THROUGHOUT the congressional session, the thought uppermost in the minds of the nation's leaders was the approaching election of 1872. Men with presidential ambitions and politicians who fattened on the spoils of office came to the last session of the Forty-First and the first session of the Forty-Second Congress prepared to keep an eye on the political barometer. As the Administration marshalled its followers, dividing submissive sheep from recalcitrant goats--and sedulously built up the Treaty of Washington, the receding debt, and the Ku Klux legislation into a "record of achievement"--the Democrats, the politically ambitious, and those malcontents who had been driven from the public trough sought devices by which they might embarrass the party in power. Though they seldom took a position which concealed the partisan nature of their opposition, they voiced their concerted objections to each Administration project, and sought diligently to discredit it before the people.
When the Forty-First Congress reassembled after the elections of 1870, the enemies of the Administration hoped to make political capital out of the rising demand for civil service reform. The defects in the existing system were so evident that only such arrant spoilsmen as Conkling, Carpenter, Chandler, and Morton could look at them without blushing. Long agitation for civil service reform had made the people sensitive to the situation and even clamorous for a change. But Grant and his advisers were fully aware of the popular will, and in his message of 1870 the President aligned himself with the reformers. J. D. Cox, who in resigning from the Cabinet had sought to identify himself with the reformers, doubted Grant's sincerity. "We ought to force this lip service into real action," he wrote Garfield.1 Schurz, too, charged Grant with hypocrisy, and introduced a Civil Service Bill in the Senate. But Grant gave his blessing to the measure, and it was his approval, rather than Schurz's activity, which finally put it through as a rider to an appropriation. As further proof of his sympathy with____________________