James Marcus Bandy.

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absorbing issue with reference to which parties will have to
range themselves.

This nation thoroughly believes in republican government, and
such government is impossible with our present system. To say
that the people will not see this, is to say, that in a hundred
years they have not learned any thing on a subject that has oc-
cupied their best intelligence during all that period, and that their
fathers could govern them in advance more wisely than they can
now govern themselves. That can hardly be true of so young a
nation, made up of free, active, successful, and enterprising men.
Some plan wiU be devised to avert obvious and imminent ruin.
The dissemination of dishonesty is not yet so wide-spread as to
require the Greek institution of dikasteries. Twelve men in a
jury-box are still considered safe to a reasonable extent ; as much
80, perhaps, as ever : in saying which, we refer to juries generally
in the country, and not merely to those of New England. And
though our newspapers, in the line of their duty, disclose too
many instances of public and private criminality, we have only
to think for a moment of the vast amounts of property depend-

numeroiu applicants and their friends, competing for appointments, have before
brought to bear upon the departments in the direction of favoritism.

"'4. They have, especially where competition applies, relieved tlie heads of
departments, and of bureaus, to a large extent of the necessity of devoting, to per-
sons soliciting places for themselves or for others, time which was needed for offi-
cial duties.

** * 5. They have made ii more practicable to dismiss from the service those who
came in under the civil service examinations, when not found worthy, than it was,
or is, to dismiss the like unworthy persons who had been introduced into the ser-
vice through favor or dictation.

"*6. They have diminished the intrigue and pressure, before too frequent, for
causing the removal of worthy persons for the mere purpose of bringing other, per-
haps inferior, persons into the service.

" ' 7. And for these reasons, those officers think that it is expedient to continue
the refonn upon the method upon which it has proceeded, making from time to
I such modifications in details as experience may show to be most usefdL'"



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212 THE CIVIL SERYIGB OF THE UNITED STATES.

ing always upon human integrity ; of the enormous number of
men who are, to a greater or less extent, the fiduciary deposita-
ries of that property ; of the mutual confidence that makes im-*
mense trade possible and profitable ; and of the actual serenity
of the community generally, except in regard to the very evils
we have been contemplating, — to feel that, while vice abounds
here as everywhere, still there is virtue enough — it may not be
more than enough, but still sufficient — to prevent us from death
by general demoralization, or what physicians call marasmus.

The fact that General Jackson was triumphantly elected to a
second term of office was and is discouraging. His military
success had blinded the country. But, really, his defeat at New
Orleans would have been nothing to the calamity of his political
success. Large bodies move slow. It has taken forty years of
misgovemment to awaken the people ; but they are now awake,
and they will soon show it.

One of the great practical difficulties in the way of improve-
ment is the superstitious veneration^ which is affected by those
who wish to revel in favoritism, for the doctrine of the Congress
of 1789, so long acquiesced in, and even admitted to be settled
by many who regretted its adoption. But in 1866 the law was
passed which prevents military and naval officers from removal
in time of peace without court-martial, and this law was ap-
proved by President Johnson ; and when, afterwards, in 1867, the
first act regulating the tenure of civil office was passed over his
veto by the necessary two-thirds vote of each branch of Con-
gress, and upon his impeachment by the House before the Sen-
ate,, the constitutionality of this law was solemnly affirmed by
the latter, by a vote of 85 to 19, certainly something had been
done to unsettle that doctrine. And more was done, when, in a
time of general harmony among the members of the administra-
tion, the amendatory act of 1869 was passed, with the approval
of President Grant. And this act has remained in force ever



1 The first section of the act of 1867 was as follows : " That every person holding
any civil office to which he has been appointed hj and with the advice and consent
of the Senate, and every person who shall hereafter be appointed to any such office,
and shall become duly qualified to act therein, is and shall be entitled to hold such
office until a successor shall have been in like manner appointed and duly qualified,
except as herein otherwise provided : Provided, that the Secretaries of State, of the
Treasury, of War, of the Navy, and of the Interior, the Postmaster-Greneral, and



