BECK index

United States, Garfield & Arthur 1881-85

by Sanderson Beck

Garfield to 1881
United States & Garfield March-June 1881
Assassination of President Garfield
Chester Arthur to 1881
United States & Arthur July-December 1881
United States & Arthur in 1882
United States & Arthur in 1883
United States, Arthur & Elections in 1884

Garfield to 1881

United States & Hayes 1877-81

      James Abram Garfield was born into a poor family in Ohio on 19 November 1831. After his parents joined the Church of Christ in early 1833, his father died later that year. His mother got a job to support the family and remarried in 1842. James liked to read books. He left home in 1847 and worked on a canal boat. For two years he attended the Free Will Baptist Geauga Academy seminary. On 4 March 1850 he was baptized by the Disciples of Christ, and he traveled to give sermons. From 1851 to 1854 he studied at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute in Hiram, Ohio learning Greek and Latin. After working as a janitor he was hired to teach there. In August 1856 Garfield graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts, and as the top student he gave the commencement address. He returned to teach at the Eclectic Institute in Hiram and became its first president in 1857. He required teachers to take workshops and to have discussions with students in addition to instruction. He taught Greek to Lucretia Rudolph and married her in 1858. He studied law and became a lawyer. He was elected and filled a vacancy in the Ohio Senate in January 1860. He favored the abolition of slavery and supported the anti-slavery cause.
      In 1861 Garfield raised money and organized the 42nd Ohio Infantry, and Ohio Governor Dennison made him a colonel. His troops secured the victory at the end of the battle at Sandy Valley, Kentucky in November. Garfield on 10 January 1862 led the cavalry against a larger Confederate force at the battle of Middle Creek in eastern Kentucky. He was promoted to brigadier general, and in April he fought at Shiloh. After the battle they rode into the Kanawha Valley and saw men laying in a meadow who seemed to be asleep, but they were dead. William Dean Howells described what Garfield experienced.

At the sight of these dead men whom other men had killed,
something went out of him, the habit of his lifetime,
that never came back again:
the sense of the sacredness of life,
and the impossibility of destroying it.1

Garfield suffered jaundice and went home where his wife nursed him to health.
      In January 1863 Garfield became chief of staff for General Rosecrans before the disastrous Chickamauga campaign in August and September. He had been elected to the US House of Representatives in 1862, but they did not meet until December 1863. After the battle of Chickamauga he went to Washington. Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase became his friend, and President Lincoln advised Garfield that he needed political support more than another general.
      Garfield joined the radical Republicans in the Congress, and he and his wife became friends with the new Congressman from Maine, James G. Blaine and his wife Harriet. Garfield was re-elected eight times. As chairman of the Military Affairs Committee he helped establish the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). As chairman of the Banking Committee he favored hard money based on the gold standard.
      Rep. Garfield was the chairman of the important Appropriations Committee 1871-75. In 1874 the contractor De Golyer McClelland gave Congressmen $90,000 including $5,000 to Garfield to get a contract to pave streets in Washington. That year Garfield proposed property qualifications for voters, and he opposed woman suffrage. In 1875 the Democrats took control of the House. Garfield was no longer chairman; but he became the minority leader as Speaker James Blaine left to join the US Senate. In the contested election of 1876 Garfield served on the Electoral Commission that voted to change 20 electoral votes that gave the Republican Hayes the presidency. In October 1880 the Ohio legislature elected Garfield a US Senator, and on November 2 he was elected President of the United States. (See the previous chapter.)
      After winning the 1880 presidential election Garfield began to suffer from headaches and insomnia. He came to Washington on November 27 and told the New York Congressman Levi Morton that he changed his mind about making him the Treasury Secretary because he was tied to Wall Street. Senator James G. Blaine had helped win Maine for Garfield, and on December 20 he agreed to be Secretary of State and promised not to run again for President in 1884. When New York’s Senator Conkling learned of Blaine’s nomination, he was outraged. Blaine insisted that John Sherman not be kept on as Treasury Secretary, and Garfield accepted that. Blaine also persuaded Garfield not to appoint a Stalwart for the patronage positions at Treasury, Interior, or as Postmaster General. In 1881 nearly half of all federal employees appointed by politicians worked for the Post Office.
      Garfield returned by train to Mentor, Ohio on December 13, and that night he met with four men sent by Senator Conkling of New York. They were the Republican National Committee Chairman Stephen Dorsey, New York Governor Alonzo Cornell, New York Congressmen Dick Crowley, and the Conklin ally Louis Payn, and they insisted that Garfield keep his promise to make Morton the Treasury Secretary. Garfield replied that if he did, Morton would be violating a federal conflict of interest statute. Garfield promised them he would not intervene in the January US Senate contest in New York.
      Blaine in late December met with the New York Tribune editor Whitelaw Reid who agreed to invite the Half-Breeds Blaine, William H. Robertson, and the lawyer Chauncey Depew on New Year’s Eve. Conklin’s political machine wanted either Morton, Crowley, or Tom Platt to be the other US Senator from New York. Platt followed Conkling so closely that he was called “Me too.” Speaker Robertson of the New York Senate could influence the senatorial choice. Depew represented the Vanderbilts and the New York Central Railroad. He persuaded Platt to go against the Conkling machine and support President Garfield when he became New York’s new US Senator even if it meant opposing Robertson. Platt accepted money from Jay Gould and Collis P. Huntington, and he used campaign funds to get control of over thirty or more legislators. He also found jobs for 75 people in New York government and post offices. In January the New York Senate elected Platt the US Senator 54-41. Blaine in late December had arranged the election of his aides Eugene Hale and William Frye as the US Senators from Maine.
      The US Supreme Court on January 24 in Springer v. United States upheld the federal income tax imposed by the Revenue Act of 1864.
      Garfield’s wife Lucretia went to New York City in late January to buy dresses for being First Lady, a title first used by Lucy Hayes. While there Lucretia talked with Whitelaw Reid who warned that her husband must overcome the Conklin clique that is contemptuous of him. The imminent Vice President Chester Arthur hosted a dinner on February 11 at Delmonico’s in New York City to honor Stephen Dorsey that was sponsored by John Jacob Astor, J. Pierpont Morgan, Jesse Seligman, and Jay Gould. Also present were Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Platt, Thurlow Weed, Robert Todd Lincoln, William Robertson, and Ulysses Grant. Garfield and Blaine declined to go, and Conkling was in Washington. Although aware that the press were taking notes, Arthur in his speech mentioned “soap” that was used in the election. That slang term meant buying votes.
      Garfield named Wayne McVeagh, the Philadelphia lawyer, as Attorney General and the late Lincoln’s son Robert as Secretary of War. Grant told Garfield that he did not like Blaine; but if he wanted to keep him, he should give Morton the Treasury job.
      Garfield felt anxious and had a dream in which he and Arthur were in a sinking boat, but an aide stopped him from saving Arthur. Garfield invited Conkling to visit him in Mentor, Ohio, and he arrived on February 16. Garfield suggested making the New York Chief Justice Charles Folger the Treasury Secretary, but Conkling did not want him removed from the court. Conkling demanded that a New Yorker get the Treasury position. They talked for about seven hours and got to know each other better. Conkling claimed that Garfield promised to consult the New York Senators on all New York appointments. Levi Morton thought he had been promised the Treasury Department; but Garfield said that was not definite, and on February 28, the day he left Ohio, he nominated him to be Navy Secretary. Arthur moved into Conkling’s rooms in Washington.
      Thomas L. James had been a successful postmaster of New York and became Postmaster General. Garfield appointed Senator William Windom of Minnesota as Treasury Secretary, and the former governor and Senator Samuel Kirkwood of Iowa as Secretary of the Interior. After Conkling persuaded Morton to decline the Navy job, Garfield made him the minister to France. Then he appointed Judge William H. Hunt of Louisiana as Navy Secretary.
      James Garfield served in the US Congress for nearly 18 years. On 1 February 1866 he said,

In the extremity of our distress we called upon
the black man to help us save the Republic,
and amid the very thunder of battle
we made a covenant with him, sealed
both with his blood and ours, and witnessed by Jehovah,
that when the nation was redeemed he should be free
and share with us the glories and blessings of freedom.

In a letter to Professor Demmon on 16 December 1871 he wrote,

The lesson of history is rarely learned
by the actors themselves.2

In 1876 he wrote in his diary,

Nobody but radicals
have ever accomplished anything in a great crisis.
Conservatives have their place in the piping times of peace;
but in emergencies only rugged issue men amount to much.3

Garfield may have picked up the following quote from Mark Twain or from a 1978 newspaper article quoting a poster in a residential treatment program for alcoholics in Syracuse, New York:

The truth will set you free,
but first it will make you miserable.

In a letter to B. A. Hinsdale on 21 April 1880 he wrote,

All free governments are managed
by the combined wisdom and folly of the people.4

In a speech nominating John Sherman for President at the Republican National Convention in Chicago on 5 June 1880 he said,

This is our only revenge—that you join us
in lifting into the serene firmament of the Constitution,
to shine like stars for ever and ever,
the immortal principles of truth and justice:
that all men, white or black, shall be free,
and shall stand equal before the law.

