Second Letter To The President by Bill Nye

Story type: Essay

To the President.–I write this letter not on my own account, but on behalf of a personal friend of mine who is known as a mugwump. He is a great worker for political reform, but he cannot spell very well, so he has asked me to write this letter. He knew that I had been thrown among great men all my life, and that, owing to my high social position and fine education, I would be peculiarly fitted to write you in a way that would not call forth disagreeable remarks, and so he has given me the points and I have arranged them for you.

In the first place, my friend desires me to convey to you, Mr. President, in a delicate manner, and in such language as to avoid giving offense, that he is somewhat disappointed in your Cabinet. I hate to talk this way to a bran-new President, but my friend feels hurt and he desires that I should say to you that he regrets your short-sighted policy. He says that it seems to him there is very little in the course of the administration so far to encourage a man to shake off old party ties and try to make men better. He desires to say that after conversing with a large number of the purest men, men who have been in both political parties off and on for years and yet have never been corrupted by office, men who have left convention after convention in years past because those conventions were corrupt and endorsed other men than themselves for office, he finds that your appointment of Cabinet officers will only please two classes, viz: Democrats and Republicans.

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Now, what do you care for an administration which will only gratify those two old parties? Are you going to snap your fingers in disdain at men who admit that they are superior to anybody else? Do you want history to chronicle the fact that President Cleveland accepted the aid of the pure and highly cultivated gentlemen who never did anything naughty or unpretty, and then appointed his Cabinet from men who had been known for years as rude, naughty Democrats?

My friend says that he feels sure you would not have done so if you had fully realized how he felt about it. He claims that in the first week of your administration you have basely truckled to the corrupt majority. You have shown yourself to be the friend of men who never claimed to be truly good.

If you persist in this course you will lose the respect and esteem of my friend and another man who is politically pure, and who has never smirched his escutcheon with an office. He has one of the cleanest and most vigorous escutcheons in that county. He never leaves it out over night during the summer, and in the winter he buries it in sawdust. Both of these men will go back to the Republican party in 1888 if you persist in the course you have thus far adopted. They would go back now if the Republican party insisted on it.

Mr. President, I hate to write to you in this tone of voice, because I know the pain it will give you. I once held an office myself, Mr. President, and it hurt my feelings very much to have a warm personal friend criticise my official acts.

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The worst feature of the whole thing, Mr. President, is that it will encourage crime. If men who never committed any crime are allowed to earn their living by the precarious methods peculiar to manual labor, and if those who have abstained from office for years, by request of many citizens, are to be denied the endorsement of the administration, they will lose courage to go on and do right in the future. My friend desires to state vicariously, in the strongest terms, that both he and his wife feel the same way about it, and they will not promise to keep it quiet any longer. They feel like crippling the administration in every way they can if the present policy is to be pursued.

He says he dislikes to begin thus early to threaten a President who has barely taken off his overshoes and drawn his mileage, but he thinks it may prevent a recurrence of these unfortunate mistakes. He claims that you have totally misunderstood the principles of the mugwumps all the way through. You seem to regard the reform movement as one introduced for the purpose of universal benefit. This was not the case. While fully endorsing and supporting reform, he says that they did not go into it merely to kill time or simply for fun. He also says that when he became a reformer and supported you, he did not think there were so many prominent Democrats who would have claims upon you. He can only now deplore the great national poverty of offices and the boundless wealth of raw material in the Democratic party from which to supply even that meagre demand.

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He wishes me to add, also, that you must have over-estimated the zeal of his party for civil service reform. He says that they did not yearn for civil service reform so much as many people seem to think.

I must now draw this letter to a close. We are all well with the exception of colds in the head, but nothing that need give you any uneasiness. Our large seal-brown hen last week, stimulated by a rising egg market, over-exerted herself, and on Saturday evening, as the twilight gathered, she yielded to a complication of pip and softening of the brain and expired in my arms. She certainly led a most exemplary life and the forked tongue of slander could find naught to utter against her.

Hoping that you are enjoying the same great blessing and that you will write as often as possible without waiting for me, I remain,

Very respectfully yours,

Bill Nye.

[Dictated Letter.]

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