Chester A. Arthur
Overview
 
Chester Alan Arthur was the 21st President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1881–1885). Becoming President after the assassination of President James A. Garfield, Arthur struggled to overcome suspicions of his beginnings as a politician from the New York City Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 machine, succeeding at that task by embracing the cause of civil service reform.
Quotations

The extravagant expenditure of public money is an evil not to be measured by the value of that money to the people who are taxed for it.

Veto message of Rivers and Harbor Bill (1882)

I trust the time is nigh when, with the universal assent of civilized people, all international differences shall be determined without resort to arms by the benignant processes of civilization.

Second annual message (1882)

Experience has shown that the trade of the East is the key to national wealth and influence.

Veto message of Chinese Exclusion Act (1882).

Men may die, but the fabric of our free institutions remains unshaken.

Said upon the death of President Garfield.

What a pleasant lot of fellows they are. What a pity they have so little sense about politics. If they lived North the last one of them would be Republicans.

Quoted in Recollections of Thirteen Presidents, John S. Wise (1906).

The office of the Vice-President is a greater honor than I ever dreamed of attaining.

Quoted in Random Recollections of an Old Political Reporter, William C. Hudson (1911).

Honors to me now are not what they once were.

Written on the death of his wife, Ellen.

Madam, I may be President of the United States, but my private life is nobody’s damn business.

To a temperance reformer.

Encyclopedia
Chester Alan Arthur was the 21st President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1881–1885). Becoming President after the assassination of President James A. Garfield, Arthur struggled to overcome suspicions of his beginnings as a politician from the New York City Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 machine, succeeding at that task by embracing the cause of civil service reform. His advocacy for, and enforcement of, the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act
Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act
The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of United States is a federal law established in 1883 that stipulated that government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit. The act provided selection of government employees competitive exams, rather than ties to politicians or political affiliation...

 was the centerpiece of his administration.

Born in Fairfield, Vermont
Fairfield, Vermont
Fairfield is a town in Franklin County, Vermont, United States. The population was 1,800 at the 2000 census. It is believed President Chester A...

, Arthur grew up in upstate New York
Upstate New York
Upstate New York is the region of the U.S. state of New York that is located north of the core of the New York metropolitan area.-Definition:There is no clear or official boundary between Upstate New York and Downstate New York...

 and practiced law in New York City. He devoted much of his time to Republican politics and quickly rose in the political machine run by New York Senator Roscoe Conkling
Roscoe Conkling
Roscoe Conkling was a politician from New York who served both as a member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. He was the leader of the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party and the last person to refuse a U.S. Supreme Court appointment after he had...

. Appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 to the lucrative and politically powerful post of Collector of the Port of New York
Collector of the Port of New York
The Collector of Customs at the Port of New York, most often referred to as Collector of the Port of New York, sometimes also as Collector of Customs for the Port of New York or Collector of Customs for the District of New York, was a federal officer who was in charge of the collection of import...

 in 1871, Arthur was an important supporter of Conkling and the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party. He was then removed by the new president, Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the 19th President of the United States . As president, he oversaw the end of Reconstruction and the United States' entry into the Second Industrial Revolution...

, in 1878 in an effort to reform the federal patronage system in New York. When James Garfield won the Republican nomination for President in 1880, Arthur was nominated for Vice President to balance the ticket
Ticket balance
In United States politics, balancing the ticket is when a political candidate chooses a running mate with the goal of bringing more widespread appeal to the campaign. It is most prominently used to describe the selection of the U.S. Vice Presidential candidate.There are several means by which the...

 by adding an eastern Stalwart to it.

After just half a year as Vice President, Arthur found himself, unexpectedly, in the Executive Mansion
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

. To the surprise of reformers, Arthur took up the reform cause that had once led to his expulsion from office. He signed the Pendleton Act into law, and enforced its provisions vigorously. He won plaudits for his veto of a Rivers and Harbors Act that would have appropriated federal funds in a manner he thought excessive and presided over the rebirth of the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, but was criticized for failing to alleviate the federal budget surplus that had been accumulating since the end of the Civil War. Suffering from poor health, he made only a limited effort at renomination in 1884 and retired at the close of his term. As journalist Alexander McClure
Alexander McClure
Alexander Kelly McClure was a journalist, editor, writer, politician, and historian, active in Pennsylvania Republican Party politics, especially in the 1860s, and a prominent supporter, correspondent, and biographer of President Abraham Lincoln...

 would later write, "No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted as Chester Alan Arthur, and no one ever retired ... more generally respected, alike by political friend and foe." Although his failing health and political temperament combined to make his administration far less active than a modern presidency, he earned praise among contemporaries for his solid performance in office. The New York World summed up Arthur's presidency at his death in 1886: "No duty was neglected in his administration, and no adventurous project alarmed the nation."

Birth and family

Chester Alan Arthur was born October 5, 1829, in Fairfield, Vermont
Fairfield, Vermont
Fairfield is a town in Franklin County, Vermont, United States. The population was 1,800 at the 2000 census. It is believed President Chester A...

. His father, William Arthur, was born in County Antrim
County Antrim
County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,844 km², with a population of approximately 616,000...

, Ireland, and emigrated to Dunham
Dunham, Quebec
Dunham is a city in the Canadian province of Quebec, located in Brome-Missisquoi Regional County Municipality. The population as of the Canada 2006 Census was 3,396.-Population:Population trend-Language:Mother tongue language ...

, Lower Canada
Lower Canada
The Province of Lower Canada was a British colony on the lower Saint Lawrence River and the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence...

 (in present-day Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

) in 1818 or 1819 after graduating from Belfast College. Arthur's mother, Malvina Stone, was born in Vermont, the daughter of George Washington Stone and Judith Stevens. Malvina's family was primarily of English descent, and her grandfather, Uriah Stone, fought in the Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

 during the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

. Arthur's mother met his father while he was teaching at a school in Dunham, just over the border from her native Vermont, and the two soon married. After their first child, Regina, was born in Dunham, the Arthurs moved around Vermont in quick succession to Burlington
Burlington, Vermont
Burlington is the largest city in the U.S. state of Vermont and the shire town of Chittenden County. Burlington lies south of the U.S.-Canadian border and some south of Montreal....

, Jericho, and Waterville
Waterville, Vermont
Waterville is a town in Lamoille County, Vermont, United States. The population was 697 at the 2000 census.-Geography:According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 16.4 square miles , of which 16.4 square miles is land and 0.06% is water.-Demographics:As...

, as William moved to jobs with different schools. In Waterville, William Arthur departed from his Presbyterian upbringing and joined the Free Will Baptists, spending the rest of his life as a minister in that sect. He also became an outspoken abolitionist, which at times made him unpopular with parts of his congregations and contributed to the family's frequent moves. In 1828, the family moved again, to Fairfield, where Chester Alan Arthur was born the following year. He was named "Chester" after Chester Abell, the physician and family friend who assisted in his birth, and "Alan" after his paternal grandfather. After Arthur's birth, the family remained in Fairfield until 1832, when the elder Arthur's profession took them on the road again to several towns in Vermont and upstate New York
Upstate New York
Upstate New York is the region of the U.S. state of New York that is located north of the core of the New York metropolitan area.-Definition:There is no clear or official boundary between Upstate New York and Downstate New York...

, finally settling in the Schenectady area.

William Arthur's frequent moves would later form the basis for accusations that Chester Arthur was not a native-born citizen of the United States. After Arthur was nominated for Vice President in 1880
United States presidential election, 1880
The United States presidential election of 1880 was largely seen as a referendum on the end of Reconstruction in Southern states carried out by the Republicans. There were no pressing issues of the day save tariffs, with the Republicans supporting higher tariffs and the Democrats supporting lower...

, his political opponents suggested that he might be constitutionally ineligible to hold that office. A New York attorney, Arthur P. Hinman, apparently hired by his opponents, explored rumors of Arthur's foreign birth. Hinman initially alleged that Arthur was born in Ireland and did not come to the United States until he was fourteen years old, which would make him ineligible for the Vice Presidency under the United States Constitution's natural-born citizen clause. When that story did not take root, Hinman spread a new rumor that Arthur was born in Canada, but this claim also failed to gain credence.

Education

Arthur spent some of his childhood years living in Perry
Perry (village), New York
Perry is a village located mostly inside the Town of Perry in Wyoming County, New York, USA. The population was 3,945 at the 2000 census.The Village of Perry is at the junction of New York State Route 39 and New York State Route 246. A small south section of the village is within the Town of...

 and Greenwich
Greenwich (village), New York
Greenwich is a village in Washington County, New York, United States. It is part of the Glens Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area. The village population was 1,902 at the 2000 census. Locals pronounce the name as it appears, in contrast to Greenwich , England...

, New York. During his time at school, his first political inclinations were to support the Whig Party
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

, and he joined other young Whigs in support of Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

, even participating in a brawl against those students supporting James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

. He also showed his support for the Fenian Brotherhood
Fenian Brotherhood
The Fenian Brotherhood was an Irish republican organization founded in the United States in 1858 by John O'Mahony and Michael Doheny. It was a precursor to Clan na Gael, a sister organization to the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Members were commonly known as "Fenians"...

 by wearing a green coat. Arthur enrolled in Union College
Union College
Union College is a private, non-denominational liberal arts college located in Schenectady, New York, United States. Founded in 1795, it was the first institution of higher learning chartered by the New York State Board of Regents. In the 19th century, it became the "Mother of Fraternities", as...

 in 1845 where he studied the traditional classical curriculum
Classical education movement
The Classical education movement advocates a form of education based in the traditions of Western culture, with a particular focus on education as understood and taught in the Middle Ages. The curricula and pedagogy of classical education was first developed during the Middle Ages by Martianus...

. As a senior there in 1848, at age 18, he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was president of the debate society. During his winter breaks, Arthur taught school in Schaghticoke
Schaghticoke (town), New York
Schaghticoke is a town in Rensselaer County, New York, USA. The population was 7,456 at the 2000 census. The Schaghticoke is a native tribe original to the area. The town is on the northern border of the county, north of Troy...

