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in the field of reform, and, ignoring the tious, and moderate. If the whole conconditions which bound and qualify every stituency had been that which Curtis and struggle for a radical improvement in the Schurz represented, the educated and culaffairs of government, demand complete tivated men of the country, he might well and immediate perfection.” In his annual have pursued a different course. It must message of December, 1886, he returned also be borne in mind that Cleveland was a to the subject again and spoke of “the sturdy Democrat, and felt that the educamisguided zeal of impracticable friends." tion of his own party, difficult as it was
This brought forth an emphatic letter from under the circumstances, was necessary to Carl Schurz, who had been a warm sup- sustain him in the work of reform. porter of Cleveland and was now a sym- James Russell Lowell, who, as he himself pathetic coadjutor of Curtis. “Until re- said, "did divine Lincoln earlier than most cently," he wrote, “the worst things laid men of the Brahmin caste," had now a just to your charge were construed as mere er- appreciation of Cleveland. He was our rors of judgment. ... But ... this con- minister to England at the time of CleveGding belief has been seriously shaken. land's election and was willing to stay on, Your attempt to please both reformers but the President naturally desired to give and spoilsmen has failed. I warned you his place to a Democrat. On his return more than once that your principal danger home he went to Washington (August, was to sit down between two chairs. I am 1885) and paid his respects to Cleveland, afraid you are virtually there now.” This drawing forth a hearty laugh by saying, “I letter and the persistence of the two men come to you like St. Denis, with the head in their opposite views caused a break in you have cut off under my arm." “Don't the intimate relations between Cleveland you think,” Lowell asked at a dinner to and Schurz, which had existed since the Dorman B. Eaton (December, 1885), " it year of his candidacy for President. The would be better and make for the progress President's exasperation was so great that of civil service reform if equality-I mean he forbade a prominent custom-house of- numerical equality-could be introduced ficial to attend the annual meeting of the into the public service before President National Civil Service Reform League, in Cleveland's term expires? I am very 1887. He afterward apologized for this strongly of that opinion. I certainly never order, confessing that, when he sent it, he objected to my own removal. It was cerwas greatly irritated.
tainly necessary.” At the two hundred Doubtless reformers should hold stead- and fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of fast to their highest ideals-an obligation Harvard College (November, 1886) Lowell, which probably justifies the criticism by looking directly at Cleveland, ended his Curtis and Schurz, who were broad-minded oration: “ Justum ac tenacem propositi men; Schurz, moreover, had a rather good virum,' who knows how to withstand the comprehension of Western sentiment, now 'civium ardor prava jubentium.' He has so important a political force. Neverthe left the helm of State to be with us here and less, Cleveland had both a better knowledge so long as it is intrusted to his hands we are and saner view of the conditions. He felt sure that, should the storm come, he will that for enduring results he must educate say with Seneca's pilot, 'O, Neptune, you the people to a belief in the practicability may save me if you will; you may sink me of the reform. Like Lincoln, although in if you will; but whatever happen, I shall a much less degree, he understood the plain keep my rudder true.” The audience people. Living for a number of years as a knew that "civium ardor prava jubentium" young man at a hotel in Buffalo, a favorite meant in this case “politicians yelling for resort for drovers and farmers, he learned spoils,” and gave orator and President their from them the same lessons that Lincoln hearty applause. It may be that Lowell got from the loungers in the country taverns had in mind the emotion Cleveland beof Illinois. The history of the progress of trayed at the time of this felicitous reference civil service reform shows that Cleveland when he wrote in a private letter, "To me was right in his belief that in 1885 the doc- Cleveland's personality is very simpatico. trine was so unfamiliar to the public mind He is a truly American type of the best that its application must be gradual, cau- kind-a type very dear to me, I confess.”
