The Emergence of the
American Administrative State:
The Intellectual Origins
Nolan J. Argyle
Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia
Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties. 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2ndly those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, altho' not the most wise depository of the public interests.
This study argues that to understand the role of government and of public administration, it is necessary to go back to our intellectual heritage. We need to examine the differing views of humanity and of the state held by the founders of this nation, how those views were developed, and how they affect the way we see the administrative state of today. Such an understanding of the discipline's past can also aid in the development of a sense of professionalism. As Michael Nelson points out, when economics, history, and other disciplines sought to establish themselves as “professions,” they drew upon their past to set a foundation. Yet when political scientists (and public administrators) attempted to define their profession, they went back not to the cave of Plato but to the 1880s of Woodrow Wilson (Nelson, 1979, p. 269).
The American administrative state is often portrayed as a creation of the last century. Indeed, the American Society for Public Administration celebrated the centennial of American public administration in 1983, using the Pendleton Act as “the beginning” of American public administration. A few political scientists and public administrative theorists have looked at earlier experiences. Matthew Crenson (1975) argues that American public bureaucracy took shape during the Jacksonian era. Marshall E. Dimock, arguing the need to “become more historically minded,” sets the origins of public administration at “around the end of the 16th century,” with the development of nation-state-and the development of the American colonies (Dimock, 1983, p. 99). Stillman (1990) also looks to the sixteenth century, noting the influence of Tudor institutional practice on the development of the American administrative state. Yet as Gladden points out, available evidence makes it apparent that “the [public] official ranked early among the first professionals,” predating written history. Indeed, Gladden refers to public administration as the oldest profession (Gladden, 1972, vol. 1, p. 6). Thus the American administrative state draws upon an intellectual heritage that may be as old as humanity itself.
The American administrative state developed during an era of intense questioning of the relationship between church and state, between sacerdotium and regnum, questions that dominated much of early American administrative development. It also reflected arguments concerning the proper relationship of the state to the individual, arguments that were peaking as we became an independent nation. These were and remain ongoing debates, and the founders of the American state were well versed in them. As Lynton Caldwell indicates, “The architects of . . . [the American administrative state] sought to construct a new political system unconstrained by the past; but their ideas and arguments bore the stamp of history” (Caldwell, 1976, p. 477). And that “stamp of history” shaped the development of the American administrative state from the first colonists through the adoption of the Constitution.
II. INTELLECTUAL ORIGINS OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE STATE
Central to any organization theory is its view of humanity. This view is often implicit in the theories advanced by any individual, but it remains the key to understanding and, more importantly, evaluating the theory. Douglas McGregor (1960), a contemporary theorist whose work has taken on “classical” status of its own, recognized the importance of this, relating how such a view affects any given theory of organization. Calling two contrasting views “Theory X” and “Theory Y,” McGregor illustrates the consequences of views for management in modem organization.
At the most basic, a view of humanity is built upon a belief about human nature-what makes one behave as one does. In a dichotomous sense, we may be viewed as either creatures differentiated from other creatures, and thus distinguished from them, by our ability to reason; or as creatures whose reason is subordinate to desire. In the first view, reason becomes the most dominant characteristic of humanity, and any explanation of human behavior must take this into account. In this view, humans are rational creatures, who recognize that his/her needs are caught up in the needs of society. The contrasting view, while not denying our ability to reason, places less faith in our ability to use and rely on it. The dominant force in each of us is not reason, but desire. This desire may he for security, for power, or whatever; it is always selfish and egocentric, outweighing our use of reason, preventing us from always recognizing our true interests. This view of the dominant force in humanity, reason or desire, becomes the first factor in a framework to evaluate various contributions to organization theory.
The second element in the framework is the way a theorist views society. Again, a dichotomy is found. Some theorists emphasize the individual as an independent actor, an emphasis that leads some to emphasize the difficulty of understanding human behavior in organizational contexts. Others discount an emphasis on the individual, arguing instead that individual action only has meaning in a group setting. This first view may be labeled individualistic; the latter view, communal. Using these two factors, a framework for analysis can be developed as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 Framework for analyzing organization theories.
