John J. (John Joseph) Lalor.

Cyclopædia of political science, political economy, and of the political history of the United States online

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holder, like everybody else, bases his own opin-
ion of himself and his office on the opinion of
them entertained by the public. He thinks highly
of them because his neighbors do. The Prussian
or English civil or military officer bristles with
the pride of station, largely because the public
considers his station something to be proud of.
So, also, in America, the office-holder does not
bristle with pride of station, because nobody
thinks his station anything to be proud of. He is
not kept humble by the insecurity of his tenure,
but by the absence of popular reverence for his
place. The custom house or postofflce clerk as a
matter of fact knows very well that the world
thinks no more of his place than it thinks of the
place of a bank clerk or commercial traveler.
One of the very odd things in the popular dread
of an office-holding aristocracy is, that it arises out
of the belief that an aristocracy can build itself
up on self-esteem, simply. But no aristocracy
has ever been formed in any such way. It grows
upon popular admission of its superiority, and
not simply on its own estimate of itself. The
attempts which have been occasionally made to



create an aristocracy in new countries, or in coun-
tries in which the respect for station has died out,
have always failed miserably for this reason. —
Moreover, association with the government and
tlie exercise of a portion of its authority do less,
and must always do less, for an office-holder in
this than in other countries, because there is here
absolutely no mystery about government. Its
origin is not veiled from the popular gaze by
antiquity, or tradition, or immemorial custom.
Nowhere else in the world does sovereignty pre-
sent itself in such naked, imadorned simplicity to
those who have to live under it. Nowhere else is
so little importance attached to permanence either
in government office or any other office. In Amer-
ica it brings a man no particular credit to remain
long in the same position doing the same thing.
In fact, with the bulk of the population it brings
him some discredit, as indicating a deficiency of
the great national attribute of energy. Outside
the farming class, the American who passes his
life in the position in which he began it, without
any extension or change of his business, or with-
out in some manner improving his condition by
a display of enterprise or activity, is distinctly
held to have failed, or, rather, not to have suc-
ceeded. There is probably no country in the
world in which the popular iruagination is so little
touched by a contented and tranquil life in a
modest station, or by prolonged fidelity in the
discharge of humble duties. Public opinion,
indeed, almost exacts of every man the display of
a restless and ambitious activity. The popular
hero is not the contemplative scholar, or the cau-
tious dealer who relies on small but sure profits
for a provision for his old age. It is the bold
speculator, who takes great risks, and is in con-
stant pursuit of fresh markets to conquer, and
new demands to supply. It is not "the poor
boy " who stays poor and happy, around whom
the popular fancy plays admiringly, but the poor
boy who becomes a great manufacturer, or the
president of a bank or railroad company, or the
master of large herds, or the owner of rich mines.
The very familiar personage of European count-
ing houses and banks, the gray-headed clerk or
book-keeper, is almost unknown here. In fact,
employers would think but little of the young
book-keeper or clerk who made no effort to im-
prove his condition, and did not look forward to
a change of pursuits before he reached middle
life. It may be said, indeed, without exaggera-
tion, that the security of tenure which contributes
so much to the value of a position in Europe,
counts for but little in popular estimate of it in
America. Places which "lead to nothing "are
not made any more attractive among us by the
circumstance that they are easy to keep if one
wishes. Indeed, such places are rather avoided
by young men whose self-esteem is high, when
they are entering on life, and those who accept
them are apt to be set down as having, in> a cer-
tain sense, withdrawn from the race. — In Europe,
on the other hand, security or fixity of tenure



OFFICE-HOLDERS.



