Messages and Papers of Grover Cleveland

Author: Grover Cleveland

Special Order.


Washington, November 25, 1885.

The President of the United States announces the death of Vice-President Thomas A. Hendricks in the following order:

[For order see preceding page.]

In pursuance of the foregoing order, it is hereby directed that upon the day following the receipt of this the ensign at each United States naval station and of each United States naval vessel in commission be hoisted at half-mast from sunrise to sunset, and that thirteen guns be fired at sunrise, nineteen minute guns at meridian, and a national salute at sunset at each United States naval station and on board flagships and vessels acting singly, at home or abroad.

The officers of the Navy and Marine Corps will wear the usual badge of mourning for three months.


Secretary of the Navy.

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, 1833, the following rules for the regulation and improvement of the executive civil service are hereby amended and promulgated so as to read as follows:


1. All officials connected with any office where or for which any examination is to take place will give the Civil Service Commission and the chief examiner such information as may be reasonably required to enable the Commission to select competent and trustworthy examiners; and the examinations by those selected as examiners, and the work incident thereto, will be regarded as a part of the public business to be performed at such office, and with due regard to other parts of the public business said examiners shall be allowed time during office hours to perform the duties required of them.

2. It shall be the duty of every executive officer promptly to inform the Commission, in writing, of the removal or discharge from the public service of any examiner in his office, or of the inability or refusal of any such examiner to act in that capacity; and, on the request of the Commission, such officer shall thereupon name not less than two persons serving under him whom he regards as most competent for a place on an examining board, stating generally their qualifications; and from all those who may be named for any such place the Commission shall select a person to fill the same.


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, and no person not absolutely appointed or employed after probation shall be admitted to an examination within one year 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 requiring special qualifications, and with the consent in writing of the head of the Department under which he is enlisted.

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 proper cases, and for the appropriatecertification 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. Every regular application must be supported by proper certificates of good moral character, health, and physical and mental capacity for doing the public work, the certificates to be in such form and number as the regulations of the Commission shall provide; but no certificate will be received which is inconsistent with the tenth section of the civil-service act.

2. No one shall be examined for admission to the classified postal service if under 16 or over 35 years of age, excepting messengers, stampers, and other junior assistants, who must not be under 14 years of age, or to the classified customs service or to the classified departmental service if under 18 or over 45 years of age; but no one shall be examined for appointment to any place in the classified customs service, except that of clerk or messenger, who is under 21 years of age; but these limitations of age shall not apply to persons honorably discharged from the military or naval service of the country who are otherwise duly qualified.


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 for any right of preference and to the apportionments 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 a special register he need not be certified for the former, except 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. Subject to the other provisions of this rule, persons eligible on any register shall be entitled to three certifications only to the same officer, but with his request in writing there may be a fourth certification of such persons to him when reached in order. No one shall remain eligible for more than one year upon any register, except as may be provided by regulation; 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 be admitted to another examination without the consent of the Commission.

5. Any person appointed to or employed in any place in the classified service who shall be dismissed or separated therefrom without fault or delinquency on his part may be reappointed or reemployed in the same Department or office, at a grade for which no higher examination is required than that for the position he last held, within one year next following such dismissal or separation, without further examination, on such certification as the Commission may provide.


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 andcapacity of the person appointed have been found satisfactory to the officer having the duty of selection, 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 reports 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 hint 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 refusing to certify such person or for the removal or discharge of such person during his probation or thereafter.


There are excepted from examination the following: (1) The confidential clerk or secretary of any head of a 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, and disbursing officers having the custody of money who give 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, but medical examiners are not included among such persons; (8) chief clerks, deputy collectors, deputy naval officers, deputy surveyors of customs, 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, which examination shall not take place within six months after entering the service. promotions may be made without examination in offices where examinations are not now held until rules on the subject shall be promulgated.


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; with this exception, that any person who shall have been an officer for one year or more last preceding in any Department or office, in a grade above the classified service thereof, may be transferred or appointed to any place in the service of the same without examination.

2. No 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 shall 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.

3. But a person who has passed the examination under said clause 1, 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.

4. 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 1 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 six months 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; and any person who has for three years last preceding served as a clerk in the office of the President of the United States may be transferred or appointed to any place in the classified service without examination.

Approved, November 27, 1885.




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Chicago: Grover Cleveland, "Special Order.," Messages and Papers of Grover Cleveland in James D. Richardson, Ed., a Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Grover Cleveland (U.S. Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), 8:5429-5437 4907–4908. Original Sources, accessed July 17, 2024,

MLA: Cleveland, Grover. "Special Order." Messages and Papers of Grover Cleveland, in James D. Richardson, Ed., a Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Grover Cleveland (U.S. Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), 8:5429-5437, pp. 4907–4908. Original Sources. 17 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Cleveland, G, 'Special Order.' in Messages and Papers of Grover Cleveland. cited in , James D. Richardson, Ed., a Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Grover Cleveland (U.S. Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), 8:5429-5437, pp.4907–4908. Original Sources, retrieved 17 July 2024, from