Interview between the author and the president regarding state appointments
Shortly after I reached Washington in the latter part of November, 1875, I called on the President to pay my respects, and to see him on business relating to a Civil Service order that he had recently issued, and that some of the Federal office-holders had evidently misunderstood. Postmaster Pursell, of Summit, an important town in my district, was one of that number. He was supposed to be a Republican, having been appointed as such. But he not only refused to take any part in the campaign of 1875, but he also declined to contribute a dollar to meet the legitimate expenses of that campaign. The President’s Civil Service order was his excuse. According to Pursell’s construction of that order, Federal office-holders must not only take no part in political or party campaigns, but they must make no contributions for political purposes. He not only said nothing and did nothing in the interest of his party in that campaign, but it was believed by some that he did not even vote the Republican ticket.
After paying my respects to the President I brought this case to his attention. I informed him that I very much desired to have Postmaster Pursell removed, and a good Republican appointed in his stead.
“What is the matter with him?” the President asked. “Is he not a good postmaster?”
“Yes,” I replied, “there is nothing to be said against him, so far as I know, with reference to his administration of the office. I only object to him on account of politics. He may be,—and no doubt is,—a good, capable, and efficient postmaster; but politically he is worthless. From a party point of view he is no good. In my opinion, there ought to be a man in that office who will not only discharge his duties in a creditable manner, but who will also be of some service to the party and to the administration under which he serves. In the present postmaster of the town of Summit we have not such a man, but we can and will have one if you will appoint the one whose name I now present and for whom I ask your favorable consideration. We had, as you know, a bitter and desperate struggle. It was the very time that we stood sadly in need of every man and of every vote. We lost the county that Summit is in by a small majority. If an active and aggressive man, such as the one whose name I now place before you, had been postmaster at Summit, the result in that County might have been different. I therefore earnestly recommend that Pursell be removed, and that Mr. Garland be appointed to succeed him.”