Let us now sum up the progress of civil with the first year of his second adminisservice reform under Cleveland's first ad- tration as they had been with the same periministration. The Pendleton law was much od of the first. This was partly due to his strengthened and may be said to have not giving the same attention to appointbeen firmly established. While the sec- ments that he had given four years pretions of the law regarding political assess- viously. He was now occupied with ments might be easily evaded, the assess- weightier matters and left the disposition ment of office-holders in Washington had of the offices mainly to his subordinates. wholly ceased and the practice had else- Josiah Quincy, who had been regarded where largely disappeared. Through ex- as favorable to civil service reform and tensions as well as in the ordinary course had received the appointment of Assistant of national growth, Cleveland left 27,380 Secretary of State, was a diligent wielder places in the classified service against the of the political axe. Indeed, Schurz, who 15,573 which he found there when he took had become president of the National Civil his seat. His work in the unclassified ser- Service Reform League on the death of vice shows that in becoming a reformer he Curtis, said in his annual address of 1894: had not ceased to be a Democrat. In the “No spoilsman in that office had ever presidential post-offices he had made prac- turned over the consular service from one tically a “clean sweep”; and, taking no party to the other with greater thoroughness account of appointments due to decease and despatch." Quincy defended himself or “vacancy,” he had made changes in by saying that he had turned out bad and nearly one-half of the other presidential of- put in good men and Cleveland stood fices. Moreover, almost all of the fourth- by his subordinate with Grant-like fidelity class post-offices had been filled by Demo- and tenacity. The Treasury, Interior, and crats. There were likewise inconsistencies Post-Office Departments were unable to in his displacements; mistakes were made, withstand the eager importunities of officeand, in some cases, injustice was done. seekers and were censured at length by the Yet it is true, as Curtis said in his frankly reformers. The Postmaster-General had critical annual address of 1887, “Under their confidence, but his assistant so swung this administration much has been gained the axe among the fourth-class postmasters for reform." And Charles F. Adams wrote that, during the first year, he exceeded by judiciously (July, 1892): “Upon the issue 1,143 Harrison's record of changes for the of a reformed civil service, Cleveland same period, which were made by a master showed himself as much in advance of of the politician's art (the number under both parties as it was wise or prudent for Harrison was over 24,000; on percentages the recognized leader of one of those parties the Democratic showing is better, 34 to to be.”
the Republican 37; the difference is owing Cleveland entered upon his second term to growth). During the first year of the under favorable conditions for civil service new administration Cleveland changed reform. Though Harrison, in respect to 1,720 presidential post-offices to Harrison's the unclassified service, had not been as 1,698 although, because of the increase in sound as his predecessor, he had, in the the number of offices, his percentage was classified service, given strength to the 53 to Harrison's 65. Yet this large nummovement and had made an important ber of displacements is evidence that Clevecontribution to its progress in the appoint- land was employing the patronage to adment of Theodore Roosevelt as member of vance his financial and tariff policies. the Civil Service Commission. Cleveland During the first nine months of his adminwas now thoroughly independent. His istration, the reformers were so sharp and third nomination had been emphatically persistent in their censure, that we must demanded by the people and his election deem charitable even the remark of the was a triumph. His party owed him more Springfield Republican: “President Clevethan he owed his party. He was the most land's civil service record to date is a maze popular man in the country and seemed to of theatrical contradictions” (December 2, stand in the position of a great leader, need- 1893). Exasperated at the fault-finding, ing only to urge a policy to have it adopted, the President could not refrain from retort, yet the reformers were not so well satisfied and, in his first annual message, spoke of “the querulous impracticability of many under the civil service rules; he left self-constituted guardians” of civil service 86,932, of which only 1,513 were due to reform.
growth. Truly did he say in his last annual I am not concerned with striking a bal- message: “A most radical and sweeping ance between the reformers' criticisms and extension was made by executive order the President's defence. Despite Quincy's dated the 6th day of May, 1896, and, if old-fashioned and ruthless decapitations fourth-class postmasters are not included and the partisan activity of the Treasury, in the statement, it may be said that practiInterior, and Post-Office Departments, cally all positions contemplated by the civil Cleveland, in both public and private ut- service law are now classified.” Schurz terances, remained faithful to the prin- was almost ready to say nunc dimittis. ciple of civil service reform. It must be In conclusion, it may be safely affirmed remembered that twelve years previously that Cleveland did more for the cause of all these removals and new appointments civil service reform than any President exwould have been considered a matter of cept Roosevelt, whose work both as comcourse and that the quickened public con- missioner and as President mark him as science was largely due to the civil service the chief promoter of this phase of good reform associations, to the representative government; but Cleveland's task in his body, the National League, and to Grover first administration was the more difficult. Cleveland. The National League was fortunate in its first two presidents, Curtis Cleveland was not as successful in his efand Schurz, who, to their other strong fort to reform the tariff as in his work towqualities, joined a power of literary expres- ard the reform of the civil service. The sion, so that they had the ear of the whole one might be accomplished by executive public as well as of the believers in reform. action; for the other he had to depend up
