patent Office. I believe that the examiners of the Patent Office are mere employés; they are not office-holders as I understand the law, though I am not quite certain that I am right about it. But suppose you start a man in the Patent Office as a copyist, a fourth-grade clerk, and then you carry him to the third grade, and then to the second and then to the first
Mr. SHERMAN. The lower grade in the first.
Mr. MORGAN. I reverse the order then first, second, third, and fourth and you graduate him in each of these grades; he becomes proficient in each one of them: and when a vacancy happens by death or
removal above him he is examined competitively to go into the next how much programs does that man make in the direction of becoming a good examiner in the Patent Office? How much of science does he learn, how much of art, how much of the various specialties that are found in the Department, which require the most accurate skill and knowledge both of law and of science and art? Nothing. This is not a graded school in which children or youths are to progress from the lower to the higher grades. You want men who are qualified in mind and in information for the particular duty they are to perform, and they may acquire that knowledge outside. Hence all of these grades should be open, to access from all men who may be found qualified and of sufficient character to justify their appointment.
I do not care, to argue this case any more fully this evening, Mr. President, or submit any further remarks about it. I merely desired to draw the attention of the Senate to these few propositions in order that they may receive, consideration as we progress with maturing and perfecting this bill. I desire to make progress with it. I desire to make all out of it we can. I prefer, for instance, the amendment of the honorable Senator from Iowa [Mr. ALLISON], who presents three commissioners I mean in that particular I prefer it and does not designate that either of these is to be an office-holder under the Government. I prefer men who stand outside of the offices of the Government to make these examinations. It is easy enough for the different Departments to furnish a memorandum of the duties expected of the persons to be employed in the different grades of clerkships, and upon that memorandum it is easy enough for the examiners to make the examination with reference to what is I expected of the appointee. But there is a difficulty, and unless this bill has been amended a very serious difficulty, in the introduction into this commission of any persons who hold office in any of the Departments.
The amendment which I believe was proposed by the Senator from Ohio [Mr. PENDLETON] to the first section of the bill was that these five commissioners should be nominated by the President and appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. That amendment is on the bill. It would be rather an absurd thing if the President were required to select two men who have already been commissioned, appointed, and continued by the Senate, to confer upon them these additional duties conferring two offices upon the same man by the ratification and confirmation of the Senate after Presidential nomination. That would be a little awkward. It perhaps is not positively unconstitutional, but it is against the spirit and theory of the Government.
If we desire to purge this service of all possibility of the formation of combinations and rings in the different Departments we must keep the examining power and the appointing power of these men outside of the Departments, and it will be a dangerous thing if we undertake to require of the President or of any person the President is the person of whom it is required that any of these commissioners shall be appointed from men who already hold office in the different Departments. There can be but one reason for that, which is merely to gain the advantage of the experience of these men during their term of office. We can gain experience enough if we get men of intelligence and activity to take charge of this commission and require them to go to these Departments and understand the duties of the different persons which they are to examine and to make examination in reference to. I do not understand that these three commissioners or five commissioners are to have a mere perfunctory duty to perform in this matter. They ought to be laborious men, responsible men, men of eminence, of character, and ability, who will take the matter in hand and go to the different Departments and understand exactly what ought to be done when men apply to be examined for appointment or employment in these Departments.
If this bill can be amended so as to meet these views and to take out of it what I consider to be some crudities, I shall very cheerfully vote for it.
Mr. CALL. Mr. President, I wish to submit a few observations to the Senate upon the pending bill. I presume that every Senator, as well as every citizen of the United States, would be glad to vote for any measure which would promote the efficiency of the civil service and protect it from being a corrupt factor in influencing the elections of the country. The question, however, presented by this bill is whether it is the proper mode of remedying the evil and whether it will remedy the evil complained of.
It seems to me that there are very grave objections relating to the character of our Government, relating to the powers conferred in the Constitution, objections which go to the very foundation of our institutions, involved in the support of this bill.
The Government of this country is a government legislative, executive, and judicial, and the great foundation of the Government is that the executive department shall be held to a strict responsibility to the people, the elective power of the country. No doubt this question received grave consideration in the Constitution at its formation, when it was decided to vest in the executive department of the Government the entire control of its official power, its appointments to office, and to hold, through the responsibility of the Executive to the people every four years, the sole check upon bad administration and bad execution of the laws.
Now the question for us to consider is whether the powers sought to be conferred by this bill are not entirely antagonistic and destructive of that portion or the Constitution of the country. I propose to examine that question very briefly.
The grants of power in the Constitution of the United States relating to appointments to office are contained in a provision which I shall read. I consider that there is no question and can be no argument that every executive place in this Government is an office in the sense of the Constitution and confided by the Constitution to the care of the Executive.
The grants of power in the Constitution of the United States relating to appointments to office are contained in the following words:
The President, * * * by and with the advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint * * * other public officers whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law. * * * Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers * * * in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in thy heads of Departments.
All power of appointments to office in this Government are therefore limited to the President and the Senate, to the President alone, to the heads of Departments, and the courts.
We have therefore only to inquire what is the meaning of the words "appointments to office" to ascertain the extent of Congressional power on this subject.