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THE CIVIL SERVICE OP THE UNITED STATES. 213

Certainly such deliberate action pro re nata may well be held to
overcome a decision made by legislators, however respectable, who
were acting upon mere theory and without practical experience.
But this applies chiefly to the oflScers appointed by the President
alone, or with the consent of the Senate ; and, while they are
sufficiently numerous, there are still immense numbers appointed
under the direction of the heads of departments and otherwise,
over whom the absolute power of a law of Congress is admitted.
In regard to the number of the officers who were affected by
President Johnson's claim of the right of removal, the managers
of the impeachment showed that they were 41,658, and that the
total of their emoluments was $21,180,736.87 annually.^ And it

the Attorney-General, shall hold their offices respectively for and during the term of
the President by whom they may have been appointed, and one month thereafter,
subject to removal by and with the advice and consent of the Senate." The second
section provided, that when any officer (except judges) should, during a recess of
the Senate, be shown, by evidence satisfactory tb the President, to have been guilty
of misconduct, or to be incapable,- he might in his discretion suspend him from of-
fice, and designate a person to fill his place till action should be taken by the Sen-
ate ; and that, within twenty days after the meeting of that body, the President
should report to it his reasons for the removal, and the name of the person so desig-
nated. K the Senate concurred, the President might remove the officer, and, with
its advice and consent, appoint his successor. K it refused to concur, the officer
resumed his office.

The act of 1869 (now in force, R. S. sect. 1767) is, in its first section, similar to
that of the previous act, except that the proviso is omitted.

Its second section (1768) empowers the President to suspend officers during a recess,
and to designate persons to perform their duties till the end of the next session, if
not sooner removed, and requires the President to nominate persons, within the first
thirty days of that session, to all vacant and suspended offices (he is not required to
give reasons for any suspension) ; and, if the Senate refuse to concur in any appoint-
ment in the place of a suspended officer, then the President shall nominate another,
and so on.

The third section (1760) authorizes the President to fill, during the recess, vacan-
cies occasioned by death, resignation, or expiration of official term, by commissions
to expire at the end of the next session. If they are not filled during the session,
with the advice and consent of the Senate, then the offices remain in abeyance till
so filled, and their duties shall be performed by other officers.

It would seem that, under sections 1767 and 1768, a suspended officer would re-
sume his office, if it were not duly filled at the next session. But this would hardly
be a great privilege, especially if, for example, he should be removed in April, 1877,
and the next session should terminate in August, 1878. The usual term of office,
where fixed, is four years ; perhaps the most injudicious and unfortunate within the
possibilities, as it seems to invite fresh appointments by each new President.

^ Mr. Jenckes, in his later report, hereinafter cited, gives the whole number of
officers of the civil service as more than 63,000, and their annual compensation as
aboat $30,000,000. There are more than 60,000, exclusive of those requiring con*

TOI« XI. 16



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214 THE CIVIL SERVICE OF THE UNFTBD STATES.

may not be altogether digressive to remark here, that the number
of assessors of internal revenue, with salaries of $1,500 each and
fees, was 226 ; of collectors of that branch, with similar pay, 215 ;
and of deputy collectors, with $1,500 annual pay, 216, while
a late return of the internal revenue shows that the amount col-
lected in one year, in a single State, was upwards of $23,000,000.
It is true this State, Illinois, paid by much the largest amount
collected in any one ; but the aggregate in all the States largely
exceeded $100,000,000. And this tax was particularly unwise
in one respect : upon distilled Uquors its rate was seventy cents
a gallon, — more, for instance, in the case of whiskey, than
twice its cost to the distiller, — so that the temptations to fraud
were excessive, such as no judicious lawgiver would think of for
a moment, after he had done his best to weaken the positions
and impair the quality of his assessing and collecting agents. Is
it wonderful, that, under such circumstances, the country should
ring with the cry of " Whiskey Ring ! " In what country on
earth would men in general be safe with such temptations, and
men without wealth, and no assurance of even the means of sub-
sistence, and where the course of dishonesty was not only the
easier, but even the safer. The exciseman's duty is always disa-
greeable ; his enemies are numerous, and of his own neighbor-
hood ; and, if he becomes particularly unpopular, the member of
Congress to whom he owes his appointment can hardly be the
safest dependence. He also lives — perhaps actually, always po-
litically — upon his popularity. Certainly we have less cause to
blush at the comparative amount of villany that has been ex-
posed, than at the superlative unwisdom of those to whom we
have to intrust our legislation. That with such lawgivers and
such neglect of the smallest precaution we have got along so
well, and so long, is no small proof of the inherent goodness and
sense of the body of the people, and of the strength of our in-
stitutions of government. We will now endeavor to extract
from the voluminous literature of this subject enough to show,
as comprehensively as may be, the achievements of some other
countries in the direction of sound and creditable administration.
Mr. Jenckes, from a committee of both branches of Congress