.

After graduating, Arthur returned to Schaghticoke and taught school full-time, but soon began to pursue an education in the law. While studying law, he continued teaching, moving closer to home by taking a job teaching in North Pownal, Vermont. Coincidentally, future President James A. Garfield would teach penmanship at the same school three years later, but the two did not cross paths. In 1852, Arthur moved again, to Cohoes
Cohoes, New York
Cohoes is an incorporated city located at the northeast corner of Albany County in the US state of New York. It is called the "Spindle City" because of the importance of textile production to its growth. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 16,168...

, New York, to become the principal of a school at which his sister Malvina was a teacher. After saving enough money, and studying at State and National Law School
State and National Law School
State and National Law School was an early practical training law school founded in 1849 by John W. Fowler in Ballston Spa, New York located in Saratoga County. It was also known as New York State and National Law School, Ballston Law School, and Fowler's State and National Law School. In 1853 the...

 in Ballston Spa
Ballston Spa, New York
Ballston Spa is a village in Saratoga County, New York, United States. The population was 5,556 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Saratoga County. The village is named after Rev. Eliphalet Ball, a Congregationalist clergyman and an early settler. The village lies on the border of two...

, he moved to New York City the following year to read law
Reading law
Reading law is the method by which persons in common law countries, particularly the United States, entered the legal profession before the advent of law schools. This usage specifically refers to a means of entering the profession . A small number of U.S...

 at the law office of Erastus D. Culver
Erastus D. Culver
Erastus Dean Culver was a U.S. Representative from New York.Born in Champlain in Washington County, New York, Culver was graduated from the University of Vermont at Burlington in 1826.He studied law....

, an abolitionist lawyer and family friend. When Arthur was admitted to the bar
Bar (law)
Bar in a legal context has three possible meanings: the division of a courtroom between its working and public areas; the process of qualifying to practice law; and the legal profession.-Courtroom division:...

 in 1854, he joined the firm, which was renamed Culver, Parker, and Arthur.

Early career

New York lawyer

When Arthur joined the firm, Culver and New York attorney John Jay
John Jay (lawyer)
John Jay was an American lawyer and diplomat, son of William Jay and a grandson of Chief Justice John Jay.-Biography:...

 (the grandson of the Founding Father of the same name
John Jay
John Jay was an American politician, statesman, revolutionary, diplomat, a Founding Father of the United States, and the first Chief Justice of the United States ....

) were pursuing a habeas corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

action against Jonathan Lemmon, a Virginia slaveholder who was passing through New York with his eight slaves. In Lemmon v. New York
Lemmon v. New York
Lemmon v. New York , a decision by the Superior Court of the City of New York, granted freedom to slaves who were brought into New York by their Virginia slave owners, while in transit to Texas.-Background:...

, Culver argued that, as New York law did not permit slavery, any slave arriving in New York was automatically freed. The argument was successful, and after several appeals was upheld by the New York Court of Appeals
New York Court of Appeals
The New York Court of Appeals is the highest court in the U.S. state of New York. The Court of Appeals consists of seven judges: the Chief Judge and six associate judges who are appointed by the Governor to 14-year terms...

 in 1860. Campaign biographers would later give Arthur much of the credit for the victory; in fact his role was minor, although he was certainly an active participant in the case. In another civil rights case in 1854, Arthur was the lead attorney representing Elizabeth Jennings Graham
Elizabeth Jennings Graham
Elizabeth Jennings Graham was a black woman who lived in New York City. She figured in an important early civil rights case, when she insisted on her right to ride on a streetcar in 1854.-Early life:...

 after she was denied a seat on a streetcar because she was black. He won the case, and the verdict led to the desegregation
Desegregation
Desegregation is the process of ending the separation of two groups usually referring to races. This is most commonly used in reference to the United States. Desegregation was long a focus of the American Civil Rights Movement, both before and after the United States Supreme Court's decision in...

 of the New York City streetcar lines.

In 1856, Arthur courted Ellen Herndon
Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur
Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur was the wife of the 21st President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur.-Early life:...

, the daughter of William Lewis Herndon
William Lewis Herndon
Commander William Lewis Herndon was one of the United States Navy's outstanding explorers and seamen. He chose to go down with his ship while other lives were still aboard and while in command of the steamer Central Americas 44th trip, which sank in a three day and night hurricane off Cape...

, a Virginia naval officer. The two were soon engaged to be married. Later that year, he started a new law partnership with a friend, Henry D. Gardiner, and traveled with him to Kansas to consider purchasing land and setting up a law practice there. At that time, the state was the scene of a brutal struggle
Bleeding Kansas
Bleeding Kansas, Bloody Kansas or the Border War, was a series of violent events, involving anti-slavery Free-Staters and pro-slavery "Border Ruffian" elements, that took place in the Kansas Territory and the western frontier towns of the U.S. state of Missouri roughly between 1854 and 1858...

 between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces, and Arthur lined up firmly with the latter. The rough frontier life did not agree with the genteel New Yorkers; after three or four months the two young lawyers returned to New York City, where Arthur comforted his fiancée after her father was lost at sea in the wreck of the SS Central America
SS Central America
SS Central America, sometimes called the Ship of Gold, was a 280-foot sidewheel steamer that operated between Central America and the eastern coast of the United States during the 1850s. She was originally named the SS George Law, after Mr. George Law of New York...

. In 1859, they were married at Calvary Episcopal Church
Calvary Church (Manhattan)
Calvary Church is an Episcopal church located at 273 Park Avenue South on the corner of East 21st Street in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, on the border of the Flatiron District. It was designed by James Renwick, Jr., the architect who designed St. Patrick's Cathedral...

 in Manhattan. After his marriage, Arthur devoted his efforts to building his law practice, but also found time to engage in Republican party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 politics.

Civil War

In 1860, Arthur was appointed to the military staff of Governor Edwin D. Morgan
Edwin D. Morgan
Edwin Denison Morgan was the 21st Governor of New York from 1859 to 1862 and served in the United States Senate from 1863 to 1869. He was the first and longest-serving chairman of the Republican National Committee...

. The office was a patronage appointment of minor importance until the outbreak of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 in April 1861, when New York and the other northern states were faced with raising and equipping armies of a size never before seen in American history. Arthur was given the rank of brigadier general
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

 and assigned to the quartermaster
Quartermaster
Quartermaster refers to two different military occupations depending on if the assigned unit is land based or naval.In land armies, especially US units, it is a term referring to either an individual soldier or a unit who specializes in distributing supplies and provisions to troops. The senior...

 department. He was so efficient at housing and outfitting the troops that poured into New York City that he was promoted within the state militia to inspector general in February 1862, and then to quartermaster general that July. He had an opportunity to serve at the front when the 9th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment
9th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment
The 9th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment was an Infantry Regiment that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It was also known as the "Hawkins' Zouaves" or "New York Zouaves."-Military Service, 1861:...

 elected him colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 early in the war, but at Governor Morgan's request, he turned it down to remain at his post in New York. The closest Arthur came to the front was when he traveled south to inspect New York troops near Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg, Virginia
Fredericksburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia located south of Washington, D.C., and north of Richmond. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 24,286...

, Virginia, in May 1862, shortly after forces under Major General Irwin McDowell seized the town during the Peninsula Campaign
Peninsula Campaign
The Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War was a major Union operation launched in southeastern Virginia from March through July 1862, the first large-scale offensive in the Eastern Theater. The operation, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B...

. That summer, he and other representatives of northern governors met with Secretary of State William H. Seward
William H. Seward
William Henry Seward, Sr. was the 12th Governor of New York, United States Senator and the United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson...

 in New York to coordinate the raising of additional troops, and spent the next few months enlisting New York's quota of 120,000 men. Arthur received plaudits for his work, but his post was a political one, and he was relieved of his office in January 1863 when Governor Horatio Seymour
Horatio Seymour
Horatio Seymour was an American politician. He was the 18th Governor of New York from 1853 to 1854 and from 1863 to 1864. He was the Democratic Party nominee for president of the United States in the presidential election of 1868, but lost the election to Republican and former Union General of...

, a Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

, took office.

Arthur returned to his law practice in 1863 and the firm of Arthur & Gardiner flourished. Even as his professional life improved, however, Arthur and his wife experienced a personal tragedy as their only child, William, died suddenly that year at the age of three. The couple took their son's death hard, and when they had another son, Chester Alan Jr., in 1864, they lavished attention on him. They would also have a daughter, Ellen, in 1871. Both children survived to adulthood. Arthur's political prospects improved along with his law practice when his patron, ex-Governor Morgan, was elected to the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

. He was hired by Thomas Murphy
Thomas Murphy (Collector)
Thomas Murphy was a Collector of the Port of New York from 1870 to 1871.Murphy was born in Ireland in 1821. He emigrated to the United States as a young man and entered the fur business. He became interested in politics joining first the Whig party and later the Republicans...

, a hatter who sold goods to the Union Army, to represent him in Washington. The two became associates within New York Republican party circles, eventually rising in the ranks of the conservative branch of the party dominated by Thurlow Weed
Thurlow Weed
Thurlow Weed was a New York newspaper publisher, politician, and party boss. He was the principal political advisor to the prominent New York politician William H...

. In the presidential election of 1864
United States presidential election, 1864
In the United States Presidential election of 1864, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as president. The election was held during the Civil War. Lincoln ran under the National Union ticket against Democratic candidate George B. McClellan, his former top general. McClellan ran as the "peace candidate",...

, Arthur and Murphy raised funds from Republicans in New York and attended Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

's inauguration in 1865
Second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln
The second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as the 16th President of the United States took place on March 4, 1865. The inauguration marked the commencement of the second term of Abraham Lincoln as President and only term of Andrew Johnson as Vice President. Chief Justice Salmon P...

