CONGRATULATIONS TO COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS MERRITT
February 4, 1879
Dear General: I congratulate you on your confirmation. It is a great gratification to your friends, very honorable to you, and will prove, I believe, of signal service to the country.
My desire is that your office shall be conducted on strictly business principles, and according to the rules which were adopted, on the recommendation of the Civil-Service Commission, by the administration of General Grant. In making appointments and removals of subordinates, you should be perfectly independent of mere influence. Neither my recommendation nor that of the Secretary of the Treasury, nor the recommendation of any member of Congress, or other influential person, should be specially regarded. Let appointments and removals be made on business principles, and by fixed rules. There must be, I assume, a few places the duties of which are confidential, and which should be filled by those whom you personally know to be trustworthy; but restrict the area of patronage to the narrowest possible limits. Let no man be put out merely because he is a friend of the late collector, and no man be put in merely because he is our friend. I am glad you approve of the message sent to the Senate. I wish you to see that all that is expressed in it, and all that is implied in it, is faithfully carried out.
With the assurance of my entire confidence, I remain, sincerely,