American President A Reference Resource Key Events in the Presidency of Chester A. Arthur 1881 March 4, 1881 Arthur takes office as vice president in the presidential administration of James Garfield. July 2, 1881 President Garfield is shot in Washington by Charles Julius Guiteau, a deranged, disappointed office seeker. September 19, 1881 President Garfield dies from injuries sustained in the attack. September 20, 1881 Arthur is sworn in as President of the United States. September 22, 1881 Arthur formally takes the oath of office in Washington, DC. November 14, 1881 The murder trial of Charles Guiteau begins. He will be convicted on January 25, 1882, and executed on June 30, 1882. December 15, 1881 Secretary of State James G. Blaine resigns due to political differences between himself and President Arthur. 1882 February 28, 1882 Congress passes a bill mandating the use of the census for determining congressional representation, a move which increases the number of representatives in Congress to 325. March 4, 1882 Nine men are indicted for defrauding the government in a postal scam, an episode that becomes known as the Star-Route Scandal; the trial begins on June 1. March 16, 1882 The Senate ratifies the Geneva Convention of 1864 for the care of wounded war personnel. March 22, 1882 Congress passes the Edmunds Act, which excludes bigamists and polygamists from voting and holding office, and establishes a five-man "Utah commission" to supervise voting in the territory of Utah. April 4, 1882 Arthur vetoes the first Chinese Exclusion Act, which would have banned the immigration of Chinese laborers for twenty years and denied American citizenship to current Chinese residents; the veto greatly angers labor groups, who feel increasingly threatened by the influx of Chinese labor. May 6, 1882 A revised version of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which reduces the period of non-immigration to ten years but maintains the ban on Chinese citizenship, becomes law. The act will be renewed regularly into the twentieth century. May 15, 1882 Arthur approves a bill to appoint a tariff commission; the commission eventually recommends tariff reductions. May 22, 1882 The United States recognizes the independence of Korea, although Korea's future is uncertain because of Chinese, Russian, and Japanese manipulations. July 1, 1882 Arthur vetoes the Carriage of Passengers at Sea Bill, a steamboat safety bill, claiming that it contains several major technical errors. August 1, 1882 The President vetoes the River and Harbor Act, a pork-barrel piece of legislation that Arthur claimed would benefit only "particular localities;" Congress overrides the veto and passes the legislation the next day. August 1, 1882 Brode Herndon, Arthur's physician, writes in his private diary, "The President sick in body and soul." Arthur had been diagnosed that year with Bright's disease, a fatal kidney ailment; his health will deteriorate rapidly while being kept secret from the general public. September 11, 1882 The verdict in the Star-Route trial is rendered. Of the nine accused, only two minor defendants are found guilty. The foreman of the jury charges that a government agent attempted to bribe him, and the judge orders a retrial, to begin on December 7, 1882. November 7, 1882 In the midterm elections, Democrats gain 50 seats in the House giving them a 197-118 majority (ten remaining seats were filled by minor parties). In the Senate, Republicans take one seat and gain a 38-36 majority (with two seats filled by minor parties). 1883 January 16, 1883 Congress passes the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. The bill establishes a three-man Civil Service Commission and specifies rules for filling federal government positions according to a merit system. The number of Civil Service positions affected by the bill would later be expanded. March 3, 1883 Congress passes the so-called "Mongrel" Tariff Act, a complex tariff revision that reduces rates on various items by less than 2 percent; Arthur had lobbied Congress for a 20 to 25 percent cut on all items. The act establishes the Republicans as the party in favor of higher protective tariffs. March 3, 1883 Recognizing the disgraceful state of the U.S. Navy, Arthur signs a bill appropriating funds for the Navy's first steel vessels. May 24, 1883 President Arthur and New York Governor Grover Cleveland attend the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. June 14, 1883 The court renders a verdict in the second Star-Route case. All nine defendants are found not guilty. September 18, 1883 Arthur receives Korean ambassadors in New York. October 29, 1883 The United States and Luxembourg conclude an extradition treaty in New York. December 21, 1883 Arthur issues a proclamation recommending the observance of the 100th anniversary of General George Washington returning his commission as commander-in-chief to the Continental Congress. 1884 March 13, 1884 The United States participates in an international conference establishing standard time. March 26, 1884 In a special message to Congress, Arthur asks the legislature to appropriate funds for naval reconstruction work. May 13, 1884 Congress passes a bill repealing the 1862 test oath, which required office holders to swear they had never engaged in illegal or disloyal conduct. May 17, 1884 Congress passes an act regarding civil government in Alaska. The territory had been ceded to the United States by Russia in an 1867 treaty. June 6, 1884 The Republican National Convention meets in Chicago. Political opponent of the President and former secretary of state James G. Blaine defeats Arthur for the nomination; John A. Logan is selected as vice president. June 27, 1884 The United States Bureau of Labor is created within the Department of the Interior; an independent Department of Labor will not be created until 1913. July 1, 1884 Arthur issues a proclamation warning people not to settle on Oklahoma lands. July 4, 1884 France presents the United States with the Statue of Liberty at a ceremony held in Paris. July 11, 1884 The Democratic National Convention meets in Chicago, nominating Grover Cleveland and Thomas A. Hendricks for President and vice president, respectively. November 4, 1884 In the federal presidential election, Grover Cleveland defeats James G. Blaine. November 12, 1884 The United States and Mexico conclude a convention on their shared territorial boundary. 1885 February 21, 1885 The Washington Monument is dedicated in Washington, D.C. February 25, 1885Congress passes an act prohibiting the fencing of public lands in the west. February 26, 1885 Congress passes the Contract Labor Law, also known as the Foran Act, which virtually outlaws alien contract labor. The act is designed to ban companies from importing immigrant workers to break strikes and drive down wages. March 4, 1885 Grover Cleveland is inaugurated as the twenty-second President of the United States.