Select Statutes and Other Documents: Illustrative of the History of the United States, 1861-1898

By William MacDonald | Go to book overview

No. 109. Civil Service Act
January 16, 1883

IN his annual message of December 5, 1870, President Grant urged the attention of Congress to "a reform in the civil service of the country." In accordance with this recommendation, the sundry civil appropriation act of March 3, 1871, authorized the President to prescribe regulations for admission to the civil service. A civil service commission was appointed, and for two years appropriations were made for its support. The continuance of the appropriations was urged by Grant, and again by President Hayes in his annual messages of 1879 and 1880, but without inducing congressional action. The assassination of President Garfield called public attention forcibly to the evils of the existing system of appointment and removal, and the annual message of President Arthur, December 6, 1881, brought the subject of civil service reform strongly before Congress. A bill "to regulate and improve the civil service" was introduced in the Senate, December 6, 1881, by George H. Pendleton of Ohio, and on January 11, 1882, was referred, together with a bill "to prevent extortion from persons in the public service, and bribery and coercion by such persons," to the Committee on the Civil Service and Retrenchment. The bill was reported with amendments March 29, the committee report to accompany it not being submitted until May 15. The session closed without further action. The Pendleton bill was taken up December 11 and formed the principal subject of debate until the 27th, when, with various amendments, it passed the Senate by a vote of 38 to 5, 33 not voting. The bill was reported in the House without amendment January 4, 1883, read three times and passed, the final vote being 155 to 46, 88 not voting.

REFERENCES. -- Text in U.S. Statutes at Large, XXII, 403-407. For the proceedings see the House and Senate Journals, 47th Cong., 1st and 2d Sess., and the Cong. Record. Pendleton report of May 15 is Senate Report 576. The annual reports of the Civil Service Commission are the primary authorities on the operation of the act; see also the Proceedings of the National Civil Service Reform League. The pamphlet and periodical literature is extensive. On the earlier history of the movement see House Report 47, 40th Cong., 2d Sess. ( Jenckes report); Senate Exec. Doc. 10, 42d Cong., 2d Sess., and Senate Exec. Doc. 53 (same in House Exec. Doc. 221), 43d Cong., 1st Sess. (commission reports); Senate Report 289, 44th Cong., 1st Sess. ( Boutwell report); House Exec. Doc. 1, Part 1, 46th Cong., 2d Sess. ( Eaton report); House Exec. Doc. 1, Part 8, ibid., and House Exec. Doc. 94, 46th Cong., 3d Sess. ( New York regulations); Senate Report 872, 46th Cong., 3d Sess. ( Pendleton report). See also Senate Report 2373, 50th Cong., 1st Sess.

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