View of Society
View of Humanity
Dominated by Reason Marketplace Responsive
Dominated by Desire Protectorate Directed
This framework provides us with four cells, each representing a way of viewing human society and organization. Borrowing in part from Daniel Elazar (1984), these views can be labeled as a marketplace (emphasis on individual, dominated by reason), a protectorate (emphasis on the individual, dominated by desire), a responsive commonwealth (emphasis on community, dominated by reason), or as a directed commonwealth (emphasis on community, dominated by desire). Each of these views sees organizations differently, both in terms of the way individuals behave in organizations and the role organizations play in society, and each has influenced the development of the American administrative state.
Those adopting a marketplace view would be more comfortable with McGregor’s “Theory Y” individual. She/he will behave rationally in the organization, either in the sense of the classic “economic man” or in the sense of Simon's (1957) “administrative man,” whose rationality is limited, thus forcing him/her to “satisfice.” He/she will have a desire to cooperate, understanding how his contribution advances the good of all, including himself. The value of the individual remains paramount, and organizations can be judged normatively in terms of how they treat the individual. Furthermore, these organizations come into being as a result of demands made by individuals, and they can be judged in terms of how well they respond to those demands. This is true whether the organization is governmental or private.
The protectorate view, while emphasizing the individual, finds that individual somewhat wanting. Rather than behaving rationally in the organization, this individual, dominated by desire, seeks selfish goals, goals that may in the long run prove self-defeating. Therefore, those few in society who are dominated by reason must in turn dominate the organization, protecting the majority from themselves. McGregor’s “Theory X” describes the organizational man of this view. Organizations come into being to protect individuals from themselves; they must often curb the demands made by individuals. Organizations can be judged normatively in terms of how well they maintain order in a society by limiting and channeling individual desires for the good of society, and thus for the good of the individuals that society comprises. Strong, hierarchical structures are necessary for this, and those structures must concentrate power at the upper levels. Private organizations may play this role, but they must be linked and controlled by a central power--government--in order to prevent them from working at cross-purposes.
The responsive commonwealth view sees people as dominated by reason, and as developing fully only within society. The isolated individual is a pathetic figure; one becomes worthy only through interaction with others--through organization. Therefore, the community becomes greater than the sum of the individuals that it comprises. Being reasonable, we recognize this and seek out organizational relationships that promote the common good; these organizations may be judged normatively in terms of how well they do so. As we are capable of determining this through reason, these organizations should respond to that reason. Structurally, they must provide features which will allow individual reason to be aggregated into a common will.
The directed commonwealth view agrees that the isolated individual is a pathetic creature; it does not agree, however, that we will recognize this and seek organizational relationships to promote the common good. The individual, dominated by desire, is incapable of determining the common good. Therefore, those few in society who are dominated by reason must create the commonwealth and, once they have created it, must direct it to the betterment of all. Power must be concentrated at the top of organizations, enabling those organizations to lead us toward a common good. Normatively, these organizations may be judged by the same standard as those in the responsive commonwealth. Structurally, however, they are quite different. As most are incapable of determining what the common good is, organizations cannot respond to an aggregate common will. Rather, they must develop a mechanism to identify those few in society dominated by reason and then bring them into the organizational hierarchy. Organizations, therefore, must be tightly connected, enabling them to work in unison to direct society toward the common good.
These disparate views concerning the relationships among individuals, society, and organizations provide fertile ground for developing theories concerning the behavior of people in organizational contexts. And each of these views has impacted the intellectual origins of the American administrative state.
A. The Directed Commonwealth:
Sacerdotium and Regnum Revisited
The directed commonwealth can be traced back to the writings of Plato. Like that of all the ancient Greeks, Plato's focus was on the total community, with one becoming meaningful only through participation in the civic community, the polis. This community was natural, more so than any of its components, including the individuals who composed it. For Plato, the community could be divided into distinct classes, with the majority of the citizens belonging to a lower, artisan class dominated by desire. The state must be ruled by those few, dominated by reason, who constituted the upper class. They, according to Plato, were reluctant to rule but would do so from a sense of obligation (1971, p. 29): “They must be forced to consent [to rule] under threat of penalty; ... [a]nd the heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.”
