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They Vote Only for the Spoils: Massachusetts Reformers, Suffrage Restriction, and the 1884 Civil Service Law1

  • Edward H. Miller (a1)


This essay examines why Richard Henry Dana III and other Boston reformers supported the Massachusetts civil service law of 1884, an even stronger measure than the federal Pendleton Act of 1883. Historians have uncovered two purposes behind civil service reform. First, reform limited the “spoils system” and curtailed the power of political parties. Second, reform increased efficiency in government. This essay argues that restricting the suffrage of Irish laborers was another purpose. Therefore, the essay runs counter to prevailing historical opinion by demonstrating that support for suffrage restriction remained an undercurrent in the 1880s, even after the failure of the Tilden Commission to implement property qualifications in New York City in the late 1870s. This exploration of a neglected topic also reminds urban historians of the deep ethnic conflict that gripped Boston in the 1880s and of the crucial role of patronage and bossism in Boston and other cities, a reality that historians since the 1980s have tended to downplay.



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2 Perry, Bliss, Richard Henry Dana, 1851–1931 (Boston, 1933), 148.

3 McFarland, Gerald W., Mugwumps, Morals, and Politics (Amherst., MA, 1975), 15. For an overview of literature on the mugwumps, see Blodgett, Geoffrey, “The Mugwump Reputation, 1870 to the Present,” Journal of American History 66 (Mar. 1980): 867–87. For a classic account alleging links between business and civil service reform, see Josephson, Matthew, The Politicos (New York, 1938), 276–77. For the thesis that status anxiety motivated mugwumps, see Hoogenboom, Ari, Outlawing the Spoils: A History of the Civil Service Movement, 1865–1883 (Urbana, 1968), ix; Hofstadter, Richard, The Age of Reform: From Bryan to F.D.R. (New York, 1955), 131–73;Dobson, John M., Politics in the Gilded Age: A New Perspective on Reform (New York, 1972), 7577;Sproat, John G., The Best Men: Liberal Reformers in the Gilded Age (New York, 1968), 259; Keller, Morton, Affairs of State. Public Life in Late Nineteenth Century America (Cambridge, MA, 1977), 272. For the argument that reformers embodied a new ethic of professionalism, see , McFarland, Mugwumps, Morals, and Politics, 3454.

4 On the reformers' opposition to the suffrage rights of immigrants, see McGerr, Michael E., Decline of Popular Politics: The American North, 1865–1928 (New York, 1986), 4552;Keyssar, Alexander, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (New York, 2000), 121–27;Kousser, J. Morgan, The Shaping of Southern Politics: Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-Party South, 1880–1910 (New Haven, 1974), 252; , Sproat, The Best Men, 253–57.

5 Individual reformers made frequent attacks on universal suffrage. On Adams, see Adams, Charles Francis Jr, “The Protection of the Ballot in National Elections,” journal of Social Science 1 (June 1869): 91111. On Dana, see Richard Henry Dana III, “Woman Suffrage: Unnatural and Inexpedient,” unpublished ms., vol. 188.54, p. 20, Richard Henry Dana III Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. Both Dorman Eaton, who advised Dana on the contents of the bill, and Moorfield Storey advocated defining the city as a more limited form of corporation, thereby limiting the suffrage to shareholders, or those who owned property and paid taxes. SeeStorey, Moorfield, “Government of Cities,” New England Magazine, June 1892, 438–40;Storey, Moorfield, Politics as a Duty and as a Career (New York, 1889), 23. Also Dorman Eaton, B., “Municipal Government,” Journal of Social Science 5 (1873): 78;Parkman, Francis, “The Failure of Universal Suffrage,” North American Review 127 (July-Aug. 1878): 120;, McGerr, Decline of Popular Politics, 46, 4849;, Sproat, The Best Men, 254–55;, Keyssar, Right to Vote, 122; , Kousser, Shaping of Southern Politics, 252; Schiesl, Martin J., The Politics of Efficiency: Municipal Administration and Reform in America, 1800–1920 (Berkeley, 1977), 6, 8.

