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Theodore Roosevelt as Civil Service Commissioner: Linking the Influence and Development of a Modern Administrative President

Richard D. White, Jr.
Administrative Theory & Praxis
Vol. 22, No. 4 (Dec., 2000), pp. 696-713
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25611471
Page Count: 18
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Theodore Roosevelt as Civil Service Commissioner: Linking the Influence and Development of a Modern Administrative President
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Abstract

From 1889 to 1895, Theodore Roosevelt served as United States Civil Service Commissioner. Because historians often overlook this period of Roosevelt's public career, several interrelated questions remain unanswered. First, what influence did Roosevelt's tenure as Commissioner have on the early civil service reform movement; second, what influence did his Commission years have upon the Roosevelt presidency a decade later; and third, what influence did the Roosevelt presidency have on civil service reform? This essay argues that Roosevelt's Commission years were remarkably significant, a period in which he gained valuable administrative experience, matured politically, sparred with the politically powerful, and survived attempts to destroy him. Commissioner Roosevelt was influential, and possibly essential, in insuring the survival of the Commission and furthering the merit civil service. As President, Roosevelt enabled the number of classified employees to surpass the number of patronage employees for the first time, eliminated political assessments, and modernized the civil service machinery. President Roosevelt, an able politician, was also an extraordinary administrator—and arguably would not have been so without his experience as Commissioner Roosevelt.

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