.

Conkling's machine

The end of the Civil War meant new opportunities for the men in Morgan's Republican machine
Political machine
A political machine is a political organization in which an authoritative boss or small group commands the support of a corps of supporters and businesses , who receive rewards for their efforts...

, including Arthur. Morgan leaned toward the conservative wing of the New York Republican party, as did the men who worked for him, including Weed, Seward (who continued in office under President Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

), and Roscoe Conkling
Roscoe Conkling
Roscoe Conkling was a politician from New York who served both as a member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. He was the leader of the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party and the last person to refuse a U.S. Supreme Court appointment after he had...

 (an eloquent Utica
Utica, New York
Utica is a city in and the county seat of Oneida County, New York, United States. The population was 62,235 at the 2010 census, an increase of 2.6% from the 2000 census....

 Congressman and rising star in the party). Arthur rarely articulated his own political ideas during his time as a part of the machine; as was common at the time, loyalty and hard work on the machine's behalf was more important than actual political sympathies. In 1866, he attempted to secure the position of Naval Officer at the New York Custom House
New York Custom House
The New York Custom House was the place where federal customs duties were collected in New York City.Until the civil service reforms of the late nineteenth century, all Custom House employees were political appointees. The President appointed the four principal officers: Collector of Customs, Naval...

, a lucrative job with few responsibilities, but was unable to do so. Nevertheless, he continued his law practice (now a solo practitionership after Gardiner's death) and his role in politics, becoming a member of the prestigious Century Club
Century Association
__notoc__The Century Association is a private club in New York City. It evolved out of an earlier organization – the Sketch Club, founded in 1829 by editor and poet William Cullen Bryant and his friends – and was established in 1847 by Bryant and others as a club to promote interest in...

 in 1867. Conkling, elected in 1867
United States Senate election in New York, 1867
The 1867 United States Senate election in New York was held on January 15, 1867, by the New York State Legislature to elect a U.S. Senator to represent the State of New York in the United States Senate.-Background:...

 to the United States Senate, noticed Arthur and aided his rise in the party. Arthur became chairman of the New York City Republican executive committee in 1868. His ascent in the party hierarchy kept him busy most nights, and his wife began to resent his continual absence from the family home on party business.

Conkling's machine was solidly behind General Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

's candidacy for president, and Arthur worked to raise funds for Grant's election in 1868. The opposing Democratic machine in New York City, known as Tammany Hall
Tammany Hall
Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was a New York political organization founded in 1786 and incorporated on May 12, 1789 as the Tammany Society...

, worked for Grant's opponent, former New York Governor Horatio Seymour; while Grant was victorious in the national vote, Seymour carried the state of New York easily. Arthur began to devote more of his time to politics and less to law. In 1869, he was appointed counsel to the New York City tax commission under an arrangement his friend Murphy made with William Marcy Tweed, the Tammany Hall boss. He remained at the job until 1870 at a salary of $10,000 a year. Arthur's actual role in the tax commission's duties is still unknown; after Tweed's fall from power in 1871, Arthur never spoke of the Conking machine's cooperation with Tammany Hall. Shortly thereafter, President Grant gave control over the New York Custom House
New York Custom House
The New York Custom House was the place where federal customs duties were collected in New York City.Until the civil service reforms of the late nineteenth century, all Custom House employees were political appointees. The President appointed the four principal officers: Collector of Customs, Naval...

 patronage
Patronage
Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings or popes have provided to musicians, painters, and sculptors...

 to Conkling and appointed Murphy to the position of Collector of the Port of New York
Collector of the Port of New York
The Collector of Customs at the Port of New York, most often referred to as Collector of the Port of New York, sometimes also as Collector of Customs for the Port of New York or Collector of Customs for the District of New York, was a federal officer who was in charge of the collection of import...

. Murphy's reputation as a war profiteer and his association with Tammany Hall made him unacceptable to many of his own party, but Conkling nevertheless convinced the Senate to confirm him. The Collector was responsible for hiring hundreds of workers to collect the tariffs due at the United States' busiest port. Typically, these jobs were dispensed to adherents of the political machine responsible for hiring the Collector. Employees were required to make political contributions (known as "assessments") back to the machine, which made the job a highly coveted political plum. Murphy's unpopularity only increased as he replaced workers loyal to Senator Reuben Fenton
Reuben Fenton
Reuben Eaton Fenton was an American merchant and politician from New York.-Life:He was the son of a farmer. He was elected a colonel of the New York State Militia in 1840. He became a lumber merchant, and entered politics as a Democrat...

's faction of the Republican party with those loyal to Conkling's. Eventually, the pressure to replace Murphy grew too great, and Grant asked for his resignation in 1871. To replace him, Grant nominated Arthur.

The Senate confirmed Arthur's appointment. As Collector, he not only controlled nearly a thousand jobs, but he also stood to receive personal compensation as great as any federal officeholder. Arthur's salary was $6,500, but senior customs employees were also compensated by the "moiety" system, which awarded them a percentage of the fines levied on importers who attempted to evade the tariff. In total, his income came to more than $50,000—more than the president's salary, and more than enough for him to enjoy fashionable clothes and a lavish lifestyle. Among those who dealt with the Custom House, Arthur was one of the era's more popular collectors. He got along with his subordinates and, since Murphy had already filled the staff with Conkling's adherents, he had few occasions to fire anyone. He was also popular within the Republican party as he efficiently collected campaign assessments from the staff and placed party leaders' friends in jobs as positions became available. Arthur had a better reputation than Murphy, but reformers still criticized the patronage structure and the moiety system as corrupt. A rising tide of reform within the party caused Arthur to recharacterize the financial extractions from employees as "voluntary contributions" in 1872, but the principle remained the same and the party reaped the benefit of controlling government jobs. In that year, reform-minded Republicans formed the Liberal Republican
Liberal Republican Party (United States)
The Liberal Republican Party of the United States was a political party that was organized in Cincinnati in May 1872, to oppose the reelection of President Ulysses S. Grant and his Radical Republican supporters. The party's candidate in that year's presidential election was Horace Greeley, longtime...

 party and voted against Grant, but he was re-elected
United States presidential election, 1872
In the United States presidential election of 1872, incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant was easily elected to a second term in office with Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts as his running mate, despite a split within the Republican Party that resulted in a defection of many Liberal Republicans...

 in spite of their opposition. Nevertheless, the movement for civil service reform continued to chip away at Conkling's patronage machine when, after Custom House employees were found to have improperly assessed fines against an importing company in 1874, Congress repealed the moiety system and put the staff, including Arthur, on regular salary. As a result, his income dropped to $12,000 a year.

Clash with Hayes

Arthur's four-year term expired on December 10, 1875, and Conkling, now among the most powerful politicians in Washington, arranged his protégé's reappointment by President Grant. By 1876, Conkling was considering a run for the Presidency himself, but the selection of Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the 19th President of the United States . As president, he oversaw the end of Reconstruction and the United States' entry into the Second Industrial Revolution...

, a reformer, at the 1876 Republican National Convention presaged problems for the machine boss. Arthur and the machine gathered campaign funds with their usual zeal, but Conkling limited his own campaign activities to a few speeches. Hayes's opponent, New York Governor Samuel J. Tilden
Samuel J. Tilden
Samuel Jones Tilden was the Democratic candidate for the U.S. presidency in the disputed election of 1876, one of the most controversial American elections of the 19th century. He was the 25th Governor of New York...

, carried New York but, after months of disputes over certain electoral votes
Electoral Commission (United States)
The Electoral Commission was a temporary body created by Congress to resolve the disputed United States presidential election of 1876. It consisted of 15 members. The election was contested by the Democratic ticket, Samuel J. Tilden and Thomas A. Hendricks, and the Republican ticket, Rutherford B....

, lost the Presidency.

Hayes entered office having pledged to reform the patronage system; in 1877, he and Treasury Secretary John Sherman made Conkling's machine their first target. Sherman ordered a commission led by John Jay to investigate the New York Custom House. Jay, with whom Arthur had collaborated in the Lemmon case two decades earlier, suggested that the Custom House was so overstaffed with political appointments that 20% of the employees were expendable. Sherman was less enthusiastic about the reforms than Hayes and Jay, but he approved the commission's report and ordered Arthur to make the personnel reductions. Arthur appointed a committee of Custom House workers to determine where the cuts were to be made and, after a written protest, carried them out. Notwithstanding his cooperation, the Jay Commission issued a second report critical of Arthur and other Custom House employees, and subsequent reports urging a complete reorganization.

Hayes further struck at the heart of the spoils system
Spoils system
In the politics of the United States, a spoil system is a practice where a political party, after winning an election, gives government jobs to its voters as a reward for working toward victory, and as an incentive to keep working for the party—as opposed to a system of awarding offices on the...

 by issuing an executive order that forbade assessments and barred federal office holders from "tak[ing] part in the management of political organizations, caucuses, conventions, or election campaigns". Arthur and his subordinates, Alonzo B. Cornell
Alonzo B. Cornell
Alonzo Barton Cornell was a New York politician and businessman who served as 27th Governor of New York from 1880 to 1882.-Early years:...

 and George H. Sharpe
George H. Sharpe
George Henry Sharpe was an American lawyer, soldier, secret service officer, diplomat and politician.-Early life:...

, refused to obey the president's order. Sherman encouraged Arthur to resign, offering him the consulship at Paris
United States Ambassador to France
This article is about the United States Ambassador to France. There has been a United States Ambassador to France since the American Revolution. The United States sent its first envoys to France in 1776, towards the end of the four-centuries-old Bourbon dynasty...

 in exchange, but Arthur refused. In September 1877, Hayes demanded the three men's resignations, which they refused to give. Nonetheless, Hayes submitted appointments of Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.
Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.
Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. was the father of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and the paternal grandfather of American first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. He was the son of Cornelius Van Schaak Roosevelt and Margaret Barnhill...

