Report and Resignation of Paxton Hibben, Bureau of Education, Progressive National Service, November 18, 1913



Progressive National Service,

November 18th, 1913.


Owing to the resignation of Professor Samuel McCune Lindsay as chairman and as a member of the Education Committee of the Progressive Party, and the failure, therefore, to secure a meeting of that Committee at this time, I deem it appropriate to address myself in what I have to say to the Executive Committee of the party.

I append, solely for reference in case of question, a complete copy of my reports as Director of the Bureau of Education of the Progressive National Service during my tenure of office, together with copies of the minutes of the meetings of the Education Committee covering the period from February 13th to November 18th, inclusive. The making of these reports has been part of the system of the Service office. It has occupied a very material portion of the time, not only of all of those engaged in the work of the Bureau of Education, but of the entire Service Staff. Yet the offices of the various branches of the Service are within a few steps one of the other, and no information appearing in these reports could not readily be secured on verbal [inquiry], and little, if any, of the matter covered by them is not otherwise recorded in the correspondence files of the Service.

But there are matters concerning the future of the entire Service work, touching the good of the whole Party, that appear in no reports of the Service. I wish to lay a few of these matters [page 2] before you. But before doing so, let me say that I, too, have joined the Progressive Party for life; and that I have been and am ready to give the best that is in me, in any and every way of which I am capable, to forward the cause in which I believe. And lest my action in placing the following matters before you be misconstrued, let me say here quite frankly that on October sixth I received a communication from the Chief of Service advising me of the possibility of my services not being retained after January first except on a volunteer basis, which has since been followed by other similar communications. As my severance of my relations with the Progressive National Service is a matter wholly for the decision of the Education Committee, by whose resolution I was engaged, these observations on the part of the Chief of Service constitute a mere expression of opinion and have no bearing on the conviction which has grown upon me for some time and which I shall try to express in what follows. If confirmation is desired of these statements, which are wholly my own observations, I suggest that other members of the Service staff by interrogated.


It is duplication. The party has an efficient political organization. In such States as Maryland, Colorado, and recently Illinois, where the group doing the Service work are in great part identical with those doing the political work, it is evidently absurd to create and maintain two organizations. In such States [page 3] as Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, where those doing the Service work are more or less distinct from the political organization, the Service exists in an inevitable competition with the political organization, and leads to confusion, waste effort, and in the end, friction.

It is extravagant. All competition to the same end is extravagant. If the Service is not working to the same end as the political organization, one or the other is wrong and should be abandoned. If both are working to the same end, duplication of organizers, office force, stationery, and postage expense, etc., is useless. As an illustration, I may take the case of Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, where Miss Carpenter, for the organization department, was followed immediately by Mr. Gadmus, for the service, who were then both followed by Miss [Kellor], the Chief of the Service. When the Director of the Bureau of Education sent literature to these states to be distributed by Miss Carpenter, he was told by the Chief of Service that Miss Carpenter was in the employ of the organization department of the Party and could not be used to distribute matter for the Service. But at the same time, Mr. Gadmus of the Service, complains that he has no literature to distribute and that there is great need of it.

It is ineffective. The organization of the Service is largely a paper organization. Except for the Bureau of Legislative Reference and Education, there is little or no understanding of the functions of the vast array of Committees, Departments, Divisions, etc., which constitute the Service organization. Those individuals in this huge machinery who perform any Service, for the [page 4] party, do so, not because of their connection with the Service nor because any duty is thereby imposed upon them, but because they believe in the principles of the Party. Those who do not perform any service for the Party, are dead timber, in any organization, and should be eliminated from consideration.


It is cumbersome. In the beginning, the conception of the Service was an office always open where legislative and political information could be collected and furnished individuals and workers of the Party, personally or through a continuous issue of campaign literature, through supplying speakers or through securing publicity. Under its present direction, the Service has departed radically from this idea. The plan of two bureaus working directly under two Committees (Education and Legislative Reference), with independent budgets and a definite scheme of work, has become largely a friction, and has only been prevented from becoming wholly so by continual struggles with the Chief of Service. In place of the support, primarily, of these two definitely useful bureaus, the funds of the Service have been applied to the creation of State Service organizations and to an increased list of Departments, Committees, Subcommittees, etc., which complicate the simple functions of the original Service, and deprive the Legislative Reference and Education Bureaus of the funds upon which they counted in undertaking their [labors]. [page 5]

There is too much red tape. Those who are engaged in the Service work are intelligent persons, as clear in their conceptions of their functions as the Chief of Service. Their work is definite. Their problem is to accomplish as much as possible with the least expenditure. In the face of this, written reports are frequently required, of those actually in the Service office, necessitating a very considerable expense in unproductive labor; conflicting and contradictory office orders are issued from day to day, confusing the entire office staff; and thereby wasting time and effort; the direct communication with those in the Party best able to do certain desired work is complicated by the necessity of requests for the active [cooperation] of individuals being approved by the Chief of Service and referred to Committees, rather than taken up direct. The whole organization is planned on the basis of a vast machinery which does not exist. While adding to the seeming importance of the Service, it delays actual results. An illustration of this is found in the necessity which impelled the Director of the Legislative Reference Bureau, to issue a statement of the order of business in this Bureau, to put an end to the countless needless interferences with his work from the office of the Chief of Service.


