Miller Center

Presidential Key Events

Chester A. Arthur

 

Chester A. Arthur - 03/04/1881: Arthur Becomes Vice President
Arthur takes office as vice president in the presidential administration of James Garfield. March 04, 1881

Chester A. Arthur - 07/02/1881: Garfield Shot
President Garfield is shot in Washington by Charles Julius Guiteau, a deranged, disappointed office seeker. July 02, 1881

Chester A. Arthur - 09/19/1881: Garfield Dies
President Garfield dies from injuries sustained in the attack. September 19, 1881

Chester A. Arthur - 09/20/1881: Arthur Becomes President
Arthur is sworn in as President of the United States. September 20, 1881

Chester A. Arthur - 09/22/1881: Arthur Inaugurated
Arthur formally takes the oath of office in Washington, DC. September 22, 1881

Chester A. Arthur - 11/14/1881: Guiteau Trial Begins
The murder trial of Charles Guiteau begins. He will be convicted on January 25, 1882, and executed on June 30, 1882. November 14, 1881

Chester A. Arthur - 12/15/1881: Secretary of State Resigns
Secretary of State James G. Blaine resigns due to political differences between himself and President Arthur. December 15, 1881

Chester A. Arthur - 02/28/1882: Congress Ties Representation to Census
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. February 28, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 03/04/1882: Star-Route Scandal
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 04, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 03/16/1882: Geneva Convention Ratified
The Senate ratifies the Geneva Convention of 1864 for the care of wounded war personnel. March 16, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 03/22/1882: Edmunds Act Passes
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. March 22, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 04/04/1882: Chinese Exclusion Act Vetoed
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. April 04, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 05/06/1882: Chinese Exclusion Act Revised
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 06, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 05/15/1882: Arthur Appoints Tariff Commission
Arthur approves a bill to appoint a tariff commission; the commission eventually recommends tariff reductions. May 15, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 05/22/1882: U.S. Recognizes Korean Independence
The United States recognizes the independence of Korea, although Korea's future is uncertain because of Chinese, Russian, and Japanese manipulations. May 22, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 07/01/1882: Steamboat Safety Bill Vetoed
Arthur vetoes the Carriage of Passengers at Sea Bill, a steamboat safety bill, claiming that it contains several major technical errors. July 01, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 08/01/1882: River and Harbor Act Vetoed
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 01, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 08/01/1882: Physician Keeps President’s Disease Secret
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. August 01, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 09/11/1882: Star-Route Trial Concludes
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. September 11, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 11/07/1882: Midterm Elections
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). November 07, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - 01/16/1883: Civil Service Reform Act
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. January 16, 1883

Chester A. Arthur - 03/03/1883: Mongrel Tariff Act Passes
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 03, 1883

Chester A. Arthur - 03/03/1883: Arthur Increases Naval Funds
Recognizing the disgraceful state of the U.S. Navy, Arthur signs a bill appropriating funds for the Navy's first steel vessels. March 03, 1883

Chester A. Arthur - 05/24/1883: Brooklyn Bridge Opens
President Arthur and New York Governor Grover Cleveland attend the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. May 24, 1883

Chester A. Arthur - 06/14/1883: Second Star-Route Case Concludes
The court renders a verdict in the second Star-Route case. All nine defendants are found not guilty. June 14, 1883

Chester A. Arthur - 09/18/1883: Korean Ambassadors Visit
Arthur receives Korean ambassadors in New York. September 18, 1883

Chester A. Arthur - 10/29/1883: U.S.-Luxembourg Treaty
The United States and Luxembourg conclude an extradition treaty in New York. October 29, 1883

Chester A. Arthur - 12/21/1883: Arthur Celebrates Washington
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. December 21, 1883

Chester A. Arthur - 03/13/1884: Standard Time Established
The United States participates in an international conference establishing standard time. March 13, 1884

Chester A. Arthur - 03/26/1884: Arthur Requests Funds for Navy
In a special message to Congress, Arthur asks the legislature to appropriate funds for naval reconstruction work. March 26, 1884

Chester A. Arthur - 05/13/1884: Test Oath Repealed
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 13, 1884

Chester A. Arthur - 05/17/1884: Alaskan Government Act Passes
Congress passes an act regarding civil government in Alaska. The territory had been ceded to the United States by Russia in an 1867 treaty. May 17, 1884

Chester A. Arthur - 06/06/1884: Republican National Convention
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 06, 1884

Chester A. Arthur - 06/27/1884: Bureau of Labor Established
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. June 27, 1884

Chester A. Arthur - 07/01/1884: Proclamation Against Settlement in Oklahoma
Arthur issues a proclamation warning people not to settle on Oklahoma lands. July 01, 1884

Chester A. Arthur - 07/04/1884: Statue of Liberty Presented
France presents the United States with the Statue of Liberty at a ceremony held in Paris. July 04, 1884

Chester A. Arthur - 07/11/1884: Democratic National Convention
The Democratic National Convention meets in Chicago, nominating Grover Cleveland and Thomas A. Hendricks for President and vice president, respectively. July 11, 1884

Chester A. Arthur - 11/04/1884: Cleveland Defeats Blaine
In the federal presidential election, Grover Cleveland defeats James G. Blaine. November 04, 1884

Chester A. Arthur - 11/12/1884: U.S.-Mexico Convention
The United States and Mexico conclude a convention on their shared territorial boundary. November 12, 1884

Chester A. Arthur - 02/21/1885: Washington Monument Dedicated
The Washington Monument is dedicated in Washington, D.C. February 21, 1885

Chester A. Arthur - 02/25/1885: Public Land Fencing Prohibited
Congress passes an act prohibiting the fencing of public lands in the west. February 25, 1885

Chester A. Arthur - 02/26/1885: Contract Labor Law Passes
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. February 26, 1885

Chester A. Arthur - 03/04/1885: Cleveland Inaugurated
Grover Cleveland is inaugurated as the twenty-second President of the United States. March 04, 1885

Chester A. Arthur - Opening of the Brooklyn Bridge

On May 24, 1883, President Chester Arthur and New York Governor Grover Cleveland participated in the ceremonial opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge was the first bridge to be built across the East River linking New York City and Brooklyn. The bridge was an engineering marvel, utilizing numerous construction techniques that had never before been attempted on such a massive scale.

The original designer, John Roebling, died of an infection caused by an injury he received only days after having secured permission to begin his project. His son Washington took over, supervising the construction project that took thirteen years and more than $15 million to complete (three times as long and twice as expensive as had been anticipated). By the end of the project, Washington Roebling's health had deteriorated considerably. He, along with many of those involved in the project, had contracted decompression sickness because of working in the caissons used to form the foundations of the bridge towers. It is estimated that more than twenty men were killed during the construction of the bridge, although records are debatable.

Prior to the Brooklyn Bridge opening celebration, President Arthur's health had been deteriorating. (He suffered from Bright's disease, a then-fatal kidney ailment.) Still, the crowd of people who showed up for the event were unaware, and the President received a spectacular welcome. Arthur and Governor Cleveland walked across the bridge along with the 7th regiment as part of the celebration. Later that day, both personally congratulated Washington Roebling.

When the Brooklyn Bridge opened, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world and one of the most revolutionary structures of the era. It remains a symbol of engineering prowess.

May 24, 1883