In a letter accepting the Republican nomination to run for President on 12 July 1880 he wrote,

Next in importance to freedom and justice
is popular education, without which neither freedom
nor justice can be permanently maintained.

Here are some more of his best quotes:

I love agitation and investigation and glory in
defending unpopular truth against popular error.

Whoever controls the volume of money in our country
is absolute master of all industry and commerce.

Now more than ever the people are responsible
for the character of their Congress.
If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt,
it is because the people tolerate
ignorance, recklessness, and corruption.
If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because
the people demand these high qualities
to represent them in the national legislature.

There are men and women who make the world better
just by being the kind of people they are.
They have the gift of kindness
or courage or loyalty or integrity.

We should do nothing for revenge,
but everything for security:
nothing for the past;
everything for the present and the future.

Right reason is stronger than force.

United States & Garfield March-June 1881

      President Hayes and Lucy were cordial to the Garfields and were glad to be leaving the White House. At the inauguration on March 4 Vice President Arthur asked the Senators to be patient with him as he was learning their rules. This was the first time Arthur had been elected to a political office. In his inaugural address President Garfield spoke to about 50,000 people for 35 minutes. He hoped to resolve the conflicts between the North and South and blacks and whites. He said,

The elevation of the negro race from slavery
to the full rights of citizenship
is the most important political change we have known
since the adoption of the Constitution of 1787.
No thoughtful man can fail to appreciate
its beneficent effect upon our institutions and people.
It has freed us
from the perpetual danger of war and dissolution.
It has added immensely
to the moral and industrial forces of our people.
It has liberated the master as well as the slave
from a relation which wronged and enfeebled both.
It has surrendered to their own guardianship
the manhood of more than 5,000,000 people,
and has opened to each one of them
a career of freedom and usefulness.
It has given new inspiration to the power of self-help
in both races by making labor more honorable to the one
and more necessary to the other.
The influence of this force will grow greater
and bear richer fruit with the coming years.5

He addressed the issue of equal suffrage and suggested that bad local government should be prevented. He emphasized the importance of universal education. He noted the current prosperity and pledged to protect public credit, the currency, and industry. He affirmed the absolute religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution, but he considered the polygamy of Mormons a moral offense. He suggested that civil service must be regulated by law so as not to obstruct public business.
      About 15,000 people marched in the parade that was viewed by an estimated 100,000 people. About 6,000 celebrated during the inaugural reception at the new Smithsonian Museum.
      The next day President Garfield submitted his cabinet nominees to the US Senate. In the afternoon he met with the outgoing Hayes cabinet, and he asked them to remain until their successors arrived.
      On March 8 Garfield faced many job seekers in the White House which had not had so many in a dozen years. Charles Guiteau was the son of a minister and had lived in the Oneida Community from 1860 until the end of the Civil War and then for one more year. He was a Stalwart who supported Grant but then changed his speech to work for Garfield. He handed the President a copy of the speech “Garfield against Hancock” which he had made during the campaign in New York and other places. He was seeking the Paris consulship. A few days later Garfield’s private secretary Joe Stanley Brown advised Guiteau to apply at the State Department. Guiteau also gave a copy of his speech to Senator Logan of Illinois at his private residence, but the pestered Logan refused to recommend him.
      The condition of the White House had signs of wear because the Democrats had allowed no money for decoration or repairs during the four years of the Hayes administration. Garfield could even hear the rats in the basement. Ulysses Grant and his wife had breakfast with the Garfields, and the former President asked that his friend Adam Badeau be retained in London or be made a naval officer in New York City.
      On March 7 Senator William Windom of Minnesota became Treasury Secretary. Garfield told him to call in the 6% bonds and offer them at 3.5% to hold on to them. Most accepted this, and this reduced the US Government’s debt by over $10 million. Blaine became Secretary of State on March 9. Temperance advocates wanted Garfield to continue the Hayes ban on alcohol in the White House; but Senator John Sherman suggested offering liquor to guests as a formality while announcing that Garfield and his wife did not drink, and Garfield accepted that policy.
      Garfield was still having trouble sleeping and started his days at 7 a.m. In the morning he met with congressmen and invited guests, and he saw office seekers from 12 to 2. After lunch he read New York newspapers and met with the cabinet, and he talked with Secretary of State Blaine almost every afternoon. Garfield gave to his friends some of the high positions, senior postmasters, and foreign ministers, and he left filling most other appointed jobs to the cabinet secretaries. The White House budget did not pay for cooks, waiters, coachmen, stables, or entertainment, and Garfield had to use his $50,000 salary for those. He rejected having any guards in the White House because he considered assassination unlikely. On March 13 Garfield received a telegram that a bomb had killed Tsar Alexander II in St. Petersburg, Russia.
      President Garfield did not nominate any Stalwarts to his cabinet, though he named five Conkling men as two US attorneys, two marshals, and a collector in Buffalo. Garfield believed that deferring to senatorial courtesy on important appointments was “one of the most corrupt and vicious practices of our times.”6 The United States Civil Service Commission was organized under President Grant in 1871, but the US Congress stopped funding it in 1874. The New York Civil Service Reform Association was founded on 17 September 1880, and they elected George William Curtis as their president in October. Similar reform organizations sprang up in Massachusetts and then in Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Providence, and San Francisco.
      The three Republican senators that Garfield appointed to his cabinet had to be replaced, and it took a few days before other Republicans arrived. David Davis of Illinois had been a Republican and was now independent; he felt obligated to vote with the Democrats because the state legislature was mostly Democrats. Thus the Republicans needed the Readjuster Willliam Mahone of Virginia, a former Confederate brigadier, so that Vice President Arthur could break the tie and enable the Republicans to organize the Senate with their committee chairmen. Mahone demanded being chairman of the Agriculture Committee and have patronage in Virginia. On March 18 Arthur’s voting broke ties that made 39 Republicans chairmen of the Senate committees.
      Postmaster General Thomas James and Attorney General Wayne MacVeagh persuaded Senator Roscoe Conkling and Garfield to meet at the White House on March 20, and they talked for nearly three hours. Garfield wanted to appoint New York Senate Speaker Robertson, but Conkling did not want him to be the New York port Collector. On March 22 Garfield sent to the Senate five nominations of New Yorkers approved by Conkling as two US marshals, the Customs Collector for Buffalo, the US attorney in eastern New York, and Stewart L. Woodford, who had nominated Conkling at the 1876 convention, as US attorney for the Southern District. Yet on the same day the President nominated Robertson as Collector, the current New York Collector Edwin Merritt moving to replace Consul-General Adam Badeau in London. Badeau would become Chargé d’Affaires in Denmark, pushing Michael J. Cramer to be Chargé d’Affaires in Switzerland in place of Nicholas Fish. William Chandler, who had worked for Blaine, was to be the US Solicitor General.
      The powerful Senator Conkling was outraged by these nominations, and he blamed Secretary of State Blaine. Conkling also accused Platt of making a deal to support Robertson in exchange for New York’s other Senate seat. The Chandler nomination caused Attorney General MacVeagh to offer his resignation until Garfield withdrew Chandler. Postmaster General James also threatened to resign over the naming of Robertson. Garfield decided to retain Merritt as the New York Customhouse collector, and he named Robertson as the district attorney; but then he changed his mind, and he insisted he would not withdraw Robertson from the Customhouse nomination.
      In his journal on March 23 Garfield noted that 125 newspapers supported him while only 15 were opposed. The next day the New York Senate unanimously endorsed Garfield’s nomination of the New York state senator William Robertson as the New York Custom House Collector, and they urged his confirmation. Arthur learned of that, and Senator Conkling was determined to block this nomination. He and Arthur got businessmen to sign petitions. On April 14 Arthur asked Garfield to withdraw the Robertson nomination to no avail. From March 23 to May 4 the Democrats in the evenly divided US Senate filibustered to prevent Republicans from confirming two lieutenants from Virginia because Senator William Mahone, a Readjuster, was holding back from caucusing with the Democrats.
      The Readjusters would retain control of the Virginia legislature in 1881, and they elected a governor and a second US Senator. The Readjusters enfranchised 20,000 Negroes, repealed the poll tax, increased the state’s education budget to $40 million, and founded a black college. President Garfield gave the Readjusters 200 offices in the Treasury, 1,700 in the Post Office, 70 in federal courts, and many jobs in the Norfolk navy yard.
      Guiteau had given copies of his speech to Senator Benjamin Harrison of Indiana, and he began going to the White House every day and even shouted at Garfield once. On April 2 Vice President Arthur held a meeting at his home in New York City with Senator Platt, New York’s Gov. Cornell, and others to plan strategy against the Robertson nomination. During April the Democrats in the US Senate blocked the Republicans with various filibusters. After the seven cabinet members had been approved in early March, Garfield sent more than 300 nominations to the Senate which acted on none of them. By April 27 over twenty Republican senators had met with Garfield in the White House. Then Senators organized a Committee of Conciliation with Senator Henry Dawes of Massachusetts as chairman to mediate between Garfield and Conkling. They met with Conkling first, and he warned them that he had an autographed letter from the President.
      On May 4 Blaine persuaded Garfield to withdraw five nominations of Stalwarts from New York. Conkling told the New York Herald editor J. L. Conley that Garfield had broken the pledges he made to them.
      The Republican Congress appropriated $30,000 to redecorate the White House. Garfield liked to read, and the novel Ben Hur inspired him so much that he appointed its author Lew Wallace the minister to Constantinople. Garfield also read the romance Louisiana by Frances Burnett and essays by Thomas Carlyle. He met with Tom Platt and the Vice President, and he knew that Arthur was living in Conkling’s house. Conkling used a letter by Garfield to tie the President to Tom Brady, an assistant postmaster general who had been Garfield’s campaign advisor and was implicated in the Star Route postal scandal that involved millions in corrupt profits. By 1880 the 9,225 star routes to sparsely settled places in the South and the West had cost about $6 million. Garfield removed Brady from being an assistant postmaster general and urged the senators to approve all his nominees. Some senators suggested he withdraw all his New York nominations, but Garfield said no and threatened to exclude senators from the White House.
      Garfield appointed Frederick Douglass the recorder of deeds in Washington DC, and he retained John Mercer Langton as minister to Haiti. The African American Blanche K. Bruce had been Mississippi’s US Senator for six years and had received votes for Vice President at the Republican convention, and Garfield made him Treasury Registrar.
      Republican senators held a caucus on May 3 with Henry Dawes who proposed they go into a secret executive session and fill the vacancies by starting with those who had no opposition followed by those with one of the state’s senators opposed. That would leave only Robertson who was opposed by both New York senators. The next day the Senate voted unanimously for an executive session and began confirming uncontested nominees. Garfield knew of the plan, and on May 5 he withdrew all pending nominations of New Yorkers except for Robertson as Port Collector. Garfield’s wife Lucretia began suffering from fevers in early May.
      Vice President Arthur telegraphed the New York Herald, and its editor T. C. Connery came to see Senator Conkling. He informed Connery on Garfield’s betrayals of the Stalwart Republicans and explained that the President was dominated by the Half-Breed Blaine. The exposé published on May 11 under the headline “The Wriggler” was by George Gorham and was obtained from an anonymous correspondent. That article described how Garfield had broken his promises, and they included a copy of Garfield’s fundraising letter to Brady. They predicted that the US Senate would reject Robertson. Conkling had spoken to the Republican caucus for two hours on May 9, and two days later they read the Herald article. On May 12 the Chicago Tribune reported,

