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Chester A. Arthur — 21st President of the United States —

View full portraits at:
National Portrait Gallery or the White House Presidential Portrait Gallery

 

ELECTED FROM: New York
POLITICAL PARTY:
Republican
TERM:
September 20, 1881 to March 3, 1885

BORN: October 5, 1830, Fairfield, Vermont
BIRTHPLACE:
Orange, Ohio
DIED:
November 18, 1886, New York Buried in Albany, N.Y.
OCCUPATION:
Lawyer
MARRIED:
Ellen Herndon, 1859
CHILDREN:
Chester Jr., Nellie, William

Chester Alan Arthur became president after James A. Garfield was assassinated.

As a child, Arthur grew used to moving around as his preacher father transferred from parish to parish.After learning the basics of education at home from his father, Arthur enrolled in the Lyceum School in Schenectady at age 15. While there, he was editor of the school newspaper and took part in campus demonstrations to support Henry Clay for president. From there, he went on to Union College.

Arthur is perhaps best remembered as a supporter of the Pendleton Act of 1883, which called for the elimination of the spoils system, or favoritism, from much of the civil service. Instead of jobs being awarded because of friendships, the Pendleton Act helped ensure they were given on merit.

This came as a surprise to most people, since Arthur himself had risen up through the civil service system he was now regulating. He had held the position of Collector of New York, where he handled tariff revenues. But when he took the oath of office, he vowed to put favoritism behind him, and he did.

An avid fisherman, Arthur was the subject of many political cartoons of the day that poked fun at his many fishing trips.

Arthur lost a bid for the nomination of his party in 1885. He died at his home in New York City on November 18, 1885 from a kidney ailment.


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