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

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

1
1889
Arriving in Washington

ON A SPARKLING spring morning in 1889, Theodore Roosevelt hurried along the smoothly paved avenues of Washington, D.C. His pace was quick, and for most people it would be a run. As he walked, Roosevelt soaked up the color and fragrance of Washington in full bloom, a city even more enchanting after a weekend rainstorm carpeted the sidewalks with pungent locust blossoms.1 While a student at Harvard, Roosevelt once planned to become a biologist, and he never lost his fascination with nature's beauty. He especially had a love of trees, and could recall the Latin nomenclature of a Quercus alba shading a street corner or a Platinus occidentalis lining a boulevard. Washington charmed him, as some sixty-five thousand carefully tended trees added a green lushness to the city. Each avenue displayed its own unique foliage. Massachusetts Avenue had its lindens, New Hampshire Avenue its stately elms, and Connecticut Avenue flaunted sycamores most of the way but changed to sturdier pin oaks near the countryside.2

In 1889 Washington had the trappings of a small southern city. With roughly 190,000 residents, the capital enjoyed a friendly mood and unhurried pace. This favored a young, energetic man like Roosevelt, who came to Washington to make his name. "In four-and-twenty hours he could know everybody; in two days everybody knew him."3 One English visitor spoke of an air "of comfort, of leisure, of space to spare, of stateliness you hardly expected in America. It looks the sort of place where nobody has to work for his living, or, at any rate, not hard."4 Office workers breakfasted between eight and nine, arrived at work

-7-

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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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