Feudalism dies hard.
The Senatorial Barons insist upon
what they call their constitutional prerogative.
Senatorial courtesy is to them a Magna Carta.7

      On Friday May 13 the Republican caucus met again and decided to let all the Senators vote on Robertson. The next day Charles Guiteau once again pleaded with Secretary of State Blaine, but he dismissed him saying, “Never speak to me again on the Paris consulship.” About this time President Garfield’s private secretary Joe Stanley Brown told the White House doorkeepers not to let Mr. Guiteau into the office anymore.
      Dawes urged Conkling to vote for Robertson, but the proud Senator refused, saying he would be “burned in effigy from Buffalo to Montauk Point.” Instead Conkling decided to resign from the Senate on May 16, and two days later the other New York Senator Platt did the same. Yet both expected the state legislature to re-elect them.
      Guiteau read about the ensuing senatorial struggle in Albany and thought how he might be better off if President Garfield was removed and replaced by the New Yorker Arthur who might even pardon him. Guiteau worked on editing his book The Truth, A Companion to the Bible, and he believed that God was guiding him to eliminate Garfield.
      On May 18 the US Senate confirmed Robertson as the Collector of the Port of New York. In the state capitol at Albany about 8,000 people celebrated and cheered Robertson. Garfield was pleased that the US Senate had approved all his nominees except William Chandler as Solicitor General, and they adjourned to avoid the heat of the summer in Washington.
      Vice President Arthur went with Conkling to Albany on May 24. Conkling and Pratt had expected the New York Senate to re-elect them, but the balloting went on day after day. Half-Breeds were shown where Pratt was enjoying sex with his mistress, and he withdrew his senate re-election bid on July 1. Other senators were elected, and Conkling and Arthur went back to New York City.
      The United States in October 1880 had begun an effort to mediate the conflict between Chile and Peru, and on June 15 Secretary of State Blaine instructed Hugh J. Kilpatrick, his minister to Chile; but while in Peru he came down with Bright’s disease and could not fulfill his duties. Guatemala was having a boundary dispute with Mexico, and on the 15th they asked the United States for aid. Secretary of State Blaine offered the good offices of the US to arbitrate a solution. Stephen A. Hurlbut, the new US minister to Peru, was instructed to permit a financial indemnity in place of a territorial arrangement. Mexico denied that it had considered using force and refused to accept US mediation over land that had been in their possession for a long time. Having heard that Mexico was preparing to invade Guatemala, Blaine on June 21 instructed Philip H. Morgan, the US minister to Mexico, that the United States would use “friendly offices” to prevent a disturbance of the balance of power. On June 24 Blaine criticized Britain, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy for intruding by joining a multilateral treaty that guaranteed Colombia’s neutral sovereignty over the Central American isthmus, though he did not oppose European investment.
      President Garfield worked with Blaine on completing his work by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Blaine also settled the Fortune Bay fishing conflict with Edward Thornton, the British Minister to the US. The British agreed to pay £15,000 ($75,000) to Gloucester, Massachusetts fishermen for the Canadians who had fished in American waters. Blaine was working on arranging a Pan American conference with Latin American leaders.
      Garfield was eager to leave Washington for a summer trip. On July 1 he appointed about two dozen foreign ministers and consuls. He also fired a railroad commissioner and a register of wills, appointed Blaine’s son Walker as an assistant secretary of state, and dictated several letters.

Assassination of President Garfield

      On 2 July 1881 Secretary of State Blaine accompanied President Garfield to the train station in Washington. As they approached the waiting room, Charles Guiteau came up behind them. From six feet away he shot President Garfield twice, once on the right arm and then in the middle of his back. As Garfield collapsed, Blaine turned and recognized the frustrated office-seeker who was running away. On the floor Garfield was bleeding and vomiting. Blaine tried to protect him as people with them shouted for someone to stop the man who had shot the President. A large police officer did so and was joined by other officers. Guiteau said, “I did it; I will go to jail for it. I am a Stalwart, and Arthur will be President.”8
      A doctor arrived and treated Garfield with brandy and aromatic smelling salts with ammonia. War Secretary Robert Todd Lincoln sent for Dr. D. Willard Bliss who had treated his father after his assassination. Other doctors also arrived, and one probed for the bullet in his back with his finger but could not remove it. When a doctor said that he would recover, Garfield replied, “I thank you, doctor, but I am a dead man.”9 He asked someone to send a telegram to his wife in Long Branch, New Jersey, asking her to come to him. After about an hour he was taken back to the White House while he was conscious.
      Vice President Arthur heard the news of the assassination but refused at first to go to Washington. Blaine sent him a telegram that the cabinet needed him. Arthur spoke briefly to reporters and said he was “horrified” and “extremely sorry” and “Express to the President and those about him my great grief and sympathy, in which the whole American people will join.”10 A few hours later he left Conkling’s rooms and returned to his own home in New York City.
      Garfield’s wife Lucretia was sent a telegram that his wounds were “not mortal.” The special train taking her to Washington moved so fast that an engine rod was sheared, stopping the train. General Sherman sent soldiers to guard the White House and the jail holding Guiteau. Police found the letters in Guiteau’s pockets explaining his motives. Garfield was still feeling pain in his legs and feet from the wound in his back. Doctors probing for the bullet did not know enough to wash their hands first. Blaine told reporters that he did not think that Guiteau was part of a conspiracy. In the afternoon doctors said that an internal hemorrhage was occurring. His stomach could not hold anything, and he was vomiting often.
      Vice President Arthur learned that Garfield’s assassin had done it to make him president. He decided not to go to Washington right away until he was summoned. That night Arthur visited Conkling in his hotel, and they were protected by officers in uniforms. A second telegram from Blaine urged Arthur to take the midnight train to Washington. US Senator John P. Jones went with him and offered to let him stay in his house near the capitol. Arthur told the cabinet, “I pray to God the President will recover.”11
      President Garfield and his wife complained that too many doctors were examining him, and Dr. Bliss took charge and dismissed most of them. The next day the seven cabinet members were allowed to visit him. The Louisville Courier Journal publisher Henry Watterson suggested that Conkling and Arthur may have resorted to murder. The district attorney questioned Guiteau for four hours and concluded that he had acted alone.
      Celebrations on July 4 were subdued, and most towns held prayer meetings instead. Some speeches quoted James Garfield’s statement made on the night when Lincoln was shot in 1865 when he said, “Fellow citizens! God reigns, and the government in Washington still lives!”12
      Doctors sent advice, and E. L. Patee from Kansas advised using carbolic acid mixed with water in the wound and warned against probing for the bullet. Conkling remained in New York City and did not go anywhere without police protection. Postmaster General James visited Vice President Arthur and told him that the entire cabinet did not blame him and that they would make a formal statement if he wanted it.
      By July 13 Garfield’s pulse had fallen to 90. He laid on his back and was too weak to move much at all. The Washington heat and the effect of the nearby swamp were suffocating, but Navy engineers managed to rig up what may have been the first air conditioner which reduced the temperature to a dry 77 degrees. When Arthur learned that Garfield was recovering, he returned to New York.
      On July 22 the New York legislature on the 56th ballot elected the Stalwart Elbridge Laplan and the Half-Breed Warner Miller as their US Senators. Garfield’s temperature rose again over 100 degrees to 104, and his pulse went up to 125. Dr. Bliss and other surgeons operated on him without anesthesia after which he slept well.
      Garfield was dying from infection, blood poisoning, and starvation. His stomach rejected solid food. On August 8 they used ether when they operated again. They tried giving him “nutrient enemas,” but this caused more infection and paralyzed one side of his face. Arthur declined to come back to Washington to act as President or to consider that. He invited Conkling, Grant, and a few others to discuss politics, and this aroused speculation. On August 22 Edwin Morgan wrote to Arthur advising, “Only exercise your own good judgment in meeting this responsibility, and all will be well.”13
      On August 27 Julia Sand, a 31-year-old invalid in New York, wrote a 7-page letter to encourage Garfield to make the best of this situation.

