The New International Encyclopædia/Arthur, Chester Alan
ARTHUR, Chester Alan (1830-86). The twenty-first President of the United States. He was born at Fairfield, Vt., October 5, 1830, of Scotch-Irish parentage. He graduated from Union College in 1848, began the practice of law in 1853, and soon became conspicuous at the bar of New York. In the decade before the Civil War his professional reputation was assured by his share in the famous Lemmon Case, involving the validity, under certain conditions, of the Fugitive Slave Law (q.v.), and by his management of the case, which resulted in securing for colored persons equal rights with white persons in the street cars of New York. In the period of the war he served at different times as Inspector-General and as Quartermaster-General of the State of New York, and gained wide recognition for his particularly effective work in preparing the New York troops for the field. Having identified himself with the Republican Party in its early days, he obtained from President Grant in 1871 the highly desirable office of Collector of the Port of New York, and four years later his administration of the office was indorsed by a reappointment. His relations with practical politics and his attitude toward civil-service reform not tending long to maintain harmony between himself and the incoming administration, he was removed from office by President Hayes. The power of his friends, however, was such that in 1880, partly as a concession to the unsuccessful supporters of Grant, he was nominated for the Vice-Presidency, and upon his election to that office manifested an activity in senatorial politics quite unusual with vice-presidents. In the factional fight for the control of the New York patronage, he continued in alliance with Roscoe Conkling, the leader of the ‘Stalwart’ faction, against the ‘Half Breeds.’ This bitter controversy culminated in the resignations of Senators Conkling and Platt; but the situation seemed altered a few months later, when, upon the death of Garfield, Arthur succeeded to the Presidency. His administration of that office, however, was marked by a realization of its responsibilities, and by principles of procedure different from those which had earlier controlled his actions as a politician.
Those who anticipated the introduction of partisan motives into the executive policy were shown clearly to be in error, and the administration, although not brilliant, was in many respects creditable. The tariff formed the chief object of party legislation, and important Congressional action was taken with reference to the problems of polygamy in Utah, of the Chinese, of the development of the navy, and of civil-service reform. On the other hand, the ‘Star-Route’ frauds (q.v.) had not disappeared from notice, and the prevalent dissatisfaction with the methods and accomplishments of the Republican Party was typified in the defeat of Arthur's Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Folger, by Grover Cleveland (q.v.) in the gubernatorial contest in New York. President Arthur was avowedly a candidate for the nomination in 1884, but was defeated by James G. Blaine (q.v.). He died in New York City, November 18, 1886. See United States, Administration of Arthur.