6 Kousser, J. Morgan, Shaping of Southern Politics, 1144, 139–45, 246–65. See also, Woodward, C. Vann, Origins of the New South: 1877–1913 (Baton Rouge, 1951), 322–23;, Keller, Affairs of State, 454–56, 527–28; , Keyssar, Right to Vote, 107–16;Key, V. O. Jr, Southern Politics in State and Nation (New York, 1949).

7 On the Tilden Commission, see Quigley, David, Second Founding: New York City, Reconstruction, and the Making of American Democracy (New York, 2004), 137–60;, McGerr, Decline of Popular Politics, 4850;, Keyssar, Right to Vote, 132–33;Beckert, Sven, “Democracy and It s Discontents: Contesting Suffrage Rights in Gilded Age New York,” Past and Present 174 (Feb. 2002): 116–57;Beckert, Sven, The Monied Metropolis: New York. City and the Consolidation of the American Bourgeoisie, 1850–1896 (New York, 2001); , Sproat, The Best Men, 253–57;Mandelbaum, Seymour, Boss Tweed's New York (New York, 1965), 168–72;Foner, Eric, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution (New York, 1988), 518–19.

8 Historians Sven Beckert and Michael McGerr both suggest that the movement for suffrage restriction diminished after Tilden. Beckert argues that the Tilden Commission represented “the high point” of upper-class efforts to limit the suffrage. “Upper-class Bostonians,” Beckert observes, “did not seem to have worked towards restricting the suffrage” thereafter. “In New York City, the 1877 movement was the last of its kind…. In the North… attacks against the suffrage itself… moved to the margins,” according to Beckert. After Tilden, McGerr notes, “public opposition to the right to vote diminished. Suffrage was not an issue in the North in the 1880s and 1890s…. Most liberals turned away from suffrage restriction, not because it was wrong, but because it was impossible.” , Beckert, “Democracy and its Discontents,” 120, 152, 153–54;, McGerr, Decline of Popular Politics, 5051.

9 , Dobson, Politics in the Gilded Age, 54; , Hoogenboom, Outlawing the Spoils, 197; , McGerr, Decline of Popular Politics, 63; Blodgett, Geoffrey, Gentle Reformers: Massachusetts Democrats in the Cleveland Era (Cambridge, MA, 1966), 44:, Keller, Affairs of State, 272; Wiebe, Robert H., The Search for Order: 1877–1920 (New York, 1967), 61; , Sproat, The Best Men, 257–58;Skowronek, Stephen, Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877–1920 (Cambridge, 1982), 5255.

10 , Wiebe, Search for Order, 111; , Keller, Affairs of State, 273; , Dobson, Politics in the Gilded Age, 54; , Sproat, The Best Men, 269–70;McCormick, Richard L., From Realignment to Reform: Political Change in New York State, 1893–1910 (Ithaca, NY, 1981), 31; , Schiesl, Politics of Efficiency, 2627, 36; , Skowronek, Building a New American State, 5052;White, Leonard D., The Republican Era: 1869–1901 (New York, 1958), 295–97.

11 To be sure, scholars have given some attention to civil service reform at the state and local level. For reform in Ne w York State, see , McCormick, From Realignment to Reform, 3132;, Schiesl, Politics of Efficiency, 3334, 50; and, Hoogenboom, Outlawing the Spoils, 256–57. For Massachusetts, see , Schiesl, Politics of Efficiency, 34; and, Hoogenboom, Outlawing the Spoils, 257–58, 260. For Wisconsin, see Thelen, David P., The New Citizenship: Origins of Progressivism in Wisconsin, 1885–1900 (Columbia, MO, 1972), 25, 28–32, 144, 159, 163–71; and, Schiesl, Politics of Efficiency, 3739, 43–44. For Illinois, see Campbell, Ballard C., Representative Democracy: Public Policy and Midwestern Legislatures in the Late Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, MA, 1980), 75, 176–77. For New Jersey, seeReynolds, John F., Testing Democracy: Electoral Behavior and Progressive Reform in New Jersey, 1880–1920 (Chapel Hill, 1988), 109–10.