Reform! It is not the proof of highest goodness
never to have done wrong—but it is a proof of it,
sometime in one’s career, to pause & ponder,
to recognize the evil, to turn resolutely against it
& devote the remainder of one’s life
to that only which is pure & exalted.14

      Garfield by late August had lost almost half his weight and was down to 130 pounds. He managed with help to sign one extradition paper. He wrote a letter to his mother but did no other business. Doctors decided to risk moving him to his favorite seaside retreat at Elberon, New Jersey, and well-wishers lined the route through Maryland and Delaware. The Pennsylvania Railroad provided a special car with ice, and 2,000 men worked through the night of September 5 to lay track from the station to his seaside cabin. After a few days the symptoms returned, and his fever rose very high. On September 19 his pulse got up to 143. That night an aneurysm caused his heart to bleed. His breathing and pulse were weak, and his wife kissed his forehead and watched him die.
      At 11 a.m. on September 19 a telegram from Attorney General MacVeagh reached Vice President Arthur with news that Garfield’s condition was serious. At 11:30 p.m. a New York Sun reporter informed him that the President had died, and 55 minutes later a telegram from the cabinet advised him to take the oath of office. At 2:15 a.m. in his home the New York Supreme Court Judge John R. Brady administered the presidential oath to Chester Arthur. That night he summoned the US Senate to a special session. During his first week most of his activity was taken up by the mourning and funeral of Garfield.
      The trial of Garfield’s assassin Charles Guiteau began on November 17. Attorney General MacVeagh assigned five lawyers to the team of prosecutors. Guiteau was defended by George Scoville and by himself. He was allowed much freedom of expression so that he could be observed because insanity was a possible defense that Dr. George Beard recommended. He claimed that the shooting was an act of God not himself, and he argued that the malpractice of the doctors killed the President, not his bullet. The trial was completed in less than a week, and the jury in 65 minutes convicted him of murder. Guiteau was hanged on 30 June 1882, and the prison warden said that he received 20,000 requests for tickets.

Chester Arthur to 1881

      Chester Alan Arthur was born on 5 October 1829 in Fairfield, Vermont. His father had been born in Ireland and had graduated from a college in Belfast. He moved to Canada about 1820 and to Vermont with his wife and child in 1822. He taught his son Chester at home until the boy was nine and went to an academy at Union Village. In September 1845 Chester enrolled at Union College in Schenectady, New York. His father knew Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and Chester studied classics and French. He studied Elements of Criticism by the Scottish jurist Henry Home to learn how to think. In 1847 Arthur in his acceptance speech to a debating society said,

Labour is the only source of support for a nation,
and that nation which has the greatest amount
of available employed labour,
is, or bids fair to become the richest nation.
It is with reference to this important fact,
that the disastrous effects of slavery become plainly visible.
Labour being performed chiefly by slaves,
it soon becomes entirely so,
and the atmosphere almost becomes tainted
with the paralyzing opinion that labour is disgraceful.
Such a political pestilence
having spread itself over the South …15

      In July 1848 Chester graduated and spoke on “The Destiny of Genius.” He began teaching school and studied law. In November 1852 he became a high school principal and teacher at an academy in Cohoes, New York. He worked as a clerk and studied in the law offices of Culver and Parker. In May 1854 he was admitted to the bar, and they made him a partner. The next year Culver was elected a Brooklyn judge, and Arthur got more legal work to do. He worked on the slave case Lemmon v. New York which came before the New York Supreme Court in December 1857 and the Court of Appeals in early 1860. Arthur was also the lead attorney for the African-American teacher and activist, Elizabeth Jennings, who on her way to church had been forcibly removed from a streetcar on 16 July 1854. She wrote an account of her experience that was published in Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune and by the Frederick Douglass’ Paper. In February 1855 the Brooklyn Circuit Court Judge William Rockwell instructed the jury,

Colored persons if sober, well behaved
and free from disease, had the same rights as others
and could neither be excluded
by any rules of the company, nor by force or violence.16

Her father Thomas L. Jennings was a civil rights leader, and after the jury awarded her $225, he helped organize the Legal Rights Association and worked on ending racial segregation in New York’s public transit.
      Arthur had been a Whig and joined the Republican Party to campaign for John C. Fremont in 1856. That year Arthur and his friend Henry Gardiner formed a law partnership. In the summer of 1857 they were among the abolitionists who traveled to Kansas. Arthur talked with General James Henry Lane and Sheriff Sam Walker in Lawrence and with Gov. Robert J. Walker at Lecompton. Arthur was engaged to Ellen called “Nell” Herndon, and he returned to her after hearing of her father’s heroic death at sea on September 12.
      In February 1858 Arthur and Nell visited her family at Fredericksburg, Virginia. They had seven slaves, but they liked the abolitionist Arthur. He and Nell were married in New York City in October 1859, and they lived there with her mother until he left for the war in April 1861. He allied with Edwin D. Morgan who was the Republican Governor of New York 1859-1862. After his re-election in 1860 Morgan appointed a general staff of men in uniforms that included Arthur who became Engineer-in-Chief of the New York Militia from January 1861 for two years.
      As the Civil War began, Gov. Morgan made Arthur responsible for organizing the feeding, housing, clothing, and supplying of thousands of enlisting men. He awarded contracts, audited spending, and learned much about equipment, rations, and ammunition. Brooks Brothers got a contract for 12,000 uniforms with overcoats but ran out of wool and made 7,300 from synthetic satin that fell apart when wet. Many adventurers were made officers and raised troops. Arthur had to manage them, and he put the Democratic alderman and former boxer Billy Wilson under arrest for claiming he was a colonel before he had raised enough troops. Arthur became a brigadier general. New York enrolled and equipped 38 regiments by July 12 and more than 110,000 men by the end of the year. In April 1862 Morgan promoted him to Inspector General of the New York Militia and in July to Quartermaster General. In October the New York State Union Central Committee gave Arthur a $250 assessment. By December he had equipped and transported 68 infantry regiments. Arthur made contracts with railroad companies to get 219,000 troops from New York to the front and saved the US Government $43,174. In the November election the Democrat Horatio Seymour was elected Governor of New York, and he dismissed Morgan’s staff.
      Arthur declined to re-enlist and formed a law firm with Gardiner. He began making money and collected fees from the Mercantile Agency owner R. G. Dun. Arthur rarely visited his religious father and did not help him out with money. Senator Morgan’s committee investigated Thomas Murphy who was accused of providing shoddy hats and caps to soldiers, but Arthur successfully lobbied for Murphy. Morgan appointed Arthur and Murphy to collect patronage assessments and donations from wealthy contractors. Arthur spent many hours talking politics at Murphy’s home where conservative Republicans gathered, and they worked together on real estate deals. Arthur, Murphy, and other conservatives supported the nomination of Andrew Johnson as the Republican candidate for Vice President in 1864, and Senator Morgan’s Union Executive Committee levied assessments on postmasters and raised money for the campaign. Arthur admired and supported the powerful Thurlow Weed. The radical Republicans elected the businessman Reuben E. Fenton the Governor of New York.
      In May 1865 Arthur bought a fine house on Lexington Avenue that Nell filled with the best furniture, and he hired seven Irish immigrants as servants. That year Arthur helped Murphy get elected as a state senator in a Democratic district that Murphy later said cost $40,000.
      In 1867 Morgan got Arthur appointed to the executive committee of Republicans who supervised New York City’s assembly districts. New York’s exclusive Century Club elected Arthur a member enabling him to meet the tycoon J. Pierpont Morgan, the editors E. L. Godkin of The Nation and George William Curtis of Harper’s Weekly, and Cornell University’s president Andrew D. White. In 1868 Arthur became the chairman of the executive committee for New York City’s Republican Party, and during the campaign he was also chairman of the Central Grant Club of New York that raised money. Boss Tweed’s Ring provided about 50,000 illegal votes to help the Democrat Horatio Seymour get elected governor of New York.
      In 1869 Murphy persuaded Boss Tweed to give Arthur the new position as counsel for the New York City Tax Commission with a $10,000 annual salary. In the fall elections Tweed spent $600,000 bribing Republican legislators so that Democrats could narrowly gain a majority in both houses of New York’s state legislature. The former Governor Fenton got the Republican nomination away from Senator Morgan.
      President Grant appointed Arthur the Collector of the Port of New York in November 1871. About three-quarters of US customs were collected in the New York House, and their business was five times larger than any other business in North America. The chief officers were the collector, surveyor, naval officer, and the appraiser. The 1872 payroll was $1,800,000, and a moderate 2% assessment on salaries would give Republicans $36,000. These political assessments ranged from 2% to 6%. Arthur had entered the Customs House on Wall Street as its boss on December 1, and his annual income would be over $50,000 a year. The US Congress raised President Grant’s salary to $50,000 in 1873. The next highest salaries were $10,000 for the US Vice President, 9 Supreme Court Justices, House Speaker, and 7 cabinet members. US Congressmen were paid $7,500.
      Arthur and his wife Nell entertained at home with special events that rolled out a carpet from the front door to the curb. Well-dressed French servants provided guests with food and drink. Silas Burt reported that Arthur could drink much without appearing drunk. He often stayed up with friends discussing politics until 3 in the morning and usually went to the Customs House at 1 p.m. He often went to concert saloons such as the Gaiety and the Louvre on Broadway where attractively attired “waiter-girls” were available in upstairs rooms. Harry Hill’s had a bar with a dance hall on the second floor for men paying 25 cents and women getting in free. Arthur gained weight from late-night eating and began wearing a corset.
      Murphy and other predecessors had removed 1,700 employees of the Customs House in the previous five years and replaced them with men loyal to New York’s Senator Roscoe Conkling. President Grant’s new civil service laws went into effect on 19 October 1872. In his Chester Arthur Biography Silas W. Burt wrote that Arthur “gave outward respect to the law but never concealed his contempt for the principle the law was intended to enforce.”17 Arthur wrote to the chairman of the new civil service commission admitting that some money was “voluntarily raised” to pay for “legitimate expenses” of Republicans’ campaigns, but he did not think he should “interfere with such contributions.” Burt refused to kick back 4% of his salary which had become illegal.
      Arthur appointed the three members of the board that was supposed to monitor the civil service examinations; but only applicants chosen by Arthur were tested, and some of those passed despite embarrassing ignorance of government. In addition to New York’s Senator Conkling, President Grant tolerated the Republican bosses with patronage such as the senators Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, John Logan of Illinois, Zachariah Chandler of Michigan, Levi Morton of Indiana, and Matthew Carpenter of Wisconsin. They became the Stalwarts, and their efforts helped Republicans be victorious in 1872 elections in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana. They would back Grant for a third term in 1880.
      Senator Carl Schurz of Missouri complained,

