Lucius B. Swift, Hoosier reformer of the progressive era

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Stone, Dean B. (Dean Barker), 1942-
Hoover, Dwight W.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
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The purpose of this study is to analyze the philosophy and public career of Hoosier lawyer Lucius Burrie Swift (1844-1929). Born in western New York, Swift served in the Union forces and ultimately established himself as a lawyer in Indianapolis. His Puritan heritage and university -raining bred an intense awareness of civic responsibility and the necessity of establishing efficiency and economy in the operation of government.Six chapters comprise the total of this dissertation. Chapter One traces the early life of Swift and his career an educator--a time during which there emerged a desire fulfill his civic responsibility. Chapter Two analyzes Swift' s Mugwump political stance along with his role as a promoter of civil service in the federal government. As editor of the Civil Service Chronicle and through his association with national and local reform organizations, Swift emerges as one of the staunchest supporters of merit reform in the Midwest.Chapter Three examines Swift as a Progressive in the Roosevelt tradition. Friends since the young President’s days on the United States Civil Service Commission, Swift associated himself with the implementation of social and industrial justice. As a temporary supporter of the ever versatile Albert J. Beveridge, he worked not only to promote progressive ideas on the national level but also to purge the Indiana Republican Party of its social and economic conservatism exemplified by Charles Fairbanks.Chapter Four investigates Swift's contribution toward the establishment of municipal reform in Indianapolis. While never assuming an elected office, he worked for the advancement of Indianapolis as an autonomous entity free from the controls of the General Assembly and strove to inform citizens of backsliding politicians. Only after World War I did Swift assume a public office as president of the Board of Sanitary Commissioners. During his term the sanitation department became a hallmark of municipal efficiency and economy.Chapter Five examines Swift as a proponent of preparedness and internationalism. His activities as a member of the American Rights Committee portray him as a superpatriot with all of the accompanying vices. Yet following the War, Swift supported all calls for internationalism including Wilson's League of Nations and the Washington Conference.Chapter Six offers concluding remarks which suggest that Swift, while no prime mover of any reform throughout his career, does rank high above the general populace which exhibit apathy to national and international turmoil.Two minor themes pervade this dissertation. First, beginning in the late 1880's, local reformers and businessmen in Indianapolis were attempting to implement, with significant success, many of the progressive concepts of municipal government and operations which were responsive to the changing complexion of a growing urban society. Second, a reform-oriented tradition from the Mugwump era through the Progressive period definitely operated in Indiana although it achieved neither the public support nor concrete results of its Eastern counterparts.