To Jacob Dolson Cox

9 January 1871


[MS in Jacob Dolson Cox Papers, Oberlin College Archives, 30/3]


Oberlin 9th Jan. 1871

Dear Son Dolson

James Monroe informs

me that your article

was published in the

North American Review.

This will, of course, leave

the way open for a further

investigation. You are

well acquainted with

the objections to this reform

urged by Boutwell &

many others. To the com

mon mind some of these

objections seem formidable

if not fatal to the reform

To you & me they are of

no value, but it is quite

surprising to hear many

& some educated men

speak of these objections

as having good weight.

[page 2]

"Yes" they will say; "the present

system is a great evil, but

the proposed reform would

or naturally might be a

still greater". Some fear

an aristocracy of office

holders, others that disloyal

men might by a competitive

examination get important

offices & if they could be

removed only for malfea

sance in office, they

might hold on & exert

their official influence

against the government. This

you observed is Boutwells

great objection. He affeared

that if this had been the

law nearly all the

offices in the U.S. would

have been & continued to

be in the hands of disloyal

persons. Of course a civil

[page 3]

service law would make

violations of the constitution

or laws of the U.S. a for

feiture of Office. It is true

that a law rendering office

holding perpetual except

for mal feasance in official

duty is liable to very irritating

abuse as most old lawyers

but too well remember.

The old judges in N. York

became very irritable &

provoking & exacting in

their treatment of the bar.

This may easily be remedied

by making such treatment

when gross & insulting a

cause for removal. But

if it could not be remedied

the value of their decisions

would more than compensate

the bar for any annoyances

they might suffer from

[page 4]

the impatience & arristocratic

airs of the Judges. When

I studied law judges Jonat

Platt, Chief Justice Spencer

& others of that class were on

the bench. The bar were

sometimes rudely snubbed

by them. But I believe that

every lawyer of their

day would never vote

for a speedy return to the

old system. Why, the necessity

of the independence of the

judges of all political

fears or hopes is so selfevident

that one is amazed at the

folly & madness of the present

system. But Dolson, freemasonry

is doing more at present to betray

the cause of justice & good

government than all other

causes combined. It is every

where working under ground

& nothing escapes its influence. All

send love God bless you all.

C. G. F.



Jacob D. Cox, "Civil-Service Reform" North American Review LXII (January 1871), pp. 81-113.

George Sewall Boutwell (1818-1905)

Finney evidently intended to write Jonas here.