The whole civil service of the country
from the Cabinet minister down to the meanest postmaster,
is converted into a vast political agency
to secure the president’s re-election.”18

Arthur provided patronage favors for President Grant, Vice President Colfax, Secretary of State Fish, Attorney General Williams, House Speaker Blaine, Senators Conkling and Morton, the banker Henry Clews, editor William Cullen Bryant, and Edwin E. Morgan who became chairman of the Republican National Committee. Arthur passed through customs 205 cases of champagne for Grant and his cabinet, and he persuaded Grant to appoint George Bliss as US District Attorney of New York City and George Sharpe to be a US Marshal. That caused George W. Curtis to resign in protest from the Civil Service Commission. Arthur appointed his friend Alonzo Cornell, who was chairman of New York’s Republican Party, as the Customs naval officer. Those involved in the Whiskey Ring got money for the campaign of Senator Morton of Indiana through Arthur in 1872.
      In early 1874 it had become known that the Custom House official Special Agent B. G. Jayne persuaded the importer Phelps, Dodge and Company to pay a fine of $217,017 because they had underpaid for a shipment worth $1,750,000. Jayne, who made $316,700 in moieties in the previous four years, received $61,718, and Arthur, Naval Officer A. H. Laflin, and Surveyor Alonzo Cornell each received $21,906. Later Phelps and Dodge officials learned they only should have paid $1,665 for goods valued at $6,658, and the company got the US Congress to investigate. The Congress quickly approved a Revenue Act on June 22 that ended the moiety contracts and special agent collectors for the Treasury, and this caused a reduction in Arthur’s yearly income from about $56,000 to an annual salary set at $12,000. Arthur’s four-year term as Collector ended in December 1875. On the 14th the New York Times praised the “honor and integrity” of the Custom-house officials, and three days later his Republican friends in Congress persuaded Grant to renew his appointment.
      In June 1876 Arthur was one of the leaders of Roscoe Conkling’s 1,500 supporters from New York at the Republican national convention in Cincinnati. Before the convention on June 12 the New York delegates voted 68-2 to support the nomination of Conkling. That night the senior Theodore Roosevelt (father of the future president) made a speech from the Gibson House balcony that criticized Conkling as a New York boss. When Conkling supporters tried to drown him out, Roosevelt noted that those involved in political corruption always try to suppress honest opinions. After that day Conkling hated Roosevelt. The convention ended up choosing the New Yorker William A. Wheeler, an adversary of Conkling, as Rutherford Hayes’s running mate. Arthur was not a delegate, but he sat on the stage with other Republican dignitaries and about 130 reporters. Arthur collected assessments from the Custom House employees to help fund the Republican campaigns. Weighers were expected to contribute 5% of their wages and their deputies 4%. During the campaign Arthur wrote checks amounting to $72,000 for Republican leaders including $34,821 that went to the Republican State Committee. He also donated $1,000 to Edwin Morgan who ran for governor but was defeated.
      On September 6 Treasury Secretary John Sherman wrote a letter to Arthur asking him to resign. They met on the 17th, and Arthur said he would consider stepping down. He obeyed the Hayes order by declining to attend the Republicans’ New York convention on the 24th. At that gathering Harper’s editor George Curtis criticized Conkling and other Republicans who defied Hayes, and Conkling responded with a sarcastic speech for two hours. The Hayes administration offered Arthur the consulship in Paris, but he declined and informed them he would not resign. In 1877 the New York Customs receipts were about $108 million.
      Theodore Roosevelt Sr. was involved with many charities to help improve New York’s hospitals, orphanages, asylums, and prisons. On October 24 Hayes nominated him to be the New York Custom House Collector and Edwin Merritt as surveyor. Conkling on November 15 asked Hayes for all information related to Arthur’s removal, but the President believed he was not obligated to provide that. On November 30 Conkling’s committee rejected the Hayes nominations for the Custom House. In early December a petition by 15 of New York’s 17 representatives urged Hayes to resubmit his nominees. On the 11th Conkling’s committee confirmed Merritt as surveyor, but senators by a vote of 25-31 rejected Roosevelt for collector and LeBaron Prince for naval officer. Roosevelt died of stomach cancer on 9 February 1878. In the summer of 1878 while the Congress was in recess, Hayes replaced Arthur with Merritt. That was temporary; but Democrats won the 1878 elections, and the Senate confirmed Merritt.
      In February 1879 Arthur became chairman of New York City’s Republican Central Committee and then of the state committee. Republicans won most of the New York elections that year. Arthur’s wife Nell died of pneumonia on 12 January 1880. In the spring Arthur worked on expanding the Republican machine’s influence in New York City which the New York Times called “a partisan grab for patronage and plunder.” The Mayor Edward Cooper was independent, and Arthur wanted to transfer his nominating authority to a board dominated by Republicans. Arthur went to Albany, but the Assembly voted against the bills.
      Senator Conkling and Arthur led the Republican delegates from New York at the 1880 National Convention in Chicago on June 2, though Arthur did not make a speech. After the “dark horse” James Garfield of Ohio was nominated on the 36th ballot, most Republicans believed that they needed a candidate for vice president from the most populous state of New York to win the election, and some men from Ohio offered it to Chester Arthur. He asked the advice of Conkling who strongly urged him to reject it because he assumed that Garfield would lose. Arthur said he had never dreamed of attaining such an honor, and he decided to accept. On the first ballot the delegates gave him 468 of the 661 votes, and his fingers became inflamed from shaking so many hands. Many leading Republicans welcomed Arthur back to New York City. In his letter of acceptance he doubted the use of civil service exams for responsible positions and wrote that “appointments should be based upon ascertained fitness.”
      Arthur and Conkling in July went to Canada to go salmon fishing. Garfield traveled to New York City, and on August 4 he met with Arthur, Senator Platt, and other Conkling men in Levi Morton’s hotel suite; but Conkling was not there. Platt later reported that Garfield promised to support and consult with Conkling and his friends in exchange for their campaigning for him. Garfield promised Morton that his fundraising would make him either Treasury Secretary or the Minister to Britain. Yet Garfield believed he had not given in to Conkling and his Stalwarts.
      Chester Arthur as chairman of the New York State Republican Committee worked out of those offices managing the campaign in New York and other states. Like the nominee Garfield he did not campaign making speeches. Arthur supervised the campaign’s expenses and sent out forms to organize Garfield and Arthur Clubs. Levi Morton raised money and had printed 15,000 copies of a Garfield speech on immigration. Arthur gathered 3% of about 20,000 New York State employees’ salaries, bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the campaign.
      Arthur ran the New York campaign and organized speaking tours for Conkling and Grant in Ohio and Indiana. He got Conkling to speak to 20,000 or so at the Academy of Music, and the eloquent Senator went on for nearly four hours. Arthur also supervised the contributions from the Custom House employees. At this time the salaries of the employees of New York City’s post offices and custom house were over $2.5 million per year. Stephen Dorsey estimated that Arthur collected more than $400,000 for the campaign and used it to pay campaign workers all over the state. The Republican ticket of Garfield and Arthur won in New York state by 21,033 votes which Democrats charged was about the number of illegal votes from people who came from out of state. If the Democratic candidate Hancock had won New York, he would have been elected. The 1880 election by 78% of the qualified voters was the highest so far.
      In March 1881 Vice President Arthur cast tie-breaking votes to give the Republicans majorities and chairmen for all 39 committees in the US Senate. After President Garfield was shot on July 2, Arthur stayed in New York until after Garfield’s death on September 19, and that night a New York Supreme Court judge administered the presidential oath to Arthur at his home in New York.

