Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/203

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//. .V. /: Huni

tory of this court and you will find its sure prop and pillar, the life tenure <>l its judges, is the proposition of your man of Essex. He helped to breathe into it the breath of life and to organ i/e it upon an enduring and impregnable basis of judicial impartiality and inde- pendence.

You hear much nowadays of " civil-service reform," and of apply- ing the merit system to all minor and clerical employments of the Federal government. Who was the first man to move in this matter ? I answer that one of the first to agitate the subject, the one who made it a hobby from year to yeas, and who finally formulated a wise and practical measure to effect it, was again your man of Essex R. M. T. Hunter. It passed in his very words, and thus became the law of the land. It is a sound, sensible, moderate and constitutional measure. If it were the law to-day, and duly enforced, and had never been tampered with by demagogues and ignorant men, it would secure efficient employees for the government, protect their tenure better than your present law, protect also the best interests of the government, and it would be an admirable substitute for the present bastard system of cant and hypocrisy, doubtful in its consti- tutionality, and almost universally regarded as having sunk into eva- sion, trickery and fraud, with features that no sensible business man, no president of a bank or manager of a business establishment ever acts upon in private life. I say, therefore, that we are indebted to Mr. Hunter for the only good law ever passed upon this subject.

THE COINAGE QUESTION.

We have had on two continents, and especially on this continent, a long and heated controversy over the coinage question. It has engaged the intellects of the ablest men in modern times. In 1851, 1852 and 1853, long before parties ever divided on this question, Mr. Hunter, as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, found it in his pathway and dealt with it exhaustively. Rejecting the shallow Mint-Bureau plan of Mr. Secretary Corwin an echo of the British system of coinage, not offensively, but simply ignoring it he form- ulated a measure regulating the coinage, which passed the Senate unanimously, without debate, precisely as he wrote it and upon his sole ipsc dixit. Next, but after some delay, this identical measure passed the House of Representatives and became a law in February, 1853 to remain the law of the land without question or cavil from Presidents Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson and Grant. Such was his power in the United States Senate in a period of fierce party