firmation bj the Senate. We hare not spoken at all of the exceptional cases of
judges, who hold office daring good behavior. Their position is familiar to our
readers.



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THE CIVIL SERVICE OP THE UNITED STATES. 216

having charge of this matter, made two excellent reports to the
House, with copious and valuable appendices, containing opin-
ions and information regarding it, — one, Jan. 31, 1867, the other,
May 25, 1868, — from which most interesting repertory we are
constantly tempted to make excerpts which our limits forbid.

It is not surprising that the first Napoleon should have been
apparently the earliest European ruler who conceived and put
into operation the correct system. With the restoration of the
Bourbons, the old abuses were in part restored ; but since the
revolution which placed Louis Phillippe on the throne, it is re-
markable, that, through all the mutations of that wonderful
people, the civil service has been permanent and undisturbed.
The best account we have seen of the French system was given
by Mr. John Bigelow, in 1863, before he was our Minister near
the court of France, in a report to the Department of State,
which forms one of the appendices to which we have referred.^

In 1817,2 the King of Wiirtemberg — " one of the wisest
princes Germany ever possessed — yielded to the desire of his
subjects, and established a faculty of administration at Tiibingen,
the only university in the kingdom," and he ordained, —

" 1. That hereafter, in awarding such offices as require admin-
istrative knowledge, particular regard shall be had to persons who
have pursued studies connected with government in the univer-
sity, and who shall have passed the examinations of the Faculty ;
and these persons shall be regularly preferred to those who have
not acquired these special studies.

" 2. The students of administrative science shall pursue such a
course of jurisprudence as may be most essential to them ; as,
for example, the philosophy of positive law ; constitutional law ;
the private law of Wiirtemberg ; administrative law ; and the
encyclopaedia : and the law-students shall, on their part, pursue
the most important portion of the administrative course, such as

1 We copy the following from Mr. Bigelow's report : —

" The French goYemment collects about 2,000,000,000 francs, at an expense of
about 850,000,000 of francs, annnally. Of the sum thus collected, about 400,000,000
francs are realized from direct taxes, and the rest from indirect taxes ; but the dou-
anerie organization is auxiliary to the collection of the whole sum. I do not think
so large an amount of revenue is collected by any government in the world, with so
small a loss from fraud, as in France ; and I attribute the fact, in a large degree, to
the method by which the agents of the customs are selected, and the terms upon
which tliey hold their places."

* Beport of M. Ed. Laboulaye. Mr. Jenckes's Rep. 1867, App. p. 22.



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216 THE CIVIL SERVICE OP THE UNITED STATES.

the encyclopaedia of political science, and the practice of admin-
istrative service."

In the year 1837 two new chairs were added to the Faculty
of the University, — one for the practice of administration, or
administrative law applied ; the other for political history and
statistics. Examinations are regularly made of all candidates
for the public service ; those who succeed, after serving one year
in office, are again examined, to ascertain their practical skill,
and, if found up to the mark, are confirmed as public officers.

Baden has pursued a similar system, and Prussia, also, except
that Prussia has a second probation, and requires subsequent
examination before the candidate is definitively adjudged capable
of entering the service of the State.