The finances of the Service are wretchedly administered. [page 6] Salaries are not paid properly. Those who are working for the Service are doing so at a personal sacrifice to themselves, needless worry over their personal finances decreases their efficiency. Independent budgets were provided by the Education and Legislative Reference Committees in March, but by the end of May had been abolished by the Chief of Service. Though requested by the Directors of those two Bureaus, and promised by the Chief of Service, no subsequent financial statement was ever made to the two bureaus, and their heads were required to continue their work without knowing what had been charged against them or whether there were money to pay for the work which their Committees had authorized them to carry out.

Work contracted for is not promptly paid. The March budget of the Service carried the following definite expenditures, among others, for special work: Annotated Edition of Platform, by E. Stagg Whitin; work on social and industrial justice planks under the direction of Professor Lindsay. Professor Kemmerer was also subsequently engaged to report upon the Wilson currency measure. Mr. Stagg Whitin is a Republican. Dr. [Rubinow], Professor Seager, and others working with Professor Lindsay are not Progressives. The danger is not paying the legitimate claims of persons employed from outside the Party is evident; yet none of these sums were paid as agreed. These are merely examples.

Immediate work is arbitrarily held up by lack of funds. Intelligent publicity is more essential to the Party than anything else which the Service offers. An opportunity for publicity will [page 7] not wait. Yet opportunities of this nature have been let slip for lack of postage. The publication of the Newport speeches, the reprinting of Governor Johnson's speech at Los Angeles on the occasion of the birthday of the Progressive Party, etc., have been held for lack of funds. But there has been sufficient money to pay organizers to duplicate the work of the organization department of the Party.

The Service lacks competent executive direction. The stenographic service has always been inadequate to the demands of the work. Therefore, to save $2100 annually in stenographic salaries, the work of $12,200 worth of men is constantly rendered less efficient. The reports of Messrs. Richberg, Flowers, Samuel and Goshems will show this. Stenographers are arbitrarily changed from one class of work to another, or discharged, without the provision of substitutes, just when becoming familiar with their work, and thus doubly efficient. Bureau heads have no certain control over the time of their stenographers, work from the Chief of Service often taking such procedure over Bureau work, regardless of its character or importance, as to halt the Bureau work entirely. Stenographers are habitually overworked.

Postage is arbitrarily limited to impossibly small sums, forcing the Bureau heads either to lend the Service postage money or to pay it outright. Mail is held without notice to Bureau heads for one or two days for lack of funds for postage. In one instance a telegram was sent instead of a special delivery letter, as there was not money for a special delivery stamp. [page 8]

The spirit of [cooperation] in the Service has  given way  to individual domination. Those working in the Service office down to the humblest stenographer, are actuated by a spirit of devotion to the Progressive cause no less real than the devotion of the leaders of the Party. This is an invaluable asset to the Party. It has been constantly thrown away by a cavalier and inconsiderate spirit in the administration of the office, which has bred only [resentment]. The capricious haste attending the disappearance from the work of Messrs Van Rensselaer and Tatcher and of Miss Elwell has not inspired the office force with any confidence that devotion is appreciated. The lack of personal encouragement and kindliness in the office is a serious menace to the loyalty of the workers.

In making these observations I wish to be quite clear that I have nothing but admiration for Progressive Service as originally conceived, and as still conceived by the greater part of the Education and Legislative Reference Committees. I believe that the Legislative work of Mr. Richberg and Miss Inhoff, the Lyceum and Speaker's work of Mr. Flowers and Mr. Goshems and the College organization work of Mr. Samuel, constitute a priceless and enduring contribution to the ultimate success of the Progressive Party. I believe, too, that these are not more valuable than the publicity work, the preparation of campaign literature, the placing of articles in magazines and the use of moving pictures, which furnish a legitimate field for a proper Education Bureau of the Party.

This legitimate work of the Education Bureau has suffered [page 9] very materially since my connection with the Service from the fact that, with the approval of the Chairman of the Education, I have lent myself to every sort of miscellaneous activity during the formation period of the Service, to assist in getting the Service [underway] along right lines.

Now, however, I am convinced that the Service is proceeding neither upon right nor even upon useful lines; that is has become mere organization for the sake of organization, administration for the sake of the exercise of authority. As it is now conducted, I believe it a menace to the Party, and I will not compromise my devotion to the [principles] for which the Party stands to support any false organization or any individual. Nor do I foresee that in the present state of the Service, there is any field for the real Education work, which I am convinced is so valuable.

As I have only the good of the progressive cause at heart, I am absolutely unwilling to condone this emasculation of the work planned for the service; nor am I willing to submit my own work which has been conducted under the direction of a distinguished and able Committee, to sole domination of any one person in whose purposes and capacity I lack confidence.

For these reasons, and for no others, I beg to tender my resignation as Director of the Bureau of Education of the Progressive Party, to the Executive Committee of the Party, to take effect immediately upon acceptance.


Paxton Hibben