100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Order Against Religious Garb Author Resigns

Robert G Valentine was an instructor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bank official when in 1905 he became private secretary to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. In September 1908 he became Assistant Commissioner and in June 1909 President Taft appointed Valentine to the office of Commissioner of Indian Affairs. In June 1912 Valentine ran into trouble when he issued an order forbidding the wearing or “religious garb” without prior approval from the Secretary of the Interior. Several Indian boarding school are run by members of the Catholic church and they felt this order was purposely aimed at them. President Taft directed the secretary of the interior to revoke the edict and ordered an investigation into Valentine’s actions stating that, while he believed in the separation of Church and State, Valentine’s actions amounted to the discharge of employees who were under the protection of civil service rules.

On September 11, 1912 Commissioner of Indian Affairs Valentine resigned his office. It has been decided that though no one currently working would be fired but there would be no further hiring of teachers who insisted on wearing religious garb. Valentine claims his reasons for resigning are to go work for ex-president Roosevelt’s Progressive Party. Valentine still faces an investigation and possible charges by Congress.

Former Commissioner of Indian Affairs Robert G Valentine

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