For results, M. Laboulaye writes to the French government in
1843 : " It is only necessary to have travelled in Baden, WUr-
temberg, and Prussia, to be struck with the perfect arrangements
of the administration. In no country has more been accom-
plished with a less wealth of resources. Wurtemberg, especially,
is admirable in its public roads and cultivation ; and yet it is a
country without wealth, and the population of which is only
equal to two of our departments." ^

As we have before stated, the French government had early
commenced the formation of an admirable civil service ; but, in
the reign of Louis Philippe, new progress was made, and now,
and for a long time past, that service is a proud monument of
political genius. For example, the branch of it composing the
revenue service in 1863 employed 27,983 men. All who desire
to enter that service (under the Minister of Finance) must be
young, healthy, moral Frenchmen, and capable of passing exam-
ination in what we should call matters of common-school educa-
tion. After they are taken into the service, they are assured of
employment as long as they conduct themselves well ; of promo-
tion, as they may deserve, on the occurrence of vacancies ; of pen-
sions when disabled ; and of constant supervision by their superiors :
so that merit is sure to be recognized, and neglect to be punished.
Careful reports are made, extending through all the grades of
the service, and records kept, to which constant recurrence may
be had to ascertain the character and capacity of any officer.
At the end of each year the Director-General — himself trained

1 Rep. ISOT, App. p. 27.



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THE CIVIL SERVICE OP THE UNITED STATES. 217

in the service — sends to the Minister of Finance a list of the
vacancies likely to occur during the coming year, and a list of
the candidates suitable to fill them. When a vacancy occurs,
the Director-General selects from this list three names, and from
these the Minister makes the appointment. The consequence is,
that the force is to the last degree efficient, economical, and re-
spectable, and that such a thing as fraud or corruption is almost
unknown among its members. A French custom-house officer
cannot be successfully approached with money, or a bribe of any
sort.

Among the minor consequences of this system was the recent
payment of the immense Prussian ransom with a promptitude
and freedom from distress which astonished the world.

We have selected, it is true, the most skilfully devised portion
of the French civil service ; several other departments are ex-
ceedingly well managed, others not so well, while in all there is,
of course, room for improvement, as in every thing human. The
point is, that a system has been built up in certain branches of
administration, the excellence of which not Only secures its own
continuance or improvement, but must have a powerful effect in
improving all its cognate branches.

In England; the first step in the direction of competitive or
thorough examination of candidates was taken under the au-
spices of Mr. Macaulay and Lord Ashburton, and two other com-
missioners acting under the authority of the East India Company.
** In substance, it declared that all vacancies in the Indian civil
service should be filled up from among those young men, of what-
ever rank or condition, who should distinguish themselves most
in an open competitive examination, extending over a class of
subjects, the knowledge of which was necessary in the adminis-
tration of Indian affairs.*' ^

" At the opening of the session of Parliament in 1854, a prom-
ise was made in the Queen's Speech on the occasion, that the
home civil service of Great Britain should be thoroughly reor-
ganized, and placed upon substantially the same basis as the East
India service. It was understood that Mr. Gladstone, then a
member of the government of which Lord Aberdeen was the
head, was to submit to Parliament a plan of such reorganization.
Owing to a change of ministry, no bill was presented to Parlia-

1 Rep. 1867, p. 3.



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218 THE CIVIL SERVICE OP THE UNITED STATES.

ment ; but the subject was not lost sight of by either party in
Great Britain.