It is fortunate for Cleveland that the de- on Congress and he was not entirely happy cision does not rest on the written word, for in his influence on legislative action. As his ponderous and labored sentences in soon as he was established in his office, he contrast with Curtis's and Schurz's telling found himself confronted by the fact of a statements would surely lose him the case. formidable surplus lying in the treasury. When good and true men fall out, the lover The excess of revenue over expenditure for of righteousness may well be puzzled, but the year ending June 30, 1885, was sixtythe historian has an advantage over states- three millions and for the next year ninetyman and reformer in his knowledge of the four millions. In his first two annual mesend. The backslidings due to “offensive sages he stated the condition and urged a partisanship” bulk small in comparison reduction in the revenue from customs, but with the impetus Cleveland gave to good Congress lid not heed his recommendaadministration by his work for the classified tions. More money than was needed for service. He retained Theodore Roosevelt the administration of the government conas member of the Civil Service Commission; tinued to be collected and the hoard in the the two worked together in harmony, and treasury grew. In the summer of 1887, the President was keenly sensible of his Cleveland was so perturbed by the threatloss when Roosevelt thought a higher duty ening financial evils, due to the constantly called him to New York. During 1894 accumulating surplus, that he determined Cleveland added 5,468 places to the classi- on the unprecedented course of devoting fied service, and next year made several ex- the whole of his annual message to the one tensions and revisions of the rules, all in the subject. On December 6, 1887, confronted line of an enlargement of the merit system. by another excess of revenue over expendiHe issued an order which required the fill- tures, this time of one hundred and three ing of vacancies of a certain grade in the millions, he presented his views to Congress consular service by persons of proved ca- in one of his most notable State papers, pacity and fitness. During his last year the most remarkable message Senators and he made a general revision of the rules Representatives had heard since the days of which added to the classified service Lincoln. During the three years ending 32,095 new places. On his second acces- June 30, 1887, one hundred and thirtysion to office he had found 42,928 places eight millions had been contributed to the sinking fund by the calling in of outstand- years of his retirement proved illuminating, ing three per cent bonds, these being pay- for, in his denunciation of the tariff bill able at the option of the Government; in framed by the Democratic Senate of 1894, addition to the sinking fund requirements, he termed it an "inconsistent absurdity" nearly eighty millions of the surplus had that “the wool of the farmer be put on the been applied in the same manner. Since free list and the protection of tariff taxation June 30, 1887, nearly nineteen millions, be placed around the iron ore and coal of which retired all of the three per cent corporations and capitalists." But it does bonds, had also gone into the sinking fund. not appear that in 1887 he took counsel with In the current fiscal year about twenty- any one on the policy of such a message as eight millions had been used in the pur- he finally wrote. A conference of Indechase of four and four and a half per cent pendents in New York, among whom were bonds not yet due. Still the excess of George William Curtis, Carl Schurz, and revenue would, it was estimated, reach E. L. Godkin, all three tariff reformers, sent one hundred and thirteen millions and the him word that they thought it inexpedient surplus in the treasury on June 30, 1888, to urge a reduction of the tariff until after one hundred and forty millions. “Finan- the presidential campaign of 1888, as such cial disturbance” was threatened;"schemes a recommendation would imperil his own of public plunder” were invited. After re-election and would be more politic at the dismissing some suggested measures for beginning than at the end of a presidential disposing of the surplus, Cleveland argued term. that the people ought to have relief by a The House, with its Democratic majority reduction of taxation, but that the internal of thirteen, passed a bill on the lines of the revenue taxes, being confined to tobacco President's message, but the Senate, with its and spirituous and malt liquors not“strict Republican majority of two, substituted for ly speaking necessaries," should not be it a bill enforcing the policy of high protectouched. The relief should come there- tion. Neither became a law during Clevefore from a reduction of the tariff. Care land's administration. The contest was should be taken not to injure in any way transferred from Congress to the country the working-man and not to sacrifice any where the issue was clearly made between proper interest of the manufacturer. It Cleveland and his policy and the Republiis not a question of "protection and free can platform adopted by the convention trade," he said; "it is a condition which which had nominated Harrison. McKinconfronts us, not a theory.”
