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; 136 years ago (1881-09-20)
Location 123 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York
Participants President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur
Assuming office
Judge John R. Brady
Administering oath

The inauguration of Chester A. Arthur as the 21st President of the United States was held on Tuesday, September 20, 1881, at 123 Lexington Avenue in New York City, New York,[1] following the death of President James A. Garfield the previous evening. The inauguration marked the commencement of Chester A. Arthur's only term (a partial term of 3 years, 165 days) as President. This was the fourth non-scheduled, extraordinary inauguration to take place during the 19th century, and was the first to take place in New York City since George Washington's first inauguration in 1789.

Garfield shot[edit]

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.[2]

Eighty day crisis[edit]

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.[3]

Assumption of office[edit]

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, a Justice of the New York Supreme Court. 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.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roberts, Sam (December 7, 2014). "Where a President Took the Oath, Indifference May Become Official". the New York Times. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  2. ^ Barzman, Sol (1974). Madmen and geniuses: The vice-presidents of the United States (1st ed.). Follett. ISBN 978-0-695-80487-9. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ President Chester Alan Arthur, 1881, United States Senate