These words can have but one meaning, whether taken in their literal and customary sense or interpreted by their purpose as a grant of power to the executive department of the Government. They can only mean the acts which are necessary to invest a person with office. These acts are selection of the persons, their designation, and their induction, for without each of these acts there can be no appointment to office. If there be only selection without designation, there can be no official notice of the investiture of office; if there be selection and designation without induction, there can be no exercise of power.
Our Constitution has itself given definite interpretation to the meaning of the word "appoint," in the language which says the President "shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate appoint." We have therefore a constitutional definition of the meaning of the word "appoint."
Our Constitution, therefore, and every other form of government contemplates of necessity in the power of appointment the exercise of official-power; and therefore induction, which is the actual investiture of office, is necessary to the power of appointment. If this power of appointment, this right of selection, designation, and induction be unlimited as it is, then manifestly there can be no power in Congress to limit, qualify, and restrain it. The Constitution gives to Congress the power to vest the power of appointment of inferior officers, that is their selection, designation, and induction into office, in "the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of Departments."
These are the only sources in which it is competent for Congress to vest the power of either selection, designation, or induction into office. There are only three points of inquiry here in any course of reasoning connected with the subject of this bill.
The first is: Does this power given to Congress to vest by law the appointment or selection and designation and induction into office in the President alone, in the heads of Departments, or in the courts, authorize Congress to exercise the powers which are thus required to be vested in other and designated persons?
Second. Does it authorize Congress to vest the power of appointment partially in the designated persons, and partially in others, or to give the power of selection to the persons in whom they are required to vest the power of appointment, and the power of designation and induction to some other persons?
Third. Does this power to vest the power of appointment in the President alone, in the heads of Departments, and in the courts, authorize Congress to declare by law who they shall or who they shall not appoint, and from what classes they shall be taken; that is, does it authorize Congress to withhold the power or a part of it, instead of vesting it in the designated persons?
Certainly the authority to vest by law the selection, designation, and induction of persons into office in the President alone, in the heads of Departments, and in the courts prohibits Congress both from vesting it in any other person or from exercising it themselves, either directly or indirectly, or from qualifying and limiting it.
It is the power of selection, designation, and induction, all of which are necessary to the act of appointment that Congress is authorized to vest. This power is a legal entity, a substantial and indivisible fact. It can not be vested in part and withheld in part. It can not be vested and at the same time not vested. It can not be a power vested in them and at the same time qualified, limited, and controlled by some other person in its exercise.
The Senator from Vermont [Mr. EDMUNDS] found the other day authority for legislation regulating, qualifying, and limiting the executive authority as provided by the Constitution in the laws regulating the time and place and means for the exercise of judicial powers. But the cases are not the same nor is there any analogy between them. Here the Constitution requires in express terms the unlimited power to do a single act of executive power to be vested by an act of Congress in particular persons of a particular Department of the Government. In the case of the law regulating the time and place for the exercise of judicial power these are acts of legislation under the general power of the legislature, and are in no sense a diminution of or interference with judicial power, but are in aid of it. A parallel case to this bill
would be found by the Senator in a law by which Congress should declare that the judges should decide cases before them subject to and in conformity with the opinions of Congress or the executive department.
Neither is the instance cited of the law of Congress creating the office of Attorney-General, "and requiring the President to appoint a person learned in the law" "and not a blacksmith to be Attorney-General" of any force. I presume no one, and certainly not the Senator from Vermont, will contend that if under this act of Congress the President had appointed a blacksmith to be Attorney-General and the Senate had confirmed him that the appointment would have been of no force and effect. Neither if the President had appointed some one not learned in the law, nor if he had appointed some one who was learned in the law but not a licensed lawyer; nor if he had appointed a licensed lawyer who was not learned in the law. In all these cases the appointment would be equally valid, and the limitations of Congress on the appointing power equally void and of no force or effect. It can not be a power to appoint and at the same time be subject to the will and direction of another as to the person to be appointed. By the Constitution the appointment of all officers must be by the President and Senate, or by the President alone, or by the heads of Departments, or by the courts.
By this bill all appointments must be made subject to the consent of five commissioners and their decision as to the competency and fitness of the person. By the Constitution the President and, Senate, or the President alone, or the heads of Departments or the courts must select and decide on the competency and fitness for office of the person and induct him into office. By the bill five commissioners must select and decide, and the selections and decisions of the President and Senate and heads of Departments are subjected to the decisions and selections of others not known to the Constitution nor recognized by its provisions. By the Constitution, the President and Senate, the President alone, the heads of Departments and the courts are the sole constitutional depositaries of the powers of appointment of all officers under this Government. By the bill the commissioners are the sole depositaries of power over appointments.