The directed commonwealth view dominated the thought of the Christian Fathers, who saw the clergy, and in particular the Pope, as the best interpreter of natural law, law that ultimately rested on God's authorship. This argument was advanced under a series of Popes, beginning with Pope Gelasius 1 (492-496), who outlined what eventually was to develop into the theory of the two swords. Church and state would become sacerdotium and regnum, two governments in a single Christian society. The civic ruler was superior to the Pope in temporal affairs, but the Pope was supreme in ecclesiastic matters. And, as the civic ruler needed the Church to obtain eternal life, he should heed the Pope's guidance.
This dual authority did not sit easy with either Pope or king. By the time the colonies that were to become the United States were being developed, this conflict was being resolved in favor of the king. Rising nationalism and the emergence of the modem nation-state led to growing subordination of ecclesiastic power to temporal power. An exception to this was found in the structural arrangements developed by followers of John Calvin.
Central to Calvin’s arguments was the sovereignty of God in all matters. The state, then, had significance only to the extent that it furthered God’s plan. The Church was a necessary intermediary to man's salvation, and thus princes, as agents of God, were subordinate to it. God was the origin of all that is good. Humanity, since Adam's fall, was evil and corrupt, born in sin, and afflicted with the curse of Adam's transgression. If people were to overcome this fallen state, both temporal and ecclesiastical discipline was required. The state provided the sword, but it was to be wielded under the guidance of the church.
Under this view, civil ministers serve an ecclesiastic capacity:
Civil government is designed, as long as we live in this world, to cherish and support the external worship of God, to preserve the pure doctrine of religion, to defend the constitution of the Church, to regulate our lives in a manner requisite for the society of men, to form our manners to civil justice, to promote our concord with each other, and to establish general peace and tranquility.... (Calvin, 1981, p. 225)
Both church and state were to be controlled by those few in society with the capability of understanding God's purpose. Society was to be a directed commonwealth.
The directed commonwealth view was best expressed in England by Thomas Hobbes, and was brought to America by some of his contemporaries: the Puritans. Puritan leaders saw individuals as beings in a fallen state, whose carnal natures must be controlled for the good of the commonwealth by strong magistrates operating under God's laws. The England of Hobbes and of the Puritans certainly lent credence to the view of people dominated by desire. The civil strife within England of this period illustrated man at his worst. The Puritan view, however, did not take root in England. As Huntington (1981, pp. 154-158) has indicated, England underwent a Puritan revolution without creating a Puritan society; America created a Puritan society without undergoing a Puritan revolution.
The works of two American Puritan leaders illustrate the nature of the directed commonwealth in America: John Cotton and John Winthrop. These two men were the most prominent leaders of church and state during the formative years of the Puritan commonwealth in Massachusetts. Cotton was by far the most prominent minister in Massachusetts, deriving his extraordinary influence from his achievements as a scholar and his gifts in the pulpit (Polishook, 1967, p. 14). John Winthrop served as governor during most of the early years. Together, these two men were called upon to describe and to defend the system of political government and its relationship to the church in forming the commonwealth. Although Winthrop is usually recognized as the chief spokesman for Puritan theocracy
, he consulted Cotton often on these matters, as well he might, since he was a member of Cottons church. Furthermore, it was Cotton who played the major role in answering the charges leveled against the relationship between church and state by Roger Williams.
The attacks by Roger Williams stand in sharp contrast to the quieter internal struggle that is most characteristic of this debate. While many of the opponents of Cotton and Winthrop are known, including such men as William Pynchon, Israel Stoughton, and Thomas Hooker, most opponents remained anonymous, and few people directly attacked either Cotton's or Winthrop's ideas.