, L. Bradford Prince
L. Bradford Prince
LeBaron Bradford Prince was Governor of New Mexico Territory from 1889 to 1893.-Biography:Prince was born on July 3, 1840 in Flushing, Queens, New York. He was a delegate to Republican National Convention from New York in 1868. From 1870 to 1874, he was a member of New York State Assembly...

, and Edwin Merritt
Edwin Atkins Merritt
Edwin Atkins Merritt was an American politician, civil service reformer and diplomat.-Life:...

—all supporters of William M. Evarts
William M. Evarts
William Maxwell Evarts was an American lawyer and statesman who served as U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Senator from New York...

, Conkling's New York rival—to the Senate for confirmation as their replacements. The Senate's Commerce Committee, which Conkling chaired, voted unanimously to reject the nominees, and the full Senate rejected Roosevelt and Prince by a vote of 31–25, confirming Merritt only because Sharpe's term had expired.

Arthur's job was thus saved, but only until July 1878 when Hayes took advantage of a Congressional recess to fire him and Cornell, and replace them by recess appointment
Recess appointment
A recess appointment is the appointment, by the President of the United States, of a senior federal official while the U.S. Senate is in recess. The U.S. Constitution requires that the most senior federal officers must be confirmed by the Senate before assuming office, but while the Senate is in...

s of Merritt and Silas W. Burt
Silas W. Burt
Silas Wright Burt was a civil service reformer and naval officer of the port of New York.Burt was born in Albany, New York, the son of Thomas Burt and Lydia Burt in 1830. In 1855, he married Jeanette Ferrell of Logansport, Indiana. President Rutherford B...

, respectively. Conkling opposed the appointees' confirmation when the Senate reconvened in February 1879, but Merritt was approved by a vote of 31–25, as was Burt by 31–19, giving Hayes his most significant civil service reform victory. After six years, Arthur found himself out of a job, but still a political power. In the state elections of 1879, he and Conkling worked to ensure that the Republican nominees for state offices would be men of Conkling's faction, who had become known as Stalwarts. They were successful, but narrowly, as Cornell was nominated for governor by a vote of 234–216. Arthur and Conkling campaigned vigorously for the Stalwart ticket and, owing partly to a splintering of the Democratic vote, were victorious. Arthur and the machine had rebuked Hayes and their intra-party rivals, but Arthur had had only a few days to enjoy his triumph when, on January 12, 1880, his wife died suddenly while he was in Albany organizing the political agenda for the coming year. He was devastated, and never remarried.

Election of 1880

Conkling and his fellow Stalwarts wished to follow up their 1879 success at the 1880 Republican National Convention
1880 Republican National Convention
The 1880 Republican National Convention convened from June 2 to June 8, 1880 at the Interstate Exposition Building in Chicago, Illinois, United States, and nominated James A. Garfield and Chester A...

 by securing the nomination for their ally, ex-President Grant. Their opponents in the Republican party, known as Half-Breeds
Half-Breed (politics)
The "Half-Breeds" were a political faction of the United States Republican Party that existed in the late 19th century. The Half-Breeds were a moderate-wing group, and they were the opponents of the Stalwarts, the other main faction of the Republican Party. The main issue that separated the...

, concentrated their efforts on James G. Blaine
James G. Blaine
James Gillespie Blaine was a U.S. Representative, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, U.S. Senator from Maine, two-time Secretary of State...

, a Senator from Maine who was more amenable to civil service reform. Neither candidate commanded a majority of delegates and, deadlocked after thirty-six ballots, the convention turned to a dark horse
Dark horse
Dark horse is a term used to describe a little-known person or thing that emerges to prominence, especially in a competition of some sort.-Origin:The term began as horse racing parlance...

, James A. Garfield, an Ohio Congressman and Civil War General who was neither Stalwart nor Half-Breed. Garfield and his supporters knew they would face a difficult election without the support of the New York Stalwarts and decided to offer one of them the vice presidential nomination. Levi P. Morton
Levi P. Morton
Levi Parsons Morton was a Representative from New York and the 22nd Vice President of the United States . He also later served as the 31st Governor of New York.-Biography:...

 was the first choice of Garfield's supporters but, on Conkling's advice, refused to run. They next approached Arthur. Conkling advised him to also reject the nomination, believing the Republicans would lose. Arthur thought otherwise and accepted, telling Conkling, "The office of the Vice-President is a greater honor than I ever dreamed of attaining." Conkling eventually reconciled himself with the nomination and campaigned for the ticket
Ticket (election)
A ticket refers to a single election choice which fills more than one political office or seat. For example, in the U.S., the candidates for President and Vice President run on the same "ticket", because they are elected together on a single ballot question rather than separately.A ticket can also...

. As expected, the election was close. The Democratic nominee, General Winfield Scott Hancock
Winfield Scott Hancock
Winfield Scott Hancock was a career U.S. Army officer and the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1880. He served with distinction in the Army for four decades, including service in the Mexican-American War and as a Union general in the American Civil War...

, was popular and, since he had not taken unpopular positions (or any positions at all) on the issues of the day, he had not offended any important constituencies. As Republicans had done since the end of the Civil War, Garfield and Arthur initially focused their campaign on the "bloody shirt"—the idea that returning Democrats to office would undo the victory of the Civil War and reward secessionists
Secession in the United States
Secession in the United States can refer to secession of a state from the United States, secession of part of a state from that state to form a new state, or secession of an area from a city or county....

. With the war fifteen years in the past and Union generals at the head of both tickets, the tactic was less effective than the Republicans hoped. Realizing this, they shifted their approach to claim that Democrats would lower the country's protective tariff
Tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

, which would allow more cheap manufactured goods to be imported from Europe, thereby putting thousands of workingmen out of work. This argument struck home in the swing states of New York and Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, where many were employed in manufacturing. Hancock did not help his own cause when, in an attempt to remain neutral on the tariff, he said that "[t]he tariff question is a local question", which only served to make him appear uninformed about an important issue. Candidates for high office did not personally campaign in those days, but Arthur played a part in the campaign in his usual fashion: raising money. The funds were crucial in the close election, and his home state of New York was pivotal. The Republicans carried New York by 20,000 votes and, in an election with the largest turnout of qualified voters ever recorded—78.4%—they won the nationwide popular vote by just 7,018 votes. The electoral college result was more decisive—214 to 155—and Garfield and Arthur were elected.

Vice Presidency

After the election, Arthur worked to persuade Garfield to fill certain positions—especially that of the Secretary of the Treasury—with his fellow New York Stalwarts. He was unsuccessful, and the Stalwart machine received a further rebuke when they discovered that Garfield planned to appoint Blaine, Conkling's arch-enemy, as Secretary of State. The running mates, never close, grew farther apart as Garfield continued to freeze out the Stalwarts from the patronage at his disposal. Arthur's status in the administration fell further when, a month before inauguration day, he gave a speech in front of newspaper reporters that suggested the election in Indiana, a swing state
Swing state
In United States presidential politics, a swing state is a state in which no single candidate or party has overwhelming support in securing that state's electoral college votes...

, had been won by illegal voting. Garfield ultimately appointed a Stalwart, Thomas Lemuel James
Thomas Lemuel James
Thomas Lemuel James was an American journalist, government official, and banker who served as the United States Postmaster General in 1881.-Early life and family:...

, to be Postmaster General, but the cabinet fight and Arthur's ill-considered speech left the President and Vice President estranged when they took their oaths of office on March 4, 1881. The Senate in the 47th United States Congress
47th United States Congress
The Forty-seventh United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from March 4, 1881 to March 4, 1883, during the administration...

 was divided among 37 Republicans, 37 Democrats, one independent (David Davis
David Davis (Supreme Court justice)
David Davis was a United States Senator from Illinois and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. He also served as Abraham Lincoln's campaign manager at the 1860 Republican National Convention....

) who announced he would caucus
Congressional caucus
A congressional caucus is a group of members of the United States Congress that meets to pursue common legislative objectives. Formally, caucuses are formed as congressional member organizations through the United States House of Representatives and governed under the rules of that chamber...

 with the Democrats, one Readjuster
Readjuster Party
The Readjuster Party was a political coalition formed in Virginia in the late 1870s during the turbulent period following the American Civil War. Readjusters aspired "to break the power of wealth and established privilege" and to promote public education, a program which attracted biracial support....

 (William Mahone
William Mahone
William Mahone was a civil engineer, teacher, soldier, railroad executive, and a member of the Virginia General Assembly and U.S. Congress. Small of stature, he was nicknamed "Little Billy"....

) whose allegiance was uncertain, and four vacancies. Immediately, the Democrats attempted to organize the Senate, knowing that the vacancies would soon be filled by Republicans. As Vice President, Arthur cast tie-breaking votes in favor of the Republicans when Mahone opted to join their caucus. Even so, the Senate remained deadlocked for two months over Garfield's nominations because of Conkling's opposition to some of them. Just before going into recess in May 1881, the situation became more complicated when Conkling and the other Senator from New York, Thomas C. Platt
Thomas C. Platt
Thomas Collier Platt was a two-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a three-term U.S. Senator from New York in the years 1881 and 1897-1909 — is best known as the "political boss" of the Republican Party in New York State in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century...

, resigned in protest of Garfield's continuing opposition to their faction.

With the Senate in recess, Arthur had no duties in Washington and returned to New York City. Once there, he traveled with Conkling to Albany
Albany, New York
Albany is the capital city of the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Albany County, and the central city of New York's Capital District. Roughly north of New York City, Albany sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, about south of its confluence with the Mohawk River...

, where the former Senator had hoped for a quick re-election to the Senate and, thereby, a rebuke to the Garfield administration. The Republican majority in the state legislature was divided on the question, to Conkling and Platt's surprise, and they found themselves fighting for their political lives. While in Albany on July 2, word reached Arthur that Garfield had been shot. The assassin, Charles J. Guiteau
Charles J. Guiteau
Charles Julius Guiteau was an American lawyer who assassinated U.S. President James A. Garfield. He was executed by hanging.- Background :...

