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Remarks by Francesco Isgro*
35th Annual Ceremony Commemorating Charles J. Bonaparte 46th U.S. Attorney General and Founder of the FBI

U.S. Department of Justice 1995

On behalf of the National Italian American Bar Association and the Italian Historical Society of America, I would like to welcome you to this annual ceremony in honor of Charles J. Bonaparte, our 46th Attorney Genral and the founder of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

As government officials tackle the task of reinventing government, those who are leading the cause would do well to pause and reflect on what Charles Bonaparte had to say about creating "good government."

Bonaparte, whose memory has been quietly commemorated at the Department of Justice for the past thirty-three years, was an avid civil reformer, long before he became the 46th Attorney General of the United States. He helped organize and became president of the National Municipal League. He was a founder and, for several years, chairman of the Council of the National Civil Service Reform League.

It was his interest in civil reform that brought Bonaparte to the attention of Theodore Roosevelt, then Civil Service Commissioner. When Roosevelt entered the White House, he appointed Bonaparte Secretary of the Navy, and on December 17, 1906, appointed him to be the 46th Attorney General of the United States.

Bonaparte's recipe for creating good government consisted of two ingredients. First, he believed that good government could only be achieved by attracting competent individuals. Institutions and laws were material factors in establishing good government, Bonaparte believed, but he did not consider them to be vital factors. He wrote that,"the one thing indispensable, the one thing without which good government of any kind or degree is impossible, and which under reasonable limitations takes the place and supplies the want of all others, is good men and women."

Bonaparte also recognized the difficulty that the Government had in attracting good men and women. In an article entitled, "Why we have unsatisfactory public servants and how we can get good ones," Bonaparte wrote: "In every other field we obtain the workmen we wish by making their work attractive and profitable; in politics all our laws and customs seem devised to make the occupation distasteful and burdensome to the very people we are urging to take part in it." He pointed out that public offices of great responsibility were generally grossly underpaid. As an example, he cited the Department of Justice where civil servants were matched against the servants of huge corporations. "They get what they pay for," he said, "and we get what we pay likewise; the only difference is that they are sufficiently sensible to know they must pay well; and we are sufficiently silly to think we can get what we want without paying its fair value, or--if we don't think this--to act as if we did."

Bonaparte's second ingredient is even more important. He believed that government existed for the people and not for politicians. And that, in turn, people must demand better government and participate in the making of better government. "As we strive to gain a better government, we shall come to deserve one, and as and when we deserve this, we shall have it. Freedom is not the birthright of slumberers."

Good government doesn't come cheaply. But, in paying for good government we have a right and a duty to get our money's worth. Bonaparte would not have asked for less.

Now, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you today's keynote speaker, the Honorable Edward D. Re. Judge Re is an outstanding civil servant in his own right, with an exhaustive and impressive list of accomplishments. Judge Re is Chief Judge EmEritus of the U.S. Court of International Trade. He is a law professor, an author, a lecturer, a lawyer, a distinguished former U.S. Customs Court Judge. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Italian government's highest honor, the "Cavaliere di Gran Croce" of the Order of Merit.

Born in Santa Marina,Salian, Italy, Judge Re received his law degree from St. John's University of Law,
where he was valedictorian of his class, and then received the degree of Doctor of Judicial Science from the New York University School of Law. Over the years, he has served our country in various capacities. His career Department of Justice began in 1955 when he was appointed Special Hearing Officer for conscientious cases. In 1961 President John F. Kennedy appointed him Chairman of the foreign claims Settlement Commission, and he was twice reappointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1968, President Johnson appointed him Assistant Secretary of State, and later appointed him Judge of the United States Customs Court. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter, named Judge Re Chief Judge of that court, and in 1980 he became the first Chief Judge of the United States Court of International Trade.

Judge Re has also excelled in the field of education. He is a Distinguished Professor of Law at St. John's University School of Law. In addition, he has taught at the Georgetown University Law Center and is a visiting professor at the New York Law School. He was appointed to the Board of Higher Education in New York City and in 1969 became a Board Member Emeritus. Judge Re has written and contributed to a dozen books and authored scores of articles published in law reviews and journals, on subjects ranging from Equity and Equitable Remedies to International Trade Law, to Legal Writing as Good Literature.

As Judge Re was amassing this distinguished and impressive list of accomplishments, as he was
constructing a truly illustrious career, I was amazed to learn that Judge Re also somehow found
the time to raise a family of twelve children.

And now, I am delighted to present Honorable Edward D. Re.

*Francesco Isgro, Senior Litigation Counsel, Office of Immigration Litigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Co-Founder Friends of Charles Bonaparte

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