Inauguration of James A. Garfield

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Presidential Inauguration of James A. Garfield
Flickr - USCapitol - President James Garfield Inauguration.jpg
Date March 4, 1881; 136 years ago (1881-03-04)
Location Washington, D.C.
U.S. Capitol
Participants President of the United States, James A. Garfield
Assuming office
Chief Justice of the United States,
Morrison R. Waite
Administering oath
Vice President of the United States
Chester A. Arthur
Assuming office

The inauguration of James A. Garfield as the 20th President of the United States was held on March 4, 1881. The inauguration marked the commencement of James A. Garfield's only term as President and Chester A. Arthur's only term as Vice President. Garfield died 199 days into this term, and Arthur succeeded to the presidency. Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite administered the Oath of office.[1]


Garfield left his home in Mentor, Ohio, for Washington, D.C., on Monday, February 28, 1881.

In his address, Garfield denounced attempts to impede African-American suffrage, expressed his confidence in the gold standard, warned against the dangers of high rates of illiteracy, and admonished the practice of polygamy by members of the Mormon Church.[2] Garfield was recognized as an extremely competent public speaker, but faced difficulty when composing his inaugural address. Three days before his inauguration, he scrapped his speech and feverishly began work on a new one. Exhausted by several sleepless nights of writing, he delivered his rushed oration on March 4, but it failed to live up to the high expectations of many of those present.[3]

The "Statue of America" in the rotunda of the Arts and Industries Building.

Inaugural Ball[edit]

Garfield's inaugural ball was hosted the night of the inauguration in the Smithsonian Institution's Arts and Industries Building, completed earlier that year. The centerpiece of the celebration was a large "Statue of America" in the museum's rotunda, who held an electric light in her raised right hand.[4] The music at the event was directed by conductor John Philip Sousa, and performed by the Germania Orchestra of Philadelphia and the U.S. Marine Band.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Garfield, James A. James Abram Garfield's Inaugural Address. 
  3. ^ Rutkow, Ira (2006). James A. Garfield: The American Presidents Series: The 20th President, 1881. New York, NY: Times Books. p. 70. ISBN 9780805069501 – via Google Books. 
  4. ^ Bisceglio, Paul (January 15, 2013). "Party Like It's 1881: President Garfield's Inaugural Ball". Smithsonian. Retrieved December 22, 2016. 
  5. ^ Inaugural Ball Program, March 4, 1881. p. 9 – via Library of Congress. 

External links[edit]