Before 1900, promotion in the Navy was solely by seniority. The requirements were: Keep your digestion in order and refrain from striking your superior officer. The result was inevitable; all were promoted except those who were notoriously too bad, and they had to be really bad. Some few failed of promotion because of poor health, but even that had to be pretty hopeless. Once a critic protested to the "Bull Doctor" of a medical examining board that a certain commander should not have been promoted to captain because his health was so bad that he would not be able to come on deck. The doctor replied: "That's the kind captain I should like to serve with." Few officers are old enough to remember the case of a perfectly healthy captain who was turned down by the examining board because he was notoriously a detriment to efficiency. It nearly caused a riot. The board was in danger. The sacred system of seniority was imperiled. This system was, of course, very popular with the service. From the point of view of the greatest good to the greatest number its advantages were many. First of all, it assured security.
Promotion by Selection
By Admiral William S. Sims, U. S. Navy (Retired)