Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of opinion, and will be willing to go into history as the man who undid and destroyed this great work which the American people have required to be done; and I am willing to trust the measure to the influence of that consideration for the future.

Senator Bayard :

I desire to see a change. I wish here to say that I do not desire to see a Republican spoils system replaced by a Lemocratic spoils system. Just so far as we can remove the public clerical force from the ebb and flow of shifting and accidental party power, just so far as we may remove them from the fires of party and from the anxiety that must attend our frequent recurring elections, just so far we progress in the right direction.

We are now proposing to substitute whatt Public service for party service; the test of individual capacity and fitness and worth for an office instead of violent partisan service, oftentimes of an unscrupulous and unprincipled character.

Senator Dawes:

I know of no other way by which you can 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 this 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.

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 a 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.

Senator George:

The merits of this bill I shall not go into now. I will mention, however, to the honorable Sepator that it does incarnate and embody in the form of a statute the best conscience and judgment of this country against political proscription, and as such it receives my hearty approbation. I denounce this system as it now exists. I denounce it because it excludes my friends and the men with whom I cooperate from all participation in the affairs of the Government. But will it be any better, will it be fairer, will political proscription be less hideous, if when we attain power we shall turn around and practice the same methods which we denounce now! No. sir; if political proscription be wrong in the Republican party it will be wrong in the Democratic party. If it be unjust, as I say it is unjust, that the Democrats of this country should have no chance to participate in the administration of the Government, it will be equally unjust, should our good fortune lead us to victory, to exclude to the same extent the Republicans from political employment in this country.

ENTRANCE TO CIVIL SERVICE TO BE BY COMPETITIVE TESTS OPEN TO ALL CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES UPON EQUAL TERMS.

Senator Sherman:

There is the power to select by favoritism, and that power ought to be checked and guarded.

I therefore will vote for any law which will enable any man, rich or poor, whatever may be his condition, wherever he may live, to go at the proper time before proper officers and be examined. In other words, the English rule,* which has been adopted there only within a few years, has worked wonderfully well, so that any person there can go before the proper officers and be examined, and he may be appointed if he proves himself to be more meritorious than anyone else. I am in favor of any law that will accomplish that.

Senator Dawes :

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 aequaintance 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 mako the repetition of the evil impossible.

Senator Butler:

I am one of those old-fashioned persons who believe the offices of this country belong to the people of the country. I believe they belong to the people without regard to the influence of Senators or Representatives in Congress. I believe they belong to the people, and they have a right to designate how those offices shall be conferred, and that they shall be kept in trust for them and not for any political party, whether that political party be Republican or Democrat.

Representative Willis :

As to the remaining sections of this bill, which provide for open competitive examinations, I can say for myself and for the overwhelming majority on this side that they will receive our hearty support. The experience of other countries as

* It has been our happy lot, in almost every department of the State-I believe there are but two exceptions—to give up that which has always been considered the special patronage and the highly prized patronage of the Government, namely, the appointment of clerks to the civil offices of the country. We have abandoned that power. We have thrown every one of them open to public competition. The transition is now nearly complete; * and in order that the public service might be indeed the public service; in order that we might not have among the civil officers of the State that which we have complained of in the army, namely, that the service was not the property of the nation, but of the officers, we have now been enabled to remove the barriers of nomination, patronage, jobbing, favoritism in whatever form; and every man belonging to the people of England, if he so pleases to fit his children for the position of competing for places in the public service, may do it entirely irrespective of the question what is his condition in life, or the amount of means with which he may happen to be or not to be blest.-Gladstone.

well as our own demonstrates the necessity and practicability of a reform measure such as this. I will not attempt, for the House is ready to vote, to discuss these sections. Two years ago I introduced here the bill which we now have before is. The more fully I have studied the history of the civil service of our own and of other lands the more fully I have been convinced of the necessity of this legislation if we would bring back our country to its ancient and honorable principles of purity, simplicity, economy, and honesty.

REMOVAL NOT TO BE MADE FOR POLITICAL REASONS, BUT FOR

THE GOOD OF THE SERVICE ONLY. Senator Bayard:

The value of this bill to me is this: It recognizes the principle and the fact that the offices of this Government are created and filled for public service and not for the private use of the incumbents. As long as the offices are to be considered merely as emoluments, merely as rewards, the emolument of the incumbent and a reward and benefit to the incumbent, then I say that you have lost sight of the great ides and purpose for which they were established, which is public benefit, and nothing else.

It provides for a test of fitness and capacity that will logically prevent a President or a Cabinet officer from keeping an incompetent and unworthy man in offee. If he is in he ought to go out, and the sooner he goes out the better, and there is no such thing as vested right in his term of office to remain there. No man holding an office by appointment has a right to remain after his presence there is detrimental to the interests of the public.

Senator Sherman :

There is another law that I am in favor of. It is said that removals are made without cause. Well, sir, if removals are made without cause, in nine cases out of ten they are made upon the solicitation of Members of Congress. I say that without fear of contradiction. Nine out of ten of the removals without cause are made because there is a pressure brought upon Members of Congress to induce removals, and demands are made by Members of Congress, both Senators and Representatives, upon the President and heads of Departments to appoint men for them to office.

Nor is this confined to one party, either, even in a Republican Administration; that is the fact. Now if any law will guard against that, it ought to be passed. One law which would be as wise as any other would be to forbid members of the legislative department of the Government from even applying to the Departments for any position or any office.

REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE, TWENTY-SEVENTH CONGRESS,

JULY 27, 1842.

In the opinion of your committee, a more effective one would be for Congress to pass a law repealing the limitation to oftice under the law of 1820, and requiring all officers having the power to dismiss a subordinate to furnish each person removed from office with the cause, in writing; and also to report forth with the name of the officer, and the cause of his removal, to the President.

