US Presidents
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U.S. Presidents
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James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant
Rutherford B. Hayes
James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
William H. Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard M. Nixon
Gerald R. Ford
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
George Bush
Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
Barack Obama


Key Dates

1829 Arthur was born in Fair Field, Vermont.

1848 Chester Arthur graduated from Union College.

1854 Arthur works as a law clerk for antislavery lawyer, Erastus Culver.

1856 Arthur moves to Kansas to support the antislavery group. He returns to New York after a few months.

1859 Arthur was appointed customs collector for the port of New York.

1859 Chester Arthur married Ellen Lewis Herndon.

1861-63 Arthur serves chief engineer and then quarter master general in the Civil War.

1863, July, William Arthur, Chester's only son died.

1871 Due to Conklin's patronage, Arthur is appointed collector of the New York Custom house by President Grant.

1880 Arthur was a surprise vice presidential candidate.

1881 Garfield was assassinated and Chester Arthur becomes President.

1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. The acts blocks Chinese immigration to the U.S. for ten years.

1883 Arthur signed the Pendleton Act. The act addresses civil reform.

1883 U.S. acquired the naval station at Pearl Harbor.

1884 The Republicans didn't nominate Chester Arthur for another term.

1886 Chester Arthur died. He was 57.



Chester A. Arthur
1881 - 1885
21st President

His father was an Irish immigrant from Dreen and his mother's family was of Ulster ancestry.

Chester Alan Arthur was born in North Fairfield, Vermont on October 5, 1830. He was the first President born in Vermont.

He was one of two Presidents born in Vermont. (Coolidge was also born in Vermont.)

Arthur's father was a Baptist minister. They moved many times in the early days of his father's ministry. Arthur got his hatred of slavery from his father.

He attended Union College in Schenectady.

After Arthur graduated he taught school for several years. Then he became a law clerk and then a lawyer.

In 1844, he had his first political job. He stood on a street cornet and yelled out the name an qualifications of candidate Henry Clay who was running for office.

He was 6' 2" tall and weighed 220 pounds.

Arthur could play the banjo.

Chester Arthur worked as a teacher for a short period.

He had both a mustache and long sideburns.

Ellen Lewis Herdon and Chester Arthur were married on October 25, 1859 in New York City. Arthur called his wife Nell.

His wife supported the South during the Civil War.



He was often called "Elegant Arthur" for the clothes he wore. He had eighty pairs of trousers. Like President Kennedy, Arthur was known to change his clothes several times a day.

Chester Arthur served in the Civil War. He worked as a quarter master, providing food and equipment for the troops. He earned the rank of brigadier general.

His son died when he was two and half years old. He got an infection that caused inflammation of the brain.

Chester A. Arthur, 1882. Bell, C. M. (Charles Milton), ca. 1849-1893,
photographer. Library of Congress
(Click for Larger Image.)

He as a good lawyer and worked on several civil rights cases. One example is when he represented Lizzie Jennings, an African American woman. She sued for the right to ride on city streetcars in New York City. They won the case.

Chester A. Arthur was a Republican.

Arthur also the customs collector for the Port of New York. It doesn't seem like much but it was the largest federal office in the country. He was paid $12,000.00 year. In addition, he got paid part of the value of smuggled goods he stopped from coming into the U.S. He earnings for one year were over $50,000.

He was charged with bribery and mishandling federal funds but never convicted.

Chester A. Arthur only ran for one elected office, Vice President.

He never planned on running for vice president. In 1880, Garfield was chosen after a long debate in the Republican Convention. Garfield was chosen on the 36th round of voting. He had to make a quick decision about who to choose for vice president. Garfield decided on Arthur because he needed to win New York in the election.

Chester Arthur took office after the assassination of James Garfield. He was one of four Presidents to take office after an assassination. Arthur was so upset he locked the doors to his library and cried. He was sworn in by a New York judge at 2:15 a.m. on September 20, 1881.

Arthur went to Elberon, New Jersey to escort the funeral party to Washington, D.C.

