Chester A. Arthur

Executive Order

December 05, 1884

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:


There shall be three branches of the service classified under the civil-service act ( not including laborers or workmen or officers required to be confirmed by the Senate), as follows:

1. Those classified in the Departments at Washington shall be designated "The classified departmental service."

2. Those classified under any collector, naval officer, surveyor, or appraiser in any customs district shall be designated "The classified customs service."

3. Those classified under any postmaster at any post-office, including that at Washington, shall be designated "The classified postal service."

4. The classified customs service shall embrace the several customs districts where the officials are as many as fifty, now the following: New York City, N.Y.; Boston, Mass.; Philadelphia, Pa.; San Francisco, Cal.; Baltimore, Md.; New Orleans, La.; Chicago, Ill.; Burlington, Vt.; Portland, Me.; Detroit, Mich.; Port Huron, Mich.

5. The classified postal service shall embrace the several post-offices where the officials are as many as fifty, now the following: Albany, N.Y.; Baltimore, Md.; Boston, Mass.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Chicago, Ill.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Jersey City, N.J.; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Newark, N J.; New Orleans, La.; New York City, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Pittsburg, Pa.; Providence, R. I.; Rochester, N.Y.; St. Louis, Mo.; St. Paul, Minn.; San Francisco, Cal.; Washington, D.C.


1. The general examinations under the first clause of Rule VI for admission to the service shall be limited to the following subjects: (I) 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 any subject upon which an examination shall be held shall be credited in grading the standing of the persons examined in proportion to the value of a knowledge of such subject 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. 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 the special examination.


1. 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) right 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 dismissed from the public service for misconduct shall be admitted to examination within two years thereafter.

2. No person under enlistment in the Army, or Navy of the United States shall be examined under these rules except for some place in the Department under which he is enlisted requiring special qualifications, and with the consent in writing head of such Department.

3. The Commission may by regulations, subject to change at any time by the President, declare the kind and measure of ill health, physical incapacity, misrepresentation, and bad faith which may properly exclude any person from the right of examination, grading, or certification under these rules. It may also provide for medical certificates of physical capacity in the following eases, and for the appropriate certification of persons so defective in sight, speech, hearing, or otherwise as to be apparently disqualified for some of the duties of the part of the service which they seek to enter.


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 any right of preference and to the apportionment of appointments to States and Territories; and from the said four a selection shall be made for the vacancy. But if a person is on both a general and special register he need be certified from the former only, at the discretion of the Commission, until he has remained two months upon the latter.

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, persons 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; but these restrictions shall not extend to examinations under clause 5 of Rule VII. 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.

5. Any person appointed to or employed in any part of the classified service, after due certification for the same under these rules, who shall be dismissed or separated therefrom without cause or delinquency on his part may be reappointed or reemployed in the same part or grade of such service at the same office, within eight months next following such dismissal or separation, without further examination.


1 . Every original appointment or employment in said classified service shall be for the probationary period of six months, at the end of which time, if the conduct and capacity of the person appointed have been found satisfactory, the probationer shall be absolutely appointed or employed, but otherwise be deemed out of the service.

2. Every officer under whom any probationer shall serve during any part of the probation provided for by these rules shall carefully observe the quality and value of the service rendered by such probationer, and shall report to the proper appointing officer, in writing, the facts observed by him, showing the character and qualifications of such probationer and of the service performed by him; and such report shall be preserved on file.

3. Every false statement knowingly made by any person in his application for examination, and every connivance by him at any false statement made in any certificate which may accompany his application, and every deception or fraud practiced by him or by any person in his behalf and with his knowledge to influence his examination, certification, or appointment, shall be regarded as good cause for the removal or discharge of such person during his probation or thereafter.


1. No person, unless excepted under Rule XIX, shall be admitted into the classified civil service from any place not within said service without an examination and certification under the rules; nor shall any person who has passed only a limited examination under clause 4 of Rule VII for the lower classes or grades in the departmental or customs service be appointed, or be promoted within two years after appointment, to any position giving a salary of $1,000 or upward without first passing an examination under clause I of said rule; and such examination shall not be allowed within the first year after appointment.

2. But a person who has passed the examination under said clause I and has accepted a position giving a salary of $900 or less shall have the same right of promotion as if originally appointed to a position giving a salary of $1 ,000 or more.

3. The Commission may at any time certify for a $900 or any lower place in the classified service any person upon the register who has passed the examination under clause I of Rule VII, if such person does not object before such certification is made.


Any person who has been in the classified departmental service for one year or more immediately previous may, when the needs of the service require it, be transferred or appointed to any other place therein upon producing a certificate from the Civil Service Commission that such person has passed at the required grade one or more examinations which are together equal to that necessary for original entrance to the place which would be secured by the transfer or appointment.


The Civil Service Commission will make appropriate regulations for carrying these rules into effect.


Every violation by any officer in the executive civil service of these rules, or of the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, or fourteenth sections of the civil-service act, relating to political assessments, shall be good cause for removal.

Approved, December 5, 1884.


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

Simple Search of Our Archives