, was a deranged office-seeker who believed that assassinating Garfield would convince Arthur to appoint him to a patronage job; he proclaimed to onlookers: "I am a Stalwart, and Arthur will be President!" Despite his claims of friendship with Arthur, the public soon learned that Guiteau was mentally unstable and unconnected with the Vice President. More troubling was the lack of legal guidance on presidential succession
United States presidential line of succession
The United States presidential line of succession defines who may become or act as President of the United States upon the incapacity, death, resignation, or removal from office of a sitting president or a president-elect.- Current order :This is a list of the current presidential line of...

: as Garfield lingered near death, no one was sure who, if anyone, could exercise presidential authority. Moreover, after Conkling's resignation, the Senate had adjourned without electing a president pro tempore
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
The President pro tempore is the second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate. The United States Constitution states that the Vice President of the United States is the President of the Senate and the highest-ranking official of the Senate despite not being a member of the body...

,
who would normally follow Arthur in the succession. Arthur was reluctant to be seen to act as President while Garfield lived, and the next two months saw a vacuum in the executive office, with Garfield too weak to carry out any of his duties and Arthur refusing to assume them. Through the summer, Arthur refused to travel to Washington and was at his Lexington Avenue
Lexington Avenue (Manhattan)
Lexington Avenue, often colloquially abbreviated by New Yorkers as "Lex," is an avenue on the East Side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City that carries southbound one-way traffic from East 131st Street to Gramercy Park at East 21st Street...

 home when, on the night of September 19, he learned that Garfield had died. Judge John R. Brady
John R. Brady
John R. Brady was an American judge, a Justice of the New York Supreme Court, and best known for administering the presidential oath of office to Chester A. Arthur. Brady was born in New York City, and was a New York Supreme Court Justice from 1873 until his death.-Chester Alan Arthur:President...

 of the New York Supreme Court
New York Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of the State of New York is the trial-level court of general jurisdiction in thestate court system of New York, United States. There is a supreme court in each of New York State's 62 counties, although some smaller counties share judges with neighboring counties...

 administered the oath of office in Arthur's home at 2:15 a.m. the following day, and Arthur boarded a train for the nation's capital two days later.

Presidency 1881–1885

Taking office

Arriving in Washington on September 22, Arthur repeated the oath of office, this time administered by Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite, because of concerns that a state judge may have lacked the authority to administer the presidential oath. He first resided at the home of Senator John P. Jones
John P. Jones
John Percival Jones was an American politician who served for 30 years as a Republican United States Senator from Nevada. He made a fortune in silver mining and was a co-founder of the town of Santa Monica, California....

 in anticipation of significant remodeling he had ordered for the White House, including the addition of an elaborate fifty-foot glass screen made by Louis Comfort Tiffany
Louis Comfort Tiffany
Louis Comfort Tiffany was an American artist and designer who worked in the decorative arts and is best known for his work in stained glass. He is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau  and Aesthetic movements...

. Since Arthur was a widower, his sister, Mary Arthur McElroy, served as White House hostess. Arthur rapidly became Washington's most eligible bachelor and his social life became the subject of many rumors, but he remained devoted only to the memory of his late wife. His son, Chester Jr., was then a freshman at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 and his daughter, Nell, stayed in New York with a governess
Governess
A governess is a girl or woman employed to teach and train children in a private household. In contrast to a nanny or a babysitter, she concentrates on teaching children, not on meeting their physical needs...

 until 1882; when she arrived, Arthur attempted to shield her from the intrusions of the press as much as he could.

Arthur quickly came into conflict with Garfield's cabinet, most of whose members represented Republican factions that opposed him. He asked the cabinet members to remain until December, when Congress would reconvene, but Treasury Secretary William Windom
William Windom
This page is about the former United States politician. William Windom was an American politician from Minnesota. He served as U.S. Representative from 1859 to 1869, and as U.S. Senator from 1870 to January 1871, from March 1871 to March 1881, and from November 1881 to 1883...

 submitted his resignation in October to enter a Senate race in his home state of Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

. Arthur replaced him with Charles J. Folger
Charles J. Folger
Charles James Folger was an American lawyer and politician. He was U.S. Secretary of the Treasury from 1881 until his death.-Early life:...

, his friend and fellow New York Stalwart. Attorney General Wayne MacVeagh
Wayne MacVeagh
Isaac Wayne MacVeagh was an American lawyer, politician, diplomat and the 36th Attorney General of the United States.-Biography:...

 was next to resign, believing that, as a reformer, he had no place in an Arthur cabinet. Despite Arthur's personal appeal to remain, MacVeigh resigned in December 1881 and Arthur replaced him with Benjamin H. Brewster
Benjamin H. Brewster
Benjamin Harris Brewster was an attorney and politician from New Jersey, who served as United States Attorney General from 1881 to 1885.-Early life:...

, a Philadelphia lawyer and machine politician who was thought to have some reformist leanings. Blaine, arch-nemesis of the Stalwart faction, agreed to remain Secretary of State until Congress reconvened, and when it did so he departed immediately. Conkling expected Arthur to appoint him in Blaine's place, but the President instead chose Frederick T. Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, a Stalwart recommended by ex-President Grant. Frelinghuysen advised Arthur not to fill any future vacancies with Stalwarts, but when Postmaster General James resigned in January 1882, Arthur selected Timothy O. Howe
Timothy O. Howe
Timothy Otis Howe was a member of the United States Senate, representing the state of Wisconsin from March 4, 1861, to March 4, 1879. He also served as U.S...

, a Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 Stalwart, to replace him. Navy Secretary William H. Hunt
William H. Hunt
William Henry Hunt was the United States Secretary of the Navy under President James Garfield and briefly under President Chester A. Arthur.-Biography:...

 was next to resign, in April 1882, and Arthur attempted a more balanced approach by appointing William E. Chandler
William E. Chandler
William Eaton Chandler was a lawyer who served as United States Secretary of the Navy and as a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire.-Early life:...

 to the post, on Blaine's recommendation. Finally, when Interior Secretary Samuel J. Kirkwood
Samuel J. Kirkwood
Samuel Jordan Kirkwood , was an American politician best known as Iowa's American Civil War Governor. He also served in the U.S. Senate and as U.S. Secretary of the Interior.-Early life and career:...

 resigned that same month, Arthur appointed Henry M. Teller, a Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 Stalwart to the office. Of the Cabinet members Arthur had inherited from Garfield, only Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln
Robert Todd Lincoln
Robert Todd Lincoln was an American lawyer and Secretary of War, and the first son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln...

 remained for the entirety of Arthur's term.

Civil service reform

In the 1870s, the public became aware of a scandal
Star route scandal
The Star Route scandal involved a lucrative nineteenth century scheme whereby United States postal officials received bribes in exchange for awarding postal delivery contracts in southern and western areas. On March 3, 1845 Congress had created inland mail routes, eventually known as "Star...

 in which contractors for star postal routes
Star routes
Star routes is a term used in connection with the United States postal service and the contracting of mail delivery services. The term is defunct as of 1970, but still is occasionally used to refer to Highway Contract Routes or which replaced the Star routes.-Background:Prior to 1845,...

 were greatly overpaid for their services with the connivance of government officials (including Second Assistant Postal Secretary Thomas J. Brady
Thomas J. Brady
Thomas Jefferson Brady was an American Civil War General and politician.-Early life:Brady was born in Muncie, Indiana in 1839, the son of John Brady, the first mayor of Muncie, and his wife, Mary Wright Brady...

 and former Senator Stephen Wallace Dorsey
Stephen Wallace Dorsey
Stephen Wallace Dorsey was a Senator from Arkansas.He was born in Benson, Rutland County, Vermont, February 28, 1842 and moved to Ohio and settled in Oberlin. He attended the public schools....

). This was an example of the kind of corruption that reformers feared Arthur would permit, and reformers grew concerned that the former supporter of the spoils system would not devote his administration's energy to continuing the investigation into the scandal. Nevertheless, the new Attorney General, Brewster, continued the investigations begun by MacVeigh and hired notable Democratic lawyers William W. Ker and Richard T. Merrick
Richard T. Merrick
Richard Thomas Merrick was a lawyer and Democratic political figure.Born in Charles County, Maryland, Merrick was the son of William D. Merrick, a member of the Maryland legislature and the United States Senate. His brother, William M. Merrick, was a federal judge and congressman from Maryland...

 in an attempt both to improve the prosecution team and avoid the appearance of political partisanship. Although Arthur had worked closely with Dorsey before taking office, once in office he supported the investigation and forced the resignation of officials suspected in the scandal. An 1882 trial of the ringleaders resulted in convictions for two minor conspirators and a hung jury
Hung jury
A hung jury or deadlocked jury is a jury that cannot, by the required voting threshold, agree upon a verdict after an extended period of deliberation and is unable to change its votes due to severe differences of opinion.- England and Wales :...

 for the rest. After a juror came forward with allegations that the defendants attempted to bribe him, the judge set aside the guilty verdicts and granted a new trial. Before the second trial began, Arthur removed five federal office holders who were sympathetic with the defense, including a former Senator. The second trial began in December 1882 and lasted until July 1883 and, again, did not result in a guilty verdict. Failure to obtain a conviction tarnished the administration's image, but Arthur did succeed in putting a stop to the fraud.