These men came to Massachusetts less to establish a “New England” than to establish a “New Zion.” In his sermon “A Modell of Christian Charity” (probably delivered on board the flagship Arabella during the crossing) Winthrop told the people, “Wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty vpon a Hill, the eies of all people are vppon us...” (Winthrop, 1869, p. 32). The Puritans considered themselves an elect people who had entered into a covenant with God; they were to serve as a model for the entire Christian world. Fourteen years after the first Puritans established themselves in Massachusetts, Governor Winthrop wrote, “England is a state of long standing, yet we haue had more positive & more holesome Lawes inacted in our shorte tyme, than they had in many hundred years” (Winthrop, 1869, p. 446).
Church and state, in this model, were to be separate but complementary institutions, tied together to preserve peace in the commonwealth and to promote the virtue of the citizenry. As Cotton stated (Polishook, 1967, pp. 73-74):
If it were true, that the magistrate has charge only of the bodies and goods of the subject, yet that might justly excite to watchfulness against such pollutions of religion as tend to apostasy. For if the church and people of God fall away from God, God will visit the city and country with public calamity, if not captivity, for the church's sake.
Did ever God commit the charge of the body to any governors to whom he did not commit (in His way) the care of souls also?... The truth is, church governors and civil governors do herein stand parallel one to another.
Church governors and civil governors “stand parallel one to another,” then, in a joint effort to secure peace in the commonwealth and to ensure that the laws of the commonwealth are in accord with the laws of God. The extent to which civil authority was to parallel religious authority can be seen from one representative sample of Cotton’s An Abstract, or the Lawes of New England as They are now established,
a document Winthrop called “a model of Moses his judicials, compiled in an exact method,” which stated that no one is to be permitted to live more than a mile from a church meeting house, for “all civil affairs are to he administered and ordered so as may best conduce to the upholding and setting forward of the worship of God in church fellowship” (Emerson, 1965, pp. 144-146).
Political participation was limited to those in good standing in the church. Residents who were not members of a church--and some 80% of the population were not--were guaranteed their rights under law, but could not participate either in choosing the magistrates or in defining the laws. Members of the churches were considered freemen of the commonwealth and could participate in civic affairs. For both Cotton and Winthrop, however, this did not mean that they could determine those affairs. Democracy, for Cotton, was not “a fit government either for church or commonwealth. If the people be governors, who shall be governed?” (Scott, 1959, p. 8. In his “Little Speech on Liberty
,” Winthrop defined the role of the governor and governed (Scott, 1959,p.19): “The covenant between you and us is the oath you have taken of us, which is to this purpose: that we shall govern you and judge your causes by the rules of God’s laws and our own, according to our best skill.”
Thus public administration was directed from the top. Civil ministers were to enforce the will of God, as interpreted by an elite. All aspects of community life were under the watchful eye of the state, and rules and regulations were strictly enforced in order to enable the citizens to live in accordance to God's laws. “Thus stands the cause between God and vs,” Winthrop stated, “wee are entered into Covenant with him for this worke, wee haue taken out a Commission, the Lord hat giuen vs leave to drawe our owne Articles wee haue professed to enterprise these Accions . . . “ (McGiffert, 1969, p. 3 1).
The elect people, then, had been given leave to draw their own articles of government. Thus, while close cooperation was called for between church and state, the Puritans insisted that they were separate institutions--the old argument of concerning the nature of sacerdotium and regnum, begun by Gelasius I as a means of strengthening papal influence over temporal affairs, had been recast as a system in which the same individual exercised both powers, but with civil authority serving to buttress religious power. This relationship is stated in Articles 58 through 60 of the Massachusetts Body of Liberties (Scott 1959, p. 14):
58. Civil authority hath power and liberty to see the peace, ordinances and rules of Christ observed in every church according to his word. So it be done in a civil and not in an ecclesiastical way.
59. Civil authority hath power and liberty to deal with any church member in a way of civil justice, notwithstanding any church relation, office, or interest.
60. No church censure shall degrade or depose any man from any civil dignity, office, or authority he shall have in the commonwealth.