23



owing to the very much smaller number of
chances offered there than here by social and com-
mercial conditions to the enterprising and ener-
getic man, adds very greatly to the value of an
office of any Itind, and not only to its value, but
to its dignity. The person who has it, even if the
salary be very small, is considered by the public
to have drawn one of the prizes of life, and ex-
cites envy, rather than commiseration, even among
the young. The prodigious eagerness for gov-
ernment office in France is due, in a very large
degree, to the fact that government offices are
permanent — a quality which more than makes up
for the extreme smallness of the salaries. In Eng-
land commerce competes formidably in the labor
market with the crown, and the spirit of the peo-
ple is much more adventurous; but the certainty
of a small income has even there attractions for
the young which are unknown in this country.
This certainty always has a powerful influence in
exalting the social position of the man who has
managed to lay hold of it, in places in which
recovery from failure or miscarriage is difficult,
and in which mistakes in the choice of a calling
are not easily rectified. The whole spirit of Amer-
ican society is, however, hostile to the idea that
permanence is a thing which a young man will do
well to seek. This feeling will, beyond question,
operate in one way, if we ever come back to ten-
ure in office during good behavior, to lower rather
than raise the office-holding class, as a class, in the
popular estimation. Far from converting it into
an aristocracy, it will probably put a certain
stamp of business inferiority on it in the eyes of
"the live men," the pushing, active, busy, ad-
venturous multitude, who, after all, make the
standards of social value which are in commonest
use. — At present, office holding as a business
really gets a kind of credit from its extreme pre-
cariousness and uncertainty. It is felt that any-
body who gets into it must be in some sense
"practical." He may have failed in trade, or in
some profession, or have, through some moral
defect, lost all chance with private employers, but
then he must have, if he has got a government
office, made himself useful to "an influence"
through some kind of "work." Successful elec-
tioneering, for instance, may not require a high
order of talent, or very much character, but any-
body who achieves it must have push and energy
and some knowledge of men, and these are, of
course, no mean qualifications for success in life.
Any one who possesses them, though he may
make a wretched custom house or postoffice clerk,
will be sure of a certain amount of consideration
from the busy world, which would not be accorded
to the modest, easily contented man who, in
choosing his calling, seeks only mental peace. In
truth, to sum up, there is no country in which it
would be so hard for an aristocracy of any kind
to be built up as this, and probably no class seek-
ing to make itself an aristocracy would, in the
United States, have a smaller Chance of success
than a body composed of unambitious, quiet-



minded, unadventiirous government officers, do-
ing routine work on small salaries, and with but
little chance or desire of ever passing from the
employed into the employing class. One might
nearly as well try to make an aristocracy out of
the college professors or public school teachers. —
There is no society which at present makes so lit-
tle provision for this class as ours. We do noth-
ing to turn them to account. They are a class
eminently fitted for government service, or any
service of which tenure during good behavior is
one of the conditions, and in which fidelity rather
than initiative is a leading requirement. At pres-
ent they furnish a very large share of the business
failures, and contribute powerfully to produce
our panics by being forced into the commercial
arena without the kind of judgment or nerve
which the commercial struggle calls for. If we
tried to economize labor, and put the right men
in the right places in our national administrative
machine, we should undoubtedly offer this class,
which has just the kind of talent and character
we need for government work, the thing which
most attracts them, by ofEering them positions
which no commercial crisis could put in peril,
and which they could hold as long as they did
their work well. — Even if it were established,
however, that the selection by competitive exami-
nation and tenure during good behavior would
make the office-holder feel himself the master of
the people, and express his sense of his superior-
ity in his behavior, the question whether the pres-
ent system establishes a satisfactory relation be-
tween the people and the civil servants of the
government would still have to be answered. It
may be that the thing we propose would be no
improvement on the thing that is, but the fact
that the existing system has the very defect which
it is contended that the new system would have,
and which is offered as a fatal objection to the
introduction of the new system, is one which the
friends of " rotation " can not expect us to pass
over unnoticed. — It may be laid down as one of
the maxims of the administrative art, that no pub-
lic officer can ever take the right view of his office,
or of his relation to the people whom he serves,
who feels that he has owed his appointment to
any qualification but his fitness, or holds it by
any tenure but that of faithful performance. No
code of rules can take the place of this feeling.
No shortening of the term can take its place. The
act of 1820 was simply a very rude, clumsy plan
of getting rid of the duty of careful supervision
and good discipline. Turning out all the officers
every four years, in order to make sure that they
keep their accounts well, instead of turning
out as soon as possible those who do not keep
their accounts well, and retaining as long as
possible those who do keep their accounts well,
reminds one of the old woman who whipped all
her children every night on a general presumption
of blameworthiness. A suggestion of such a
scheme of precaution in a bank would excite mer-
riment. A man's best service is given to those



