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to force into office such new officials as would most influence the local politics of a State. Nor was this the worst; the country has been pained at the spectacle of a great part of a session of the national Senate given to an acrimonious, deinoralizing contest,sinking at last through the dark hours of the night into something like a test of physical endurance-over the appointment of its secretary, in which the merits of the candidate—the only legitimate issue—was forgotten in the angry storm of partisan and irrelevant contention. Yet we would not count all this as utter loss--any more than we do the suffering and death of our late noble President-if only it has made us feel more deeply the peril of further departing from the spirit of the fathers and the theory of the Constitution,--if only it has awakened in us and those who represent us a higher sense of what is becoming in the most conspicuous place of statesmanship.
One other reflection upon the legislative department is important. It is by its members, elected by the people, that all laws are enacted, all appropriations are made, all salaries are fixed, and all ordinances and regulations are authorized, subject to which every department of the Government is carried on and every official duty is discharged. It is in this department that the great repressing, stimulating and moulding forces of a nation, which utter its will, express its character, give direction to its power and policies—on which all liberty, justice and safety deperd-find their ultimate sanction and strength. Government, under liberal institutions, in its comprehensive potential sense, is carried on in the legislative department. The judiciary but declares what the legislature has said or sanctioned. The Executive but executes what the legislature has authorized, or the people consistently therewith have approved at elections. It is only demagogues seeking popularity, partisan officials seeking influence and spoils, and thoughtless people blinded by false theories, who regard government as getting office, holding office, and bartering office for votes.
If from the more exalted we turn to the humbler sphere of government, we find it in villages, towns and districts where the people directly select and instruct and supervise their public servants, whose duties are not merely legislative, but combine, in some measure, the functions of the three great departments of government.
No thoughtful, candid man can affirm that, so long as the people can elect, instruct and call to account every official, from the town selectman and the village trustee to Governors, Congressmen and Presidents, and change every method and official through which government acts, there can be any interference with the prerogatives of the people or any danger to their liberty by insisting that executive subordinates and the ministerial clerks and servants in the other departments shall be selected for their merits and retained so long as they are most serviceable to the public.
Who, but officers of the legislative department, have authority to reduce salaries, to dismiss supernumeraries, to provide for and enforce economy, to prevent offices being given as bribes, to make official responsibility more severe by stern investigations and penal laws, to expose all kinds of abuses in public debates in whatever department they exist ? Whose fault will it be, but that of legislative officers, if these powers shall not be vigorously exercised ?
Let us here clearly see the need of making it plain to the people that competitive examinations and the other practical methods of Civil Service Reform do not interfere between the people and the officers they elect—do not touch upon legislative discretion-do not in the least limit or obstruct the capacity and duty of representatives to be true to the interests, opinions and policies which they are bound to respect. The citizen must forever remain the sole judge of the fitness of the candidate for whom he can vote.
Competitive examinations and the other methods of Civil Service Reform, so essential in the cases of the tens of thousands of executive and ministerial subordinates in the great offices and departments, who now gain their places secretly through favor and influence—as to which the peopie have neither part nor information—can never be necessary or useful for the selection of the officials of towns and villages. Everything is there so open, and all official duties are so simple, that the boys on their way to school, and the women over their wash-tubs, may discuss them intelligently. And for the very reason that these official functions are so simple that any one may readily discharge them, and that they rarely require the abandonment of the accustomed business of the local officer, it is practicable and desirable that his term of office should be short. In a limited way, the doctrine of rotation may be here accepted, and it has the advantage of causing more persons to acquire valuable information concerning public affairs. It is a part of the art of the demagogue to plausibly represent that methods and tenure, essential only in the great offices, are intended for interference between the people and these town and village officials at their own doors. It is an utterly false representation
In leaving the legislative department for the executive, there is another view of its official life, important to be carried with us. The inost perfect representation—which in theory is soughtwould be attained by the shortest possible terms of office. Terms of six years for federal senators, two, three and four years for State Senators, of two and three years for Governors, mayors and various other officers, as is now the case, cannot be justified on the mere theory of representation. That theory is based on the right of the people at all times to have their interests and opinions reflected in the halls of legislation. Now, terms of only one year—the shortest we recognize-violate that theory. For the opinions of parties and individuals do not, like grass and fruits, grow and ripen, or, like the earth, complete a revolution once a year, but often more frequently. When Rhode Island, following the example of the Grecian Republics, fixed the terms of her representatives at six months, and Connecticut added to those short terms semi-annual sessions of her Legislature, each at a different place, for the more convenient and exact representation of the people, and when the factious spoils system spirit of Florence and other medieval republics of Italy reduced official terms first to six, then to four, and finally to two months, they obviously enforced a term tending to a more exact representation than any now provided for in this country.
