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work itself out in fashion adequate though crude, if constituencies can be persuaded to follow the practice of giving the ordinary legislator one reëlection and of sending the well-fitted legislator as long as he will consent to serve. Every man who conducts himself decently in his first term ought to have reëlection for the sake of maintaining a custom that has enough merit to over-balance all other considerations, the custom of rewarding conscientious service, however commonplace it may be. Beyond the one reëlection, capacity should be the test.
REMEDIES AND THE OUTLOOK MASSACHUSETTS has furnished the shining example of how to get out of the quagmire. Perhaps it never suffered from rotation so much as some of the other States, but yet it suffered. One instance was that which followed the Know-Nothing eruption in 1854, exceptional, to be sure, but worth recalling for an anecdote Frank B. Sanborn tells. Governor Emory Washburn was denied a reëlection. When the new legislators came up to take the oath of office in 1855, most of them being new and unknown persons who had supplanted men of experience formerly coming to the General Court, Governor Washburn is said to have remarked, after the oaths had all been taken, “You are now qualified, gentlemen - so far as taking the oath of office can qualify you — to sit as members of the General Court.” To which the Secretary of State added the usual chorus — “God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts !” 1 · Governor Thomas Talbot said in his inaugural address of 1879 : "The present method of classifying the towns for the choice of Representatives is not satisfactory. It deprives the State of the continued services of many valuable members, and returns to each successive House a large majority of new and inexperienced men. This retards the despatch of business, and tends to defective legislation.” Where wards or towns were grouped in districts, it was the custom to assign in order one or two terms, rarely more, to each ward or town. Only an exceptionally courageous or fortunate Representative seeking a career of more than the allotted span, could overcome the unwritten agreements of local leaders who controlled conventions. In helping to break down the system of party nomination by conventions in Massachusetts, and replacing it with direct nomination, in 1902, one of the purposes I had in mind was to lessen the damage wrought by these rotation arrangements. One of my able colleagues, with capacity that made him afterward President of the Senate and then sent him to Congress, was refused more than one term in the House because the small town from which he came was said to be entitled to send a man only one year in ten. Many cases of a like nature had come to my notice. It was my belief that the mass of the people did not want this sort of thing. No motive leads the people to wish bad government. They have every motive to wish efficiency. Their daily observation in all the other affairs of life tells them that experience makes capacity more efficient. By reason of common sense it is instinctive with them to want to retain useful public servants. Left to themselves, they would put common sense into practice. They were kept from this by narrow-minded, self-interested, small politicians, who used the convention system to "pass the honors round" and thereby increase their own petty power. Whether or not direct nominations caused what followed the enactment for Representatives in 1902, of course no man can positively say, but here is the record of reëlections out of 240 members :
1 Reminiscences of Seventy Years, 44.
If it is the fact that direct nomination increased reëlection by a third, that alone would go far to justify the reform.
These figures do not tell the whole story, for they cover only men reëlected to Legislatures immediately succeeding, and to the same branch. Of the 280 members of the Massachusetts Senate and House in 1916, 206 had previously served in the Legislature — almost three quarters. Every Senator had lawmaking experience. There were fifty-seven members who had been elected to one branch or the other four or more times. One had been elected eleven times. Since then the adoption of biennial elections has unfortunately had the usual result. To the Senate of 1923 only sixteen of the forty members who served in the sessions of 1921-22 were returned, and to the House only 117 of the 240 old members came back. Nevertheless the showing is not bad. Taking into account the professional and business obligations that prevent many legislators from consenting to serve more than a term or two, no great gain over the present situation is possible. It is in advance of that in most if not all of the other States in the Union.
