The first attempts at legislative reform which sought to remedy the state of things brought about by the development of the party Organizations were aimed at the degradation of the public service by the spoils system. This system had alike demoralized political life and deteriorated the government. The service of the State was transformed into a sort of feudal tenure in which every official held his post as a vassal did his fief, with the same obligation of serving his immediate lord, who, in his turn, owed service to his suzerain. Patronage was the motive power of government and the principal source of political influence, while, again, skill in electoral wire-pulling and “work” done for the party constituted the sole claim to office, at the expense of real merit and even of honesty. Owing to the practice of rotation, the government departments were periodically upset with every change of the party in power. The President and the heads of the departments with whom the appointment to offices rested as a matter of right, and the members of Congress who had snatched it from them, were all continually exposed to the solicitations of the office-seekers. Unceasingly beset by the applicants, they wasted with them the time which they should have given to affairs of State, even in the gravest conjunctures. The greedy throng rolled on at Washington, and if some came back empty-handed, others succeeded in carrying off the places by sheer importunity. The Republic was regularly looted. “If ever,” said Lincoln on this subject, “if ever this free people, if this government itself is ever utterly demoralized, it will come from 254this wriggle and struggle for office.” A few days after the capture of Richmond, Lincoln said to a friend, showing him the crowd of office-seekers who thronged his door: “Look at this. Now we have conquered the rebellion; but here you see something that may become more dangerous to this Republic than the rebellion itself.”