21st President of the United States- Chester Alan Arthur

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Chester A. Arthur




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-Chester Alan Arthur (1829-1886), became president after James A. Garfield died from an assassin's bullet. Arthur was the fourth vice president to succeed to the presidency upon the death of a chief executive.


-Boyhood. Chester Alan Arthur was born on Oct. 5, 1829, in Fairfield, Vermont. He was the first son in a family of six girls and three boys. His father, William, had come to the United States from Northern Ireland. The elder Arthur was a teacher and Baptist minister. Chester's mother, Malvina Stone Arthur, grew up on her father's Vermont farm. Like many other rural ministers, William Arthur seldom stayed long at any one post. The family moved to various villages in Vermont and upstate New York.


-Legal career. At the age of 18, Arthur graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York. He began studying law and at the same time taught school. In 1854, he became a partner in a New York City law firm. Arthur soon became known as a defender of the civil rights of blacks. The young lawyer won a case in 1855 that established the right of blacks to ride on any streetcar in New York City.


-Arthur's family. On Oct. 25, 1859, Arthur married Ellen Lewis Herndon (Aug. 30, 1837-Jan. 12, 1880), the daughter of a naval officer. The couple had two sons and a daughter, but the older boy died at the age of 21/2. Mrs. Arthur died about 10 months before Arthur was elected vice president, leaving him with their children, Chester, Jr., and Ellen.


-Political growth. In 1854, Arthur attended a meeting that led to the creation of a Republican Party in New York. Edwin D. Morgan, a Republican, became governor of New York in 1859, and Republican friends of Arthur's got him a position on Morgan's staff. Morgan soon named Arthur state engineer-in-chief with the rank of brigadier general. After the Civil War began in 1861, Morgan put Arthur in charge of outfitting the New York militia for federal service. The governor appointed Arthur inspector general of the militia early in 1862 and later that year appointed him state quartermaster-general.


-Custom house collector. During the late 1860's, Arthur became an associate of Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York. Conkling was the leader of the New York Republican organization. To help this machine, President Ulysses S. Grant in 1871 appointed Arthur collector of the New York Custom House.


-Election of 1880. At the Republican National Convention of 1880, Conkling's machine supported former President Grant for a third term. However, the convention nominated Senator-elect James A. Garfield of Ohio. The delegates then nominated Arthur for vice president in hope of receiving support from Grant's followers. Garfield and Arthur defeated their Democratic opponents, General Winfield Scott Hancock and former Congressman William H. English of Indiana.


-Opposition to Garfield. Arthur soon found himself in the middle of a quarrel between President Garfield and Senator Conkling. Conkling demanded that Garfield consult him on all federal appointments in New York. He became furious when Garfield named James G. Blaine, Conkling's chief political enemy, as secretary of state and another old political opponent as collector of the New York Custom House.


-Assassination of Garfield. Garfield never had a chance to enjoy the benefits of his victory over Senator Conkling. He was shot by Charles J. Guiteau on July 2, 1881, and died on September 19. Arthur took the presidential oath in his home in New York City at 2:15 a.m. the next day.


-Life in the White House. Arthur thought the White House looked like "a badly kept barracks," and ordered it renovated. During his first months as president, he lived in the Washington home of Senator John P. Jones of Nevada. Arthur moved into the redecorated White House on Dec. 7, 1881. The president, whose wife had died in 1880, asked his youngest sister, Mrs. Mary A. McElroy, to serve as his hostess. She won wide praise for her warm hospitality.


About a year after Arthur became president, he learned that he was dying of a kidney disease called glomerulonephritis, or Bright's disease. Arthur often suffered great pain but kept his illness a secret.


-Election of 1884.  Because of his illness, Arthur quietly discouraged friends from working to help him win the Republican presidential nomination in 1884. He received about a third of the votes for the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Former Secretary of State James G. Blaine won the nomination, but he lost the presidential election to Cleveland.


-Later years Arthur returned to New York City after leaving the presidency. His health steadily declined, and he died of a cerebral hemorrhage on Nov. 18, 1886. Arthur was buried beside his wife in the Rural Cemetery at Albany, New York.


Works Cited:


Reeves, Thomas C."Arthur, Chester Alan." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2013.  



Has any president not liked living in the White House?  

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