Civil authority and religious authority were to be bound together for the betterment of the commonwealth. Rejecting Roger Williams’s arguments in favor of freedom of religious expression, Cotton argued that it would be unreasonable to suppose that God would condone the existence of competing religious philosophies within one state. As Miller points out, “Moses and Aaron, the priest and the statesman, were equally the vice-regents of God, and the notion that one could contaminate the other was insanity” (McGiffert, 1969, p. 46).
If religious and civil leaders “were equally the vice-regents of God,” it would follow that the civil leader must hold impeccable credentials as a follower of His word, and this is the position taken by Winthrop and Cotton. Church membership was the essential prerequisite for the magistery. Traditional or hereditary leadership was not totally rejected but was made subordinate to standing in the church. High birth carried with it the right of preeminence in society, but not in government. While persons of high birth would be given preference in elections to the magistery, they could qualify for such positions, according to Cotton, only if they were “godly men, who are fit materials for church fellowship, . . . For the liberties of the freemen of this commonwealth are such as require men of faithful integrity to God and the state, to preserve the same” (Scott, 1959, p. 12).
Magistrates were to be guided by God’s laws, not by the dictates of the people. The freemen of the commonwealth did have a check on the exercise of authority by the magistrates in the yearly election at the General Court each May. It was a check that was seldom utilized, however, and few freemen bothered to exercise their franchise. Winthrop’s argument that God “will also teache his ministers the Judges what sentence to pronounce, if they will allso observe his worde, & trust in him,” and that “Judges are Gods upon earthe” (Scott, 1959, p. 448) was not seriously challenged. The only time the General Court voted to remove a governor occurred in 1637 when Governor Vane was removed, and that removal was based on Vane’s stance on religion. The freemen saw elections not so much as a method of choosing a leader, but “as an emergency safeguard, as a means, short of revolution, for removing those rulers whom they found unacceptable” (Breen, 1970, p. 53).
Yet even in this early period, the views of Cotton and Winthrop did not go unchallenged. The seeds of a more democratic view of the commonwealth, a responsive rather than a directed commonwealth, were sown during this period. By the time the colonies were starting to break with England, this directed commonwealth view, held by such intellectual descendants of Cotton and Winthrop as Jonathan Mayhew and Daniel Leonard, was being modified by the responsive commonwealth, and by individualistic views of the state.
B. The Responsive Commonwealth
The responsive commonwealth can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, with Aristotle serving as its best proponent. He agreed with the general Greek view of nature and society. The polis--the civic community-was both natural and the highest expression of humanity. Aristotle makes this clear in the Politics
(1979, pp. 6-7):
We thus see that the polis exists by nature and that it is prior to the individual... all individuals are so many parts all equally depending on the whole [which alone can bring about self-sufficiency]. The man who is isolated-who is unable to share in the benefits of political association, or has no need to share because he is already self-sufficient-is no part of the polis, and must therefore be either a beast or a god.
People, for Aristotle, are social creatures defined by their ability to reason. We are seekers of the good community; we strive for justice, for ourselves and for others. We seek moral perfection, even though we have thus far fallen short. Yet, even falling short, we succeed through his striving for the good community.
Cicero helped bring this view forward through history. The key to the responsive commonwealth, he felt, was found in education. This would allow a natural aristocracy to arise, one which could respond to the collective reason of the community and create the good state. “And when men have felt ... that, to the powers of mind received from nature and developed by experience in public affairs, they should add also scholarly interests and a richer acquaintance with life, such men must be universally conceded to be superior to all others” (1927, p. 198). In what could serve as a motto for the administration state, he adds (1927, p. 216), “What, indeed, can be more glorious than the union of practical experience in great affairs with an intelligent enthusiasm for the liberal arts?”