Garfield's assassination by a deranged office seeker amplified the growing public demand for civil service reform. Democratic and Republican leaders both realized that they could attract the votes of reformers by turning against the spoils system and, by 1882, the tide turned in favor of reform. As early as 1880, Democratic Senator George H. Pendleton
George H. Pendleton
George Hunt Pendleton was a Representative and a Senator from Ohio. Nicknamed "Gentleman George" for his demeanor, he was the Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States during the Civil War in 1864, running as a peace Democrat with war Democrat George B. McClellan; they lost to...

 of Ohio had introduced legislation that would allow for selection of civil servants based on merit as determined by an examination. In his first annual Presidential address to Congress
State of the Union Address
The State of the Union is an annual address presented by the President of the United States to the United States Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda and his national priorities.The practice arises...

 in 1881, Arthur requested civil service reform legislation and Pendleton again introduced his bill, but Congress did not pass it. Republicans lost seats in the 1882 congressional elections, in which Democrats campaigned on the reform issue. As a result, the lame duck session of Congress was more amenable to civil service reform; the Senate approved Pendleton's bill 38–5 and the House soon concurred by a vote of 155–47. Arthur signed the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act
Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act
The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of United States is a federal law established in 1883 that stipulated that government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit. The act provided selection of government employees competitive exams, rather than ties to politicians or political affiliation...

 into law on January 16, 1883. In just two years' time, an unrepentant Stalwart had become the president who ushered in long-awaited civil service reform.

At first, the act applied only to 10% of federal jobs and, without proper implementation by the president, it could have gone no further. Even after he signed the act into law, its proponents doubted Arthur's commitment to reform. To their surprise, he acted quickly to appoint the members of the Civil Service Commission
United States Civil Service Commission
The United States Civil Service Commission a three man commission was created by the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, which was passed into law on January 16, 1883...

 that the law created, naming reformers Dorman Bridgeman Eaton, John Milton Gregory
John Milton Gregory
John Milton Gregory was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction in Michigan in 1858, after several years spent as editor of the Michigan Journal of Education. After leaving office in 1864 he became the second president of Kalamazoo College from 1864 until 1867...

, and Leroy D. Thoman
Leroy D. Thoman
Leroy Delano Thoman was an American judge and civil service commissioner.Thoman was born in Salem, Ohio, July 31, 1851. He was educated in the common schools and became a teacher at the age of sixteen. After five years of teaching, he studied the law and was admitted to the bar...

 as commissioners. The chief examiner, Silas W. Burt
Silas W. Burt
Silas Wright Burt was a civil service reformer and naval officer of the port of New York.Burt was born in Albany, New York, the son of Thomas Burt and Lydia Burt in 1830. In 1855, he married Jeanette Ferrell of Logansport, Indiana. President Rutherford B...

, was a long-time reformer who had been Arthur's opponent when the two men worked at the New York Customs House. The commission issued its first rules in May 1883; by 1884, half of all postal officials and three-quarters of the Customs Service
United States Customs Service
Until March 2003, the United States Customs Service was an agency of the U.S. federal government that collected import tariffs and performed other selected border security duties.Before it was rolled into form part of the U.S...

 jobs were to be awarded by merit. That year, Arthur expressed satisfaction in the new system, praising its effectiveness "in securing competent and faithful public servants and in protecting the appointing officers of the Government from the pressure of personal importunity and from the labor of examining the claims and pretensions of rival candidates for public employment."

Surplus and the tariff

Since 1866, the federal government had collected more revenue than it expended, with the surplus reaching $145 million in 1882. Opinions varied on how to balance the budget
Balanced budget
A balanced budget is when there is neither a budget deficit or a budget surplus – when revenues equal expenditure – particularly by a government. More generally, it refers to when there is no deficit, but possibly a surplus...

. Most Democrats wished to lower tariffs, in order to reduce revenues and lower the cost of imported goods. Republicans largely disagreed, believing that high tariffs ensured high wages for men employed in manufacturing and natural resource extraction. They preferred that the government spend more on public works
Public works
Public works are a broad category of projects, financed and constructed by the government, for recreational, employment, and health and safety uses in the greater community...

 and reduce excise
Excise
Excise tax in the United States is a indirect tax on listed items. Excise taxes can be and are made by federal, state and local governments and are far from uniform throughout the United States...

 taxes. Arthur mostly agreed with his party, and in 1882 called for the abolition of excise taxes on everything except liquor, as well as a simplification of the complex tariff structure. In May of that year, Representative William D. Kelley
William D. Kelley
William D. Kelley was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. Kelley was a lifelong advocate of civil rights, social reform, and labor protection.-Early life:...

 of Pennsylvania introduced a bill to establish a tariff commission. The bill passed and Arthur signed it into law but appointed mostly protectionists
Protectionism
Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations designed to allow "fair competition" between imports and goods and services produced domestically.This...

 to the committee. Republicans were pleased with the committee's make-up but were surprised when, in December 1882, they submitted a report to Congress calling for tariff cuts averaging between 20 and 25%. The commission's recommendations were ignored, however, as the House Ways and Means Committee
United States House Committee on Ways and Means
The Committee of Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives. Members of the Ways and Means Committee are not allowed to serve on any other House Committees unless they apply for a waiver from their party's congressional leadership...

, dominated by protectionists, wrote the law to yield reductions of 10%. After conference with the Senate, the bill that emerged only reduced tariffs by an average of 1.47%. The bill passed both houses narrowly on March 3, 1883, the last full day of the 47th Congress
47th United States Congress
The Forty-seventh United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from March 4, 1881 to March 4, 1883, during the administration...

. Arthur signed the measure into law, but it did little to reduce the surplus.

At the same time as the tariff debate, Congress attempted to balance the budget from the other side of the ledger by passing a Rivers and Harbors Bill that contained the then-unprecedented expenditure of $19 million for internal improvements. While Arthur was not opposed to internal improvements, the scale of the bill disturbed him, as did its focus on "particular localities," rather than on projects that benefited a large part of the nation. On August 1, 1882, Arthur vetoed the bill to widespread popular acclaim. In his veto message, he wrote that his principal objection to the bill was that it appropriated funds for purposes "not for the common defense or general welfare, and which do not promote commerce among the States." Congress overrode
Veto override
A veto override is an action by legislators and decision-makers to override an act of veto by someone with such powers - thus forcing through a new decision. The power to override a veto varies greatly in tandem with the veto power itself. The U.S constitution gives a 2/3 majority Congress the...

 his veto, and the new law reduced the surplus by $19 million. Many Republicans considered the law a success at the time, but later believed the unpopular law contributed to their loss of seats in the elections of 1882.

Foreign affairs and immigration

During the Garfield administration, Secretary of State James G. Blaine
James G. Blaine
James Gillespie Blaine was a U.S. Representative, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, U.S. Senator from Maine, two-time Secretary of State...

 took the United States' diplomacy in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 in a new direction, urging reciprocal trade agreements and offering to mediate disputes among the Latin American nations. Blaine proposed holding a Pan-American conference in 1882 to discuss trade and an end to the War of the Pacific
War of the Pacific
The War of the Pacific took place in western South America from 1879 through 1883. Chile fought against Bolivia and Peru. Despite cooperation among the three nations in the war against Spain, disputes soon arose over the mineral-rich Peruvian provinces of Tarapaca, Tacna, and Arica, and the...

 being fought by Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, and Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

. This represented a greater involvement in affairs south of the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

 than the United States had previously attempted, and marked a significant shift in foreign policy. Blaine did not remain in office long enough to see the effort through, and when Frederick T. Frelinghuysen replaced him at the end of 1881, the conference efforts lapsed. Frelinghuysen also discontinued Blaine's peace efforts in the War of the Pacific, fearing that the United States might be drawn into the conflict. Arthur and Frelinghuysen continued Blaine's efforts to encourage trade among the nations of the Western Hemisphere, and a treaty with Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 providing for reciprocal tariff reductions was signed in 1882 and approved by the Senate in 1884. The House declined to approve the legislation required to bring the treaty into force, however, rendering it a dead letter. Similar efforts at reciprocal trade treaties with Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, known officially as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. Its metropolitan population was 2,084,852 in 2003, and estimated at 3,294,385 in 2010. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, at the mouth of the Ozama River...

 and Spain's American colonies
Spanish West Indies
The Spanish West Indies was the contemporary name for the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean...

 were defeated by February 1885, and an existing reciprocity treaty with the Kingdom of Hawaii
Kingdom of Hawaii
The Kingdom of Hawaii was established during the years 1795 to 1810 with the subjugation of the smaller independent chiefdoms of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lānai, Kauai and Niihau by the chiefdom of Hawaii into one unified government...

 was allowed to lapse.

The 47th Congress spent a great deal of its time on the regulation of immigration, at times in accord with Arthur's wishes and at times against them. In July 1882, without significant opposition, Congress passed a bill regulating steamships that carried immigrants to the United States. To their surprise, Arthur vetoed it, citing problems in the bill's wording; Congress agreed to reword it, and he signed the revised measure. He also signed in August of that year the Immigration Act of 1882, which levied a fifty-cent tax on immigrants to the United States, as well as excluding from entry the mentally ill, the mentally retarded, criminals, or any person "unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge." A larger debate concerned the status of one particular group of immigrants: the Chinese. In 1868, the Senate had ratified the Burlingame Treaty
Burlingame Treaty
The Burlingame Treaty, also known as the Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868, between the United States and China, amended the Treaty of Tientsin of 1858 and established formal friendly relations between the two countries, with the United States granting China most favored nation status...

 with China, allowing an unrestricted flow of Chinese immigrants into the country. As the economy soured after the Panic of 1873
Panic of 1873
The Panic of 1873 triggered a severe international economic depression in both Europe and the United States that lasted until 1879, and even longer in some countries. The depression was known as the Great Depression until the 1930s, but is now known as the Long Depression...

, Chinese immigrants were blamed for depressing workmen's wages. In response, Congress passed a Chinese Exclusion Act in 1879, abrogating the 1868 treaty, which President Hayes vetoed. Three years later, after China had agreed to treaty revisions, Congress tried again to exclude Chinese immigrants. Senator John F. Miller of California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 introduced a Chinese Exclusion Act that would have denied Chinese immigrants United States citizenship and completely ban their immigration for the next twenty years. The bill passed the Senate and House by overwhelming margins, arriving at Arthur's desk in April 1882. Arthur vetoed the bill, seeing the twenty-year ban as a breach of the renegotiated treaty of 1880, which allowed only a "reasonable" suspension of immigration. Eastern newspapers praised the veto, but he was widely condemned in the Western states. Congress was unable to override the veto, instead passing a new bill that reduced the ban on Chinese immigration to ten years. Although he still objected to the denial of citizenship to Chinese immigrants, Arthur signed the compromise measure into law on May 6, 1882.

