Chester Alan Arthur was born October 5, 1829, in Fairfield, Vermont.
Arthur married Ellen Herndon October 25, 1859, and together, they had three children. Mrs. Arthur died a year before Arthur became President; later, at the White House, his sister acted and performed the duties of First Lady.
Arthur made a name for himself as the lawyer who defended a black woman named Lizzie Jennings who was thrown off a streetcar in Brooklyn. He won the case and public transportation in New York became desegregated for all people.
As James Garfield‘s Vice President, Arthur became President on September 19, 1881, when Garfield died ten weeks after being shot. Both Garfield and Arthur were Republicans.
Known as “The Gentleman’s Boss” as President, Arthur forged a reputation for being honest and fair and worked to abolish cronyism within the government. He support civil service reform, and in 1883, the Pendleton Act was signed into law and government jobs were no longer handed out as favors.
Arthur had a flamboyant style and loved to throw parties. He loved to hunt and fish and wore stylish clothes and entertained lavishly at the White House, with dinners often lasting more than three hours.
One of Arthur’s last public ceremonies was the dedication of the Washington Monument on February 21, 1885. The day before he left office, he sent a note to the Senate asking that former President Grant be restored to the retired list of the Army with full pay as a general.
After his Presidency, Arthur returned to New York and returned to practicing law. He died November 18, 1886, in his New York townhouse, only 57 years old.