Chester Alan Arthur (October 5th, 1829 – November 18th, 1886) was a Stalwart and the the 21st President of the United States. Arthur was born in Fairfield, Vermont, grew up in upstate New York, and practiced law in New York City. He served as quartermaster general of the New York Militia during the American Civil War. Following the war, he devoted more time to Republican politics and quickly rose in New York Senator Roscoe Conkling's political organization. President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him to the post of Collector of the Port of New York in 1871, and he was an important supporter of Conkling and the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party. In 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes fired Arthur as part of a plan to reform the federal patronage system in New York. Garfield won the Republican nomination for president in 1880, and Arthur was nominated for vice president to balance the ticket as an Eastern Stalwart. Four months into his term, Garfield was shot by an assassin; he died 11 weeks later, and Arthur assumed the presidency.

What counts him as a hero was that before he was even Vice-President to James A. Garfield, while he was a lawyer then, he defended a black woman named Elizabeth Jennings Graham, who was thrown off a whites-only streetcar in 1854. The next year, he won the case and led to the desegregation of New York trolleys. Arthur also holds the record as the last President not to have a Vice-President of his own, and not to have a First Lady (as his wife, Ellen Lewis Herndon died one year before his presidency, causing the First Lady position to be acted out by his sister instead), and absolutely, the only President to have neither.

Heroic Role(s)

In 1855, when he was not yet president, Chester defended a black woman named Elizabeth Jennings Graham when the year before, she was thrown off a trolley for being black. He won the case, which led to desegregation of NYC's trolley lines.


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.