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(2) In April, 1864, Mr. Sumner, a Republican Senator from Massachusetts, pro. sented a bill in the Senate providing for a Civil Service Commission and for exami. nations for entering the civil service. The bill did not pass the Senate, and it was very unlike the civil service law now in force. It may be found, I think, in the 8th volume of Mr. Sumner's works, though I have not the volume before me.
(3) In December, 1865, Mr. Jenckes, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Rhode Island, presented in that body an elaborate bill for regulating the civil service, which provided for the creation of a Civil Service Commission. The bill failed to pass the House, and it seems never to have been presented in the Senate.
(4) In a law approved March 3, 1871, now the 1753d section of the Revised Statutes, there is a brief clause which authorized the President to prescribe regulations for admission to the civil service and to employ suitable persons to conduct inquiries as to fitness for entering such service. It was a very inadequate provision for the purpose, which put the whole responsibility upon the President, committed Congress to no definite policy, and therefore left Congress at liberty to criticize the doings of the President and to refuse him the support he would need. On this meager basis President Grant employed several persons to aid him in making and executiug civil service rules which went into effect January 1, 1872. These rules provided for a system of civil service examinations, and adopted in the main the theory of the Jenckes bill. The persons thus employed were designated Civil Service Commissioners. The late George William Curtis, who had done much to advance the cause of reform, was their first chairman. Mr. Curtis resigned his position and Mr. Dorman B. Eaton was selected by President Grant in April, 1873, as the successor of Mr. Curtis. The inherent defects of this meager law, the partisan hostility to it, the refusal of Congress to make the needed appropriations, combined with other influences, caused President Grant to arrest the work of the Commission in 1875. Thus the efforts for reform had in large measure failed, though the good effects of the examinations were beyond question.
(5) On the 15th December, 1880, Mr. Pendleton, a Democratic Senator from Ohio, presented in the Senate a bill which was in substance and in nearly all its provisions the same bill which had been originally presented in the House by Mr. Jenckes. This bill became known as the Pendleton bill. Mr. Willis, a Democratic member of Congress from Kentucky, now minister to the Sandwich Islands, presented a copy of this bill in the House. In the meantime, in 1877, at the city of New York, the first association had been organized for the advancement of civil service reform. Among its members were adherents of both the great parties. Mr. Pendleton was not a member of the association, and his presentation of a bill in the Senate was his own independent act, in which the association had no part. It was one of the purposes of this association to secure some adequate legislation by Congress for advancing civil service reform, which the public earnestly demanded. My experience as a Civil Service Commissioner under President Grant and a study of the methods of civil service reform in England had convinced me that such a reform could not succeed in this country without the constant support of a civil service commission very different from that provided for in the Sumner and Jenckes bills, nor without a commitment by Congress in the outset to the general principles upon which the reform was to proceed. I had also reached the conclusion that neither Mr. Sumner's bill nor that of Mr. Jenckes, should it become a law, could be executed through the practical agencies for which either provided, and bad become satisfied that on several grounds both these bills would encounter constitutional objections which would be fatal, and before the New York association had been formed I had sketched an outline of a civil service bill, which contained substantially the provisions of the civil service act of January 16, 1883, now in force.
(6) Early in December, 1880, the New York Civil Service Reform Association entered upon the consideration of having a civil service reform bill drafted with the purpose of having it presented in Congress. It instructed its committee on legislation--of which the late Orland B. Potter, Everett P. Wheeler and Dorman B. Eaton were the
members, the last-named being the chairman-to prepare and report such a bill, which should provide for a Civil Service Commission and declare the general principles of an adequate reform of the civil service of the United States. Mr. Eaton, as chairman of the committee, drafted the bill which was reported by the committee to the association December 27, 1880. The bill was subjected to the most careful scrutiny by the association, and it was in various details amended, but neither its framework nor arrangement was changed, and no new section was added to the original draft, nor was any rejected from it. The bill having been completod and printed was, on the 30th of December, 1880, placed in charge of the committee on legislation with instructions to have it presented in Congress and to promote its enactment into a law. No party or party leader had any part whatever in the preparation of the bill.
(7) In the meantime, and only fifteen days previously, Mr. Pendleton had presented the Jenckes bill in the Senate. There had been neither coöperation nor privity between him and the association or its committees in the preparation of the new bill or in the presentation of the Jenckes bill.
(8) Acting on instructions from the Association, I presented a copy of this new bill to Senator Pendleton early in January, 1881, and soon after to Mr. Willis. It was a delicate matter to ask the Senator to abandon a bill with which his name had become identified and to substitute for it another with very different provisions, and this on the ground that the so-called “Pendleton bill” not only contained provisions repugnant to the Constitution, but provided for practical methods which could not be carried into effect. Yet without such a substitution a conflict, likely to be fatal to the cause of reform, seemed unavoidable. Senator Pendleton became convinced that the objections to the bill he had presented were fatal, and he patriotically and magnanimously undertook to substitute the new bill in its place. On the 10th of January, 1881, he presented the latter bill in the Senate, which, like the former, was designated the “Pendleton bill.” The first hearing before the Senate Committee on the bill took place January 13, 1881, when Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Eaton spoke in support of it. After various amendments, but without change of structure or of its main provisions, the bill was passed by the Senate December 27, 1882, and by the House January 4, 1883. In each body both Republicans and Democrats voted in its favor as well as against it. It was in no proper sense either supported or opposed as a party measure. The act was approved by President Arthur January 16, 1883, and it has never been amended.
