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Biography

President Chester Arthur

President Chester A. Arthur
Chester A. Arthur
by Charles Milton Bell
Chester A. Arthur was the 21st President of the United States.

Served as President: 1881-1885
Vice President: none
Party: Republican
Age at inauguration: 51

Born: October 5, 1829 in Fairfield, Vermont
Died: November 18, 1886 in New York, New York

Married: Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur
Children: Chester, Ellen
Nickname: Elegant Arthur

Biography:

What is Chester A. Arthur most known for?

Chester Arthur is mostly known for becoming president when James Garfield was shot and killed by an assassin. He was chosen as vice president for political reasons and many people were shocked when he became president.

Growing Up

Chester was born in Fairfield, Vermont. His father was an immigrant from Ireland who worked as a preacher. Throughout his childhood, Chester's family moved quite a bit as his father moved from church to church. This was common for preachers in those days.

Chester Arthur liked fashionable clothing
Chester A. Arthur
Source: Library of Congress
A good student, Chester graduated from Union College in New York in 1848. He then studied law and worked as a teacher. In 1854 he passed the bar exam and became a lawyer.

The Abolitionist

Arthur was a strong abolitionist. This meant that he wanted the slaves to be set free and to see an end to slavery in the United States. He had a famous case as a lawyer where he represented an African American named Lizzie Jennings. Lizzie had been told she could not ride on a street car because she was black. He won the case and a new law was made in New York that said discrimination was not allowed on public transportation.

Before He Became President

In the 1850's Arthur became involved in politics. He didn't run for elected office, but was very involved with the Republican political party. He first worked as the quartermaster general for the troops of New York during the Civil War. Then he became the customs collector for the Port of New York City. As the customs collector he continued with the tradition of building up a powerful political base by awarding jobs to supporters.

Vice President

Arthur was nominated by the Republicans for vice president. He got the nomination primarily because of political reasons and as a favor to Arthur's powerful friend, Senator Roscoe Conkling. Arthur had never before held an elected office. His lack of experience made some people nervous, and they hoped that nothing would happen to President Garfield.

Chester A. Arthur's Presidency

Unfortunately, many people's worst fears came true when President Garfield was assassinated shortly after becoming president. The inexperienced Arthur was now president of the United States. He would have to learn on the job.

Some events and accomplishments of Arthur's presidency: All things considered, Arthur did a pretty good job as president. Most historians rank him somewhere in the middle of U.S. presidents.

How did he die?

Arthur found out that he had a fatal kidney disease prior to leaving the office of president. This is probably why he did not run for a second term. He died of kidney disease less than two years later.
Portrait of Chester Arthur - 21st US President
Chester A. Arthur
by Daniel Huntington


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