Roosevelt the Reformer: Theodore Roosevelt as Civil Service Commissioner, 1889-1895

By Richard D. White Jr. | Go to book overview

3
1891
Building Valuable Friendships

LATE ON A BLUSTERY March afternoon, Theodore Roosevelt rushed the few blocks from old City Hall to the Baltimore and Potomac railroad station at Sixth and B Streets.1 Ten years before, on a steamy July 2, 1881, President James A. Garfield passed through this same station on his way to a summer's vacation. As Garfield, who took office only four months before, walked through the waiting room, a deranged attorney named Charles Guiteau leapt from a crowd of bystanders and fired two bullets into the president's body, one in the arm and one, fatally, in the back. For weeks before, Guiteau had beseeched the White House for a spoils appointment as consul to Paris, but both Garfield and Secretary of State James Blaine spurned the office seeker.2 An outraged American public blamed the assassination on the spoils system, and the resulting public outcry forced Congress to pass permanent civil service legislation in 1883 and, ultimately, create Roosevelt's job at the commission.

It is unlikely, however, that Roosevelt dwelled on the irony of the tragic events that had taken place in that train station a decade before, for he brooded over a more immediate problem. He boarded the first train headed north and, six hours later, arrived in Jersey City, where he caught the steam ferry across the Hudson River to Manhattan. As he stepped onto the city's streets that evening, gusts of wind and shivery rain slapped him in the face. A storm had moved in from the south and now sat off the East Coast, brewing a late-winter northeaster. Undaunted by the weather, Theodore hurried to his destination, a meeting of the New York Civil Service Reform Association. Roosevelt burst into

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Roosevelt the Reformer: Theodore Roosevelt as Civil Service Commissioner, 1889-1895
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Roosevelt the Reformer ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: 1889 Arriving in Washington 7
  • 2: 1890 Attacked from All Quarters 35
  • 3: 1891 Building Valuable Friendships 54
  • 4: 1892 Making Progress in Civil Service Reform 79
  • 5: 1893 Reappointment by the Democrats 97
  • 6: 1894 Building the Merit System 119
  • 7: 1895 Returning to New York 141
  • 8: 1901 Continuing Reform as President 160
  • Epilogue - 1916 Rapprochement 184
  • Appendix 189
  • Notes on Sources 203
  • Notes 207
  • Bibliography 241
  • Acknowledgments 253
  • Index 255
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