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21st U.S. President: Chester A. Arthur

About the twenty-first President of the United States Chester A. Arthur, his birth, death, biography, description, facts and quotes.

21st President CHESTER ALAN ARTHUR

Born: October 5, 1830. Two towns in Vermont claim the honor of being his birthplace. His political opponents insisted that Arthur had actually been born in Canada, and some recent historians agree with them.

Died: November 18, 1886, New York City.

Career: A Phi Beta Kappa and graduate of Union College, schoolteacher in Vermont, law student, New York lawyer active in Republican politics. Appointed New York "engineer in chief" and kept New York troops supplied during Civil War. Chairman of the Republican State Executive Committee, collector of the port of New York.

Personal Life: At 29, Arthur married the socially prominent Nell Herndon. Nell's main interest outside her family was singing in New York's Mendelssohn Glee Club. When she died of pneumonia at 42, Arthur was inconsolable. He gave orders that her room should remain forever untouched.

His Person: He was 6'2" tall, with reddish brown hair, gray moustache and side-whiskers. Considered a handsome man and an elegant dresser. A lover of fine wines and good living, he usually spent 2 to 3 hours at the dinner table.

Election: Though he had never run for public office before, Arthur was nominated for Vice-President in 1880 in order to placate New York boss Roscoe Conkling. Many reform-minded Republicans, disgusted at his choice, wanted to devise some means of voting for Garfield without voting for Arthur.

Term of Office: September 19, 1881-March 4, 1885 (3 years, 166 days). Arthur succeeded to the Presidency on the death of President Garfield. In 1884, he tried for a term in his own right, but the Republican convention failed to nominate him.

Little-Known Facts: Arthur was appalled at the hodgepodge of furniture in the White House that greeted him when he became President. He refused to move in until 24 wagonloads of furniture (some of it priceless) had been auctioned off and the entire mansion redone in late Victorian style.

Quote from Arthur:

"The Office of Vice-President is a greater honor than I ever dreamed of attaining."

Quotes about Him:

"Chet Arthur, President of the U.S.! Good God!"--A New York political associate

"I can hardly imagine how he could have done better."--Henry Ward Beecher

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