Chester A. Arthur, 21st U.S. President

- Image ID: HRKR8W
Science History Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: HRKR8W
Chester Alan Arthur (October 5, 1829 - November 18, 1886) became the 21st President of the United States (1881-85) after the assassination of President Garfield. After just half a year as vice president, he found himself, unexpectedly, in the executive mansion. To the surprise of reformers, he took up the reform cause, signed the Pendleton Act into law, and enforced its provisions vigorously. He won plaudits for his veto of a Rivers and Harbors Act that would have appropriated federal funds in a manner he thought excessive. He presided over the rebirth of the United States Navy but was criticized for failing to alleviate the federal budget surplus that had been accumulating since the end of the American Civil War. Although his failing health and political temperament combined to make his administration less active than a modern presidency, he earned praise among contemporaries for his solid performance in office. Suffering from poor health, Arthur made only a limited effort to secure renomination in 1884; he retired at the close of his term. In 1886 he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and never regained consciousness. He died at the age of 57.

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