Inauguration of Chester A. Arthur

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Presidential Inauguration of Chester Arthur
Arthur being administered the oath of office as President by Judge John R. Brady at his home in New York City after President Garfield's death, September 20, 1881.
Date September 20, 1881; 141 years ago (1881-09-20)
Location New York City
123 Lexington Avenue residence
Participants Chester A. Arthur

The inauguration of Chester A. Arthur as the 21st President of the United States took place on September 20, 1881. The inauguration marked the commencement of the term of Chester A. Arthur as President, following the death of President James A. Garfield. It was the fourth emergency swearing-in to take place during the 19th century, and the first inauguration to take place in New York City since George Washington's first inauguration in 1789.

Garfield shot

On July 2, 1881 President Garfield was shot in the back by Charles J. Guiteau, who shouted: "I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts... Arthur is president now!" Arthur, who knew nothing of this in advance, was mortified.[1]

Eighty day crisis

Vice President Arthur was cautious; he knew that there were a great number of people who thought that he had something to do with the attempted murder of the President, and didn't want anything to do with succession until it was actually necessary; in fact, he went into seclusion, largely confining himself to his house in New York City and avoiding public appearances. Thus, for two months and 18 days, the country drifted, leaderless, hanging on every reported detail of Garfield's health without much attention to the business of government. On September 19, 1881, Garfield died and Arthur succeeded to the Presidency.[2]

Assumption of office

Arthur was at home near midnight on the night of September 19, 1881 with Police Commissioner Stephen B. French, District Attorney Daniel G. Rollins, and attorney Elihu Root, when he learned in a telegram from members of Garfield's cabinet that Garfield had died. The cabinet members wired President Arthur their advice that he should “take the oath of office as president of the United States without delay.”

It was after midnight when Arthur and his guests dispatched messengers to locate a judge who could administer the presidential oath. The first jurist who could be located in the early morning hours of September 20 was John R. Brady. At about 2 A.M. Brady administered the oath of office to Arthur in Arthur's private apartment at 123 Lexington Avenue in New York City. After traveling to Washington, D.C., Arthur was inaugurated again two days later by Chief Justice of the United States Morrison R. Waite in a public Capitol Hill ceremony.[3]

Also see


  1. Barzman, Sol (1974). Madmen and geniuses: The vice-presidents of the United States (1st ed.). Follett. ISBN 978-0-695-80487-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Burns, Roger (2000). Almost History: Close Calls, Plan B's, and Twists of Fate in America's Past (1st ed.). Hyperion. ISBN 978-0-7868-6663-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. President Chester Alan Arthur, 1881, United States Senate<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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