Pendleton Civil Service Act

(1883)

Named after Senator George Hunt Pendleton of Ohio, the Pendleton Civil Service Act was written by the civil service reformer Dorman B. Eaton and was signed into law on January 16, 1883. Traditionally, federal government jobs had been gained by those who contributed to political campaigns, a process known as the “spoils system” in reference to the idea that “to the victor belong the spoils.” The Pendleton Act instituted examinations to appoint people based on merit rather than patronage. The Pendleton Act essentially created “classified” positions that would be filled from a list of...

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George Hunt Pendleton (Library of Congress)

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