President James Garfield had to face the Star Route scandal in 1881 during his six months of holding office at the White House, just before his assassination. The scandal involved corruption within the postal service in the United States. As per the news, U.S. Postal employees and top officials received bribes for issuing delivery contracts within the western and southern areas. Extracted from the postal registry designation, the Congress had designed these inland mail routes on March 3, 1845. These were named Star Routes. Due to quick urbanization and development of the southern and western U.S. regions, these became highly relevant trade passages.

The Star Route scheme was a lucrative deal for postal officials and those involved in making high illicit profits, mainly due to ill-designed postal laws and statues. Private firms at the time used these star routes for trade in the west and gave the postal officials a low bid. However, when these were presented to Congress, the officials asked for high rates. At the helm of this scandal was the ring that consisted of contractors, brokers, and appointed postal officials. The corruption entailed contractors making low bids (straw bids) for these routes while those in the ring extremely high ones. Using a series of default bid patterns, the contractor would get the contract at a very high rate, and the profits would be divided amongst the ring heads. It was found later that the scheme led to the depletion of millions from the national treasury.

The investigation began in early 1872 in Ulysses S. Grant’s presidency. While the results of this investigation were fabricated through bribery, those from the 1876 probe led to the shutdown of the star route scheming temporarily. After a resurgence of the frauds in 1878, the investigation during President Hayes led to a complete stop, as the officials disallowed the issuance of star route contracts. In 1883, the postal ring was entirely shut down, which also led to the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act in the same year.