" The great embarrassment to the administration from the defi-
ciency of the civil service during the Crimean war had convinced
every one of the necessity of a thorough reform in their system.
The result was, that the government referred the subject of such
reform to a large number of eminent men." . . . Upon the opin-
ions expressed by these . . . persons, a report was made to the
House of Lords by Sir Charles Trevelyan and Sir Stafford North-
cote, fortified by the opinion of Rev. B. Jowett, of Baliol Col-
lege, Oxford, upon the practicability " of subjecting all candidates
for oflSce to preliminary examination, recommending the adoption
of a system similar to that already in force in the administration
of the East India Company's affairs. No action was taken upon this
report ; but the government took the initiative steps for the es-
tablishment of such a system, by an order in council, dated May
21, 1855. The effect of this order in council has been to give a
definite character to the home civil service of Great Britain.
Admission into this service is not as open and liberal as into the
East India or colonial service,^ but, to a certain extent, it is the
result of competition.*' ^ Mr. Macaulay, in support of the plan he
recommended for the India service, contended that a pass exam-
ination, where the question was simply, " Shall A. go to India,
or not?" was wholly untrustworthy, and that an examiner
might consider the question of trivial importance, and be strongly
biassed by a mother's tears, or other disturbing influences, and
allow the candidate improper indulgence. But where the ques-
tion was, which one only, out of four or five young men, should
go, and they were to be examined with reference to their quali-
fications, the examination would be likely to be serious and fair ;
and the young man who should show hibaself superior to his fel-
lows in whatever studies might have been required of them,
would naturally be superior, not only in intellectual capacity,
but in industry and the qualities which that indicates. Of
course, among candidates whose studies had been very different,
arrangements should be made to give every one an equal chan-ce
to show his superiority in his own acquirements.

With reference to the absurd theory, that success in study is
generally attended by physical weakness, the accomplished biog-

1 Bep. 1867, pp. 8,4. « Ui. p. 8.



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XHE CIVIL SERVICE OP THE UNITED STATES. 219

rapher of Macaulay says: "The Royal Engineers, — the select
of the select, every one of whom, before he obtains his commis-
sion, has run the gauntlet of an almost endless series of intel-
lectual contests, — for years together, could turn out the best
foot-ball eleven in the kingdom, and within the last twelvemonth
gained a success at cricket absolutely unprecedented in the annals
of the game." ^

We cannot conclude our compilation better than by giving an
extract from an able article in the North American Review : ^ —

" No one can be appointed to a public office in Russia without furnish-
ing certificate of college education ; and the offices are assigned according
to the educational qualifications. Persons without such qualification are
not entitled to any grade ; but they may fill lower offices, as those of copy-
bts, &c. They may be promoted, however ; and there are not a few in-
stances of copyists rising to the highest offices. Russia, however, is far
from being purged of the abuses of favoritism ; and the public offices swarm
with mere parasites. But the principle of the civil service is, at any rate,
established upon a sound theory, and the effi:>rts of the present Russian
government are strenuously directed to the enforcement of its practice.

" In Greece, no person is admitted to the public service, unless he has
graduated at a university. In Italy, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland,
Switzerland, as in the German States, qualification tests prevail, together
with the system of promotion. As an instance of this, it may be men-
tioned that three of the foreign ministers residing at present in Washing-
ton — namely, those of France, Spain, and Portugal — had all held the post
of director of their respective foreign departments previous to their nomina-
tion as Ministers to the United States, and served in all the subordinate
capacities of the foreign bureau before they attained to their present am-
bassadorial position.

'^Lord Lyons, formerly English Minister at Washington, has recently
attained to the most exalted position in his profession, by being appointed
ambassador to the Tuileries, afler having served from his earliest life in
the various subordinate offices of the diplomatic service.

" In the remote East, — in China and Japan, — the persons employed
in the government offices are the most learned men of the empires ; and
the perpetuity of the ancient civilization of these remarkable countries

1 Life aivl Letters of Lord Macaulay, vol. ii. p. 292 (Amer. edit.).

^ Bep. 1868, p. 92. We must not omit, in this connection, to refer to a very im-
pretsive article on our subject in the North American Review for January, 1871,
from the pen of the Hon. Jacob D. Cox, a gentleman known and honored through-
oat the country.



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220 THE CIVIL SERVICE OP THE UNITED STATES.

may be in part accounted for by the character of their civil service organ-
ization.

*^ Even in the mongrel empire of the Saltan of Turkey, a test of quali-
fication is insisted upon. To be sure, a pachaship may be wasted upon a



Online LibraryJames Marcus BandyThe American law review → online text (page 26 of 97)