In Congress, too, the situation is improving. In the 42d Congress, which met in 1871, 53 per cent of the members had served before; in the 50th, 63 per cent; in the 62d, 70 per cent; in the 64th, 74 per cent; in the 66th, 76 per cent. When a quarter of the members returned to private life March 4, 1919, they had averaged to serve a little more than seven and a half years each. Omitting about a dozen of exceptionally long service, the average of the others had been almost exactly three terms
six years. When Edward A. Freeman wrote "Some Impressions of the United States," in 1883, after a visit to us, he said (p. 118) he had “to explain more than once that it was a rare thing in England for a member of Parliament to lose his seat, unless he had given some offense to his own party, or unless the other party had grown strong enough to bring in a man of its own.” And when Mr. Bryce made his first observations of us, he found occasion to say that in England the proportion of members reëlected is much higher than here. "It was remarked as a novelty in the Parliament of 1885, elected after a sweeping measure for the redistribution of seats, that about one-third of the members had not sat in the Parliament of 1880. Any one can see how much influence this constant change in the composition of the American House must have upon its legislative efficiency."
Fortunately there no longer remains much warrant for comparisons of this sort to our discredit. Indeed, considering certain essential differences in the situation, it is possible that our showing is somewhat the better. Henry Jones Ford has suggested one difference, in explaining why in Canada members are not so keen about retaining their seats as in England. He points out that attendance at a provincial capital is very different from living in London. Washington, to be sure, is not a provincial capital and life there has its attractions, of a kind, but they are not of the vital interest to most men that a sojourn in New York would present. By the way, Professor Ford says that in Canada enough members drop out from one cause or another after a five-year term to change about two thirds of the membership of the legislative assembly.
1 "American and Canadian Political Methods," No. Am. Review, November,
Apparently constituencies are coming to understand that long service brings their Congressmen influence and power, with reflected satisfaction to themselves. In 1922 the Speaker of the national House was serving his fifteenth two-year term, a former Speaker his twenty-third, the majority leader his thirteenth, and ten important committee chairmanships were held by men whose periods of service averaged more than twenty years.
It would not be candid to assert that such a state of affairs is without disadvantages. Like every other question of public policy, this has two sides. It is altogether probable that Congress is less responsive to opinion than is desirable, because its leaders are for the most part men who were started on their careers by issues now no longer uppermost in the public mind, and who, having passed the meridian of life, have reached the age when most men dislike to face fresh problems and to change their points of view. It is hard for them to keep up with the times. They are liable to get out of touch with progress in the arts and sciences, industry and commerce, all the ever-changing relations of society. Yet in my judgment long service on the whole brings to the country decidedly more gain than loss.
“LOBBY," a small hall, anteroom, or waiting-room, has by figure of speech come to be applied in the United States to the men who frequent the approaches to legislative chambers for the purpose of addressing individual argument to lawmakers or of otherwise influencing votes. Doubtless ever since representative assemblies began, citizens have visited them for purposes of persuasion. Certainly the practice was known in the colonial days of America. E. P. Tanner, in his exhaustive monograph on the Province of New Jersey,' says of its General Assembly that there seems to have been at times no little of what we now call lobbying. The nearly successful effort of George Willocks, an outsider, about 1720, to control the 7th Assembly against Burnet, presumably to further his own business interests, is a striking example.
When the colonies had come together, their Congress began at once to be the scene of individual pressure, and under the new Constitution Alexander Hamilton speedily developed the fine art of lobbying. No one can read the story of the assumption of the State debts and the location of the capital without wondering whether the legislative manipulators of our day have really gone much beyond our forefathers in point of questionable practices. Very likely, though, the origin of the professional lobby ought not to be set at a date much farther back than that of the war between Andrew Jackson and the United States Bank over the charter question. Thereafter, with the mushroom growth of corporations and their need of special legislation, lobbying as a business grew rapidly. A. R. Spofford, long Librarian of Congress and steeped in its history, tells of some of the episodes.?
In the course of the Kansas excitement in Buchanan's administration, two powerful lobbies struck hands to put two distasteful measures through Congress, the Lecompton Consti
1 Col. Univ. Studies, XXX, 342. 2 “Lobby,” Lalor's Cycl. of Pol. Science, 11, 780, 781.