12 , Hoogenboom, Outlawing the Spoils, 25.

13 Efficiency and curtailing the spoils system remained important goals for the Boston reformers. See Civil Service Record, Apr. 1883, July 1883, June 1884. Although no prior study has argued that the intention of civil service reform was to restrict suffrage, J. Morgan Kousser observed that twentieth-century turnout decline was a possible effect of civil service reform. Kousser, , “Suffrage” in Encyclopedia of American Political History, ed. Greene, Jack P. (New York, 1984), 1250-51.

14 The author concurs with Theodore Roosevelt that the “Civil Service Reform movement was one from above downwards”; Roosevelt, Theodore, An Autobiography (New York, 1913), 146. On the middle-class status of the civil service reformers, see , McFarland, Mugwumps, Morals, and Politics, 2428;, Hoogenboom, Outlawing the Spoils, 256–57. That said, decades of scholarship has demonstrated that progressive reform was not just a middle-class phenomenon: Huthmacher, J. Joseph, “Urban Liberalism and the Age of Reform,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 44 (Sept. 1962): 231–41;Buenker, John, Urban Liberalism and Progressive Reform (New York, 1973); and, Thelen, The New Citizenship, all stressed the contributions of the working class. Stromquist, Shelton, in Reinventing “The People”: The Progressive Movement, the Class Problem, and the Origins of Modern Liberalism (Urbana, 2006), 111, argued that progressivism was in fact a movement comprising mainstream middle-class and more radical working-class elements. , McCormick, From Realignment to Reform, found that a newly engaged public demanded regulatory policy after discovering that business corrupted politics. See also Finegold, Kenneth, Experts and Politicians: Reform Challenges to Machine Politics in New York, Cleveland, and Chicago (Princeton, 1995); Filene, Peter G., “An Obituary for ‘The Progressive Movement,’” American Quarterly 22 (Spring 1970): 2034;Connolly, James, The Triumph of Ethnic Progressivism: Urban Political Culture in Boston, 1900–1925 (Cambridge, MA, 1998).

15 McDonald, Terrence J., “The Problem of the Political in Recent American Urban History: Liberal Pluralism and the Rise of Functionalism,” Social History 10 (Oct. 1985): 323–45;, Connolly, Triumph of Ethnic Progressivism, 68;McDonald, Terrence J., The Parameters of Urban Fiscal Policy: Socioeconomic Change and Political Culture in San Francisco, 1860–1906 (Berkeley, 1986), 18, 257; Erie, Stephen P., Rainbow's End: Irish-Americans and the Dilemnas of Urban Machine Politics, 1840–1985 (Berkeley, 1988), 9–10, 57–66, 211–12.

16 Teaford, Jon C., “Finis for Tweed and Steffens: Rewriting the History of Urban Rule,” Reviews in American History 10 (Dec. 1982): 133–49;Stave, Bruce M. et al., “A Reassessment of the Urban Political Boss: An Exchange of Views,” History Teacher 21 (May 1988): 293312;, Erie, Rainbow's End, 124;, McDonald, Parameters of Urban Fiscal Policy; McDonald, Terrence J., “Review: Putting Politics Back into the History of the American City,” American Quarterly 34 (Summer 1982): 200–09. For examples of the all-powerful machine model, seeRiordon, William L., Plunkitt of Tammany Hall (New York, 1905); Handlin, Oscar, The Uprooted (New York, 1951).

17 Silbey, Joel, The American Political Nation, 1838–1893 (Stanford, CA, 1991), 219; Kleppner, Paul, The Third Electoral System, 1853–1892 (Chapel Hill, 1979), 52.

18 Baum, Dale, The Civil War Party System: The Case of Massachusetts, 1848–1876 (Chapel Hill, 1984), 212; , Blodgett, Gentle Reformers, 3.