United States & Arthur July-December 1881

      On 22 September 1881 US Supreme Court Chief Justice Morrison Waite administered the oath again to Arthur in the Vice President’s office at the Capitol in front of about forty people including Presidents Grant and Hayes, Justices Harlan and Matthews, Garfield’s cabinet, seven US Senators, and six men from the House of Representatives. Arthur’s inaugural address was short and recognized the crime that had made him President. He promised to fulfill the policies of Garfield saying,

All the noble aspirations of my lamented predecessor
which found expression in his life, the measures devised
and suggested during his brief Administration
to correct abuses, to enforce economy,
to advance prosperity, and to promote the general welfare,
to insure domestic security and maintain friendly
and honorable relations with the nations of the earth,
will be garnered in the hearts of the people;
and it will be my earnest endeavor to profit,
and to see that the nation shall profit,
by his example and experience.19

      While the White House was being cleaned and redecorated, President Arthur stayed near Capitol Hill in the home of Florida’s Senator Charles Jones. After a week Jones went to Utica, New York to talk with Roscoe Conkling and then returned to tell Arthur that Conkling’s advice was to keep Garfield’s cabinet until Congress convened in December. New Yorkers urged Arthur to make Conkling his Secretary of State, but he rejected that idea. Arthur made a brief visit to his Manhattan home to hand over his law business and move some things to Washington. Julia Sand wrote advising him to stay in Washington and to get exercise outside. Conkling met with Arthur in the Jones home on October 8, and Arthur refused to replace Custom House Collector Robertson. Arthur acknowledged his debt to Conkling for the vice presidency, but he believed his debt for the presidency was to “the Almighty.”
      That fall posters of Garfield were put up in every US Post Office with the words,

In memory of James Abram Garfield,
a martyr to the fierceness of factional politics
and the victim of that accursed greed for spoils of office
which was the bane of his brief conscious existence
as President, and is the gravest peril
that threatens the future of his country.

A New York Times editorial on September 29 advised,

It is now very clearly seen that
the change must be in the abolition of patronage,
and that it can only be accomplished
by making appointments depend on merit
tested by competition open to all who enter the service.20

Civil service reform organizations were being formed across the country. Yet leaving the cabinet were the Postmaster General James who had introduced competitive exams, Treasury Secretary Windom who enforced reforms in the Custom House, and the reforming Attorney General MacVeagh.
      President Arthur summoned the US Senate to convene to choose a president pro tempore who would succeed if something happened to the US President. After three new Republican senators were sworn in, they elected the independent former Chief Justice David Davis. Then committees were organized with Republican majorities and chairmen.
      Treasury Secretary Windom, who had voted to remove Arthur from the Custom House, was the first to resign. Arthur named Edwin Morgan for the Treasury, but he declined because of poor health. Instead on October 27 the Senate confirmed Charles Folger, who was Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court and a friend of Arthur’s and Conkling’s. Arthur tried to get Attorney General MacVeagh to stay on, but he recommended Arthur’s friends George Bliss and Benjamin H. Brewster. The latter was nominated and confirmed in December. Postmaster General Thomas James resigned in December to accept a lucrative job with a New York bank, and Arthur replaced him with his Stalwart friend Timothy O. Howe, a former judge and US Senator from Wisconsin.
      James Blaine was still running the State Department. On August 24 Stephen A. Hurlbut, US minister to Peru, had suggested to General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, US minister to Chile, and to Admiral Patricio Lynch, chief commander of Chile’s forces, that the United States might not recognize ceded territory, and he warned that annexation might cause others to believe that Chile was being aggressive and seeking conquest. Hurlbut also assured Peru’s leaders that the US opposed dismembering their country. Francisco García Calderón was the President of Peru’s provisional republic, and on September 20 Hurlbut negotiated concessions with him so that the United States would have a coaling and naval station in Peru’s Bay of Chimbote. Calderón promised Hurlbut a railroad interior that was partly built which could be transferred to American businessmen making a profit. In the fall Kilpatrick assured Chileans that Hurlbut did not have the authority to defy Chile’s plans to annex Tarapacá. On November 6 Chilean authorities arrested Calderón and his foreign minister for interfering in their nation. Kilpatrick wrote an explanation and died the same day. On the 22nd US Secretary of State James Blaine reprimanded both Kilpatrick and Hurlbut.
      On November 29 Blaine proposed a general conference of representatives from all the Latin American nations (except unstable Haiti) with the United States, and he hoped that the conference would produce an inter-American arbitration treaty. The Washington Post in December accused Hurlbut of helping a “ring” that wanted the US to assume Peru’s debts so that they could control the guano business. Secretary of State Blaine defended his position on December 11 by publishing his instructions to Hurlbut and Kilpatrick. Blaine also persuaded President Arthur to send his assistant William Henry Trescot to Chile and Peru which were at war. Blaine again suggested resolving the conflict with a financial indemnity and warned against territorial conquest. Trescot was ordered to visit Argentina and Brazil on his way home.
      On November 19 Secretary Blaine advised James Russell Lowell, the US minister to Britain, that the United States was justified in fortifying and controlling a possible canal in Nicaragua because the British had fortified Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, and Aden and because they claimed jurisdiction over the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. Blaine instructed Cornelius A. Logan, the US minister to Central America, to urge them to unify their government. On the 22nd Blaine sent invitations to every independent government in Latin America (except Haiti) to attend a peace conference at Washington. On November 28 he instructed the US Minister to Mexico to urge that government to resolve their conflicts with Guatemala by arbitration. Blaine also extended the Monroe Doctrine to include the Hawaiian Islands.
      Blaine resigned on December 19, and Grant recommended Frederick Frelinghuysen, the former New Jersey Senator who was a Stalwart. President Arthur accepted the choice and nominated him. Frelinghuysen appointed the diplomatic veteran J. C. Bancroft Davis as his first assistant secretary, and he discovered documents that cast suspicion on their policy with Peru, the French bank Crédit Industriel, and the American Peruvian Company as well as Blaine’s instructions to Trescot to pressure Chile. Frelinghuysen changed that policy in order to avoid becoming involved in the current War of the Pacific or any war.
      In his long first annual message to Congress on December 6 President Arthur commended the good relations with Great Britain, but he suggested that the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850 should be modified. He discussed relations with several European nations as well as Latin American countries, China, and Japan. He hoped that an improved National Board of Health would prevent infectious diseases. He agreed with Cicero that “the health of the people is of supreme importance.”21 He summarized expenditures and revenues and noted that for the fiscal year ending in June 1881 the US Government had a surplus of $100,069,405. Because the estimate for the surplus for the current year was $130,000,000 Arthur called for the repeal of internal revenue taxes except on tobacco, liquors, and license fees. He accepted the recommendation by War Secretary Robert Lincoln to increase the US Army to 30,000 men to protect settlers on the frontier from Indians, and he asked for “legislation to prevent intrusion upon the lands set apart for the Indians.”22 He urged the Congress to use revenues from the sale of public lands to improve education for freed slaves and those impoverished by war. Arthur quoted from his acceptance letter for the vice presidency nomination,

No man should be the incumbent of an office
the duties of which he is for any cause unfit to perform;
who is lacking in the ability, fidelity, or integrity
which a proper administration of such office demands.23

He did not want to rely too much on exams but was concerned those with good character are chosen who have

probity, industry, good sense, good habits, good temper,
patience, order, courtesy, tact, self-reliance,
manly deference to superior officers,
and manly consideration for inferiors.24

