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John R. Procter


Centurion, 1895–1903

Full Name John Robert Procter

Born 16 March 1844 in Mason County, Kentucky

Died 1 December 1903 in Washington, District of Columbia

Buried Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia

Proposed by Richard Watson Gilder and Charles R. Huntington

Elected 1 June 1895 at age fifty-one

Century Memorial

John R. Procter had barely attained his majority when he returned to his native State of Kentucky a defeated, but by no means depressed, veteran of the “lost cause.” The collapse, at that moment, of the shabby Empire of Maximilian had foiled his ambition to enlist under the Mexican flag and he turned first to farming and then to the science in which he had been trained in the University of Pennsylvania. His first civil appointment was in the Geological Survey of Kentucky, of which he became the Chief, and in which he did good work until his refusal to bow his neck to the yoke of the spoils politician brought about his retirement. This practical devotion to the principles of civil-service reform led to his appointment on the National Civil Service Commission, along with Theodore Roosevelt in 1893, and on the retirement of the latter he became President of the Commission. It would be difficult to overrate the value of his work in this very important and relatively novel post. His attachment to the underlying principle of the merit system was unvarying, while his administrative ability, his sound practical sense, his patience, industry, and ingenuity made every advance the basis of further progress. His judgment of men was kindly and keen; he won the respect of opponents and the trusting affection of friends. His humor was spontaneous, unfailing, wholesome, and never ill-directed. His interest in public questions was not confined to the work of his office, broad as that was, or to the affairs of his own country. Rarely from a man in a station so inconspicuous has a wider or nobler influence proceeded.

Edward Cary
1904 Century Association Yearbook