19 On labor and welfare reforms, see Brock, William R., Investigation and Responsibility: Public Responsibility in the United States (New York, 1984), 91–94,110, 149–55;Keyssar, Alexander, Out of Work: The First Century of Unemployment in Massachusetts (New York, 1986), 250–98;Leiby, James, Carroll Wright and Tabor Reform: The Origin of Tabor Statistics (Cambridge, MA, 1960). On public health, see Rosenkrantz, Barbara Gutmann, Public Health and the State: Changing Views in Massachusetts, 1842–1936 (Cambridge, MA, 1972), 3773;, Brock, Investigation and Responsibility, 118–21. On education, see Lazerson, Marvin, Origins of the Urban School: Public Education in Massachusetts, 1870–1915 (Cambridge, MA, 1971). See alsoCampbell, Ballard C., “Public Policy and State Government” in The Gilded Age: Essays on the Origins of Modern America, ed. Calhoun, Charles W. (Wilmington, DE, 1996), 314–26;Foner, Eric, Reconstruction, 469; , Keller, Affairs of State, 117, 124, 134, 322; Abbott, Richard H., “Massachusetts: Maintaining Hegemony” in Radical Republicans in the North: State Politics during Reconstruction, ed. Mohr, James C. (Baltimore, 1976), 125;, Silbey, American Political Nation, 226.

20 Grant, H. Roger, Insurance Reform: Consumer Action in the Progressive Era (Ames, IA, 1979), 15;McCraw, Thomas K., Prophets of Regulation: Charles Francis Adams, Eouis Brandeis, James M. Tandis, Alfred E. Kahn (Cambridge, MA, 1984), 1725;, Brock, Investigation and Responsibility, 193–96.

21 Miller, George H., Railroads and the Granger Taws (Madison, WI, 1971), 38.

22 For the argument that parties channeled the distribution of economic policies, see McCormick, Richard L., “The Party Period and Public Policy: An Exploratory Hypothesis,” Journal of American History 66 (Sept. 1979): 281–98;, McCormick, From Realignment to Reform, 22, 24, 3435. For an exploration of weaknesse s in McCormick's distributive-policies thesis, see Formisano, Ronald P., “The ‘Party Period’ Revisited,” Journal of American History 86 (June 1999): 96–98, 102–07;Campbell, Ballard C., The Growth of American Government: Governance from the Cleveland Era to the Present (Bloomington, IN, 1995), 4546. See alsoNash, Gerald D., State Government and Economic Development: A History of Administrative Policies in California (Berkeley, CA, 1964), 23, 25.

23 , Keyssar, Out of Work, 14.

24 , Connolly, Triumph of Ethnic Progressivism, 217; Wright, Carroll D., Census of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1885 (Boston, 1887), 550; , Keyssar, Out of Work, 18, 41.

25 , Connolly, Triumph of Ethnic Progressivism, 217. On immigration and politics, see, Kleppner, Third Electoral System, 198201; On Irish immigration, see Miller, Kerby A., Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America (New York, 1985); Diner, Hasia R., Erin's Daughters in America: Irish Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth Century (Baltimore, 1983).

26 , Baum, Civil War Party System, 12; , Kousser, Shaping of Southern Politics, 57; , Keyssar, Right to Vote, 130.

27 , Baum, Civil War Party System, 11; , Keyssar, Right to Vote, 87; , Kousser, Shaping of Southern Politics, 57; , Keller, Affairs of State, 527.

28 , Baum, Civil War Party System, 15.

29 Massachusetts Bureau o f Statistics of Labor, Thirteenth Annual'Report (Boston, 1882), 153.

31 Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, Nineteenth Annual Report (Boston, 1888), 178.

32 Ibid., 208.

34 Ibid., 199. During presidential-election years, turnout in the United States between 1868 and 1892 averaged almost 80 percent. See , Silbey, American Political Nation, 219.

35 Statistics Department, The Municipal Register, 1891 (Boston, 1891), 189203.

36 Kleppner, Paul, Who Voted?: The Dynamics of Electoral Turnout, 1870–1980 (New York, 1982), 37.

37 , Kleppner, Who Voted?, 37., Erie, Rainbow's End, 64, also found that “the Irish had high naturalization, registration, and voting rates”.

38 , Keller, Affairs of State, 557–58;, Wiebe, Search for Order, 5051.

