Theodore Roosevelt and His Time Shown in His Own Letters - Vol. 1

By Joseph Bucklin Bishop | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSIONER

In May, 1889, President Harrison appointed Roosevelt a member of the United States Civil Service Commission. The conditions of the civil service at this time were such as to make the position an alluring one to Roosevelt. He had been an active and zealous advocate of civil service reform since the moment of his entry into public life. Various efforts had been made for twenty years or more to overthrow the spoils system as applied to the civil service of the country, but with only slight success. In 1871, President Grant yielded sufficiently to the demands of civil service reform advocates to appoint a Civil Service Advisory Board of seven members, with George William Curtis as chairman. This Board proposed a set of rules and regulations which in the following year were enlarged so as to make them applicable to the Departments at Washington and the Federal offices in New York City. These rules and regulations were put in force, with a very moderate amount of success, and continued in force till 1875, under constant assault by the politicians of both parties. In 1875 the opposition of the politicians became so formidable that Congress yielded to it and refused to grant an appropriation for the expenses of the Advisory Board, whereupon President Grant suspended the operation of the rules.

There was organized immediately in New York, under the leadership of Mr. Curtis, the Civil Service Reform Association, which developed into The National Civil Service Reform League with Mr. Curtis as President. Roosevelt was a member of this League and took a leading part in the campaign of education which it conducted throughout the country. Its agitation of the reform re

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