Since the birth of this nation, our leaders have recognized the value of a civil service merit system to the orderly administration of our country's day-to-day affairs. During his Presidency, George Washington set high standards for federal government service based upon the individual's qualifications for the position sought. This concept was eroded in subsequent administrations by preference for veterans, geographical distribution of appointments, and reliance on Congressional recommendations.
Culminating in Andrew Jackson's administration the use of patronage and the building of political machines led to low morale, indifferent service and payment for jobs." The excesses of the "spoils" system eventually led to public demand for reform. In 1851, Congress passed a resolution requesting Cabinet officers to draw up a plan for the classification of their subordinates, to equalize salaries and to provide for "'a fair and impartial examination of the qualifications of clerks and for promoting them from one grade to another'. Subsequently, in 1853, Congress passed legislation which carried out those recommendations.
At the state and local levels, the evils of the "spoils" system also led to pressure for reform. In 1877, New York be- came the first state to form a Civil Service Reform Association. That system served as a model for reform associations in other states, all dedicated to the regulation and improvement of civil service. Following the movement initiated by the federal and state governments, municipalities and counties began to incorporate civil service systems into their local governments.
- Rea T Markin (1974)
Regional Bears, March 2021