24



OHIO.



on whose good opinion he is dependent for the
retention of his place. Under the spoils system,
places are filled without any reference to the good
opinion of the public ; in fact, very often in de-
fiance of the public. They are given as rewards
to men of whom the pubUc knows nothing, for
services of which the public has never heard, and
which have generally been rendered to individu-
als. An officer who owes his appointment to a
party manager for aid given him in politics, can
not but feel that his main concern in discharging
the duties of his place must be the continued
favor of the person to whom he owes it, and not
the favor of the public which has had nothing to
do with it. It is, consequently, impossible to ex-
pect such an officer to feel that the public is his
master, or to show in his manner that he is in any
way dependent on its good opinion. He feels
that the boss or senator who got him his place is
his master, and that his mode of discharging his
duty must be .such as to merit his approbation.
He does not fancy that he himself owns the
office, but he fancies that another man does, and
as long as he considers it the property of any one
man, it makes little difference to the public which
man. — The only way in which the proprietorship
of the public can ever be brought home to office-
holders is through a system which, whatever its
modus operandi, makes capacity the one reason
for appointment, and efficiency the one safeguard
against dismissal. No such system now exists
here. Those who say that the plan of the civil-
service reformers would not produce it may be
right, but it is not open to them to make in sup-
port of their opposition a charge which is notori-
ously true of the system they are upholding.
Whether the proposed change, therefore, be the
best one or not, some change, it must be admitted,
is imperatively necessary. In fighting against
any change, we are trying to avoid that adapta-
tion of our administrative system to the vast
social and commercial changes of the past half
century, from which no civilized people can now
escape, and which all the leading nations of
Europe have effected or are effecting. Any one
who takes the trouble to examine the reforms
which have been carried out since 1815, in France,
or England, or Germany, which in all these coun-
tries have amounted to a social transformation,
will be surprised to find how much of them con-
sists simply in improvements in administration,
or, rather, how fruitless the best legislative
changes would have been without improved ad-
ministrative machinery for their execution. We
can not very much longer postpone the work
which other nations have accomplished, and nei-
ther can we avoid it by plans — like Mr. Pendle-
ton's constitutional amendment — for getting rid
of responsibility by making more executive offices
elective. This, like the act of 1820, is simply a
makeshift. Nobody pretends that elected post-
masters would be any better than, or as good as,
properly appointed postmasters All that can be
said for them is, that they would save the president



a good deal of trouble under the present spoils
system. But the remedy for one absurdity is not
to be found in another absurdity. When a thing
is being done by a wrong method, we do not
mend matters by trying another wrong method.
The true cure for the defects in the present sys-
tem of transacting public business is, the adoption
of the methods which are found successful in pri-
vate business. These are well known. They are
as old as civilization. They are gradually taking
possession of government business all over the
world. Our turn will come next, and, in spite of
"politics," will probably come soon.*

E. L. GODKIN.

OHIO, a state of the American Union, formed
from the northwest territory. (See Obdinance
OF 1787; Tekritokibs.) Its territory north to
latitude 41° was a part of the Virginia cession;
the remainder was a part of the Connecticut ces-
sions, in which Connecticut retained the owner-
ship but not the jurisdiction of the tract along
Lake Erie, since known as the Connecticut reserve.
The name of the state was given from that of the
river which is its southern boundary, a more
euphonic corruption of the Indian name You-
ghiogheny. — By the act of May 7, 1800, that part
of the northwest territory now included in Ohio
was set off under a distinct territorial government,
and the remainder was organized as the territory
of Indiana. (See Indiana.) By the act of April
30, 1802, the people of Ohio were "authorized to
form for themselves a constitution and state gov-
ernment," and a convention at Chillicothe, Nov.
1-29, 1802, formed the first constitution, which
went into force without submission to popular
vote. The act of Feb. 19, 1803, did not purport
to admit the state, but declared that Ohio, by the
formation of its constitution' in pursuance of the
act of April 30, 1802, "has become one of the
United States of America," and provided for the
extension of federal laws to the new state. It is
therefore a little doubtful whether Ohio as a state
dates from Nov. 29, 1802, or from Feb. 19, 1803:
the latter is the date, if the precedents in the case
of the admitting acts of all other new states are to
govern this case; the former, if we are to be gov-
erned by the express language of the act of Feb. 19,
1803. — BoTJNDABiBs. The boundaries assigned
by the enabling act and the state constitution were
as follows: east, the Pennsylvania line; south, the
Ohio river; west, a due north line from the mouth
of the Great Miami river; and north, an east and
west line drawn through the southerly extreme of
Lake Michigan to Lake Erie, and thence through
the lake to the Pennsylvania line. It was, how-
ever, doubtful at the time whether this northern
boundai-y would meet Lake Erie east of the
"Miami river of the lake" [Maumee]; if it should
prove to do so, both the enabling act and the

