Frequently Asked Questions

Where was President Chester Arthur really born?

The Arthur family Bible and the 1830 Census indicate that Chester Arthur was born in 1829 in Fairfield, Vermont.

Why do people keep questioning where Chester Arthur was born?

When Chester Arthur was nominated for Vice President in 1880, Arthur Hinman, who supported the Democratic Party candidate, attempted to make the case that Chester Arthur was born in Ireland.  Later he published the book, "How a British Subject Became President of the United States", attempting to claim that Arthur was actually born in Canada. Dirty politics in the United States is nothing new as far back as Thomas Jefferson right up to today.

Why is the historic site located in Fairfield?

In 1903 a granite monument was erected here as it was thought this site was the actual birthplace of President Arthur.  An old photograph of a house on this site was identified as his birthplace but historians have subsequently found that the Arthur family moved to this site shortly after Chester was born.

Where were his parents from?

Chester Arthur’s father, William, came first to Canada from County Antrim, Ireland.  In 1821 he married Malvina Stone who was from New Hampshire.

Did President Arthur attend college?

President Arthur graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Union College in Schenectady, New York.

What did he do after college?

He taught school at North Pownal Academy in Vermont, where three years later James Garfield also taught at the same school. Arthur then studied law and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1854.

What type of law did Arthur practice?

Arthur had a general practice in the firm of Culver, Parker, and Arthur.  Erastus Culver was an abolitionist lawyer and family friend.  Arthur, as a champion of civil rights for African Americans, secured the decision that slaves brought into New York while in transit to a slave state were free.  Another case entitled blacks in New York the same accommodations as whites on public transportation.

Was President Arthur in the Civil War?

President Arthur was not a soldier during the war but was given the rank of Brigadier General of New York in April 1861 and assigned to the quartermaster department. He was so efficient at housing and outfitting the troops that poured into New York City that he was promoted within the state militia to inspector general in February 1862, and then to quartermaster general that July.

What did he do after the Civil War?

Arthur was appointed Collector of Customs for New York Harbor where he oversaw the movement of goods into the busy New York harbor, collected duties and fines, and regulated the business of merchants.

How did Arthur become President?

The 1880 Republican National Convention placed Arthur on the party’s ticket as Vice President to politically balance the ticket with James Garfield as President.  Garfield was assassinated four months after the election and on September 19, 1881 Arthur was sworn in as the 21st President of the United States.

What did Arthur accomplish as President?

President Arthur supported the Pendleton Civil Service Act that prohibited salary kickbacks for public employees as well as termination for political reasons. The Act also established the Civil Service Commission which required competitive exams for Federal jobs.  In addition, President Arthur ordered the Attorney General to prosecute fraud cases in the Post Office Department, modernized the American Navy, and protected Yellowstone Park from development.

Did President Arthur support the Arts?

Before moving into the White House he contracted with Louis Tiffany to have the White House totally redecorated in the most contemporary furniture, fabrics and wallpapers promoting the American Victorian Aesthetic Movement.  Arthur was impeccably dressed in the most fashionable styles and epitomized the quintessential man of the Gilded Age.

Did he run for reelection?

No, he had lost his support within the Republican Party and was not nominated for a second term as President.  In poor health, Arthur died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage less than three years after leaving the presidency.