ley reported the platform and read in his The message with its direct and pertinent most eloquent tones: “We are uncomargument was certain to appeal to the plain promisingly in favor of the American syspeople, yet the singling out of wool from tem of protection. ... We condemn the among the raw materials for “a removal or proposition of the Democratic party to reduction" of duty, though from the free- place wool on the free list.” The national traders' stand-point strictly logical, was a revenue should be reduced “by repealing political mistake. This is much to be the taxes upon tobacco” and “the tax upregretted, as Cleveland's courage, in de- on spirits used in the arts and for mechanfining plainly an issue and standing forth ical purposes,”and, should these reductions as a leader of his party, is entitled to the not be sufficient, “we favor the entire large measure of commendation which it repeal of internal taxes rather than the received at the time. But his intelligence surrender of any part of our protective sysdid not equal his courage. As he himself tem.” Cleveland said in his letter accepthad said in a previous message, “our farm- ing a unanimous renomination that our ers and agriculturists number nearly one- opponents offer to the people “free tobacco half of our population”; to carry a meas- and free whiskey” while we propose to reure of tariff reform, they must be his chief lieve them from “the undue and unnecesreliance and the Western farmers already sary burden of tariff taxation now resting favored it. Yet his recommendation of upon them.” Few students of history and free wool made of every farmer who owned economics will hesitate to assert that Clevea sheep a protectionist. The experience of land's was the better economic and business political life and his study during the four policy, the one tending to the greatest good of the greatest number. But the country method will possess the advantage of brevthought otherwise and elected Harrison. ity, even though failing to present a compreNew York, which Cleveland had carried hensive view of the diverse conditions surin 1884, was again the pivotal State; but rounding his efforts to carry out any single now he lost it by thirteen thousand and policy Indiana as well by twenty-three hundred.. The country repudiated the McKinley It is generally conceded that the message of bill in the congressional elections of 1890 December, 1887, caused his defeat and it is by an emphatic Democratic landslide; the not unlikely that the advocacy of free wool Democrats chose 235 members of the was the predominant factor. New York House to the Republicans' 88 and the farmers owned one and a half million of Populists' 9. As the Senate remained Resheep and produced annually six million publican, no reduction of the tariff could be seven hundred thousand pounds of wool. effected, but the election of 1892 resulted in Indiana had over a million sheep produ- a Democratic Senate as well as President cing five million pounds. The Oregon and House, so that, for the first time since State election in June, an indication of the vote of 1856, the Democrats had full conNovember, gave a largely increased Re- trol of the executive and legislative departpublican majority; and this was a clear ments of the government. As the verdict protest against the Democratic policy of of 1888 had moderately favored protection, free wool, the clip in that State being ten so the elections of 1890 and 1892 had been million pounds.
unmistakable indications that the country The Republican Congress under Harri- demanded urgently a substantial downward son undertook the reduction of the surplus revision of the tariff. The President and while giving adequate protection to Ameri- the House of Representatives were eager can manufactures. McKinley in the House to carry out the will of the country and the and Aldrich in the Senate were the leaders, House, under the leadership of William L. and their efforts resulted in the McKinley Wilson and with Cleveland's sympathetic bill, which was justly characterized as “pro- co-operation, passed by a vote of 204 to tection run mad.” The Republican legis- 140 a bill (February 1, 1894) which, though lators did not offer free whiskey, at which notably defective in certain details, suptheir platform had hinted, but they reduced plied, on the whole, an honest and consisthe tax on tobacco and further, sacrificing a tent programme for reduction of the tariff, revenue of fifty-four millions, made raw and deserved a fair trial. It had the striksugar free. As free sugar would, however, ing and readily comprehensible merit of ruin the sugar planters of Louisiana, a step placing iron ore, coal, and lumber on the backward in fiscal legislation was taken by free list, the more doubtful advantage of giving a bounty of two cents per pound on free wool; it retained free sugar, the great all sugar produced in the United States. boon of the McKinley act to the people Lavish pensions legislation completed the (although now questionable as a revenue obliteration of the surplus, so that on Cleve measure), but it repealed the sugar bounland's second accession to office, it was only ties. two and a half millions, and the following The action of the Senate shows how year (ending June 30, 1894) there was a strongly intrenched was the system of prodeficit of seventy millions, to which the tection. While a majority of the Demopanic of 1893 contributed in some measure. cratic Senators were willing to agree to the Fate had decreed that Cleveland should Wilson bill, a number of them were secretly be tried by a varied experience; that he opposed to it and two were open and deshould grapple with a surplus during his termined in their opposition. These two, first and with a deficit during his second Gorman of Maryland and Brice of Ohio, administration, for neither of which was he were as good protectionists as McKinley responsible. Indeed it is obvious that had and so convinced that the bill meant ruin he been re-elected in 1888, there would to many manufacturing industries that they have been no deficit in 1894. From the preferred no legislation whatever to any continual stormy scenes of his second ad- that did not safeguard certain interests. ministration I shall for the moment isolate Gorman was a good parliamentary leader his action concerning the tariff. This and, having both avowed and silent support