The clause repealing the section of the act of 1820 which limits the appointment of certain officers to four years it is believed will be of great practical utility. All those officers at the termination of that period are, by operation of law, removed for the President, without any act on his part, and he may commit the greatest

improprieties in filling the vacant places without incurring any liability for the displacement of faithful public agents. This regulation swells considerably his power, as it makes a great many vacancies with the certainty of the returning year, and subjects the incumbents more inexorably to his will than if the exertion of the power of removal was a preliminary operation. Such repeal would, besides, add somewhat to the permanency and certainty of the tenure by which office would be held; and such tenure should at least be as certain and permanent as the fidelty and fitness of the officer.

The past assures us of what would be the future state of things if the principle that an officer is only to be removed for sufficient cause should be again established. Under Washington, Madison, Monroe, and the two Adamses it fully obtained, and there was hardly occasion to exert it once on the average during the year of the Administration of these Presidents; and yet, in those better days of the Republic, the superiority of the officers of the Government over those of this day, in capability, fidelity, and virtue, is most striking. The people were then neither better, nor wiser, nor more patriotic, nor more devoted to business than now, nor was our general condition and circumstances more favorable to the preservation of public and private virtue in Government agents.

VIEWS OF THE PRESIDENTS, HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS, AND OTHER OFFICIALS RELATIVE TO THE CIVIL-SERV. ICE LAW.

[Extract from the annual message of the President, of December 9, 1891.) The heads of the several executive departments have been directed to establish at ouce an efficiency record as the basis of a comparative rating of the clerks within the classified service, with a view to placing promotions therein upon the basis of merit. I am confident that such a record, fairly kept and open to the inspection of those interested, will powerfully stimulate the work of the departments, and will be accepted by all as placing the troublesome matter of promotions upon a just basis.

(Extracts from the annual message of the President, December, 1893.] The continued intelligent execution of the civil-service law and the increasing approval by the people of its operation are most gratifying. The recent extension of its limitations and regulations to the employees at free-delivery post-offices, which has been honestly and promptly accomplished by the Commission, with the hearty cooperation of the Postmaster-General, is an immensely important advance in the usefulness of the system.

I am, if possible, more than ever convinced of the incalculable benefits conferred by the civil-service law, not only in its effects upon the public service, but also, what is even more important, in its effect in elevating the tone of political life generally.

[From the annual message of the President, December, 1894.) The advantages to the public service of an adherence to the principles of civilservice reform are constantly more apparent; and nothing is so encouraging to those in official life who bonestly desire good government as the increasing appreciation by our people of these advantages. A vast majority of the voters of the land are ready to insist that the time and attention of those they select to perform for them important public duties should not be distracted by doling out minor offices, and they are growing to be unanimous in rogarding party organization as something that should be used in establishing party principles instead of dictating the distribution of public places as rewards of partisan activity.

Numerous additional offices and places have lately been brought within civilservice rules and regulations, and some others will probably soon be included.

[From the annual message of the President, December, 1896.) The progress made in civil-service reform furnishes a cause for the utmost congratulation. It has survived the doubts of its friends as well as the rancor of its enemies, and has gained a permanent place among the agencies destined to cleanse our politics and to improve, economize, and elevate the public service.

The advantages of civil-service methods in their business aspects are too well understood to require argument. Their application has become a necessity to the executive work of the Government. But those who gain positions through the operation of these methods should be made to understand that the nonpartisan scheme through which they receive their appointments demands from them, by way of reciprocity, nonpartisan and faithful performance of duty under every Administration, and cheerful fidelity to every chief. While they should be encouraged to decently exercise their rights of citizenship and to support through their suffrages the political beliefs they honestly profess, the noisy, pestilent, and partisan employee, who loves political turmoil and contention, or who renders lax and grudging service to an Administration not representing his political views, should be promptly and fearlessly dealt with in such a way as to furnish a warning to others who may be likewise disposed.

[From the report of the Postmaster-General, 1894.] Another year's experience has served only to strengthen the conviction expressed in my last annual report as to the excellent working of the civil-service law in the Post-Office Department, and my desire to see its operation extended to every branch of the postal service to which such extension is practicable.

If a system which relieves the appointing officers of the Department of a great burden, which protects the service by requiring a reasonable test of competency before an appointment is made, and which assures the appointee that his tenure will be undisturbed as long as his efficiency and good behavior continue, has produced such good results in the clerical force of the Department, it is reasonable to inquire whether something like it could not be applied with advantage to the lower grades of postmasters.

To one whose duty it is to study the vast mechanism of our postal system in detail, the fact soon becomes too plain for contradiction that it is a business and not a political system; and no person can fill the office of Postmaster-General, even for a short time, without devoutly longing for the day when this fact will receive universal recognition.

For more than one generation the American people have been trained to regard the post-offices as inseparable from the varying fortunes of the two great political parties, and in some instances, even, as legitimately following the vicissitudes of mere factions within a party. This fallaey is to be deplored, whether we treat it broadly as a theory of spoils, or only as reflecting some assumed relation between the principles of a political organization and the business capacity of its membership. The intelligence of our people has long outgrown the notion that any one political party enjoys a monopoly of administrative talent.

[From the report of the Postmaster-General, 1896.) The Post-Office Department is by preeminence the business department of the Government. It is also the familiar servant of all the people. In the performance of its allotted work it visits daily the homes of millions of them and the immediate neighborhood of almost all the other millions. Any interruption of its work or temporary cessation affects many with anxiety and others with loss. It can not stand still, even for a few days, without neglecting some opportunity or missing some means of adding to the fullness or effectiveness of its service. It is therefore indispensable that it should be run on enlightened business principles, and that its

« AnteriorContinuar »