Naval reform

In the years following the Civil War, American naval power
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 declined precipitously, shrinking from nearly 700 vessels to just 52, most of which were obsolete. The nation's military focus over the fifteen years before Garfield and Arthur's election had been on the Indian wars in the West, rather than the high seas, but as the region was increasingly pacified, many in Congress grew concerned at the poor state of the Navy. Garfield's Secretary of the Navy, William H. Hunt
William H. Hunt
William Henry Hunt was the United States Secretary of the Navy under President James Garfield and briefly under President Chester A. Arthur.-Biography:...

, advocated reform of the Navy and his successor, William E. Chandler
William E. Chandler
William Eaton Chandler was a lawyer who served as United States Secretary of the Navy and as a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire.-Early life:...

, appointed an advisory board to prepare a report on modernization. Based on the suggestions in the report, Congress appropriated funds for the construction of three steel protected cruiser
Protected cruiser
The protected cruiser is a type of naval cruiser of the late 19th century, so known because its armoured deck offered protection for vital machine spaces from shrapnel caused by exploding shells above...

s (Atlanta
USS Atlanta (1884)
The second USS Atlanta was a protected cruiser and one of the first steel warships of the "New Navy" of the 1880s.Atlanta was laid down on 8 November 1883 at Chester, Pennsylvania by John Roach & Sons; launched on 9 October 1884; sponsored by Miss Jessie Lincoln, the daughter of Secretary of War...

, Boston
USS Boston (1884)
The fifth USS Boston, a protected cruiser, was launched 4 December 1884 by John Roach & Sons, Chester, Pennsylvania, and commissioned 2 May 1887, Captain Francis M. Ramsay in command....

, and Chicago
USS Chicago (1885)
The first USS Chicago was a protected cruiser of the United States Navy, the largest of the original three authorized by Congress for the "New Navy"....

) and an armed dispatch-steamer (Dolphin
USS Dolphin (PG-24)
USS Dolphin —a gunboat/dispatch vessel—was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the dolphin. Dolphins keel was laid down by John Roach & Sons of Chester, Pennsylvania. She was launched on 12 April 1884, with Captain George Dewey in command, and commissioned on 8 December 1885...

), collectively known as the "ABCD Ships" or the "Squadron of Evolution
Squadron of Evolution
The Squadron of Evolution " —sometimes referred to as the "White Squadron"— was a transitional unit in the United States Navy, during the late 19th century. Composed of the cruisers , , , USS Yorktown, and dispatch boat . Having both full rigged masts and steam engines, it was influential in the...

". Congress also approved funds to rebuild four monitors
Monitor (warship)
A monitor was a class of relatively small warship which was neither fast nor strongly armoured but carried disproportionately large guns. They were used by some navies from the 1860s until the end of World War II, and saw their final use by the United States Navy during the Vietnam War.The monitors...

 (Puritan
USS Puritan (BM-1)
The second USS Puritan was a Puritan class monitor in the United States Navy, constructed in 1882. She was the only ship in her class.-Construction:...

, Amphitrite
USS Amphitrite (BM-2)
The second USS Amphitrite—the lead ship in her class of iron-hulled, twin-screw monitors—was laid down in 1874 at Wilmington, Delaware, by the Harlan and Hollingsworth yard; launched on 7 June 1883; sponsored by Miss Nellie Benson, the daughter of a Harlan and Hollingsworth official; and...

, Monadnock
USS Monadnock (BM-3)
The second USS Monadnock was an iron‑hulled, twin‑screw, double‑turreted monitor of the in the United States Navy which saw service in the Spanish-American War....

, and Terror
USS Terror (BM-4)
USS Terror — the totally rebuilt version of the earlier monitor , which had shared the Terror's name — was an iron-hulled, twin-screw, double-turreted monitor of the , laid down in 1874 at Philadelphia by William Cramp and Sons. Her construction progressed over the next three years until suspended...

,
) which had lain uncompleted since 1877. The contracts to build the ABCD ships were all awarded to the low bidder, John Roach & Sons
John Roach & Sons
John Roach & Sons was a major 19th-century American shipbuilding and manufacturing firm founded in 1864 by Irish-American immigrant John Roach. Between 1871 and 1885, the company was the largest shipbuilding firm in the United States, building more iron ships than its next two major competitors...

 of Chester
Chester, Pennsylvania
Chester is a city in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States, with a population of 33,972 at the 2010 census. Chester is situated on the Delaware River, between the cities of Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware.- History :...

, Pennsylvania, even though Roach once employed Secretary Chandler as a lobbyist. Democrats turned against the "New Navy" projects and, when they won control of the 48th Congress
48th United States Congress
The Forty-eighth United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from March 4, 1883 to March 4, 1885, during the last two years...

, refused to appropriate funds for seven more steel warships. Even without the additional ships, the state of the Navy improved when, after several construction delays, the last of the new ships entered service in 1889.

Civil rights

Like his Republican predecessors, Arthur struggled with the question of how his party was to challenge the Democrats in the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 and how, if at all, to protect the civil rights of black southerners. Since the end of Reconstruction, conservative white Democrats (or "Bourbon Democrat
Bourbon Democrat
Bourbon Democrat was a term used in the United States from 1876 to 1904 to refer to a member of the Democratic Party, conservative or classical liberal, especially one who supported President Grover Cleveland in 1884–1888/1892–1896 and Alton B. Parker in 1904. After 1904, the Bourbons faded away...

s") had regained power in the South, and the Republican party dwindled rapidly as their primary supporters in the region, blacks, were disenfranchised. One crack in the solidly Democratic South
Solid South
Solid South is the electoral support of the Southern United States for the Democratic Party candidates for nearly a century from 1877, the end of Reconstruction, to 1964, during the middle of the Civil Rights era....

 emerged with the growth of a new party, the Readjusters
Readjuster Party
The Readjuster Party was a political coalition formed in Virginia in the late 1870s during the turbulent period following the American Civil War. Readjusters aspired "to break the power of wealth and established privilege" and to promote public education, a program which attracted biracial support....

, in Virginia. Having won an election in that state on a platform of more education funding (for black and white schools alike) and abolition of the poll tax
Poll tax
A poll tax is a tax of a portioned, fixed amount per individual in accordance with the census . When a corvée is commuted for cash payment, in effect it becomes a poll tax...

 and the whipping post
Pillory
The pillory was a device made of a wooden or metal framework erected on a post, with holes for securing the head and hands, formerly used for punishment by public humiliation and often further physical abuse, sometimes lethal...

, many northern Republicans saw the Readjusters as a more viable ally in the South than the moribund southern Republican party. Arthur agreed, and directed the federal patronage in Virginia through the Readjusters rather than the Republicans. He followed the same pattern in other Southern states, forging coalitions with independents and Greenback Party members. Some black Republicans felt betrayed by the pragmatic gambit, but others (including Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing...

 and ex-Senator Blanche K. Bruce) endorsed the administration's actions, as the Southern independents had more liberal racial policies than the Democrats. Arthur's coalition policy was only successful in Virginia, however, and by 1885 the Readjuster movement began to collapse with the election of a Democratic president. Other federal action on behalf of blacks was equally ineffective: when the Supreme Court struck down the Civil Rights Act of 1875
Civil Rights Act of 1875
The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was a United States federal law proposed by Senator Charles Sumner and Representative Benjamin F. Butler in 1870...

 in an 1883 decision
United States v. Harris
United States v. Harris, , sometimes referred to as the Ku Klux Case, was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to penalize crimes such as assault and murder. It declared that the local governments have the power to...

, Arthur expressed his disagreement with the decision in a message to Congress, but was unable to persuade Congress to pass any new legislation in its place. Arthur did, however, effectively intervene to overturn a court-martial
Court-martial
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

 ruling against a black West Point
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 cadet, Johnson Whittaker
Johnson Chesnut Whittaker
Johnson Chesnut Whittaker was one of the first black men to win an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. When at the academy, he was brutally assaulted and then expelled after being falsely accused and convicted of faking the incident...

, after the Judge Advocate General of the Army
Judge Advocate General of the United States Army
The Judge Advocate General of the United States Army is the commanding officer of the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the United States Army. Under Title 10 of the United States Code, the TJAG is appointed by the President of the United States. Suitable candidates are recommended by the...

, David G. Swaim
David G. Swaim
David G. Swaim was Judge Advocate General of the United States Army from February 18, 1881 to December 22, 1894.Born in Salem, Ohio, Swaim became a lawyer in 1859. With the outbreak of the American Civil War, he joined the 65th Ohio Infantry as a first lieutenant. He was later promoted to...

, found the prosecution's case against Whittaker legally invalid and based on racial animus.

The administration faced a different challenge in the West, where the Mormon Church was under government pressure to stop the practice of polygamy
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

 in Utah Territory
Utah Territory
The Territory of Utah was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 4, 1896, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Utah....

