Scramblin' thru... the U.S. Presidents
"The Gentleman Boss"
Career BEFORE Presidency:
teacher, lawyer, tariff collector, Vice President under Garfield
Career AFTER Presidency:
Chester A. Arthur became President after the assassination of James A. Garfield. He did not strongly pursue re-nomination and, as a result, was not picked by his party for the Election of 1884. As such, he never officially ran for President.
A Presidential Life in Review
Chester A. Arthur, the 21st U.S. President, took office after the death of James A. Garfield. Serving from 1881 to 1885, Arthur advocated for civil service reform. A Vermont native, he became active in Republican politics in the 1850s as a New York City lawyer. In 1871, an era of political machines and patronage, Arthur was named to the powerful position of Customs Collector for the Port of New York. He later was removed from the job by President Rutherford B. Hayes in an attempt to reform the spoils system. Elected to the Vice Presidency in 1880, Arthur became President after Garfield was assassinated. While in office, Arthur rose above partisanship and in 1883 signed the Pendleton Act, which required that governmental jobs be distributed based on merit. Suffering from poor health, he did not run for re-election in 1884 and died in 1886. Source: The History Channel
Click here for more information about the C-SPAN Survey
Chester A. Arthur Fun Facts
Political opponents of Arthur questioned his citizenship and alleged he was born in Canada, making him ineligible to serve as President because he wasn't a natural-born citizen. However, some argue that even if born in Canada, this point was meaningless since his mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth. Arthur ignored the allegations.
After President James A. Garfield's assassination, Arthur did not immediately move into the White House. He insisted it be redecorated and had 24 wagonloads of furniture hauled off and sold at public auction. The pieces included some dating back to the Presidency of John Adams and would be considered priceless today. (Where's Storage Wars when you need them?!)
A "man-about-town", Arthur entertained his guests lavishly (and often) and enjoyed going to nightclubs. Arthur liked to take friends on late night walks around Washington, D.C., sometimes as late as 3 or 4am. It was rare for him to be in bed before 2am!
Although he was swiftly cleared, Arthur was briefly implicated in the 1878 disappearances of four prostitues.
On November 16, 1886, he ordered the burning of nearly all his personal and official papers. He died two days later. Hmmmmmmm...
Arthur's wife, Ellen, died before he became President. As a result, he had his sister, Mary Arthur McElroy, serve as the White House's hostess.
As President, Arthur drank wine and after-dinner liqueurs nightly. He gained over 40 lbs. in office, a lot of which was from constant drinking (and having friends over to drink).
Arthur would get drunk so often on Saturday nights that he'd need a carriage to take him to church the next morning... even though the church was, literally, less than a block away from the White House.
Arthur told a temperance group that called on him to stop drinking so much: "I may be President of the United States, but my private life is my own damn business!"
An assistant in the White House said of Arthur: "He'd never do today what he could put off until tomorrow." Biographers described a lax work ethic, in which Arthur arrived late, enjoyed long lunches, and regularly took three-day weekends.
Gore Vidal, a famous American author, once described Arthur as "the most fastidious and fashionable President." Reportedly, Arthur kept more than 80 pairs of trousers in his wardrobe... and changed pants five or six times a day. All of this lead to his nickname of "Elegant Arthur". In fact, on his last day in office, four young women offered to marry him due to his interest in fashionable attire.
At the request of Arthur, the International Meridian Conference was held in Washington, D.C. in October 1884 to determine the Prime Meridian of the world. The conference established the Greenwich Meridian and international standardized time, which are both still recognized today.
Arthur belonged to the Restigouche Salmon Club, a group of fishermen from New York who traveled to Canada to fish. A skilled fisherman, he once reportedly caught an 80 lb. bass off the coast of Rhode Island.
Arthur was all about "manscaping" before it was cool. He styled his facial hair in unusual ways, which lead to another one of his nicknames, "Walrus". (Dr. Hartnell can appreciate Arthur's penchant for "fun with facial har"...)
Arthur was the first President to take the Oath of Office in his own home. He actually took the oath twice. The first time was at his personal residence in New York City where it was given to him just after midnight on September 20, 1881, hours after President Garfield died. Arthur took the oath again two days later after returning to Washington, D.C.. The second oath was performed to clear up any dispute over whether the first oath was "official" since it was administered by a state (instead of a Federal) official.
Arthur made no Inaugural Address. (That's one way to not end up like President William Henry Harrison.)