Our longer terms for such offices are justifiable only on the assumption which they proclaim, that the experience secured by larger public service is more valuable than any ideal exactness in representation; an important truth as bearing upon the proper term of mere ministerial and executive subordinates, and one which Senators will do well, if they do not longer forget, when they stand up in their places, in the fifth and sixth year of their terms
--perhaps long after the majority in the State and Legislature which they pretend to represent has been changed since their election--and, in the name of justice and sound policy, demand rotation, removals and short terms on the part of those subordi
nates who represent nothing but the unchanging need of having the constant volume of public work well done, and done in the same way year after year, whichever party is in power, and whatever policy prevails.
I say well not longer to forget that fact, because, if we go much further in teaching the people the communistic doctrine that every man has an equal right to office and that every officer belonging to the defeated party should go out when the other party prevails, the plausible and insatiable demand for office, sure to be aroused, will not stop at subordinates, but will cut down the terms of Go!'ernors, Senators and Judges as well. That doctrine bears the seeds of a communistic revolution in official life.
III. And now for the executive department. To approve and disapprove legislative enactments, are the highest functions of Governors and Presidents. To that extent they are both legislative and representative officers. Next in importance is the duty of those officers to carry into action, in the conduct of executive affairs, the principles and policy which the people approved in their elections. This, too, is in a sense a representative function. Much the same reasons, therefore, which require the terms of a legislative officer to be short apply also to Presidents and Governors; in a limited degree they apply to Mayors, also. In limiting the term of the President to four years our Constitution presents decisive evidence that considerations drawn from his representative rather than from his strictly executive functions prevailed-must we not say unwisely and disastrously prevailed – to the extent that it made his term shorter than that of a Senator.
The Constitution has fixed the term of no officer in the executive department except that of the President and Vice-President, It created no department; yet says " the President may require the opinion in writing of the principal officer in each of the Executive Departments upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices. Upon this narrow basis and the precedents of the British Cabinet, our Cabinet has been reared ; and while each of them are equally unrecognized in the Constitution and laws, (and with us the duty and responsibility are upon the President alone,) the Cabinet has been, in practice, in both countries the great central council for advice in regard to all executive action.
It is too clear for argument that the heads of departments, who
are to advise him as to his gravest duties, need to have faith in the principles and policy the President is bound to enforce, and for that reason their tenure of office should depend upon him.
There may also be a few other executive officers—foreign ministers, or more clearly those sent on special missions, and Governors of Territories might be examples—whose peculiar fitness, ir not success, would depend upon their sharing the views of the Administration; and in all such cases there should be short terms or a tenure in the discretion of the President.
When we go below these, we come upon officers who, not only according to the theory of the Constitution and the laws, but from the very necessities of government, are required to obey the legal instructions from those above them to whom they are directly responsible. Each head of a department is clothed by law withi the authority and duty of directing the official action, subject to the constitutional power of the President, of all the subordinates of that department. Among all the fifty or more thousands of subordinates standing in graded ranks from the department secretaries down past great collectors and postmasters to the customhouse janitors, the light-house keepers, the postmistresses in the hamlets, the keepers of signal stations on the tops of mountains and of life-saving stations on the shores of the oceans and the lakes, there is not one who, according to the laws or sound policy, has any right of advice as to the policy or principles of an administration; not one for whom obedience to legal instructions from a superior is not a plain duty; not one whose political opinions are material for good administration; hardly one whose active participation in partisan politics is not a public detriment tending to neglect of public business and the oppression of the citizen. The duties of these officers, I repeat, are in no sense representative. They are not called upon to act upon any political theory. They perform no duties that depend upon the triumph of political opinions or the success of any party. Whichever party comes into power, whatever party they belong to, their duties are the same. They have no right to regard the opinions of any citizen in their official action, or need to know them. They do not, like legislators, or town and village officials, meet at stated seasons, or convenient times, to consider changing interests and Auctuating politics, but month after month and year after year, they do, or they should, steadily devote