Yet he promised to support competitive tests approved by Congress whom he also urged to revive the $25,000 funding for the Civil Service Commission.
      Also on December 6 Senator George H. Pendleton of Ohio reintroduced his civil service bill of the previous year that was based on the British system that banned assessments to party operatives. Petitions for civil service reform came from Boston with 10,000 signatures as well as from New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Cincinnati.
      Arthur moved into the White House on December 7 with his youngest sister Mary Arthur McElroy serving as the “Mistress of the White House.”
      The New York Civil Service Reform Association petitioned Treasury Secretary Folger to investigate their agent, General Newton M. Curtis, who was treasurer of New York’s Republican State Committee, for accepting illegal assessments. He was tried and eventually convicted, but his $1,000 fine was paid by the New York Republican State Committee led by chairman Clint Wheeler.
      In 1881 US exports had declined so much that British sale of cotton goods to Latin American and East Asia were thirteen times that of the United States, and their export of iron and steel was one hundred times as much.
      Carl Schurz had been Interior Secretary 1877-81, and in July 1881 in the North American Review he published “Present Aspects of the Indian Problem.” He admitted that Indian tribes had suffered and starved because of the neglect by the US Congress to fulfill their treaty agreements, and he acknowledged that most of the Indian troubles were caused by the greedy encroachments of white men on their lands. He suggested that the only alternative to the Indians extermination is civilization which he advised is achieved by education and work by individuals with property rights.
      Lakota Chief Sitting Bull was a fugitive for years in Canada after the battle at Little Big Horn in 1876, but on 19 July 1881 he and his son Crow Foot surrendered at Fort Buford in the Dakota Territory.
      The prophet Nakaidoklini invoked the spirits with a dance at his village on Cibicu Creek. On 31 August 1881 the Fort Apache commander Col. Eugene Carr with 79 regulars and 23 White Mountain Apache scouts went to capture the prophet. The scouts mutinied, killing their captain, and a sergeant shot Nakaidoklini dead. Carr’s men escaped to Fort Apache and were besieged by the Indians.

United States & Arthur in 1882

      Secretary of State Frelinghuysen sent his assistant William H. Trescot with Blaine’s son Walker to Peru, but they quickly moved on to Santiago, Chile on January 7. Because minister Hurlbut had prematurely invited Peru to the conference, Trescot went to invite Chile’s foreign minister Balmaceda on January 31 but learned the invitation had been withdrawn three weeks earlier. Frelinghuysen had also published the instructions his predecessor Blaine had given him. Trescot in March asked Bancroft Davis to recall him. On January 30 James Blaine in an interview with the Washington Post criticized the new policy.
      On February 25 the US passed the Reapportionment Act to establish equally populated contiguous and compact single member districts in the House of Representatives which had been expanded to 292 members in 1872.
      President Arthur nominated for the US Supreme Court Horace Gray of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, and the Senate confirmed him on 9 January 1882. Arthur nominated his old friend Conkling to the Supreme Court, and on March 2 the Senate voted 39-12 to confirm him; but the next day the ex-Senator declined the position as he had when Grant wanted to nominate him. Arthur then appointed the experienced Judge Samuel Blatchford of New York, and he began serving in April.
      Arthur on April 18 asked Congress their views on the Latin American conference and got little response. Frelinghuysen announced that Blaine’s Pan-American conference was canceled, and in March he had told Mexico’s minister that the US would not impose mediation. Guatemala’s foreign minister Lorenzo Montúfar in May offered the US low tariffs and the right to build a canal in exchange for its protection, but Frelinghuysen refused. He transferred Cornelius Logan from Guatemala to Chile and sent the lawyer James R. Partridge to Peru, but the latter was recalled early in 1883 for going beyond his instructions. Guatemala settled its dispute with Mexico in September. Arthur in his Second Annual Message to Congress in December criticized Chile’s intransigence and stated that a protectorate could harm US interests and break with past policy. A new regime in Peru in October 1883 would make peace with Chile, justifying Arthur’s policy of neutrality. Frelinghuysen and Davis rejected a treaty with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
      On March 4 a grand jury had indicted nine men including Stephen Dorsey and Thomas Brady for conspiracy in 19 star routes where compensation had gone from $41,135 to $448,671. Robert G. Ingersoll defended Dorsey. The trial took two months with 3,286 pages of testimony and 2,300 documents. Only two minor defendants were convicted, and the judge set a new trial that began on December 7 and ended on June 14 when they were all acquitted. During the trial Dorsey resigned from the Republican National Committee. The Arthur administration claimed that these trials helped reduce postal frauds that saved the government $2 million a year. Using the issue of government corruption the Democrats would make gains in the fall elections.
      The Stalwart Republican House Speaker Joseph Warren Keifer opposed civil service reform, and the House refused to pass the funding for it requested by Arthur.
      The US Congress passed the Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act that outlawed plural marriage and prohibited polygamists from voting, holding offices, and serving on juries. Arthur signed the bill into law, and the Utah Commission they established banned anyone from voting who believed in polygamy which included all loyal Mormons. The Mormon President John Taylor in October declared that they contend for their rights. In the next territorial elections in August 1883 Mormons were elected again, and the new legislature refused to ban polygamy. The commissioners reported by 1884 that at least 263 women and 196 men had participated in plural marriages; but federal courts had convicted only two people. When polygamists were arrested, the Mormons helped them escape from federal officers.
      About 288,000 Chinese had immigrated into the United States by 1882. Congress passed a bill by the end of March that would have barred Chinese immigration for 20 years, but Arthur vetoed it on April 4 objecting to the length of time and requirements he rejected as “undemocratic and hostile to the spirit of our institutions,” which included denying US citizenship to the Chinese. After the Senate failed to over-ride the veto, they reduced the exclusion period to ten years. The House passed it 201-37 and the Senate 32-15. Edwin Morgan, an importer who traded with China, persuaded Arthur to sign the Chinese Exclusion Act on May 3. Julia Sand wrote to the President criticizing him for accepting the undemocratic requirements that had not been improved.
      Blaine advised Arthur to nominate William E. Chandler as Navy Secretary, and the President eventually did so in April. That month Senator Henry Teller of Colorado became Interior Secretary, and he established a court system with three Native American judges for settling tribal issues. In his last report he demanded that the education of Indians should include both sexes. On April 26 Arthur sent troops into the Arizona Territory to stop the violence of cowboys who were robbing and killing miners and rustling cattle. Secretary of War Robert Lincoln was the only member of Garfield’s cabinet who remained to the end of Arthur’s term.
      Rep. Jay Hubbell, who was chairman of the Republican congressional campaign committee, in May sent out assessment letters to officers asking for 2% for the fall election campaigns. President Arthur announced that no federal employee declining to pay an assessment would be discharged or criticized. On May 15 he signed Kelley’s bill for a tariff commission, and he asked Senator Justin S. Morrill of Vermont, chairman of the Finance Committee, to recommend candidates for the commission which listened to 604 witnesses.
      On May 22 Commodore Robert Shufeldt with Chinese assistance negotiated a commercial treaty with Korea at Chemulpo that went into effect one year later. Korea’s previous trade had been limited to China and Japan.
      Despite expectations of patronage the Arthur administration by June had only replaced 16 officials in the Treasury Department. During the summer they announced that of the 874 appointments in nine months only 49 were because of removals, and most of those were for cause.
      On July 1 Arthur, objecting to technical errors, vetoed new safety and health standards for steamships carrying many immigrants. The Congress corrected them, and the bill became law. The Congress had been increasing the money for special interests in the River and Harbor bills from under $4 million in 1870 to $11,451,300 in 1881. In July 1882 they passed the Rivers and Harbors Bill that would cost nearly $19 million, but on August 1 Arthur vetoed it as unconstitutional and advised them to cut the amount in half. Despite press praise for the President’s veto, it was quickly overridden by the Congress with strong support from the Mississippi valley states in the South. Many House members who voted for it were not re-elected.
      Congress neglected to support a Pan-American conference in Washington, and on August 9 Frelinghuysen canceled the invitations. The Congress postponed tariff revision by asking the President to appoint a committee to study the issue. They discussed the presidential succession but did nothing. A bill to relieve the threatened bankruptcy of the US Supreme Court was defeated. The Congressional session that began in December 1881 did not adjourn until 8 August 1882, and the New York World called it “disgraceful” and the worst session. During the summer the National Civil Service Reform League was organized to publicize the issue and to pressure the Congress to take action.
      On July 25 Arthur contributed to an African-American church. He also appointed many blacks to important government positions. On August 20 he visited Julia Sand in New York and spent nearly an hour talking with her in the presence of many relatives.
      According to the Associated Press in October the Surgeon General Charles H. Crane diagnosed that President Arthur had Bright’s disease (nephritis) which effects the kidneys and was considered terminal. They also reported that a specialist in New York also confirmed that finding. The Arthur administration denied this; but the rumor began circulating in 1883, and that was probably why Arthur declined to campaign for re-election. His cousin Dr. Brodie Herndon had written in his diary on 1 August 1882 that the President was “sick in body and soul.”25
      Treasury Secretary Charles Folger ran for governor of New York; but Arthur refused to support him, and the Democratic Mayor of Buffalo, Grover Cleveland, beat him by over 190,000 votes, a new record. In those fall elections the Democrats gained 68 seats and control in the House of Representatives. Democrats also won in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
      After the Civil War the national debt went down from $2.8 billion in 1866 to $2 billion in 1881. The US Senate created a commission to study the tariffs and to report to Congress at the next session. Mostly Republicans passed the bill reducing tariffs in the House 151-83 and in the Senate 35-19. Arthur made it law on May 15. The fiscal year ending on June 30 showed a surplus of $145 million. Arthur appointed the protectionist John Sherman to the Tariff Commission and others who protected industries but no free traders. By October the commission had heard from 604 witnesses, and their long report in early December recommended many tariff cuts up to 25% and a few as much as 50%.
      In Arthur’s Second Annual Message to Congress on December 4 he urged Congress to pass a bill to reduce tariffs and simplify complex duties especially for cotton, iron, and steel. He suggested cutting the rates on those as well as on sugar, molasses, silk, wool, and woolen goods.
      During the Civil War the US Navy had increased to nearly 700 ships with about 5,000 cannons. By 1870 only 52 vessels were still commissioned; but they were mostly wooden and not in good repair, and most of their 500 cannons were obsolete. In 1866 American ships handled 75% of the foreign carrying trade, but by 1882 this had fallen to 15.5%. By then the US had only four top-rank ships made of steel out of 37 while Britain and France were building steel navies. Some Americans opposed their republic having battleships. Arthur named William E. Chandler as Navy Secretary. He appointed Commodore Shufeldt to head the Naval Advisory Board, and on December 20 they proposed funding three steel cruisers and a dispatch clipper ship. The 3,000 ton cruisers were called the Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago, and the clipper ship was the Dolphin. Together they were known as the “ABCD ships.” After that the Congress declined to authorize any more Navy ships. Secretary Chandler wanted to reduce the surplus of naval officers, and as of 5 August 1882 Naval Academy graduates were only appointed to fill vacancies. In 1883 he advised mandatory retirement at the age of 62.
      A US Congressional committee found that adulterated foods were defrauding consumers and damaging health and morals, but no significant legislation would be passed until 1906.

