Civil Service Reform

President Hayes showed active sympathy with the movement for Civil Service reform. A commission had been appointed in 1871, whose report urged that fitness, and not political favoritism, should be the ground of appointment to government offices. The efforts of the President were loyally followed by his colleagues, and the merit system made substantial headway against the established practice by which the victors claimed the spoils. The public began to see the practical advantage of having and retaining servants who had proved their worth during four years of apprenticeship. The idea of swapping experienced for inexperienced officials for no better reason than the greed of political hangers-on was admittedly in contradiction to all the principles and practices that have made the nation so great, despite such survivals of crude politicianism.

The matter assumed a larger phase when Garfield became President. He, too, favored the common-sense plan, and, whatever reasons outside this may have influenced him in the same direction, he raised a storm when he acted on his right to make appointments without consulting Conkling and Platt, the "boss" Senators from New York. Not being pleased, they resigned their seats, but were disappointed when their constituencies declined to re-elect them.

The assassination of President Garfield in the fourth month of his term by an aggrieved minor official out in the cold, may indirectly have sprung from the widespread hostility to reform. Two years later the merit system was embodied in an Act of Congress, and its operation, though slow, is gaining popular approval

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