In the early morning hours on this date in 1881, Vice President Chester Arthur was told of President James Garfield's death a few hours before. Garfield had been shot in July, but lingered for two months. During those two months, Arthur made himself a recluse, trying to avoid accusations of complicity in Garfield's death, while at the same time avoiding the image of usurping the office before Garfield had died. Most of that time, he spent in his home in New York City.
Learning of Garfield's death, Arthur was sworn in as the 21st President about one in the morning. Realizing that, with Congress not in session, there was no President pro tem of the Senate (the Constitutional successor to the Vice President) or Speaker of the House (next in line), Arthur feared a possible interregnum if something were to happen to him. He drafted a proclamation calling the Senate into special session, and sent it to the White House.
Once safely in Washington, Arthur destroyed the proclamation, called the Senate into session, and took the oath of office again on the 22nd, with Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite administering.