39 While interpretations of voting behavior vary depending on locale, “ethnocultural historians” found that religion and ethnicity were the primary determinants of partisan conflict. For Democratic voting patterns among the Irish, see Baum, Dale, “The Massachusetts Voter: Party Loyalty in the Gilded Age, 1872–1896” in Massachusetts in the Gilded Age, ed. Tager, Jack and Ifkovic, John W. (Amherst, MA, 1985), AX–AA;Benson, Lee, The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy: New York as a Test Case (Princeton, 1961), 165; Formisano, Ronald P., The Birth of Mass Political Parties: Michigan, 1827–1861 (Princeton, 1971), 165, 180–81;, Campbell, Representative Democracy, 33; Holt, Michael F., Forging a Majority: The Formation of the Republican Party in Pittsburgh, 1848–1860 (New Haven, 1969), 81; , Kleppner, Third Electoral System, 61, 82; Hays, Samuel P., “History as Human Behavior,” Iowa Journal of History 58 (July 1960): 196. For Democratic voting patterns among Catholics, see , Benson, Concept of Jacksonian Democracy, 198207;, Kleppner, Third Electoral System, 61, 148–53, 363; , Kleppner, Cross of Culture, 71; , Campbell, Representative Democracy, 33; , Formisano, Birth of Mass Political Parties, 139–40, 183; , Holt, Forging a Majority, 326, 354, 365–66. For an insightful study positing that, at least in Massachusetts, economic factors had an impact on voting, see , Baum, Civil War Party System, 212. For a distillation of the disparate and complex ethnocultural studies, see McCormick, Richard L., “Ethnocultural Interpretations of Nineteenth Century Voting Behavior,” Political Science Quarterly 89 (June 1974): 351–77. On the oversimplification of the “ethnocultural interpretation,” see Formisano, Ronald P., “The Invention of the Ethnocultural Interpretation,” American Historical Review 99 (Apr. 1994): 453–77.

40 Statistics Department, The Municipal Register, 1884 (Boston, 1884), 293, 306; Hanks, Patrick, ed., Dictionary of American Family Names (Oxford, 2003). See also,Eisinger, Peter K., “Ethnic Political Transition in Boston, 1884–1933: Some Lessons for Contemporary Cities,” Political Science Quarterly 93 (Summer 1978): 222.

41 Harmond, Richard, “Tradition and Change in the Gilded Age: A Political History of Massachusetts, 1878–1893” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 1966), 127.

42 Quoted in , Harmond, “Tradition and Change,” 61; , Dobson, Politics in the Gilded Age, 136. “There are few men in the ranks of the Democratic party,” the Catholic Boston Pilot proclaimed on June 21,1884, “that represent [sic] the amount of vigor, brains, and energy that is stowed away in Butler's frame.”

43 Nation, Apr. 9, 1874, 230–31, quoted in , Sproat, The Best Men, 49.

44 Civil Service Record, Nov. 1882. The Record's commentary on Butler is frequently scath ing. “Butlerism,” the June 1883 Record observed, “is so opposed to all that is respectable and honorable, to all that is distinctive of the history and traditions of Massachusetts.”

45 Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court of Massachusetts in the Year 1882–83 (Boston, 1883), 677.

46 , Harmond, “Tradition and Change,” 107.

47 Acts and Resolves Passed…in the Year 1882–83, 669.

48 Quoted in , Harmond, “Tradition and Change,” 118–19. Historian Paul Kleppner called breaking the compact foreign vote “a tactical goal of Republicans”; , Kleppner, Third Electoral System, 348–49.

