Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act
|Long title||An act to regulate and improve the civil service of the United States|
|Enacted by||the 47th United States Congress|
|Statutes at Large||ch. 27, 22 Stat. 403|
The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act (ch. 27, 22 Stat. 403) of United States is a federal law established in 1883 that decided that government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit instead of political affiliation. The act provided selection of government employees by competitive exams, rather than ties to politicians or political affiliation. It also made it illegal to fire or demote government officials for political reasons and prohibited soliciting campaign donations on Federal government property. To enforce the merit system and the judicial system, the law also created the United States Civil Service Commission. This board would be in charge of determining the rules and regulations of the act.The Act also allowed for the president, by executive order to decide which positions could be subject to the act and which would not. A crucial result was the shift of the parties to reliance on funding from business, since they could no longer depend on patronage hopefuls.
In the year of 1877 there was growing interest in the United States concerning the effects of the spoil system on the American political system.  New York Established the Civil Service Reform Association to help address the issues, this establishment lead to several other organizations like it showing up in other cities.  The presence of these organizations was one of the first steps in trying to up end the spoils system in America. What moved the Civil Service Reform from city organizations to a leading topic in the political realm was the assassination of President James Garfield in 1881. President Garfield was assassinated by Charles Guiteau, because Guiteau believed the president owed him a patronage position. After the assassination of President Garfield, Vice President Chester Aurthur acceded to presidency. As the new president Aurthur pushed through the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. On January 16, 1883 Congress passed the Civil Service Act, which is sometimes referred to as the Pendleton Act after U.S. Senator George Hunt Pendleton. , Senator George H. Pendleton was one of the primary sponsors of the Act. The Act was written by Dorman Bridgeman Eaton, a staunch opponent of the patronage system who was later first chairman of the United States Civil Service Commission. However, the law would also prove to be a major political liability for Arthur. The law offended machine politicians, or politicians who belong to a small clique that controls a political party.  These politicians realized that with the Pendleton Act in place they would have to find a new means of income, since they could no longer count on donations from the wealthy hoping to receive jobs.
The law was only applied to federal government jobs and not to the state and local jobs that were the basis for political machines.[clarification needed] At first the Pendleton Act only covered a very minimum quantity of jobs, only about 10% of the US government's civilian employees had civil service jobs. However, there was a provision that allowed outgoing presidents to lock in their own appointees by converting jobs to civil service. After a series of party reversals at the presidential level (1884, 1888, 1892, 1896), the result was that most federal jobs were under civil service.
- Civil Service
- Civil Service Reform Act of 1978
- George H. Pendleton
- National Civil Service Reform League
- Spoils System
- United States Civil Service Commission
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