. Garfield had believed polygamy was criminal behavior and was morally detrimental to family values, and Arthur's views were, for once, in line with his predecessor's. In 1882, he signed the Edmunds Act
Edmunds Act
The Edmunds Act, also known as the Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act of 1882, is a United States federal statute, signed into law on March 23, 1882, declaring polygamy a felony. The act is named for U.S. Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont...

 into law, making polygamy a federal crime and barring polygamists from public office. The Arthur administration also dealt with changing relations with western American Indian
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 tribes. The Indian Wars were winding down, and public sentiment was shifting toward more favorable treatment of Native Americans. Arthur urged Congress to increase funding for Indian education, which it did in 1884, although not to the extent he wished. He also favored a move to the allotment system, under which individual Native Americans, rather than tribes, would own land. Arthur was unable to convince Congress to adopt the idea during his administration but, in 1887, the Dawes Act
Dawes Act
The Dawes Act, adopted by Congress in 1887, authorized the President of the United States to survey Indian tribal land and divide the land into allotments for individual Indians. The Act was named for its sponsor, Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts. The Dawes Act was amended in 1891 and again...

 changed the law to favor such a system. The allotment system was favored by liberal reformers at the time, but eventually proved detrimental to Native Americans as most of their land was resold at low prices to white speculators
Speculation
In finance, speculation is a financial action that does not promise safety of the initial investment along with the return on the principal sum...

.

Health, travel, and renomination

Shortly after becoming President, Arthur was diagnosed with Bright's disease
Bright's disease
Bright's disease is a historical classification of kidney diseases that would be described in modern medicine as acute or chronic nephritis. The term is no longer used, as diseases are now classified according to their more fully understood causes....

, a kidney
Kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...

 ailment now referred to as nephritis
Nephritis
Nephritis is inflammation of the nephrons in the kidneys. The word "nephritis" was imported from Latin, which took it from Greek: νεφρίτιδα. The word comes from the Greek νεφρός - nephro- meaning "of the kidney" and -itis meaning "inflammation"....

. He attempted to keep his condition private, but by 1883 rumors of his illness began to circulate. By that time he had become thinner and more aged in appearance, as well as less energetic in keeping up with the demands of the presidency. Hoping to rejuvenate his health by getting out of Washington, Arthur and some political friends traveled to Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 in April 1883. The vacation had the opposite effect, and Arthur suffered from intense pain before returning to Washington. The following year, on the advice of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 Senator George Graham Vest
George Graham Vest
George Graham Vest was a U.S. politician. Born in Frankfort, Kentucky, he was known for his skills in oration and debate. Vest, a lawyer as well as a politician, served as a Missouri Congressman, a Confederate Congressman during the Civil War, and finally a US Senator...

, he visited Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho...

. Reporters accompanied the presidential party, helping to publicize the new National Park system. The Yellowstone trip was more beneficial to Arthur's health than his Florida excursion, and he returned to Washington refreshed after two months of travel.

As the 1884 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1884
The United States presidential election of 1884 saw the first election of a Democrat as President of the United States since the election of 1856. New York Governor Grover Cleveland narrowly defeated Republican former United States Senator James G. Blaine of Maine to break the longest losing streak...

 approached, James G. Blaine
James G. Blaine
James Gillespie Blaine was a U.S. Representative, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, U.S. Senator from Maine, two-time Secretary of State...

 was thought to be the favorite for the Republican nomination, but Arthur, too, contemplated a run for a full term as President. In the months leading up to the 1884 Republican National Convention
1884 Republican National Convention
The 1884 Republican National Convention was a presidential nominating convention held at the Exposition Hall in Chicago, Illinois, on June 3–6, 1884. It resulted in the nomination of James G. Blaine and John A. Logan for President and Vice President of the United States. The ticket lost in the...

, however, Arthur began to realize that neither faction of the Republican party was prepared to give him their full support: the Half-Breeds were again solidly behind Blaine, while Stalwarts were undecided; some backed Arthur, with others considering Senator John A. Logan
John A. Logan
John Alexander Logan was an American soldier and political leader. He served in the Mexican-American War and was a general in the Union Army in the American Civil War. He served the state of Illinois as a state senator, congressman and senator and was an unsuccessful candidate for Vice President...

 of Illinois. Reform-minded Republicans, friendlier to Arthur after he endorsed civil service reform, were still not certain enough of his reform credentials to back him over Senator George F. Edmunds
George F. Edmunds
George Franklin Edmunds was a Republican U.S. Senator from Vermont from 1866 to 1891.Born in Richmond, Vermont, Edmunds attended common schools and was privately tutored as a child. After being admitted to the bar in 1849, he started a law practice in Burlington, Vermont...

 of Vermont, who had long favored their cause. Business leaders supported him, as did Southern Republicans who owed their jobs to his control of the patronage, but by the time they began to rally around him, Arthur had decided against a serious campaign for the nomination. He kept up a token effort, believing that to drop out would cast doubt on his actions in office and raise questions about his health, but by the time the convention began in June, his defeat was almost assured. Blaine led on the first ballot, and by the fourth ballot he had a majority. Arthur telegraphed his congratulations to Blaine and accepted his defeat with equanimity. He played no role in the 1884 campaign, which Blaine would later say contributed to his loss that November to the Democratic nominee, Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents...

.

Administration and cabinet

Judicial appointments

Arthur made appointments to fill two vacancies on the United States Supreme Court. The first vacancy arose in July 1881 with the death of Associate Justice
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are the members of the Supreme Court of the United States other than the Chief Justice of the United States...

 Nathan Clifford
Nathan Clifford
Nathan Clifford was an American statesman, diplomat and jurist.Clifford was born of old Yankee stock in Rumney, New Hampshire, to farmers, the only son of seven children He attended the public schools of that town, then the Haverhill Academy in New...

, a Democrat who had been a member of the Court since before the Civil War. Arthur nominated Horace Gray
Horace Gray
Horace Gray was an American jurist who ultimately served on the United States Supreme Court. He was active in public service and a great philanthropist to the City of Boston.-Early life:...

, a distinguished jurist from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is the highest court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The SJC has the distinction of being the oldest continuously functioning appellate court in the Western Hemisphere.-History:...

 to replace him, and the nomination was easily confirmed. Gray would serve until 1902 and was the author of the court's majority opinion
Majority opinion
In law, a majority opinion is a judicial opinion agreed to by more than half of the members of a court. A majority opinion sets forth the decision of the court and an explanation of the rationale behind the court's decision....

 in United States v. Wong Kim Ark
United States v. Wong Kim Ark
United States v. Wong Kim Ark, , was a United States Supreme Court decision that set an important legal precedent about the role of jus soli as a factor in determining a person's claim to United States citizenship...

,
which overturned the section of the Chinese Exclusion Act that denied Chinese-Americans citizenship. The second vacancy occurred when Associate Justice Ward Hunt
Ward Hunt
Ward Hunt , was an American jurist and politician. He was Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals from 1868 to 1869, and an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1873 to 1882.-Life:...

 retired in January 1882. Arthur first nominated his old political boss, Roscoe Conkling
Roscoe Conkling
Roscoe Conkling was a politician from New York who served both as a member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. He was the leader of the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party and the last person to refuse a U.S. Supreme Court appointment after he had...

; he doubted that Conkling would accept, but felt obligated to offer a high office to his former patron. The Senate confirmed the nomination but, as expected, Conkling declined it. Senator George Edmunds was Arthur's next choice, but he declined to be considered. Instead, Arthur nominated Samuel Blatchford
Samuel Blatchford
Samuel Blatchford was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from April 3, 1882 until his death.-Early life:...

, a judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is one of the thirteen United States Courts of Appeals...

 for the last fifteen years. Blatchford accepted, and his nomination was approved within two weeks. Blatchford served on the Court until his death in 1893.

Retirement and death

Arthur left office in 1885 and returned to his New York City home. Two months before the end of his term, several New York Stalwarts approached him to request that he run for United States Senate, but he declined, preferring to return to his old law practice at Arthur, Knevals & Ransom. His health limited his activity with the firm, and Arthur served only of counsel
Of counsel
Of counsel is often the title of an attorney who is employed by a law firm or an organization, but is not an associate or a partner. Some firms use titles like "counsel," "special counsel," and "senior counsel" for the same concept...

. He took on few assignments with the firm and was often too ill to leave his house. He managed a few public appearances, up until the end of 1885.

After summering in New London, Connecticut
New London, Connecticut
New London is a seaport city and a port of entry on the northeast coast of the United States.It is located at the mouth of the Thames River in New London County, southeastern Connecticut....

, in 1886, he returned quite ill and, on November 16, ordered nearly all of his papers, both personal and official, burned. The next morning, Arthur suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and never regained consciousness; he died the following day at the age of 57. On November 22, a private funeral was held at the Church of the Heavenly Rest
Church of the Heavenly Rest
The Church of the Heavenly Rest is an Episcopal Church on the Upper East Side of New York City, located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 90th Street, opposite Central Park and the Carnegie Mansion...

 in New York City, attended by President Cleveland and ex-President Hayes, among other notables. Arthur was buried next to the graves of many of his family members and ancestors in the Albany Rural Cemetery
Albany Rural Cemetery
The Albany Rural Cemetery was established October 7, 1844, in Menands, New York, just outside of the city of Albany, New York. It is renowned as one of the most beautiful, pastoral cemeteries in the United States, at over . Many historical American figures are buried there.-History:On April 2,...

 in Menands, New York
Menands, New York
Menands is a village in Albany County, New York, United States. The population was 3,990 at the 2010 census. The village is named after Louis Menand...

. He was laid beside his wife in a sarcophagus
Sarcophagus
A sarcophagus is a funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved or cut from stone. The word "sarcophagus" comes from the Greek σαρξ sarx meaning "flesh", and φαγειν phagein meaning "to eat", hence sarkophagus means "flesh-eating"; from the phrase lithos sarkophagos...

 on a large corner of the plot.

See also

  • Arthur Cottage
    Arthur Cottage
    Arthur Cottage in the village of Cullybackey, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is the ancestral home of Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President of the United States. It is situated 4 miles from Ballymena, only a short walk from the village of Cullybackey...

    , ancestral home, Cullybackey
    Cullybackey
    Cullybackey or Cullybacky is a village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It lies 4 miles north of Ballymena, on the banks of the River Maine, and is within the Borough of Ballymena. It had a population of 2,405 people in the 2001 Census....

    , County Antrim
    County Antrim
    County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,844 km², with a population of approximately 616,000...

    , Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...


External links


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