It may be added here that the New York Association also prepared a separate bill for the suppression of political assessment, which was presented in Congress by Mr. Willis about the same time as its other bill. The main provisions of this assessment bill were finally added to the civil service bill and now constitute its last four sections.
I have been thus particular in setting out the facts, as there seems to have been much confusion in the public mind relative to the origin of the present civil service law. Yours, very truly,
DORMAN B. EATON. P.S.-I may say that I have read this letter to Mr. Wheeler, referred to above, and that he concurs in its statements.
D. B. EATON. 10. FEATURES OF PREVIOUS REPORTS.
[These reports can be consulted at the principal public libraries.] The First Report, February 7, 1884, presents at length the facts and explanations respecting the objects, theory, and practical methods of the civil-service act and rules, and the first provisions made for the examinations. It describes the abuseswhich the act is intended to remedy, the essential vices of the pass-examination system, and the consequences of the spoils system. It explains the nature of competitive examinations, the limits of the classifications, the methods of application and of examination, the selection of examiners, the preservation of the rights of soldiers and
sailors, the subjects for examination, special and technical examinations, marking and grading, the apportionment, residence, certifying for appointment, the protection to women, the power of removal, promotions and other exceptions from the rules, probation, the functions of the Commission, the diminution of executive patronage, and the breaking up of the class-monopoly of patronage. It gives the testimony of the heads of departments and offices to the practical effects of tbe initial operation of the merit system. It makes suggestions for the more effectual accomplishment of the purposes of the civil-service act. Upon information obtained, it gives conclusions reached in the smaller amounts collected for political purposes from federal officials, the cessation of menaces, and the discontinuance of assessment collection bureaus.
The Second Report, January 25, 1885, states that the enforcement of the act has been found both practicable and effective for the accomplishment of its purpose, and that only the continuing support of the Executive and moderate appropriations by Congress are needed for the extension of the system. The work done is set forth in detail. The facts and explanations of the first report are continued in the light of the additional experience. Pi ctical methods, needed precautions, and general results reached are explained at length.
The Third Report, March 10, 1886, states that no need of further legislation has appeared; that no facts have come before the Commission which tend to show that within the year more adherents of one party than of the other have attended the examinations or secured appointments, or that any discrimination has been made on political or religious grounds. The report continues the explanations of the evils of the old system, and of the examinations and rules as remedies and the results reached. It states the attitude and views of the President and heads of departments. It points out the diminution of office-seeking under the change of administration and of partisan activity on the part of officers. It gives an account of civil-service reform elsewhere.
The Fourth Report, June 9, 1888, gives the work done in much greater statistical detail than in the previous reports and includes statistics for part of the work from the beginning. On March 1, 1888, the rules had been revised and this report states at length the reasons for various amendments made. It reviews the subject of promotion regulations, such regulations having been adopted in the New York customhouse and in the War Department. It contains reports of several investigations as to the administration of the law and rules in post-offices and custom-houses where complaints had been made. Questions concerning the legality of certain appointments in the departments are discussed. The practical effects of the act and rules, the objections to, and the misrepresentations of the new system are examined. The appendix contains historical matter, and the views of heads of departinents, postmasters, collectors, and other customs officials in respect to the enforcement and practical effects of the law and rules. Among other questions this report discusses the wisdom of a rule requiring reasons for removals, the conditions existing in the service prior to the passage of the act, the constitutionality of the act, in what respect the power of removal is limited by the act, and objections to the political associations of officials.
The Fifth Report, February 27, 1889, states the effects of the merit system as shown in promotions, and remarks upon the abuse of transfers from one department to another, the education of those examined, the utility of examinations for promotion, difficulties in maintaining the apportionment, objections to apportionment by Congressional districts, the law of domicile, requiring reasons for dismissals, objections to old classifications (particularly the classification of the customs service, which is still in force) and the adoption of a uniform departmental classification.
The Sixth Report, November 14, 1889, points out the difficulties resulting from the lack of power to administer oaths and suggests that the act be amended to permit of placing on the boards of examiners persons not in Government employ. It states that experience has clearly shown that the local boards of examiners should be independent of the appointing officers, and to this end recommends that the law
be so amended as to permit this being done; and that provision be made for marking the papers of all examinations by the central board at Washington. It states that the opening of the registers of eligibles to the public has had a beneficial effect. It speaks of the changes in the rules, the adoption of rules covering the railway mail service, and allowing veterans under the old rule, formerly in the classified service, to be reinstated without reference to the length of time elapsed from the severance of their connection therewith. It reports a number of investigations at various local offices against which there had been charges of wrongdoing, the vigilant watch kept to prevent the evasion or violation of the law, and states that the Commission holds that if in any department or office a very large proportion of the employés is changed the burden of proof should be considered to rest on the official making the change, to show that his conduct was proper and that a failure on his part to establish the necessity for these changes should be held to warrant his dismissal. Accusations against the merit system are answered, and it is explained that the examinations are good common-sense business tests.