* This article was originally printed in pamphlet form as
one of the publications of the civil-service reform associa-
tion, with whose kind permission, together with the permis-
sion of the author, it appears here.— Kd.



OHIO.



25



state constitution reserved the power to so amend
it as to make the Maumee the terminus of the
east and west line. Before Michigan was admit-
ted as a state, it was ascertained that a direct
eastward line, as originally proposed, would enter
Lake Erie so far east as to give to Michigan about
half of Ohio's lake coast, and a valuable strip of
land in the north, including the city of Toledo.
Michigan pressed her claim, and the dispute rose
to such a height as to be given the popular title
of the "Toledo war." It was settled by the act
of June 15, 1836, to admit Michigan as a state:
its first section provided that the northern bound-
ary of Ohio should not be a direct east and west
line, but should trend to the north far enough to
strike the most northerly cape of Maumee bay,
thus giving Ohio the territory in dispute. Michi-
gan at first rejected but afterward accepted admis-
sion on these terms. — Constitutions. The first
constitution, mentioned above, made manhood
suffrage universal, on one year's residence; pro-
vided for a house of representatives to number
not less than twenty-four nor more than seventy-
two members, to serve one year, and for a senate
not more than one-half nor less than one-third the
number of the house, to be chosen by districts
and to serve two years; made two-thirds of each
house a quorum to do business; gave the gov-
ernor a term of two years; and prohibited slav-
ery. The governor was to be chosen by popu-
lar vote, but was to have no veto power, nor
any other power than to grant reprieves and
pardons, convene extra sessions of the legisla-
ture, command the' state forces, commission
appointees, and temporarily fill vacancies occur-
ring when the legislature was not in session.
The secret of this restriction upon the govern-
oir's powers, which was continued in the con-
stitution of 1851, may probably be foimd in the
frequent disagreements which had taken place
between Governor St. Clair and the territorial
legislatures. — A new constitution was framed by a
convention at Columbus, May 6 -July 9, 1850,
and Cincinnati, Dec. 2, 1850 -March 10, 1851, and
was ratified, June 17, by a popular vote of 126,663
to 109,699. Its main alterations were that the
sessions of the legislature were now to be biennial;
a complicated apportionment system, apparently
modeled on that of Massachusetts, was introduced;
state officers, except the governor, were to be
chosen by the legislature; the legislature was for-
bidden to loan the state's credit to corporations or
to create corporations by special laws; and the
judiciary was made elective. — A new constitution
was framed by a convention at Columbus, May
14- Aug. 8, 1873, and Cincinnati, Dec. 2, 1873-
May 14, 1874; but it was rejected by very heavy
popular majorities, Aug. 18. A subsequent at-
tempt to revise the judiciary system was _also a
failure. — Chillicothe was the state capital until
1810, and Zanesville until 1812. In February,
1812, the legislature accepted the offers of a land
company to lay out a capital, and erect a state
house and penitentiary. The new city was called



