|Date||March 4, 1881|
|Participants||President of the United States, James A. Garfield|
Morrison R. Waite
Chester A. Arthur
The inauguration of James A. Garfield as the 20th President of the United States was held on Friday, 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.