Chester Alan Arthur Facts

October 5, 1829 – November 18, 1886

Advertisements

Full Name

  • Chester Alan Arthur

Birth Date

  • October 5, 1829

Birth Location

  • North Fairfield, Vermont

Parents

  • William and Malvina (Stone) Arthur

Education

  • Union College, (Schenectady, N.Y.) (1848)

Occupation

  • Schoolteacher
  • Attorney
  • Politician

Career Summary

  • 21st U.S. President
  • Vice-president of the U.S.
  • Collector of the Port of New York

Spouse

  • Nell Arthur (October 29,1859)

Place of Death

  • New York City

Date of Death

  • November 18, 1886

Place of Burial

  • Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, New York

Significance

  • Chester Alan Arthur was the fifth of eight children, and the first son, born to William and Malvina (Stone) Arthur.
  • William Arthur, Chester Alan Arthur’s father, was an itinerant schoolteacher, Baptist minister, and the co-founder of the New York Anti-Slavery Society, who moved his family frequently where work could be found in Vermont and New York.
  • In 1844 Chester Alan Arthur studied for one year at the Lyceum School in Schenectady, N.Y.
  • Chester Alan Arthur graduated with honors from Union College, in Schenectady, N.Y., in 1848.
  • Reportedly not a diligent student, Arthur managed to excel in the classroom and graduated with honors in 1848.
  • After graduating from college, Chester Alan Arthur taught school as he prepared for a legal career in his free time.
  • In 1853 Chester Alan Arthur moved to New York City where he interned and studied law at the office of Erastus D. Culver.
  • In 1854, Chester Alan Arthur passed his examinations and was admitted to the New York bar.
  • Chester Alan Arthur’s strong anti-slavery views also prompted him to join the fledgling Republican Party.
    While living in New York, Arthur shared rented quarters with a medical student named Dabney Herndon. In 1857 the pair traveled to Saratoga, New York where Herndon introduced Arthur to his cousin Ellen who was visiting from Virginia. A year later, Arthur proposed to Ellen Herndon, who he referred to as Nell.
  • Chester Alan Arthur married Ellen Herndon, who he referred to as Nell, at Calvary Protestant Episcopal Church in New York on October 29, 1859. Their marriage produced one son, who died at age three, and another son and a daughter who grew to adulthood.
  • In 1857 Chester Alan Arthur joined the New York State Militia.
  • When the Civil War erupted in 1861, New York Governor Edwin Morgan appointed Chester Alan Arthur as engineer-in-chief of the New York State Militia, with the rank of brigadier general.
  • After receiving an appointment as a brigadier general during the Civil War, Chester Alan Arthur insisted on being referred to as “General Arthur” for the rest of his life.
  • In 1862 New York Governor Edwin Morgan promoted Chester Alan Arthur to inspector general of the New York State Militia in February and to quartermaster general in July.
  • Upon assuming office in 1863, New York, Horatio Seymour replaced Chester Alan Arthur with a member of the Democratic Party.
    On January 1, 1863, Chester Alan Arthur left the service.
  • Chester Alan Arthur suffered a personal tragedy in July 1863 when his two-and-one-half-year-old son William died unexpectedly.
  • After the Civil War, Chester Alan Arthur became a protégé of U.S. Senator Roscoe Conkling, head of the state Republican political machine.
  • In 1868 Republican Party leadership selected Chester Alan Arthur as chairman of the New York City Republican executive committee.
  • In 1871, at Senator Roscoe Conkling’s request, Republican President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Arthur to the lucrative position of Collector of the Port of New York.
  • Chester Alan Arthur used his authority as Collector of the Port of New York to reward Republican Party members with government jobs. In return, workers were expected to make affirm their loyalty to the party by making “voluntary” donations regularly.
  • Although Chester Alan Arthur championed the spoils system, there is little, if any, evidence that he personally benefited monetarily from practice.
  • Chester Alan Arthur’s income as collector (including bonuses for confiscating smuggled goods) initially exceeded the president’s $50,000 annual salary. That amount was later reduced to $12,000 when the bonus system was eliminated.
  • In 1875 President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Chester Alan Arthur to a second four-year term as Collector of the Port of New York.
  • In April 1877, Secretary of the Treasury, John Sherman, appointed a commission to investigate operations at the New York customhouse. The commission issued several reports that produced no evidence of criminal behavior on Chester Alan Arthur’s part.
  • In 1877 Chester Alan Arthur refused an offer from President Rutherford B. Hayes for an appointment as Ambassador to France in return for his resignation as Collector of the Port of New York.
  • President Rutherford B. Hayes removed Chester Alan Arthur as Collector of the Port of New York from his position as Collector of the Port of New York on July 11, 1878.
  • In September 1879 party leaders selected Chester Alan Arthur as Collector of the Port of New York as Chairman of the New York State Republican Executive Committee.
  • On January 12, 1880, Chester Alan Arthur’s wife Nell died unexpectedly of pneumonia in New York City.
