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The consular service has recently been much improved through a system of promoting efficient officers from one post to another.
The Civil Service Commission.-Whenever a change takes place in the political character of the Administration, changes also occur in the ranks of the officeholders. Political parties have long acted upon the principle, "To the victors belong the spoils." The appointive offices have been used as bribes and rewards for partisan purposes. To correct this wasteful and demoralizing “spoils system,” Congress has passed an. Act enabling the President to appoint three Commissioners, only two of whom may be of the same party, to carry out the further provisions of the Civil Service of the United States. This Commission provides examinations whereby the fitness of applicants for public service is tested. In many of the departments the applicants for positions are required to pass these examinations, and appointments are made from those found qualified. In this way adherence to a political party has not much weight, and the public service is purified and vastly improved. In 1909, out of 352,000 persons in the Civil Service, 206,637 were classified or subject to examination; 7,000 were subject to confirmation by the Senate, and 55,000 were country postmasters and clerks.
The Interstate Commerce Commission.—Among the powers delegated by the States to Congress was that to regulate commerce between the States. Under this authority Congress has assumed wide powers, and has assigned the exercise of many of these powers relating to the carrying of persons and commodities to a Commission consisting of seven members. The breadth of its functions may under future development make it equivalent to an executive department. It is the duty of the Commissioners to investigate matters
concerning violations of the Interstate Commerce laws: such as the regulations preventing unjust discrimination in freight, express, and passenger rates; prohibiting the pooling of earnings or business; and requiring that locomotives and cars should be equipped with air brakes, uniform and automatic couplers, and safety appliances for the protection of trainmen from accident. Persons or corporations engaged in the transportation of oil are included under the provisions of the Act of 1906, which greatly increased the powers granted by the law of 1887 under which the Commission was created. The issuance of free transportation is restricted to employees and their families. The Commission has the power to fix a reasonable and just maximum rate, which shall remain in effect two years unless changed by the Commission or set aside by the courts as beyond the powers conferred. Enforcement of orders may be by injunction or by other mandatory order. Appeals may be taken to the Supreme Court of the United States. Contracts between common carriers must be filed with the Commission, and all rebates and discriminations are absolutely prohibited. Persons offering or accepting rebates may be heavily fined, and imprisoned not more than two years. Copies of all tariffs established must be kept open for public inspection.
The salary of each member of the Commission is $10,000, and the term of office is seven years. Not more than four Commissioners can be appointed from any one political party. No person holding an official relation to a common carrier can be appointed. The chairman of the Commission has certain relations with the arbitration of difficulties between common carriers and their employees.
The Tariff Commission. The Tariff Law (1909) provides for a Tariff Commission which is likely to exercise a great
influence upon future action and opinion concerning the tariff and related matters. The President is authorized to appoint a Board of Experts which is in effect a Commission to investigate any or all of the phases of our foreign commerce, and the relations to it and the effect upon it of both foreign and American tariffs. Under such action the chances of securing equitably arranged duties will be greatly increased.
The Librarian of Congress.—The Librarian of Congress is an independent officer, and reports directly to Congress. He has charge of the Congressional Library, which has over 1,500,000 volumes and pamphlets and receives valuable additions yearly. The Librarian has duties in regard to copyrights; and the law requires the delivery of two complete copies of the best edition of every copyrighted book to the Congressional Library promptly after its publication. The Library Building near the Capitol is the finest of its kind in the world. The collection is now the largest in the Western Hemisphere, and the third in size in the world. This library is very rich in history, political science, official documentsNational, State, and foreign and in important files of newspapers, and original manuscripts, dealing with the colonial, Revolutionary, and formative periods of American history. Many of the rare books and manuscripts are exhibited in show cases on the second floor of the Library Building. The Smithsonian collection is strong in scientific works, and includes the largest assemblage of the transactions of learned societies which exists in this country. The Library is supported by annual appropriations by Congress for various purposes, including the purchase of books. It is used primarily and essentially as a reference library, not as a lending library. Certain persons are entitled through statute law to draw books for home use. Among these are the President, Vice
President, Senators, Representatives, members of the Cabinet, Justices and Judges of the Federal Courts, Secretary of the Senate, Clerk of the House, Chaplains of the Houses, exPresidents of the United States, representatives at Washington of foreign governments, and a few others. The Library Building is open to the public all days of the year, excepting legal holidays.
Some Executive Functions: Division of Executive Power. -Within recent years executive functions have been given to bodies largely or even entirely independent of the various departments. The Interstate Commerce Commission, the Civil Service Commission, and the Library of Congress already noticed are cases in point. To these may be added the Government Printing Office, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum, the Bureau of Ethnology, the Bureau of American Republics, and the Isthmian Canal Commission. The names applied to many of the officials are often misleading as to their importance. The growth of the country has brought about the necessity for greater and still greater division of the Executive power. For forty-six years after 1789, the work of the Bureau of Patents was in charge of the President and his Cabinet, who could not properly organize the business on account of the press of their other duties.
The operations of the Executive Department of the Federal Government affect the welfare of nearly a hundred millions of people, and involve the annual expenditure of over half a billion of dollars. Responsibility for the efficient working of the great executive force rests on the President, but there must also be a division of labor. Washington began his administration with three members of the Cabinet: a Secretary of State, a Secretary of the Treasury, and a Secretary of War. As the work of government has grown, new