James A. Garfield served only four months in office before being shot by a disappointed office seeker in July 1881. The bulk of his time and energy as president had been devoted to patronage battles with Roscoe Conkling. The vice president, Chester A. Arthur, remained largely out of public view as Garfield's condition worsened. The president died on September 19 and Arthur took the oath of office the following day.
Major events during Arthur's tenure included civil service reform, the Star Route Frauds, the Mongrel tariff, internal improvement waste, anti-polygamy legislation, Chinese immigration legislation, and modernization of the navy.