Chester A Arthur
21st president - 1881-1885
Sunday 18 January 2009
Chester A Arthur arrived in the White House with a reputation as a Party man: an enthusiastic advocate of the shamelessly political patronage that had flourished under Ulysses Grant. He had been nominated to the vice-presidency largely to placate the "stalwart" wing of the Republican party, which approved of such patronage.
As President, however, Arthur broke decisively with his former cronies, to the fury of Republican power brokers such as Roscoe Conkling. Continuing where Garfield and Hayes had left off, he attempted to curb irresponsible "pork barrel" spending and conscientiously pursued the cause of civil service reform. In 1883, he signed into law the Pendleton Act, which established a bipartisan Civil Service Commission, protected employees against removal for political reasons, and made certain Government positions obtainable only through competitive written examinations.
It has subsequently been theorised that his unexpected independence of spirit may have owed something to his knowledge, kept secret since the first year of his presidency, that he was dying of Bright's disease, an incurable kidney disorder. He was not re-nominated in 1884 and, after briefly resuming his career as a lawyer, died in 1886.
In his own words
"Men may die, but the fabrics of our free institutions remain unshaken. No higher or more reassuring proof could exist of the strength and permanence of popular government than the fact that though the chosen of the people be struck down his constitutional successor is peacefully installed without shock or strain except the sorrow which mourns the bereavement."
"I may be President of the United States, but my private life is nobody's damned business."
In others' words
"No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired... more generally respected." Alexander K McClure
"A nonentity with side whiskers." Woodrow Wilson
Arthur had a reputation as a dandy and was the first president to employ a full-time valet. It was said that he owned at least 80 pairs of trousers.
Before moving into the White House, he auctioned off 24 wagon-loads of presidential memorabilia to souvenir-hunters. He used the proceeds to pay for a lavish refurbishment.
- 1 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 2 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...