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(We invite all men in the University to submit communications on subjects of timely interest, but assume no responsibility for sentiments expressed under this head.)
To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Will you kindly extend to me, as a former editor of the CRIMSON, the courtesy of your columns for the inclusion of the following comment with regard to the editorial entitled "Consular Service" which appeared in your issue of October 30, 1913?
You state therein that more college men would enter the diplomatic and consular services were not those branches of the public service largely given over to the spoils system. In view of the fact that an organization has recently been instituted at Harvard with the object of interesting men in this subject, an innovation which deserves the warmest support, it would seem important that the present status of the diplomatic and consular services under the Government of the United States be clearly explained for the benefit of those members of the University who may consider eventually entering them.
The application of civil service provisions was extended to the consular services by the Executive Order of June 27, 1906. This means that entrance to the service is dependent upon examination and that transfer and promotion are regulated solely by the merit system and by seniority. For from being subject to the spoils system, the consular service has been rigorously governed by this Executive Order throughout the last two presidential administrations, and it has been intimated by the present administration and already indicated by such transfers and promotions as have occurred since March 4, 1913, that civil service principles with regard to the consular service will scrupulously be observed. In view of this attitude of both Republican and Democratic administration, it is hardly conceivable that, even in the absence of legislation by Congress, any future administration will presume to oppose the unequivocal sentiment of the business men of the country by giving the service over once more to the spoils system ousting those officials who by long and careful training posses the expert qualifications necessary to fulfil the difficult requirements of the work, and thus destroy the permanency of the career.
Diplomatic Service Similarly Controlled.
With regard to the diplomatic service, all secretaries of embassy and legation are likewise protected under civil service provisions by the Executive Order of November 26, 1909, and in this case also it has been intimated by the present administration that the Order is to be respected. Examinations are held in Washington annually, or oftener as occasion may require; candidates who pass the examination are admitted only to the lower grades of the service as vacancies occur, without regard to their political affiliations, and transfer and promotion are governed by seniority and merit.
It is unfortunately true that the positions of ambassador and minister are still regarded as excepted from these civil service principles but it must be remembered that the great progress already made in the permanency of both the diplomatic and consular services has been effected within the last few years, after over a century of the spoils system, and that perfection cannot be expected overnight. Taking into consideration the present sentiment of the country in regard to the entire question, there seems to be every indication that the offices of ambassador and minister will eventually be in part if not largely filled by succeeding administrations by men who have proved efficient in the lower grades of the service, thus affording an incentive to enter the diplomatic career as a permanent profession.
I trust that this statement will serve to correct any false impressions which, as would appear from your editorial, may exist in the University regarding these two important branches of our public service and that an increasingly large number of Harvard men may become interested from year to year any may go up for the examinations in Washington with the intention of adopting one or the other of the services as their life's work. J.C. GREW '02 United States Embassy, Berlin, Germany.
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