“I may be President, but my private life is nobody’s business.”
Sometimes, great men are elected as President; occasionally, though, average men become great only after they’re elected to office. Such was the case for Chester Arthur. Chester Arthur, the 21st President of the United States, was a teacher and lawyer. He became a political boss, which meant that he gave jobs and money to people who would vote for the Republican Party. He didn’t think this was wrong, but many people did.
Arthur was vice president to President Garfield. When Garfield was shot, the assassin shouted, “Arthur is now President.” The assassin shot the President because the President was trying to do away with corrupt politics. He wanted Arthur to be President because he knew Arthur would give him a job, whether he was qualified or not. This bothered Arthur. He realized that he had not been honest. He changed, working hard to complete the work Garfield had started. He made many political enemies, but he won the respect of the people.
- Chester Arthur was born October 5, 1829 in Fairfield, Vermont.
- Ulysses S. Grant appointed him collector of the port of New York City. He used this position to buy votes. Arthur did not believe there was anything wrong with this and he was honest in his personal life. The New York Times wrote that his professional life was a “mess of filth.”
- Arthur married Ellen Lewis Herndon in 1859. She died two years before he became the President. They had three children.
- Arthur liked fine clothing. He owned 80 pairs of pants.
- He was a great fisherman.
- After Arthur’s term as President, he wanted to raise giant pumpkins. He died a year later before he could complete that dream.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Why was Arthur made vice president if people knew he was dishonest?
Answer: No one expected him to become President. He was chosen because the Stalwarts – Republicans who preferred the system of giving out jobs as favors – liked him. Politicians thought he would help Garfield win the election even though he lacked integrity and leadership skills.
Visit Whitehouse.org to read another perspective about Chester Arthur.