49 Boston Transcript, May 23, 1884.

50 Civil Service Record, Apr. 1883.

52 , Sproat, The Best Men, 253–57. Documentation of reformers' critical view of the Irish and immigration is extensive. See, for example, , Parkman “Failure of Universal Suffrage,” 9; Moorfield Storey, the prominent Boston lawyer, president of the Boston Civil Service Reform Association, was perhaps the most scathing critic. See , Storey, Politics as a Duty, 45;Storey, Moorfield, “The Political Situation,” Atlantic Monthly, Jan. 1892, 116; Leger, Ann Louise, “Moorfield Storey: An Intellectual Biography” (PhD diss., University of Iowa, 1968), 216; and, Blodgett, Gentle Reformers, 34. See also Adams, Charles Francis, Three Episodes of Massachusetts (Boston, 1892), 948–57;Kirkland, Edward Chase, Charles Francis Adams Jr.: The Patrician at Bay (Cambridge, MA, 1965), 156; , Silbey, American Political Nation, 217. On the anti-Irish views of Charles Eliot Norton, the Harvard fine arts professor who had a singular influence on the younger, Harvard-educated Mugwumps such as Dana and Quincy, see , Blodgett, Gentle Reformers, 20–21, 32. For E. L. Godkin, an Irish Protestant immigrant, see , Sproat, The Best Men, 226, 231, 250; , Quigley, Second Founding, 157; Godkin, E. L., “City Government,” Nation, Oct. 25, 1877. On Richard Henry Dana, see Richard Henry Dana III, “Sir William Vernon Harcourt and the Australian Ballot Law,” unpublished ms., Dana Papers, box 46, folder “Pamphlet on Harcourt and the Australian Ballot,” 6. On Josiah Quincy, see O'Connor, Thomas H., The Boston Irish: A Political History (Boston, 1997), 157.

53 That reformers fretted about the prospect of an Irish mayor is well-documented. Irish-born Alderman Hugh O'Brien lost his bid for the mayoralty in 1883 to Augustus P. Martin, a Yankee Republican, by 1,500 votes. Before the election, the Dec. 5, 1884, Boston Transcript, a mugwumpish newspaper, asserted, “The cause of good government in Boston, not only for this year but for an indefinite time to come, is bound up with the success of General Martin.” Although O'Brien would run and win in late 1884, the Jan. 5, 1884, Transcript offered anxious reformers hope that O'Brien would sit out the next election. “The (valedictory) address of Alderman Hugh O'Brien,” the paper observed, “will increase the public satisfaction that his aspirations for the mayoralty were defeated in December.” On Yankee fears of displacement and Irish political hegemony, see , Blodgett, Gentle Reformers, 6162;, McFarland, Mugwumps, Morals, and Politics, 85; , Eisinger, “Ethnic Political Transition in Boston,” 223.

54 Richard Henry Dana III, “Activities of Seventy Years and Patronage under Eight Presidents,” unpublished ms., 92, Dana Papers, box 50. See also , Perry, Richard Henry Dana, 147–48. Additional evidence suggests that Dana was the author. In the February 1883 Civil Service Record, the anonymous writer observed that the Massachusetts Constitution granted the Commonwealth the power to regulate appointments. Therefore, the author continued, “There is…no reason why the legislation in Massachusetts should not be authoritative instead of merely recommendatory.” In his unpublished autobiography, Dana wrote,“I found the Massachusetts constitution left to the legislature the power to regulate appointments, so I had our law drafted in compulsory form.”

55 On patronage, see , Keller, Affairs of State, 238, 256–57, 310–12;Mallam, William D., “Butlerism in Massachusetts,” New England Quarterly 33 (June 1960): 191, 193–99, 205–06;, Schiesl, Politics of Efficiency, 2, 25–45, 103–04;, Dobson, Politics in the Gilded Age, 33, 5760;, White, Republican Era, 5–8, 26–27, 171–74, 291; Teaford, Jon C., The Unheralded Triumph (Baltimore, 1984), 33.

56 Civil Service Record, Sept. 1883.

57 Since ward leaders largely controlled who would serve on the Common Council, they had a powerful voice in determining who received and kept patronage jobs. For further discussions of city government and the hiring of public laborers in Boston prior to civil service reform, see Hanford, A. Chester, “The Government of the City of Boston” in Fifty Years of Boston: A Memorial Volume, ed. Herlihy, Elisabeth M. (Boston, 1932), 84; Kleppner, Paul, “From Party to Factions: The Dissolution of Boston's Majority Party, 1876–1908” in Boston, 1700–1980: The Evolution of Urban Politics, ed. Formisano, Ronald and Burns, Constance (Westport, CT, 1984), 117–22;, Schiesl, Politics of Efficiency, 5152, 68–70; , Teaford, Unheralded Triumph, 1525;III, Richard Henry Dana, “Laborers and the Civil Service Law,” unpublished ms., Dana Papers, box 53.