Conceding for argument's sake the proposition of this bill, that the provisions of the Constitution are of no value on this subject, the question arises whether the provisions of the bill improve it. What are these provisions? The commissioners are to be subject to removal by the President. They therefore live in the Executive will and pleasure. They are to "aid him on his request; " therefore they are to exercise their power at his pleasure. They are to "propose suitable rules;" therefore these rules are to be "suitable" only as the opinion and judgment of the commissioners may decide. They are to "carry the law into effect;" therefore an act of Congress is by its own enactment to be made dependent for its effect as law on the judgment and opinion of certain persons designated by Congress to approve and carry it into effect, other than the constitutional authority, namely, the President. The bill therefore practically confers on this dual executive power the actual power both of approval and of veto of its provisions. It is to be an act of Congress, an expression of the legislative will, a command; but it is to become law only when approved and formulated into "suitable" rules, made and adopted by the President and the commissioners; and then with a subsequent condition, namely, that these rules are to become laws upon their promulgation. After the exercise of all this delegated legislative-executive power the act is to become a law. We may, I think, properly pause to ask if this is the constitutional method for the exercise of supreme legislative power.
We may also well pause to inquire if this is a wise or safe method of exercising legislative power, namely, to delegate it by an act of Congress to five commissioners, appointed by the executive power, and in advance of their action to enact that whatever they shall decide shall be law. And yet that is what the bill does in plain and express terms.
Again, the bill provides "that such rules shall provide and declare as nearly as the conditions, of good administration will warrant." Therefore these commissioners must consider and decide what the conditions of good administration require in the appointments to office. There is a large legislative discretion and also the trust of a great executive power, a supreme legislative and executive power, vested by this act in these commissioners, unknown to the Constitution, as the depositaries of power. This great question of deciding what the "conditions of good administration would warrant," was of necessity the great subject of consideration in respect to appointments to office in the formation of this Government. It was decided by investing the supreme Legislature with power to decide what acts should be good administration and what should be bad, and by placing the power of appointment, that is, of selecting, designating, and inducting into all offices under the Government in either the President and Senate, or in the President alone, or in the heads of Departments, or in the courts. The bill antagonizes these provisions, and creates this new tribunal of commissioners, in whom it invests the power of selection, designation, and induction or appointment under methods fixed by act of Congress and by the commissioners. Let us now examine, since we have considered the nature and extent of the powers of this legislative and executive commission for appointments to office, the methods and the objects which the bill proposes to adopt and attain, and which are regarded as of sufficient importance to justify and demand the creation of this new legislative-executive tribunal invested by the bill with the constitutional powers of both the Congress and the President.
The first object which the bill enacts shall be provided for and declared by the commission "as nearly as the conditions of good administration will warrant is ‘competitive open examination.’" Is that not the law now so far as an act of Congress can make it law? Certainly it is within the constitutional power of the President to select none for office except those who shall pass such examination, and the bill does not propose to establish this competitive examination with the force of law without the consent of the President.
The bill next proposes that this commission shall classify all offices, and that the executive power of selection and induction into office shall be limited to certain classes of persons who shall reach these places by promotion or succession.
This also is already within the range of the executive power as now provided by constitutional law, and if it be the proper system he is amenable to the public opinion, to the elective power of the country, for failing to do it.
Next the bill proposes that the commission shall adopt and promulgate a rule by which the President, with heads of Departments or the courts, shall be prohibited from appointing any one to office except in the lower grades of office. This also is an object entirely within the reach of the executive power, and one which can not be coerced and which the bill itself does not propose to coerce.
The next object is probation before appointment to office. This also is within the reach of executive power, and can not be compelled by the law which the commission is authorized by the bill to make.
The next object to be attained by the law which the commission shall make is to prevent any person from being compelled to pay contributions to a political fund. This is not only within the reach of executive power, but is already the law enacted by an act of Congress of at least equal validity and efficacy with that proposed to be made.
The bill, therefore, adds nothing to the force of existing law even in respect to the objects it proposes to attain.
Mr. WILLIAMS. With the consent of the Senator from Florida, who gives way for that purpose, I move that the Senate proceed to the consideration of executive business.
Mr. EDMUNDS. I hope not. Let us finish this bill.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. MILLER of California, in the chair). It is moved that the Senate proceed to the consideration of executive business.
Mr. EDMUNDS called for the yeas and nays, and they were ordered.
The Principal Legislative Clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. BARROW (when his name was called). I am paired with the Senator from New Hampshire [Mr. BLAIR].
The roll-call was concluded.
Mr. RANSOM. My colleague [Mr. VANCE] is paired with the Senator from Louisiana [Mr. KELLOGG].
Mr. DAVIS, of West Virginia. My colleague [Mr. CAMDEN] is paired with the Senator from Wisconsin [Mr. SAWYER].
The result was announced yeas 28, nays 21; as follows:
So the motion was agreed to.
Allison, William Boyd; Barrow, Middleton Pope; Brown, Joseph Emerson; Call, Wilkinson; Cameron, James Donald; Cockrell, Francis Marion; Dawes, Henry Laurens; Edmunds, George Franklin; Groome, James Black; Hawley, Joseph Roswell; Hoar, George Frisbie; Ingalls, John James; Morgan, John Tyler; Pendleton, George Hunt; Van Wyck, Charles Henry; Vest, George Graham; Williams, John Stuart. 'Debate in the Senate on the Civil Service Reform Act of 1883, December 20th, 1882' in 'The Congressional Record, 47th Congress' . Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1882. [format: journal], [genre: letter; government document; proceedings]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=csdebate5.html