Chester A. Arthur

Executive Order

October 13, 1883

I. The President, having acceded to the request of General William T. Sherman to be relieved from the command of the Army on the 1st of November, 1883, preparatory to his retirement from active service, directs the following changes and assignments to command:

General William T. Sherman will be relieved from the command of the Army on the above-mentioned date and will repair to his home, St. Louis, Mo., to await his retirement. The General will be attended prior to his retirement by those of his aids-de-camp whom he may designate to the Adjutant-General.

Lieutenant-General Philip H. Sheridan will proceed to Washington, and on the above-mentioned date assume command of the Army.

Major-General John M. Schofield will proceed to Chicago, Ill., and will on the above-mentioned date assume command of the Military Division of the Missouri.

Major-General John Pope will proceed to the Presidio of San Francisco, Cal., and will on the above-mentioned date assume command of the Military Division of the Pacific and of the Department of California.

Brigadier-General Christopher C. Augur will proceed to Fort Leavenworth, and will on the above-mentioned date assume command of the Department of the Missouri.

Brigadier-General Ranald S. Mackenzie will proceed to San Antonio, Tex., and will on the above-mentioned date assume command of the Department of Texas.

II. The Department of the South will on the 1st day of November, 1883, be merged in the Department of the East, under the command of Major-General Hancock, commanding the Military Division of the Atlantic and the Department of the East.


Secretary of War.

In the exercise of the power vested in the President by the Constitution, and by virtue of the seventeen hundred and fifty-third section of the Revised Statutes and of the civil-service act approved January 16, 1883, the following rules for the regulation and improvement of the executive civil service are hereby amended and promulgated, as follows:


1. There shall be open competitive examinations for testing the fitness of applicants for admission to the service. Such examinations shall be practical in their character and, so far as may be, shall relate to those matters which will fairly test the relative capacity and fitness of the persons examined to discharge the duties of the branch of the service which they seek to enter.

2. There shall, so far as they may be deemed useful, be competitive examinations of a suitable character to test the fitness of persons for promotion in the service.


1. The general examinations under the first clause of Rule VI for admission to the service shall be limited to the following subjects: (1) Orthography, penmanship, and copying; (2) arithmetic--fundamental rules, fractions, and percentage; (3) interest, discount, and elements of bookkeeping and of accounts; (4) elements of the English language, letter writing, and the proper construction of sentences; (5) elements of the geography, history, and government of the United States.

2. Proficiency in each of these subjects shall be credited in grading the standing of the persons examined in proportion to the value of a knowledge of such subjects in the branch or part of the service which the applicant seeks to enter.

3. No one shall be entitled to be certified for appointment whose standing upon a just grading in the general examination shall be less than 65 per cent of complete proficiency in the first three subjects mentioned in this rule, and that measure of proficiency shall be deemed adequate.

4. But for places in which a lower degree of education will suffice the Commission may limit the examinations to less than the five subjects above mentioned; but no person shall be certified for appointment under this clause whose grading shall be less than an average of 65 per cent on such of the first three subjects or parts thereof as the examination may embrace.

5. The Commission may also order examinations upon other subjects, of a technical or special character, to test the capacity which may be needed in any part of the classified service which requires peculiar information or skill. Examinations hereunder may be competitive or noncompetitive, and the maximum limitations of age contained in the twelfth rule shall not apply to applicants for the same. The application for and notice of these special examinations, the records thereof, and the certification of those found competent shall be such as the Commission may provide for. After consulting the head of any Department or office the Commission may from time to time designate, subject to the approval of the President, the positions therein for which applicants may be required to pass this special examination.


No question in any examination or proceeding by or under the Commission or examiners shall call for the expression or disclosure of any political or religious opinion or affiliation, and if such opinion or affiliation be known no discrimination shall be made by reason thereof by the examiners, the Commission, or the appointing power. The Commission and its examiners shall discountenance all disclosure before either of them of such opinion by or concerning any applicant for examination or by or concerning anyone whose name is on any register awaiting appointment.


