until March 4: Rutherford B. Hayes (R-Ohio)
March 4–September 19: James A. Garfield (R-Ohio)
starting September 19: Chester A. Arthur (R-New York)
until March 4: William A. Wheeler (R-New York)
March 4–September 19: Chester A. Arthur (R-New York)
starting September 19: vacant
Chief Justice: Morrison Waite (originally from Connecticut; lived in U.S. state of Ohio)
Speaker of the House of Representatives: Samuel J. Randall (D-Pennsylvania) (until March 4), J. Warren Keifer (R-Ohio) (starting December 5)
Congress: 46th (until March 4), 47th (starting March 4)
January 25 – Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell form the Oriental Telephone Company.
February 2 – The Parkfield earthquake occurs.
February 5 – Phoenix, Arizona, is incorporated.
February 19 – Kansas becomes the first U.S. state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages.
March 4 – Inauguration of James A. Garfield as President of the United States.
April 11 – Spelman College is established.
April 14 – The Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight erupts in El Paso, Texas.
April 21 – The University of Connecticut is founded as the Storrs Agricultural School.
April 28 – Billy the Kid escapes from his 2 jailers at the Lincoln County Jail in Mesilla, New Mexico, killing James Bell and Robert Ollinger before stealing a horse and riding out of town.
The American Red Cross is established by Clara Barton.
The United States Tennis Association (USNLTA) is established by a small group of tennis club members; the first U.S. Tennis Championships are played this year.
June 12 – The USS Jeannette is crushed in an Arctic Ocean ice pack.
July 2 – Assassination of James A. Garfield: James A. Garfield, President of the United States, is shot by lawyer Charles J. Guiteau at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C. He survives the shooting but suffers from infection of his wound, dying on September 19.
July 4 – In Alabama, the Tuskegee Institute opens.
July 14 – Billy the Kid is shot and killed by Pat Garrett outside Fort Sumner.
July 20 – Indian Wars: Sioux chief Sitting Bull leads the last of his fugitive people in surrender to United States troops at Fort Buford in Montana.
August 27 – The fifth hurricane of the Atlantic season hits Florida and the Carolinas, killing about 700.
September 5 – The Thumb Fire in the U.S. state of Michigan destroys over a million acres (4,000 km²) and kills 282 people.
September 12 – Francis Howell High School (Howell Institute) in St. Charles, Missouri, and Stephen F. Austin High School in Austin, Texas open on the same day, putting them in a tie for the title of the oldest public high school west of the Mississippi River.
September 19 – U.S. President James A. Garfield dies eleven weeks after being shot. Vice President Chester A. Arthur becomes the 21st President of the United States.
October 5–December 31 – International Cotton Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia
October 26 – The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral occurs in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona, USA.
October 29 – Judge (U.S. magazine) is first published.
December 28 – Virgil Earp is ambushed in Tombstone and loses the use of his left arm.
New York City's oldest independent school for girls, the Convent of the Sacred Heart New York (91st Street), is founded.
Abilene, Texas is founded.
Minto, North Dakota is founded.
Gilded Age (1869–c. 1896)
January 8 – Henrik Shipstead, United States Senator from Minnesota from 1923 till 1947. (died 1960)
March 12 – Arthur Raymond Robinson, United States Senator from Indiana from 1925 to 1935. (died 1961)
August 12 – Cecil B. DeMille, American film director (died 1959)
October 10 – David Baird, Jr., United States Senator from New Jersey from 1929 till 1930. (died 1955)
November 20 – Arthur Marshall, ragtime composer and performer (died 1968)
December 16 – Daniel F. Steck, United States Senator from Iowa from 1926 till 1931. (died 1950)
June 18 – Henry Smith Lane, United States Senator from Indiana from 1836 to 1837 and from 1854 till 1858. (born 1811)
July 14 – Billy The Kid, American Old West gunfighter (born 1859)
August 10 – Orville Hickman Browning, United States Senator from Illinois from 1866 till 1869. (born 1806)
September 13 – Ambrose Burnside, Union Army general, railroad executive, inventor, industrialist, and Rhode Island Senator (born 1824)
September 15 – Susan May Williams, railroad heiress who married a nephew of Emperor Napoleon I. (born 1812)
September 19 – James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States from March to September 1881. (born 1831)
October 8 – Joseph Carter Abbott, United States Senator from North Carolina from 1868 till 1871. (born 1825)
November 23 – Abijah Gilbert, United States Senator from Florida from 1869 till 1875. (born 1806)
1881 in the United States Wikipedia
Events from the year 1881 in the United States.