Party Government in the United States of America

By William Milligan Sloane | Go to book overview

XXIX
READJUSTMENT OF PARTY POLICIES 1885-1893

Civil-service reform--The labor movement--Regulation of interstate commerce--Dangers of surplus revenue--Confusion of party issues--Public finance and extravagance of government--Beginnings of socialism--Reform of the ballot--Growth of socialism-- Change in the nature of the presidency.

WITH the growth of the country had come the expansion of the "spoils" system; and its scandalous abuses, culminating in the murder of a President, not merely justified the civil-service reform, but stiffened the resolve to enforce it. Cleveland faithfully observed the spirit and, with negligible exceptions, the letter of the Pendleton Act, so that for the first time in over half a century there was on his induction into office no sweeping change in the non-political offices. The influence of this policy in weakening party cohesion and organization was far greater than the event proved to have been necessary. From December 7, 1885, to August 5, 1886, the first session of the Forty-ninth Congress, with a substantial Democratic majority in the Lower House and a Republican Senate, occupied itself with important matters. The death of Hendricks, the Vice-President, impelled the settlement of the presidential succession: after the Vice-President the secretaries of the departments in the order of their establishment. The Senate demanded papers from the President containing reasons for certain suspen-

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