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


Portrait of Chester A. Arthur (National Archives)
Portrait of Chester A. Arthur (National Archives)


Chester Alan Arthur (October 5, 1830-November 18, 1886) was the 21st (1881-1885) President of the United States

Arthur became president when Garfield was assassinated. Before being chosen as Vice President, he had been collector of customs for the port of New York. As such, he was assumed to be benefiting from bribes and corruption. Hence many were surprised when he became an advocate of civil service reform and presided over the passage of the Pendleton Act.

Arthur was born in Fairfield, Franklin County, Vermont on October 5, 1829. He attended the public schools and was graduated from Union College, Schenectady, New York, in 1848. He became principal of an academy in North Pownal, Vt. in 1851. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1854, and commenced practice in New York City. He took an active part in the reorganization of the State militia.

During the Civil War, Arthur served as acting quartermaster general of the State in 1861. He was later commissioned as inspector general, and appointed quartermaster general with the rank of brigadier general, and served until 1862. He resumed the practice of law in New York City, and was appointed by President Ulysses Grant as collector of the port of New York 1871-1878.

In 1878 Arthur resumed the practice of law in New York City. He was elected Vice President of the United States on the Republican ticket with President James Garfield for the term beginning March 4, 1881. Upon the death of President Garfield, Arthur became President of the United States on September 20, 1881, and served until March 3, 1885. He returned to New York City where he died November 18, 1886;, Interment is in the Rural Cemetery in Albany, New York.

Major legislation passed during his Arthur's term:

  • 1882 - Signed the first Federal immigration law excluding paupers, criminals, and lunatics. Congress passed restrictions on Chinese immigration.
  • 1883 - Signed Pendleton Act establishing the Civil Service Commission
  • 1883 - Signed Tariff Act which lowered tariffs across the board.


 

 
Photographs and Documents of President Chester A. Arthur



Message of President Chester A. Arthur nominating Frederick F. Fielinghuysen to be Secretary of State, 12/12/1881 (National Archives)
Message of President Chester A. Arthur nominating Frederick F. Fielinghuysen to be Secretary of State, 12/12/1881 (National Archives)





American Indian reception of President Chester A. Arthur at Fort Washakie, Wyo. Terr.,1883 (National Archives)
American Indian reception of President Chester A. Arthur at Fort Washakie, Wyoming Territory, 1883. (National Archives)





Message of President Chester A. Arthur nominating Ulysses S. Grant to be General on the retired list of the Army, 03/03/1885 (National Archives)
Message of President Chester A. Arthur nominating Ulysses S. Grant to be General on the retired list of the Army, 03/03/1885 (National Archives)

 
Quick Facts about President Chester A. Arthur

Rank: 21st (1881-1885)
Followed: James Garfield
Succeeded by: Grover Cleveland
Date of Birth October 5, 1830
Place of Birth: Fairfield, Vermont
Date of Death: November 18, 1886
Place of Death: New York City, New York
First Lady: Ellen Lewis Herndon
Occupation: lawyer
Political Party: Republican
Vice President: None


 
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