  • Delegates to 1880 Republican National Convention selected Chester Alan Arthur as the party’s vice-presidential candidate.
  • During the 1880 presidential campaign, unfounded rumors emerged that Chester Alan Arthur was not born in the United States, thus making him ineligible for the office of vice-president.
  • On November 2, 1880, Chester Alan Arthur won the popular vote for vice-President of the United States by fewer than 2,000 votes of the nine million votes cast. His Electoral College margin of 214-155 was much more decisive.
  • Chester Alan Arthur took the vice-presidential oath of office on March 4, 1881.
  • Before his inauguration, Chester Alan Arthur and James Garfield became estranged over Garfield’s refusal to appoint Stalwart Republicans to federal offices.
  • Vice-President Chester Alan Arthur’s relationship with President James Garfield was so strained that Garfield banned Arthur from the White House.
  • On July 2, 1881, Arthur was in Albany attending to Republican Party business when he learned that Charles J. Guiteau, a disappointed office-seeker, had shot President James Garfield at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, DC.
  • As Charles J. Guiteau surrendered after the shooting President James Garfield, he stated “I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts! I did it and I want to be arrested! Arthur is President now!” Guiteau’s confession briefly led to baseless suspicions that Chester Alan Arthur or his supporters had instigated the crime.
  • After President James Garfield died on Monday, September 19, 1881, New York Supreme Court Justice John R. Brady administered the presidential oath of office to Chester Alan Arthur in the vice-president’s home at 2:15 the next morning.
  • On September 22, 1881, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite re-administered the presidential oath of office to Chester Alan Arthur to ensure full compliance with the Constitution.
  • Before moving into the White House, Chester Alan Arthur lavishly redecorated the presidential residency.
  • Just months after becoming president, Chester Alan Arthur’s doctor advised him that he was terminally ill with Bright’s disease, a nineteenth-century catchall term for what modern medicine recognizes as a variety of kidney ailments.
  • In January 1883 Chester Alan Arthur continued the civil service reform efforts of his predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes and James Garfield, by signing the Pendleton Act.
  • After signing the Pendleton Act, Chester Alan Arthur appointed the three-member of the Civil Service Commission with reformers.
  • In 1883 Chester Alan Arthur fought a losing battle with the Republican-controlled Congress to lower tariffs as a way to reduce a growing government surplus.
  • Chester Alan Arthur found himself at odds with Congress, as well as popular public sentiment, when he vetoed the Chinese Exclusion Act which would have established a twenty-nine-year ban on Chinese immigration.
  • At Chester Alan Arthur’s request, in October 1884 the International Meridian Conference convened in Washington, D.C. and established the Greenwich Meridian and international standardized time.
  • Riding a wave of political reform, delegates attending the 1884 Republican National Convention in Chicago snubbed incumbent President Chester Alan Arthur and selected Stalwart nemesis, James G. Blaine, as their presidential candidate.
  • In December 1884, Chester Alan Arthur marked the beginning of the age of electricity by pressing a button at the White House that turned on machinery at the North, Central and South American world’s fair in New Orleans.
  • On February 21, 1885, Chester Alan Arthur dedicated the Washington Monument.
  • On March 4, 1885, Chester Alan Arthur attended President Grover Cleveland’s inauguration and then quietly left Washington.
  • After leaving the White House, Chester Alan Arthur returned to New York, where he planned to resume his law practice. His deteriorating health soon limited his activity, however.
  • On Tuesday, November 16, 1886, Chester Alan Arthur directed his nephew, Charles E. McElroy, to burn “three large garbage cans, each at least four feet high,” of his personal papers.
  • During the evening of November 16, or the morning of November 17, Chester Alan Arthur suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and lapsed in and out of consciousness, unable to speak.
    Chester Alan Arthur died in his New York City home at 5:10 a.m. on Thursday, November 18, 1886, at the age of fifty-seven.
  • Chester Alan Arthur’s remains were buried alongside his wife at the Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York.
  • Chester Arthur was one of five U.S. presidents who was never elected to the office.
Advertisements

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Chester Alan Arthur Facts
  • Coverage October 5, 1829 – November 18, 1886
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 28, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
GET THE BEST OF AMERICAN HISTORY CENTRAL DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX!
SIGN UP
By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to receive news, offers, updates, and additional information from R.Squared Communications, LLC and American History Central. Easy unsubscribe links are included in every email.
CLOSE [X]