Chester A. Arthur was a New York lawyer and politician who served as the 20th Vice President of the United States under President James Garfield and as the 21st President of the United States from 1881 to 1885 after Garfield’s assassination. Little remembered by most Americans, but to historians of the president he is largely viewed as an ineffective president plagued by problems related to the loot / sponsorship system he supports. William and Malvina Arthur who were immigrants from Canada. After graduating from Union College in 1848, Arthur worked as a teacher and attorney in New York State. Arthur married Ellen Herndon, originally from Virginia, in 1859; The couple would have three children.
He was named for the doctor who delivered him – Chester Abell.
Both of Arthur’s parents were Irish Protestant immigrants.
His dad was a clergyman.
Chester was first a member of the Whig Party and when that party became defunct he joined the Republican Party in the mid-1850s.
When Chet attended Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., he helped throw the school bell into the Erie Canal as a prank.
Arthur served in the Union Army during the American Civil War in administrative roles and never saw combat.
Another questionable deed during his time at college: he and some like-minded friends got into a brawl with James K. Polk supporters.
After the war, Arthur returned to New York and joined the Roscoe Conkling political machine, which essentially ran the Republican Party in the state.
After graduating, he took a job as the principal at the North Pownal Academy in Vermont, which was meeting in the basement of his father’s church at the time.
In 1870, Arthur was appointed by President Grant to run the Custom’s House in New York City.
Arthur was diagnosed with Bright’s Disease not long after he became president.
After the 1876 Presidential Election, Reconstruction was over and the dominant Republican Party split into the Stalwarts and so-called Half-Breeds or moderates: Arthur was a Stalwart.
He was a member of the ultra exclusive Ristigouche Salmon Club.
Although James Garfield was neither a Stalwart nor a Half-Breed when he won the Republican presidential nomination in 1880, he chose Stalwart Arthur as his running mate to gain that faction’s support.
He was once the president of the New York Arcade Railway Company.
The Garfield-Arthur ticket defeated the Democrat Party’s Winfield Hancock-William English ticket by only just over 7,000 votes in the popular count, but by fifty-nine votes in the Electoral College, where it really mattered.
His first son died suddenly when he was only three years old.
President Garfield’s assassin, Charles Guiteau, proclaimed “I am a Stalwart and Arthur will be president” before he shot the president on July 2, 1881.
His wife died of pneumonia the year before he became president.
President Garfield died on September 19 and took the oath of president at 2:19 am on September 20.
The federal government had a surplus during Arthur’s presidency.
He was in the habit of staying up until at least 2 a.m. every night.
Arthur was a major proponent of tariffs.
He had no vice president for his entire four-year term.
Perhaps the most important legislation that President Arthur signed into law was the Immigration Act of 1882 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which greatly restricted immigration from east Asia.
He was the first president to have a personal valet.
Arthur was the subject of the original “birther” controversy in 1880 when he was accused by his political opponents of being born in Ireland when he was the vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party.
Arthur owned at least 80 pairs of pants.
Arthur died on November 18, 1888 from the effects of a cerebral hemorrhage in New London, Connecticut at the age of fifty-seven. He was buried in a family plot in Menands, New York.