Monday, April 18, 2005

POTUS 21: Pres. Chester Alan Arthur - Accidental, Partial One-Term President, Owner Of Some Impressive Muttonchops, And Dandy

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Chester Alan Arthur was catapulted into the Vice-Presidency and Presidency on the basis of a pretty thin resume. Arthur had been Collector of Customs for the Port of New York, an important and powerful position. He was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant but was fired by Grant's successor, Rutherford B. Hayes, under (probably false) suspicions of bribery and corruption.

Arthur is remembered as one of the most society-conscious presidents, earning the nickname "the Gentleman Boss" for his dandy dress and courtly manner.

Chester Alan Arthur was elected Vice President of the United States on the Republican ticket with President James Garfield. His term as VPOTUS only lasted a few months.

Following President Garfield's assassination, he became President of the United States on September 20, 1881. He was often seen in the company of the socially prominent in Washington, New York, and Newport.

To the outrage of stalwart Republicans, the onetime Collector of the Port of New York and dispenser of political patronage became, as President, a champion of civil service reform. Public pressure, heightened by the assassination of Garfield, forced an unwieldy Congress to heed the President. He lost what friends he had in the party, and was not nominated for his own full term in office, which he likely would not have completed. Early in his Presidency, he had contracted Bright's Disease, a fatal kidney disease, from which he died in 1886.

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