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The Riverside Press, Cambridge:
THE two lectures, or papers, herewith presented, were originally written as a contribution to a more private discussion of the topics therein set forth. The first, on English Civil Service Reform, was read before a club of neighbors, and afterwards, at the suggestion of other friends, was given as a Lecture at Union Hall in Boylston Street, Boston. The second, on Reform in Parliamentary Representation, was delivered before the Young Men's Christian Association of Newton Centre. The report, in the “ Daily Advertiser," of the prefatory remarks to the first lecture is retained ; but much that was said in the delivery of both, by way of explanation and comment, is omitted. There is also a slight change on page 12, but with this exception the lectures remain as originally written and published at the time of presentation. At still further suggestion from friends, and even from strangers, I have been induced to reprint them in this form, with the hope that the experience and success of Reformers in the Old World may be of profit and encouragement to laborers in the same field in the New.
E. F. W.
THE GREAT STRUGGLE IN ENGLAND
FOR HONEST GOVERNMENT.
THE REMARKABLE REFORM IN ENGLISH CIVIL SERVICE.
[From the “ Boston Daily Advertiser" of April 8, 1878.)
MR. E. F. WATERS gave a public lecture at the Union Hall, Boylston Street, Saturday evening, on the reforms effected in the various departments of English civil service. There was a good audience present, who listened with close attention to the interesting, though necessarily rapid, review of this instructive phase of civil and political history. The lecturer said, in beginning, that he had been asked to say a few words by way of preface respecting civil service reform in this country. The popular idea of civil service was, holding a government office with a fat salary and nothing to do; of civil service reform, to dispossess your neighbor of his office and obtain it for yourself. Let us consider this matter, he said, a little more broadly. Of course we are now dealing neither with the military nor with the naval service. We are considering customs and revenue service, the consular and diplomatic service, the postal service, the light-house service, the Indian Bureau, the service in the Land Department, - every thing and every person, in fact, who has to do with the collection of revenue, the carrying and handling of the mails, the survey and care of the public domain, the payment of pensions and of the interest on the public debt. This service collects and disburses millions of money and employs thousands of persons. It is intimately connected with the welfare and happiness of all the people of this great nation. By this multifarious service the business of the nation is transacted. And just as capacity, probity, and fitness are required in the business of private life, so capacity, probity, and fitness are required of all who fill public stations, or, in other words, are employed in the civil service of the government.
Now, until about the year 1829, this was the rule with the government of this country. A man was appointed on account of his supposed fitness for the appointment given him, and he remained in office during good behavior. The early Presidents made appointments, but they made very few changes. Jefferson made some; but Madison, Monroe, and John Quincy Adams made hardly any. President Jackson succeeded the latter in 1829, and in his eight years of official life made most sweeping changes. Democrats were appointed in place of Federalists and National Republicans,
The same thing occurred when President Harrison came in in 1841, when Polk was inaugurated in 1845, when General Taylor was made President in 1849, when General Pierce succeeded in 1853, and, finally, when President Lincoln was inaugurated in 1861. These frequent and sweeping changes are among the evils complained of. President Lincoln, with the pressure of the civil war upon him, got in the habit of referring the selection of government appointees to the members of Congress. He thus saved himself much trouble, or thought he did, and at the same time threw upon Senators and Representatives the business of deciding upon conflicting claimants. In practice he really had to decide himself, after all, and to endure additional congressional wrangling besides. But that is what was done. And then Senators and Representatives got in the way of regarding these appointments as their perquisites, so to speak; and the more frequent the changes the