Chester A. Arthur

Arthur, Chester Alan

Chester Alan Arthur, 1829–86, 21st President of the United States (1881–85), b. Fairfield, Vt. He studied law and before the Civil War practiced in New York City. In the war he was (1861–63) quartermaster general of New York State. In 1871, President Grant appointed him collector of the port of New York. Although Arthur was a loyal party man and a believer in the spoils system, he administered this office honestly and efficiently. President Hayes, bent on civil service reform, displaced Arthur in 1878, thus defying Senator Conkling and the New York Republican machine. At the Republican national convention of 1880, Garfield was nominated for President, and the Conkling "Stalwarts," who had supported Grant, were placated by the nomination of Arthur for Vice President. Garfield's assassination soon after his inauguration made Arthur President. He came into office handicapped by a record in machine politics and grave doubt as to his ability and integrity, but his administration proved honest, efficient, and dignified. He effectively supported the civil service reform act of 1883, vetoed a Chinese exclusion bill that violated a treaty with China, and vigorously prosecuted the Star Route trials, in which several prominent Republicans were found guilty of swindling the Post Office Department. Serious illness kept Arthur from actively seeking renomination in 1884.

See biographies by T. C. Reeves (1975) and Z. Karabell (2004).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Chester A. Arthur, a Quarter-Century of Machine Politics
George Frederick Howe.
F. Ungar Pub. Co., 1957
Presidents from Hayes through McKinley, 1877-1901: Debating the Issues in Pro and Con Primary Documents
Amy H. Sturgis.
Greenwood Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Chester A. Arthur"
From Hayes to McKinley: National Party Politics, 1877-1896
H. Wayne Morgan.
Syracuse University Press, 1969
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "Arthur"
Facts about the Presidents: A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Data
Joseph Nashan Kane.
H. W. Wilson, 1959
Librarian’s tip: "Chester Alan Arthur: 21st President" begins on p. 146
Presidential Anecdotes
Paul F. Boller Jr.
Oxford University Press, 1996 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Twenty-One "Chester A. Arthur 1881-85"
American Politics in the Gilded Age, 1868-1900
Robert W. Cherny.
Harlan Davidson, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Garfield and Arthur: The Deadlock Continues, 1880-1884" begins on p. 67
The Rise of the Vice Presidency
Irving G. Williams; Edward R. Murrow.
Public Affairs Press, 1956
Librarian’s tip: "Chester Alan Arthur" begins on p. 64
The Presidential Election of 1880
Herbert J. S. J. Clancy.
Loyola University Press, 1958
Farewell to the Bloody Shirt: Northern Republicans & the Southern Negro, 1877-1893
Stanley P. Hirshson.
Indiana University Press, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Chester A. Arthur begins on p. 99
Rum, Romanism & Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884
Mark Wahlgren Summers.
University of North Carolina Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "The Passing of Arthur"
Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns, and Elections
William C. Binning; Larry E. Esterly; Paul A. Sracic.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Arthur, Chester A. (1830-1886)" begins on p. 8
Closing the Gate: Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act
Andrew Gyory.
University of North Carolina Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882" begins on p. 242
The Unitary Executive during the Second Half-Century
Calabresi, Steven G.; Yoo, Christopher S.
Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 26, No. 3, Summer 2003
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