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AMERICAN HISTORY

21st President: Chester Alan Arthur
Years in Office: 1881 -- 1885  ( 4 yrs )
Party:  Republican
Vice President:  NONE
First Lady: Ellen Herndon Garfield
Year Born:  1829
Year Died:  1886  ( 57 yrs old )

Chester A. Arthur has been judged a highly - forgettable chief executive. Yet his dedication to rooting out corruption in government and carrying on with the civil service reforms that James Garfield began beg to be remembered.

    Perhaps the best - dressed and most socially - inclined of all U.S. presidents, Arthur's gentlemanly demeanor and refined tastes were seen to lend dignity to an office then held in low esteem.  He spent an itinerant youth as the son of a Baptist minister always on the lookout for a grander parish.

    Arthur graduated from Union College in 1848, passed the bar a few years later and joined the Republican Party.  Settling in New York City, he defended fugitive slaves and fought successfully for the rights of blacks to ride on any streetcar in the city.  Ulysses S. Grant eventually appointed him collector of customs for the Port of New York.

    Nominated for the vice - presidency in 1880,  Arthur balanced the ticket with James Garfield.  The presidency was thrust upon him a year and a half into his term.  His run for renomination was hindered by the fact that he was already dying of the dreaded Bright's disease.