Nobody expected the vice president, a New York political hack, to be president. And after President James A. Garfield was shot in 1881, nobody expected Chester A. Arthur to become a strong and effective president, a courageous anti-corruption reformer, and an early civil rights advocate.
Despite his promising start as a young man, by his early fifties Chester A. Arthur was known as the crooked crony of New York machine boss Roscoe Conkling. For years Arthur had been perceived as unfit to govern, not only by critics and the vast majority of his fellow citizens but by his own conscience. As President James A. Garfield struggled for his life, Arthur knew better than his detractors that he failed to meet the high standard a president must uphold.
Scott S. Greenberger is a journalist, author and the executive editor of Stateline, the daily news service of The Pew Charitable Trusts. His newest book is "The Unexpected President: The Life and Times of Chester A. Arthur." Greenberger will be at Union College in Schenectady, NY on Thursday, February 22nd - to deliver the college’s Founders Day keynote address.