Columbus, and the state government was removed
thither in December, 1816. The constitution of
1851 formally designated it as the capital. —
Governors. Edward Tiffin, 1802-8; Samuel
Huntington, 1808-10; R. J. Meigs, 1810-14; Thos.
Worthington, 1814-18; Ethan A. Brown, 1818-
22; Jeremiah Morrow, 1822-6; Allen Trimble,
1826-30; Duncan McArthur, 1830-32; Robert
Lucas, 1832-6 ; Joseph Vance, 1836-8 ; Wilson
Shannon, 1838-40; Thomas Corwin, 1840-42; Wil-
son Shannon, 1842-4; Mordecai Bartley, 1844-6;-
William Bebb, 1846-50; Reuben Hood, 1850-54;
William Medill, 1854r-6 ; Salmon ' P. Chase,
1856-60; William Denison, 1860-62; -David Tod,
1862-4; JohnBrough, 1864-6; J. D. Cox, 1866-8;
R. B. Hayes, 1868-72; Edward F. Noyes, 1872-4;
William Allen, 1874r-6; R. B. Hayes, 1876-8; R.
M. Bishop, 1878-80; Charles Foster, 1880-84.—
Political History. Ohio was admitted to the
Union at a time (1802-3) when there was practi-
cally but one party in the country, outside of
New England; it was therefore of necessity a
republican (or democratic) state from the begin-
ning. It was such of choice also; the great dem-
ocratic features of policy at the time, the acquisi-
tion of Louisiana, the war of 1812, and the oppo-
sition to a national bank, were all very popular in
Ohio, and for thirty years there was little or no
opposition to the democratic party in the state's
elections. In local politics the most noteworthy
features were due to the great mass of power
which the constitution had concentrated in the
legislature. That body, provoked by certain de-
cisions of the state judges on the validity of state
laws, passed its so-called "sweeping resolution,"
Jan. 7, 1810, declaring that, as the state had been
organized in 1802, and as the judicial term of
office was " seven years," the seats of all state
judges were now vacant, no matter when their
incumbents had been appointed. The judges
held to their offices, and the "sweeping resolu-
tion " failed, except in causing a momentary con-
fusion. Again, in 1818, the legislature attacked
the state branch of the United States bank (see
Bank Controversies, III.), but the attempt was
defeated by the United States supreme court, and
was finally abandoned under cover of several
angry resolutions. — Schemes of internal improve-
ment, chiefly in the form of roads and canals,
early found favor in Ohio, so that, when the new
distribution of national parties took place in
1834-30, a strong vote was developed for Adams
and Clay, and the policy of internal improvements
and a protective' tariff which they represented.
In 1834 Clay obtained the electoral vote of the
state by a slight plurality over Adams and Jack-
son; in 1828 and 1833 JackSon obtained a major-
ity of only i of 1 per cent, of the popular vote.
In 1839 a Clay governor was elected, and the state
government was nominally whig until 1838. The
electoral vote of the state was given to Harrison
in 1836. — In 1837-8 began a general course of
democratic success in the state, which lasted until
1855, with but two important breaks, the presi-



26



OHIO.



dential elections of 1840 and 1844. In both of
these the state's electoral votes were given to the
whig candidates, Harrison and Clay respectively,
and the whig candidates for governor were
carried in by the current. In 1845 the whig leg-
islature sent Corwin to the senate, in which the
state was represented by democrats from 1837
until 1855, with the exceptions of Corwin and
Chase. — At its meeting in December, 1848, the
lower house of the legislature was unable to organ-
ize for some time. The vote of Cincinnati had
long made the five Hamilton county members
democratic; the last whig legislature had there-
fore divided the county into two districts, thus
securing two whig members. The democrats
ignored the act as unconstitutional, and elected
five members, as usual. The election clerk gave
the two disputed democratic members certificates.
In December the democrats swore in forty-two
members, including Pugh and Pierce, of Hamil-
ton county; and the whigs thirty -two, including
Spencer and Eunyon, contestants. Neither side
would act with the other, and two inchoate houses
were organized; but neither had the two-thirds
majority necessary for a quorum. The dead-lock
was broken by an agreement that the seventy
uncontested members should organize the house,
and Pugh and Pierce were seated, Jan. 36, 1849,
by a vote of 33 to 31. Chase's election as United
States- senator in 1849 seems to have been at least
partially influenced by this dispute. A strong
anti-slavery element had always existed in the
state democratic party, represented by such lead-
ers as Thomas Morris and Benjamin 'Tappan. In



Online LibraryJohn J. (John Joseph) LalorCyclopædia of political science, political economy, and of the political history of the United States → online text (page 7 of 290)