The Seventh Report, November 20, 1890, states that during the year which it covers, the Commission has been able to make very thorough examination into the condition of the classified service, and special stress is laid upon certain points developed by this investigation; for instance, that in the classified departmental service only 8 per cent of the appointees of the former administration had been separated from the service during the first year of the succeeding administration, showing that political considerations have practically disappeared as factors in making removals in that service, and that since its enactment the law as a whole had been faithfully and honestly observed in the departments, although subjected to the strain of two changes of administration. The operation of the rules in the postal and customs service is stated to be satisfactory, and tables are presented showing the removals in detail at each office.
The Commission reiterates its belief that where a removal is made the appointing officer should give the accused a chance to be heard in his own defense, and should be required to give in writing a full statement of his reasons for making the removal, such statement to be made public if the accused so desires it. The effects of the investigations are commented upon. The wide difference is pointed out between different States and sections in the eagerness with which positions in the classified service are songht. For the first time in a number of years the Gulf and the Southern States generally obtained their full quotas of appointments, and this is pointed out as proof of nonpartisanship. It is shown that the eligible registers are not crowded, there being a good chance of appointment from many of them. The practical character of the questions and tests used in the examinations is again comniented on. It urges that the number of excepted places and of those governed by noncompetitive examination could be very greatly reduced. The great improvement brought about by the merit system is shown. Legislation is urged to allow the payment of small sums to local boards, and to establish a central board at Washington to mark all papers. The good effects of the investigations held are shown, and it is stated that a jealous eye has been kept upon the efforts of certain individuals and political associations to assess Government employés for campaign purposes. The results of the work in general are also a subject of remark in this report.
The Eighth Report, November 6, 1891, states that several noteworthy steps in advance had been made during the year in the application of the rnles to the educational branch of the Indian service and to Indian physicians, and in revoking the rule which permitted promotion under certain conditions from the unclassified to the classified service. It urges that every “backdoor” entrance to the classified service should be shut and that positions of chiefs of divisions be filled by promotion from the ranks below. The satisfactory working of the law in the departmental service at Washington and the elimination of political considerations in making appointments are again dwelt upon. The benefit to the colored race is pointed out
It is stated that the local offices show less satisfactory results, but that there is a gradual improvement in them. The Commission earnestly recommends the extension of the classified service in various directions as rapidly as it properly can be done. Among other extensions of the system proposed is that additional legislation be had to take all laborers out of politics. The practical character of the questions, the divorcing of the service from politics and the purification of politics are topics of discussion. The amendment of the law is urged to prevent any individual, whether in the Government service or not, from soliciting any Government employé for contributions for political objects.
The Ninth Report, November 1, 1892, states that there has been a very decided increase in the proportion of women to men appointed, and also in the number of women promoted to higher grades in the service over the last year and calls attention to this fact as probably showing that the prejudice which has heretofore existed to some extent against the appointment of women to the classified service is gradually disappearing, and that when women in the public service have a fair and even chance with the men they win their full share of the more lucrative and responsible positions. This, it is stated, is specially true with reference to those appointed through competitive examinatious. The stand taken by the Commission in reference to political assessments this year was of special importance, and the efforts made in securing observance of the law are stated at length. Recommendations made in previous reports are repeated in this. The very startling growth of the number of Govern ment employés compared with the growth of population, is shown at length in the tables, and also the faster growth of the classified service. In the appendix the report contains historical and descriptive matter, showing the growth and extent of the civil service, with remarks upon the authority of appointment and removal, the history of classifications, the salaries of women, and the employment of colored people. An analysis of the official registers is given showing the numbers employed in the entire service by sex and salaries paid, and a statement of the places in the classified service, showing their status, whether filled by examination or not, and the salaries paid. The report also contains a map showing the routes of examinations and the location of the classified offices away from Washington.
The reports also conta in the civil-service act, rules and regulations in force at the time the report was issued, with specimen examination questions, a description of the classified service, the decisions of the Commission and of the Attorneys-General, extracts from the annual message of the President and statistical tables of examinations, and appointments, removals, etc. 11. TABLE SHOWING THE NUMBER OF KINDS OF EXAMINATIONS IN THE ENTIRE
CLASSIFIED SERVICE, DECEMBER 2, 1893.
2 Department of Justice
2 Post-Office Department
3 Railway Mail Service
3 Navy Department....
18 U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries
6 Treasury Department.
21 War Department
28 Interior Department
30 Indian Service....
10 Agriculture, Department of
52 Custom-house promotions.
270 This cmits 47 War Department promotion examinations, which have not been help for some time.