Every application, in order to entitle the applicant to appear for examination or to be examined, must state under oath the facts on the following subjects: (1) Full name, residence, and post-office address; (2) citizenship; (3) age; (4) place of birth; (5) health and physical capacity for the public service; (6) fight of preference by reason of military or naval service; (7) previous employment in the public service; (8) business or employment and residence for the previous five years; (9) education. Such other information shall be furnished as the Commission may reasonably require touching the applicant's fitness for the public service. The applicant must also state the number of members of his family in the public service and where employed, and must also assert that he is not disqualified under section 8 of the civil-service act, which is as follows:

"That no person habitually using intoxicating beverages to excess shall be appointed to or retained in any office, appointment, or employment to which the provisions of this act are applicable."

No person under enlistment in the Army or Navy of the United States shall be examined under these rules.


I. The date of the reception of all regular applications for the classified departmental service shall be entered of record by the Commission, and of all other regular applications by the proper examining boards of the district or office for which they are made; and applicants, when in excess of the number that can be examined at a single examination, shall, subject to the needs of apportionment, be notified to appear in their order on the respective records. But any applicants in the several States and Territories for appointment in the classified departmental service may be notified to appear for examination at any place at which an examination is to be held, whether in any State or Territory or in Washington, which shall be deemed most convenient for them.

2. The Commission is authorized, in aid of the apportionment among the States and Territories, to hold examinations at places convenient for applicants from different States and Territories, or for those examination districts which it may designate and which the President shall approve.


1. Whenever any officer having the power of appointment or employment shall so request, there shall be certified to him by the Commission or the proper examining board four names for the vacancy specified, to be taken from those graded highest on the proper register of those in his branch of the service and remaining eligible, regard being had to the apportionment of appointments to States and Territories; and from the said four a selection shall be made for the vacancy.

2. These certifications for the service at Washington shall be made in such order as to apportion, as nearly as may be practicable, the original appointments thereto among the States and Territories and the District of Columbia upon the basis of population as ascertained at the last preceding census.

3. In case the request for any such certification or any law or regulation shall call for those of either sex, the four highest of that sex shall be certified; otherwise sex shall be disregarded in such certification.

4. No person upon any register shall be certified more than four times to the same officer in the customs or postal service or more than twice to any Department at Washington, unless upon request of the appointing officer; nor shall anyone remain eligible more than one year upon any register. No person while remaining eligible on any register shall be admitted to a new examination, and no person having failed upon any examination shall within six months thereafter be admitted to another examination without the consent of the Commission; but these restrictions shall not extend to examinations under clause 5 of Rule VII.


Every head of a Department or office shall notify the Commission of the name of every person appointed to or employed in the classified service under him (giving the date of the appointment and the designation of the office or place) from those examined under the Commission, and shall also inform the Commission of the date of any rejection or final appointment or employment of any probationer, and of the promotion, removal, discharge, resignation, transfer, or death of any such person after probation. Every head of an office in the postal or customs service shall give such information on these subjects to the board of examiners for his office as the regulations of the Commission may provide for.


There are excepted from examination the following: (1) The confidential clerk or secretary of any head of Department or office; (2) cashiers of collectors; (3) cashiers of postmasters; (4) superintendents of money-order divisions in post-offices; (5) the direct custodians of money for whose fidelity another officer is under official bond, but these exceptions shall not extend to any official below the grade of assistant cashier or teller; (6) persons employed exclusively in the secret service of the Government, or as translators or interpreters or stenographers; (7) persons whose employment is exclusively professional; (8) chief clerks, deputy collectors, and superintendents or chiefs of divisions or bureaus. But no person so excepted shall be either transferred, appointed, or promoted, unless to some excepted place, without an examination under the Commission. Promotions may be made without examinations in offices where examinations for promotion are not now held until rules on the subject shall be promulgated.

Approved, November 7, 1883.


Chester A. Arthur, Executive Order Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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