As the impact of the Enlightenment spread to America and linked to the colonial experience, some inheritors of Puritan thought adopted similar arguments. John Wise, writing in 1717, rejected Cotton and Winthrop’s arguments concerning the relationship between governed and governors. Civil government, he argued, “must needs be acknowledged to be the effect of human free-compacts and not divine institution: it is the produce of man’s reason” (1959, p. 30). This free compact, for Wise, was a natural state: man needed to “maintain a sociableness with others, agreeable with the main end and disposition of human nature in general” (1959, p. 31).
In making his arguments, Wise was influenced by the growing “natural law” school of thought, a school that tended to stress the Lockean view of the individual. Although Wise continued to emphasize the communal nature of society, other thinkers began to stress the individual as the key. One of the most significant of these thinkers was John Adams.
The communal view of the state placed an emphasis on securing virtue; the growing individualistic emphasis was on securing individual rights. Adams, in his writings, mixed both. In his “Thoughts on Government . . . ,” written in 1776, Adams argued that “the happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue” (1959, pp. 102-103). He goes on to cite such communal theorists as Zoroaster, Socrates, and Mahomet to support his contention. Yet he next draws on Locke, Milton, and others who emphasize the individual. He does this, as Webking (1983, p. 3) points out, “without indicating an awareness of the tension between the two sets of principles.”
Adams's lack of clarity reflects the ambiguity of much of American political thought (see Hartz, 1955, for an excellent examination of this). This ambiguity is reflected in those who do explicitly focus on the individual.
C. The Protectorate
A focus on the individual is more modem in the development of the intellectual origins of the administrative state. One of the first to focus on the individual, Niccolo Machiavelli, saw that individual as dominated by desire and wrote a classic treatise on how to govern in this context.
Machiavelli rejected the natural, communal state, arguing instead that the state had no reality apart from the individuals it comprised. He also rejected the idea that these individuals were themselves governed by natural law determined through reason. Instead, he argued that “[t]here is no inherent purpose in the state. Any direction it may receive must be imposed upon it by the ruler” (1952, p. 16). This ruler must understand human nature and manipulate it to rule effectively.
The protectorate view did not become a dominant view in colonial America. While some observers have placed many of the Federalists, notably Alexander Hamilton, in this category, this study will argue that the individualist view in colonial America fits within the marketplace view of man and state.
D. The Marketplace
A key marketplace theorist for the American experience was John Locke. His writings, particularly his Letter on toleration and his Second treatise of government, greatly influenced political discourse in both England and the English colonies that were to become the United States. Yet Locke was only one of many sources of British political thought that influenced the development of a marketplace view. English opposition thought of the last half of the seventeenth and first half of the eighteenth centuries was crucial in shaping the American mind.
Among the most effective opposition writers were those who associated themselves with the republican theorists of the Civil War period--writers who traced their thoughts from Milton and Harrington through Neville, Sidney, and Locke--particularly John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon. For Americans, states Bailyn, their writings “ranked with the treatises of Locke as the most authoritative statement of the nature of political liberty and above Locke as an exposition of the social sources of the threats it faced” (Bailyn, 1967a, p. 35). In addition to these writings of the left a number of writings from the right also influenced American thought, particularly the writings of Lord Bolingbroke. “The people of the colonies,” wrote Burke (1968, p. 57) at the start of the war in 1775,
are descendants of Englishmen. England... is a nation which still, I hope, respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. The colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas and on English principles.
Key among these English principles as developed by opposition theorists was the concept of a mixed constitution: a government that would balance monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Whereas Locke's arguments led to legislative supremacy, with the ministers under the control of the legislature, opposition theorists sought to balance the legislative, executive, and judicial powers and thus argued that ministers should be accountable to more than one power. Indeed, it was their belief that too much power was being concentrated in a ministerial plot, resulting in a growing imbalance of power that made their arguments so appealing to Americans faced with an increased use of executive power.