58 Civil Service Record, Feb. 1883.

59 Ibid. Dana made several disparaging comments about laborers. In his unpublished journal, in describing his meeting a group of laborers at a public hearing, Dana “supposed that they had been corralled by some of the spoils politicians.” III, Richard Henry Dana, “Journal of R. H. Dana III, 1880–1913,” unpublished ms, 2:31, Dana Papers, vol. 188. 45. See Dana's denouncement of Charlestown Navy Yard mechanics as an “incompetent lot” in III, Richard Henry Dana, “Benjamin F. Tracy and the Navy Yards,” unpublished ms., 1, Dana Papers, box 49, folder “Rough Draft of an Autobiography; Chapter on Benjamin F. Tracy and the Navy Yards.” See also III, Richard Henry Dana, “My First Stages of Civil Service Reform,” unpublished ms., 4, Dana Papers, box 49, folder “Rough Draft of an Autobiography; Chapter on Early Civil Service Reform.” On Josiah Quincy's deprecating views of Irish labor, see Quincy, Josiah, “Municipal Progress in Boston,” Independent, Feb. 1900, 424–26;Abrams, Richard M., Conservatism in a Progressive Era: Massachusetts Politics, 1900–1912 (Cambridge, MA, 1964), 143–44. For the critical views of Charles Francis Adams II of laborers, see Adams, Charles Francis, Three Episodes of Massachusetts History (Boston, 1892), 2: 988–91.

60 Civil Service Record, Feb. 1883.

61 Wright, Carroll D., Census of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1885, 342–43.

62 Thernstrom, Stephen, The Other Bostonians: Poverty and Progress in the American Metropolis, 1880–1970 (Cambridge, MA, 1973), 186, found that by “1890, 90 percent of the Irish immigrants in the city were manual laborers.” See also , Keyssar, Out of Work, 86.

63 Wright, Carroll D., Census of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1885, 336–37.

64 Ibid., 606–07.

65 , Erie, Rainbow's End, 60.

66 Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, Nineteenth Annual Report, 208.

67 , Kleppner, Who Voted?, 3435.

68 Statistics Department, Municipal Register, 1891, 200–01.

69 Godkin, E. L., “The Government of Our Great Cities,” Nation, Oct. 18, 1866, 312.

70 Parkman, Francis, “Failure of Universal Suffrage,” 78.

71 , Dana, “Journal,” 2:19.

72 Civil Service Record, Sept. 1883.

74 Civil Service Record, Feb. 1883.

76 “Limited Sovereignty in the United States,” Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1879, 190–93; quoted in, Keyssar, Right to Vote, 127.

77 , Teaford, “Finis for Tweed an d Steffens,” 136.

78 , Stave et al., “A Reassessment of the Urba n Political Boss,” 300.

79 Ibid., 306.

80 Civil Service Record, Feb. 1883. On lobbying legislators, see , Brock, Investigation and Responsibility, 5054;, McGerr, Decline of Popular Politics, 61.

81 Civil Service Record, Oct. 1883, Dec, 1883, Feb. 1884.

82 Boston Journal, Jan. 17, 19, 1884.

83 Boston Journal, Jan. 23, 1884.

84 , Blodgett, Gentle Reformers, 66.

85 , BostonJournal, Mar. 8, 1884.

86 , Erie, Rainbow's End, 3, 43.

87 Boston Globe, Mar. 10, 1884.

88 Boston Journal, Mar. 13, 1884.

89 Boston Transcript, Mar. 15, 1884.

90 Boston Journal, Mar. 14, 1884.

91 Boston Advertiser, May 22, 1884; Boston Herald, May 22, 1884; Boston journal, May 22, 1884.

92 Boston Journal, May 22, 24, 1884; Boston Globe, May 24, 1884; Boston Advertiser, May 22, 1884. Representative Roger Wolcott offered the amendment to strike Beard's amendment.

