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Executive Order

January 28, 1873


Inquiries having been made from various quarters as to the application of the Executive order issued on the 17th January, relating to the holding of State or municipal offices by persons holding civil offices under the Federal Government, the President directs the following reply to be made:

It has been asked whether the order prohibits a Federal officer from holding also the office of an alderman or of a common councilman in a city, or of a town councilman of a town or village, or of appointments under city, town, or village governments. By some it has been suggested that there may be distinction made in case the office be with or without salary or compensation. The city or town offices of the description referred to, by whatever names they may be locally known, whether held by election or by appointment, and whether with or without salary or compensation, are of the class which the Executive order intends not to be held by persons holding Federal offices.

It has been asked whether the order prohibits Federal officers from holding positions on boards of education, school committees, public libraries, religious or eleemosynary institutions incorporated or established or sustained by State or municipal authority. Positions and service on such boards or committees and professorships in colleges are not regarded as "offices" within the contemplation of the Executive order, but as employments or service in which all good citizens may be engaged without incompatibility, and in many cases without necessary interference with any position which they may hold under the Federal Government. Officers of the Federal Government may therefore engage in such service, provided the attention required by such employment does not interfere with the regular and efficient discharge of the duties of their office under the Federal Government. The head of the Department under whom the Federal office is held will in all cases be the sole judge whether or not the employment does thus interfere.

The question has also been asked with regard to officers of the State militia. Congress having exercised the power conferred by the Constitution to provide for organizing the militia, which is liable to be called forth to be employed in the service of the United States, and is thus in some sense under the control of the General Government, and is, moreover, of the greatest value to the public, the Executive order of the 17th January is not considered as prohibiting Federal officers from being officers of the militia in the States and Territories.

It has been asked whether the order prohibits persons holding office under the Federal Government being members of local or municipal fire departments; also whether it applies to mechanics employed by the day in the armories, arsenals, and navy-yards, etc., of the United States. Unpaid service in local or municipal fire departments is not regarded as an office within the intent of the Executive order, and may be performed by Federal officers, provided it does not interfere with the regular and efficient discharge of the duties of the Federal office, of which the head of the Department under which the office is held will in each case be the judge. Employment by the day as mechanics and laborers in the armories, arsenals, navy-yards, etc., does not constitute an office of any kind, and those thus employed are not within the contemplation of the Executive order. Master workmen and others who hold appointments from the Government or from any Department, whether for a fixed time or at the pleasure of the appointing power, are embraced within the operation of the order.

By order of the President:


Secretary of State.

Ulysses S. Grant, Executive Order Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/203631

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