Unlike Cotton and Winthrop, who saw civil ministers and churchmen in a cooperative arrangement to lead society forward, opposition writers exhibited a marked distrust of the magistery. Writers of the left and right were in agreement on this. Civil ministers, wrote Trenchard and Gordon, “will endeavor to bribe the electors . . . so to get a council of their own creatures; and where they cannot succeed with the electors, they will endeavor to corrupt the deputies after they are chosen” (Bailyn, 1967b, p. 44). Such corruption, Bolingbroke added, “was a natural enough phenomenon. Public ministers naturally lie under great temptations, through the infirmities and corruption of human nature, to prefer their own private interests to that of the community”(Bailyn, 1967b, p. 46). For these writers, then, the reality of the ministerial plot was both unquestionable and inevitable. The struggle for power was constant, and only through equally constant vigilance could free men hope to remain free.
The legacy of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century opposition thought for Americans was the conviction of the need to maintain a mixed state, and to ensure that the magistrates of such a state did not become a threat to individual liberty. The English tradition of liberty had been developed in America as the natural birthright of humanity. Whenever liberty had been achieved--in the Roman republic of Cicero or under the mixed constitutionalism of English law--it had been lost when the moral and political virtues of the societies decayed. These views were presented in the emerging nation by a number of people; this study focuses upon Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Of the two, Jefferson dealt more with theory--although he certainly understood practical politics--and Hamilton more with the pragmatic application to the affairs of government.
Jefferson has often been identified as the most Lockean of the Revolutionary era leaders. Locke's Second treatise of government found its colonial expression in Jefferson’s authorship of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson agreed with Locke’s emphasis on the individual, dominated by reason. Like Locke's, however, Jefferson's faith in man's reason seemed to lessen with time. In a letter to Henry Lee, written in 1824, he reaffirmed his belief in the individual, while tempering it by indicating the limits of their wisdom (Caldwell, 1964, p. 113):
Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties. I. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all power from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2ndly those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, altho' not the most wise depository of the public interests.
Jefferson, while not always convinced of the wisdom of the people, still believed them the best guide for the state to follow. “In a government like ours,” he stated, “it is the duty of the Chief Magistrate.... to endeavor, by all honorable means, to unite in himself the confidence of the whole people” (Caldwell, 1964, p. 107). To staff this government, Jefferson argued in favor of selecting the best and brightest among society. In a letter to John Adams, he wrote: “I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents...” The best government, then, is that “which provides the most effectually for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the offices of government” (Peterson, 1977, pp. 534-535).
Jefferson, basically an egalitarian, “was coincidentally an individualist, loving men as persons, cherishing them collectively in the abstract, but distrusting them to the point of fear when massed together in cities” (Caldwell, 1964, p. 105). Some of this same mixture of “loving men as persons” while not completely trusting them in particular was shared by his contemporary and political rival Alexander Hamilton.
Hamilton, like Jefferson, dealt in theory, but his true emphasis was on the pragmatic affairs of government. “How widely different the business of government is from the speculation of it
,” he wrote, “and the energy of the imagination dealing in general propositions from that of execution in detail”
(Flaumenhaft, 1976, p. 145).
Hamilton saw the individual as dominated by reason: “The supreme being gave existence to man, together with the means of preserving and beautifying that existence. He endowed him with rational faculties, by the help of which to discern and pursue such things, as were consistent with his duty and interest . . .” (Flaumenhaft, 1976, p. 175). This reason, for Hamilton, was universally shared. Hamilton was one of a handful of people anywhere in the European world of his day to state that blacks were equal in facilities--and rights--to whites (Flaumenhaft, 1976, pp.177-179).
Like Jefferson, Hamilton felt that the administrative state was best served by attracting the service of those qualified by reason. He argued that most men, if properly trained and educated, could serve quite well--a view later echoed by Andrew Jackson. Hamilton was among the first to address the link between the emerging technology and administration, the first to address the potentials and problems of technocracy. Hamilton stressed such organizational features as division of labor, training and development, and planning for diversifying and improving the supply of labor. He argued for what contemporary administrators would call job enrichment, basing his argument on the different capacities of people, and on one's need for personal development. “It is a just observation,” he argued, “that minds of the strongest and most active powers for their proper objects, fall below mediocrity, and labor without effort, if confined to uncongenial pursuits” (1959, p. 163).
