By: Cooper Orange
Helen Hunt Jackson
- Helen Maria Hunt Jackson, born Helen Fiske (October 15, 1830 – August 12, 1885), was an American poet and writer who became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government. She described the adverse effects of government actions in her history A Century of Dishonor (1881). Her novel Ramona (1884) dramatized the federal government's mistreatment of Native Americans in Southern California after the Mexican–American War and attracted considerable attention to her cause. Commercially popular, it was estimated to have been reprinted 300 times and most readers liked its romantic and picturesque qualities rather than its political content. The novel was so popular that it attracted many tourists to Southern California who wanted to see places from the book.
- In 1879 Jackson's interests turned to Native Americans after hearing a lecture in Boston by Chief Standing Bear, of the Ponca Tribe. Standing Bear described the forcible removal of the Ponca from their Nebraska reservation and transfer to the Quapaw Reservation in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), where they suffered from disease, harsh climate, and poor supplies. Upset about the mistreatment of Native Americans by government agents, Jackson became an activist on their behalf. She started investigating and publicizing government misconduct, circulating petitions, raising money, and writing letters to the New York Times on behalf of the Ponca.
Helen Hunt began writing after the deaths of her family members. She published her early work anonymously, usually under the name "H.H." Ralph Waldo Emerson admired her poetry and used several of her poems in his public readings. He included five of them in his Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry (1880).Hunt traveled widely. In the winter of 1873–1874 she was in Colorado Springs, Colorado, seeking rest in hopes of a cure for tuberculosis (before antibiotics, it was often fatal). Here she met William Sharpless Jackson, whom she married in 1875. She took his name and is known in her writing by the surname Jackson.Over the next two years, she published three novels in the anonymous No Name Series, including Mercy Philbrick's Choice and Hetty's Strange History. She also encouraged a contribution from Emily Dickinson to A Masque of Poets as part of the same series.
- The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act (ch. 27, 22 Stat. 403) of United States is a federal law established in 1883 that stipulated that government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit. The act provided selection of government employees by competitive exams, rather than ties to politicians or political affiliation. It also made it illegal to fire or demote government officials for political reasons and prohibited soliciting campaign donations on Federal government property. To enforce the merit system and the judicial system, the law also created the United States Civil Service Commission. A crucial result was the shift of the parties to reliance on funding from business, since they could no longer depend on patronage hopefuls.
- The law applied only to federal government jobs, not to the state and local jobs that were the basis for political machines.[clarification needed] At first, the Pendleton Act only covered very few jobs, as only 10% of the US government's civilian employees had civil service jobs.However, there was a ratchet provision whereby outgoing presidents could lock in their own appointees by converting their jobs to civil service. After a series of party reversals at the presidential level (1884, 1888, 1892, 1896), the result was that most federal jobs were under civil service.
- Started during the Chester Alan Arthur administration, the Pendleton Act served as a response to the massive public support of civil service reform that grew following President James Garfield's assassination by Charles J. Guiteau. Despite his previous support of the patronage system, Arthur became an ardent supporter of civil service reform as president. The Act was passed into law on January 16, 1883. The Act was sponsored by Senator George H. Pendleton, Democratic Senator of Ohio, and written by Dorman Bridgeman Eaton, a staunch opponent of the patronage system who was later first chairman of the United States Civil Service Commission. However, the law would also prove to be a major political liability for Arthur.
- The Dawes Act of 1887 (also known as the General Allotment Act or the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887), adopted by Congress in 1887, authorized the President of the United States to survey American Indian tribal land and divide it into allotments for individual Indians. Those who accepted allotments and lived separately from the tribe would be granted United States citizenship. The Dawes Act was amended in 1891, and again in 1906 by the Burke Act.
- The Act was named for its creator, Senator Henry Laurens Dawes of Massachusetts. The stated objective of the Dawes Act was to stimulate assimilation of Indians into mainstream American society. Individual ownership of land on the European-American model was seen as an essential step. The act also provided what the government would classify as "excess" Indian reservation lands remaining after allotments, and sell those lands on the open market, allowing purchase and settlement by non-Native Americans.The Dawes Commission, set up under an Indian Office appropriation bill in 1893, was created to try to persuade the Five Civilized Tribes to agree to allotment plans. (They had been excluded from the Dawes Act.) This commission registered the members of the Five Civilized Tribes on what became known as the Dawes Rolls.
- During the ensuing decades, many Native American tribes and individuals suffered dispossession of lands and other social ills. The Franklin D. Roosevelt administration supported passage on June 18, 1934 of the US Indian Reorganization Act (also known as the Wheeler-Howard Law). It ended allotment and created a "New Deal" for Indians, including renewing their rights to reorganize and form their own governments.