History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 731 pages of information about History of the United States.
It was what Mr. Conkling said, and in a great outburst of public rage he was pulled down.  Then Mr. Platt ruled the state; for nigh upon twenty years he ruled it.  It was not the governor; it was not the legislature; it was Mr. Platt.  And the capital was not here [in Albany]; it was at 49 Broadway; Mr. Platt and his lieutenants.  It makes no difference what name you give, whether you call it Fenton or Conkling or Cornell or Arthur or Platt or by the names of men now living.  The ruler of the state during the greater part of the forty years of my acquaintance with the state government has not been any man authorized by the constitution or by law....  The party leader is elected by no one, accountable to no one, bound by no oath of office, removable by no one.”

=The Nation Aroused.=—­With the spirit of criticism came also the spirit of reform.  The charges were usually exaggerated; often wholly false; but there was enough truth in them to warrant renewed vigilance on the part of American democracy.  President Roosevelt doubtless summed up the sentiment of the great majority of citizens when he demanded the punishment of wrong-doers in 1907, saying:  “It makes not a particle of difference whether these crimes are committed by a capitalist or by a laborer, by a leading banker or manufacturer or railroad man or by a leading representative of a labor union.  Swindling in stocks, corrupting legislatures, making fortunes by the inflation of securities, by wrecking railroads, by destroying competitors through rebates—­these forms of wrong-doing in the capitalist are far more infamous than any ordinary form of embezzlement or forgery.”  The time had come, he added, to stop “muckraking” and proceed to the constructive work of removing the abuses that had grown up.

POLITICAL REFORMS

=The Public Service.=—­It was a wise comprehension of the needs of American democracy that led the friends of reform to launch and to sustain for more than half a century a movement to improve the public service.  On the one side they struck at the spoils system; at the right of the politicians to use public offices as mere rewards for partisan work.  The federal civil service act of 1883 opened the way to reform by establishing five vital principles in law:  (1) admission to office, not on the recommendation of party workers, but on the basis of competitive examinations; (2) promotion for meritorious service of the government rather than of parties; (3) no assessment of office holders for campaign funds; (4) permanent tenure during good behavior; and (5) no dismissals for political reasons.  The act itself at first applied to only 14,000 federal offices, but under the constant pressure from the reformers it was extended until in 1916 it covered nearly 300,000 employees out of an executive force of approximately 414,000.  While gaining steadily at Washington, civil service reformers carried their agitation into the states and cities.  By 1920 they were able to report ten states with civil service commissions and the merit system well intrenched in more than three hundred municipalities.

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History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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