93 Boston Advertiser, June 2, 1884; Boston Transcript, June 3, 4, 1884; Boston Globe, June 3, 1884; Boston Journal, May 31, 1884.

94 Journal of the house, 1884 (Boston, 1884), 673–75;Journal of the Senate, 1884 (Boston, 1884), 286–87.

95 III, Richard Henry Dana, “Civil Service Reform in Massachusetts,” unpublished ms., 4. Dana Papers, box 46, folder “RHD3 Civil Service Reform.”

96 Statistics Department, Municipal Register, 1891, 189203.

97 Historians have several explanations for turnout decline in the early twentieth-century North. For a behavioral theory stressing the election of 1896, see Burnham, Walter Dean, “The Changing Shape of th e American Political Universe,” American Political Science Review 59 (March 1965): 728. For an interpretation emphasizing institutional factors, see Converse, Phillip E., “Change in the American Electorate” in The Human Meaning of Social Change, ed. Campbell, Angus and Converse, Phillip E. (New York, 1972): 263337;Rusk, Jerrold G., “Comment: The American Electoral Universe: Speculation and Evidence,” American Political Science Review 68 (Sept. 1974): 1028–49. For the interpretation that the rise of educational politics contributed to turnout decline, see , McGerr, Decline of Popular Politics, 3106. See also, Kleppner, Who Voted?, 5565;, McCormick, Realignment to Reform; Keller, Affairs of State, 533; , Connolly, Triumph of Ethnic Progressivism, 110–12;Kornbluh, Mark Lawrence, Why America Stopped Voting. The Decline of Participatory Democracy and the Emergence of Modern American Politics (New York, 2000).

98 , Blodgett, Gentle Reformers, 66.

99 , O'Connor, The Boston Irish, 169; , Schiesl, Politics of Efficiency, 104.

100 , Blodgett, Gentle Reformers, 67; , Hoogenboom, Outlawing the Spoils, 260.

101 , Dana, “Laborers and the Civil Service Law.”

102 III, Richard Henry Dana, “Attack and Defense in the Massachusetts Legislature,” unpublished ms., 6, Dana Papers, box 54.

103 , Buenker, Urban Uberalism and Progressive Reform, 128.

104 , Keyssar, Out of Work, 261.

105 , Connolly, Triumph of Ethnic Progressivism, 135.

106 Quoted in , Connolly, Triumph of Ethnic Progressivism, 138.

107 Quoted in Beatty, Jack, The Rascal King: The Life and Times of James Michael Curley (New York, 1992), 88.

108 , Keyssar, Right to Vote, 170.

109 To be sure, all patronage reformers did not subscribe to this view. In fact some argued that reform advanced democracy by removing urban boss rule and purifying democratic institutions. See , Stromquist, ReinventingThe People,” 4, 9; , Frie, Rainbow's End, 4; , Connolly, Triumph of Ethnic Progressivism, 1.

1 I want to thank my friends, colleagues, and professors at Boston College, including Michael Chapman, Ian Delahanty, Hidetaka Hirota, Darren McDonald, Jeffrey Penny, Gráinne McEvoy, Seth Meehan, John Spiers, Clayton Trutor, Robert Niebuhr, Seth Jacobs, James O'Toole, and Mark Gelfand. I want to thank as well my Providence College professors, Richard J. Grace and Margaret M. Manchester. The staff of the Massachusetts Historical Society, especially Peter Drummey, Jeremy Dibbell, and Tracy Potter, was very helpful, as were James Feeney, Stephen Nonack, and Mary Warnement at the Boston Athenaeum. Kevin Kenny, David Quigley, and the two anonymous peer reviewers deserve special thanks for reading multiple versions of the manuscript. I also wish to thank my parents and dedicate this essay to my loving wife, Katie and my cousin, Jim Carnell, an Irish American workingman in Boston.

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They Vote Only for the Spoils: Massachusetts Reformers, Suffrage Restriction, and the 1884 Civil Service Law1

  • Edward H. Miller (a1)


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