Arthur received a series of letters from Julia Sand. Julia gave advice to Garfield about his presidency. He took her advice to heart even though he had never met her. He did later visit her home.

Previous to being president Arthur was a political appointment in New York. He followed the wishes of his boss and was involved in some corrupt acts. When he became president he rose to the occasion. He would talk to his old boss and ran a clean administration.

Arthur never had a Vice President.

When he became president some people didn't treat him with respect. One time a group of delegates came to his office and put their feet up on his desk and called him "Chet." He told them that he was president an they should remove their feet and address him as "Mr. President."

His younger sister, Mary McElroy served as his "First Lady."

Arthur tried to maintain the elegant life he had in New York City. He hired a French chef and had the interior of the White House redesigned. Tiffany did the decorating.

He had a new carriage built. The New York times said it was "the finest which has ever appeared in the streets of the capital.

The Pendleton Civil Service Act is the most important piece of legislation passed during his administration. The goal of the act was to stop corruption in the government by creating Civil Service tests to get jobs in the government and to evaluate federal employees.

This president spent his last years in office knowing he could very well die of Bright's disease before his term ended. He knew that the more active he was the greater his chance of succumbing to the disease and yet he even made a halfhearted attempt to gain his party's nomination for another term.

On May 24, 1883 Arthur and the mayors of New York and Brooklyn inaugurated the Brooklyn Bridge. The crowds were large and several people were trampled in the first crossing of the bridge.

In 1883, President Arthur took a long trip to western United Sates. I was rumored that some cowboys had a plan to kidnap him and ask for a ransom of $500,00 for his return. The kidnapping plot was never confirmed and did not take place. The highlight of the trip was when Arthur caught a 35 pound trout.

Chester Arthur dedicated the Washington Monument on February 27, 1885.

President Arthur survived his nearly 4 years in office and did not die until a year and a half later, in 1886.

That same year his Bright's disease started to take his toll. He was told he only had a few months to live.

Chester A. Arthur died on November 18, 1886 in New York, New York. He was 56 years and 44 days old. He is buried in rural Cemetery in Albany, N. Y.

President Arthur's Grave

Due to his short term, there were three Presidents in 1881. Hayes, Garfield, and Chester. This had also happened in 1841 with Van Buren, Harrison, and Tylor.

Quotes:

"I may be President of the United States, but my private life is nobody's damned business."

"Well, there doesn't seem to be anything else for an ex-president to do but go into the country and raise pumpkins."

"Arthur's presidency has unquestionably been more satisfactory than expected." New York Times.

Topics


NEW Facts about the Inaugurations

Nicknames for the Presidents

First Ladies

Presidents who died in office

Assassinations and Assassination Attempts

Vice Presidents who became Presidents

Presidential Salaries

Oldest living Presidents

Presidents' Military Service

Preidential Timeline of Key Dates

Books about U.S. President

Pets of the Presidents

Chronlogical (by Year) Order
Of the Presidents.



 

Sources:

The Presidents of the United States. 22 September 2004: http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/

Davis, Gibbs and Ilus. David A. Johnson. Wackiest White House Pets. New York: Scholastic Press, October 2004

James, Barber and Amy Pastan. Smithsonian Presidents and First Ladies. New York: DK Publishing, 2002

Kane, Joseph Natan. Facts about the Presidents from Washington to Johnson. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1964.

McCullough, Noah, The Essential Book of Presidential Trivia. Random House, USA, 2006

Pine, Joslyn, Presidential Wit and Wisdom: Memorable Quotes from George Washington to Barack Obama . Dover Publications, Mineola, New York, 2009

Huffington Post web site.

Lang, Stephen, The Complete Book of Presidential Trivia, Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, 2011

O'Reilly, Bill, and Dugard, Martin, Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2011

St. George, Judith In the Line of Fire: Presidents' Lives at Stake , Scholastic Inc. New York, 2001

In addition to these books, I have also read and have used information from those listed on my Books About President page.

 

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, January 15, 2013

For comments or corrections email jim@anewadventure.org.