Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885)

Chester A. ArthurChester Alan Arthur (October 5, 1829 - November 18, 1886) was an American politician who served as the twenty-first President of the United States. Arthur was a member of the Republican Party and worked as a lawyer before becoming the twentieth vice president under James Garfield. While Garfield was mortally wounded by Charles Guiteau on July 2, 1881, he did not die until September 19, at which time Arthur was sworn in as president, serving until March 4, 1885.

Before entering politics, Arthur was a member of the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party and a political protégé of Roscoe Conkling, rising to Collector of Customs for the Port of New York. He was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant but was fired by the succeeding Rutherford B. Hayes under suspicion of bribery and corruption.

To the indignation of the Stalwarts, the onetime Collector of the Port of New York became, as President, a champion of civil service reform. Avoiding old political cronies and alienating his old mentor Conkling, public pressure, heightened by the assassination of Garfield, forced an unwieldy Congress to heed the President. Arthur's primary achievement was the passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. The passage of this legislation earned Arthur the moniker "The Father of Civil Service" and a very favorable reputation among historians.

Publisher Alexander K. McClure wrote, "No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired… more generally respected." Author Mark Twain, deeply cynical about politicians, conceded, "It would be hard indeed to better President Arthur's administration."¹

Quotes

"No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired ... more generally respected."

"Men may die, but the fabrics of free institutions remains unshaken."

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

"Since I came here I have learned that Chester A. Arthur is one man and the President of the United States is another."

Noteworthy Sites

¹ Chester A. Arthur - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Books on Chester A. Arthur
Biography of Chester A. Arthur
Essays on Chester Alan Arthur and His Administration
President Chester A. Arthur State Historic Sites

 


 
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