In making his arguments, Hamilton sounds modern; he links an active, creative mind with practical experience to present clear and compelling arguments concerning the proper way to organize human behavior. His contributions make it clear that, by the dawn of the nineteenth century, the basic ideas that were to underpin the American administrative state were firmly in place.
Ill. DEVELOPING AN ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE
Those who developed the administrative structure of the new nation drew on three primary sources: the laws and history of England
, their own colonial experiences, and classical and modem political theory. Burke's argument that Americans were “devoted to liberty ... according to English ideas and on English principles” (1968, p. 57) was accurate. Yet it failed to account for the fact that Americans were no longer English. It ignored the implications that stemmed from the colonies’ settlement in part by those whose cause had been lost in England. While Americans argued English ideas and English principles, they were ideas and principles that, while dominant in America, were held by only a minority in England. Rossiter may be correct in arguing that their English heritage “gave direction and impetus to their struggles for liberty,” and that “it is a decisive fact of American history that until 1776 it was a chapter in English history as well” (1953, p. 6), but 1776 was, as Kohn indicates, “a civil war comparable to that of the seventeenth century” as well (Kohn and Walden, 1970, p. 14). Americans no longer shared the view of man that was dominant in England.
The two dominant views of man represented by the Founding Fathers were the directed commonwealth view drawn from their Puritan heritage, modified by some movement toward the responsive commonwealth view, and the marketplace view emerging in the eighteenth century. Each of these views sees a different role for public administrators. The marketplace view, in particular the arguments of Locke, dominated the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation; the Constitution drew more heavily upon English opposition thought, particularly Trenchard and Gordon's Cato's Letters, influenced by the Puritan legacy.
Both the responsive commonwealth view and the protectorate view played lesser roles in the intellectual origins of the American administrative state. While an argument can be made that many Americans--and certainly some current managers--operate on the protectorate scheme, it played only a small role in developing the origins of the administrative state.
The directed commonwealth view of the state played an important role in developing American views of the administrative state and continues to be a factor in current debates over the nature of that state. The directed commonwealth view argues that those few in society who are dominated by reason must create the commonwealth and, once they have created it, must direct it toward the betterment of man. Power must be concentrated at the top of organizations, enabling those organizations to lead man toward a common good. As most men are incapable of determining what the common good is, organizations cannot respond to an aggregate common will. Rather, they must develop a mechanism to identify those few in society dominated by reason, and then bring them into the organizational hierarchy. Organizations, therefore, must be tightly connected, enabling them to work in unison to direct society to the common good.
The intellectual heirs of the Puritans are found among members of the Reagan and both Bush administrations as well as among today’s fundamentalists; in those who believe in absolute truth and who evidence a distrust of democracy as damaging to the national morality and spirit. The administrative state, and the career administrators who compose it, are to follow not only the laws of the state, but also the laws of God. They would agree with Cotton that this is a Christian nation, whose government is ordained by God.
The other key view of man, the marketplace view, was dominant in the period leading up to the Revolutionary War. Those adopting a marketplace view believe that people will behave rationally in the organization. We will have a desire to cooperate, understanding how our contribution advances the good of all, including ourselves. The value of the individual remains paramount, and organizations can be judged normatively in terms of how they treat the individual. Furthermore, these organizations come into being as a result of demands made by individuals, and they can be judged in terms of how well they respond to those demands. This is true whether the organization is governmental or private. In this view, government is to respond to the articulated needs of the people. It should be staffed by those who, using reason, can help meet these needs and direct the affairs of state in the interest of the individuals that it comprises. Those with this view would agree with the current school of thought exemplified by Chandler's argument that administrators are more representative of the public than are legislators (Chandler, 1984).
The intellectual origins of the American administrative state are rich and varied. This study has only scratched the surface of what they offer the contemporary student of administration in the United States. An examination of this heritage can enrich an understanding of current arguments, as well as provide a student of the administrative state with a sense of history, an anchor upon which to fasten his or her understanding of the linkage between the individual and the state.
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