United States & Arthur in 1883

      Arthur’s Second Annual Message in December 1882 had asked the Congress to ban assessments and pass Pendleton’s civil service bill, and within a month they did so. The Senate approved 38-5 and the House 155-47. On 16 January 1883 Arthur signed this major reform legislation that created a Civil Service Commission to investigate the reforms, stipulate rules, and supervise competitive exams for about 10,000 jobs. At first it only applied to 14,000 of the 131,000 federal jobs as it did not yet affect 47,000 postmasters. Arthur appointed experienced people to the commission pleasing the reformers, though he refused the displaced Stalwart Silas Burt who was succeeded by the Surveyor Charles K. Graham to be the chief examiner. The Stalwarts were disappointed, but the reformers were surprised at how well Arthur administered the Pendleton Act. In early May he adopted the rules the commission proposed with only minor changes.
      The civil service reform helped restore Americans’ trust in their government. Yet many Republicans blamed Arthur for their defeats in the 1882 elections. Grant called Arthur an “interim” president. The Nation editor E. L. Godkin observed that Arthur tried to conciliate both the bosses and the reformers.
      Disputes over US meat exports to France and Germany were alleviated when President Arthur told the Germans that he was appointing an impartial commission to inspect American meat-packing plants. In May 1884 the US Congress and Arthur would establish the Bureau of Animal Husbandry.
      Arthur enjoyed meeting with people at the White House and talking with his friends, and Blaine and his wife Harriet felt that he spent too much time on social events. On 14 February 1883 his mentor Edwin Morgan died, and the Postmaster General Howe suddenly passed away on March 25. Indiana’s Senator Benjamin Harrison wired Arthur asking that someone from his state be appointed. Arthur surprised many and pleased the reformers by appointing the independent federal judge Walter Q. Gresham of Indiana who served from April 9.
      President Arthur in March was told that his kidney disease had caused him to have high blood pressure and a hypertensive heart. Glomerulonephritis caused nausea and enervated him. He enjoyed fishing trips and excursions on the presidential steamer. After the social season he took a train on April 4 to Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida. He came down with malaria but survived. When he returned to Washington on April 22, he was welcomed by a crowd of several hundred people. Arthur kept his health problems hidden from most people. In May he went to the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge where 900 city police controlled the crowds, but a New York Herald reporter noticed that a stomach problem caused a pallor on his face. Arthur liked New York and returned there in July and spent the 23rd with his daughter in a resort at Cape May, New Jersey.
      In July the Navy Secretary Chandler sent the South Atlantic Squadron to western Madagascar to protect American commerce from a conflict there.
      Roscoe Conkling and his friends were planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park because the Northern Pacific Railroad had been completed to Bozeman. The Forest and Stream editor George Bird Grinnell advocated expanding and preserving the park for the exclusive use of the public. Senator George G. Vest of Missouri in March helped pass the Sundry Civil Appropriation Bill that increased spending to protect and improve the park. Vest and General Sheridan had suggested in January a summer tour of Yellowstone for President Arthur and other dignitaries.
      General Sheridan limited the Yellowstone party to ten people that included his brother Michael, President Arthur, his daughter, his friend Daniel G. Rollins, Secretary of War Lincoln, Montana’s Governor Crosby, Senator Vest, the physician Major W. F. Forwood, and the photographer Frank Jay Haynes. Arthur did not allow any reporters and approved all the Associated Press accounts before they were sent. Sheridan had 75 cavalry accompany them.
      Arthur left Washington on July 30 and opened the Southern Cotton Exposition at Louisville, Kentucky on August 1. A train took them to Chicago and then to Cheyenne, Wyoming on the 4th. From Green River they took wagons, and from Fort Washakie they rode horses. For three weeks they enjoyed the high mountains, crossing the Continental Divide three times and camping at 9,000 feet elevation. At the edge of the National Park they caught many fish. They reached the park’s Mammoth Hot Springs hotel on August 31. The next day Arthur took a stagecoach with springs for seven miles to the Northern Pacific Railroad at Livingston. He reached Chicago on September 4 and said he felt “invigorated.” He attended a public reception for 10,000 people and shook thousands of hands. Arthur returned to Washington and announced that he was in perfect health, though his doctor had to treat him for great pain. Bright’s disease had made his legs badly swollen.
      On October 15 the US Supreme Court in five civil rights cases decided 8-1 that the 13th and 14th amendments only protected people from discrimination by the state but not by private persons or businesses. Justice Harlan in his dissent argued that the enforcement clause of the 13th amendment should protect equal rights in those cases too. He warned that segregated public accommodations create discrimination writing,

I am of the opinion that such discrimination
practised by corporations and individuals in the exercise
of their public or quasi-public functions
is a badge of servitude the imposition of which
Congress may prevent under its power,
by appropriate legislation.26

      The biracial Readjuster Party had gained a majority in the city council of Danville, Virginia in the 1882 election. In October 1883 white citizens drafted and signed the Danville Circular which criticized the Readjusters and Negroes. On November 2 the chairman of the Readjuster Party in Pittsylvania County spoke publicly against the Circular. The next day an argument between a white man and two black men became violent. Some white men used guns, and at least five people were killed including four blacks. Democrats made this riot an issue, and in the election on November 6 they regained the majority in Virginia’s General Assembly.
      Before stepping down as commanding general on November 1 William T. Sherman wrote a report to the Secretary of War Robert T. Lincoln that included this assessment of recent changes in the West:

Nearly two thirds of the domain of the United States
lies west of the Mississippi, and at the close of the civil war
the greater part of it was occupied by wild beasts, buffalo,
elk, antelope, and deer, and by wilder Indians.
Now, by the indomitable courage, industry, and thrift
of our people, this vast region has been reduced
to a condition of comparative civilization.
Three great railroads now traverse the continent,
with branches innumerable,
and a fourth is making rapid progress.
States, territories, cities, and towns have grown up;
neat cattle have already displaced the buffalo;
horses and sheep have displaced the elk, deer,
and antelope; and crops of wheat, rye, barley, and oats
are now grown in regions
believed hitherto to be desert or inaccessible.
This is the real cause of the great prosperity
which now blesses our country
and swells the coffers of our national treasury.27

      President Arthur in his Third Annual Message to Congress on December 4 advised that the US did not need to compete with the naval arms race going on among the powerful nations in Europe, saying,

It is no part of our policy to create and maintain a Navy able
to cope with that of the other great powers of the world.
We have no wish for foreign conquest,
and the peace which we have long enjoyed
is in no seeming danger of interruption.
But that our naval strength should be made adequate
for the defense of our harbors,
the protection of our commercial interests,
and the maintenance of our national honor is a proposition
from which no patriotic citizen can withhold his assent.28

      Arthur concluded that message to Congress,

Any legislation whereby Congress may lawfully supplement
the guaranties which the Constitution affords for the equal
enjoyment by all the citizens of the United States
of every right, privilege, and immunity of citizenship
will receive my unhesitating approval.29

      The Brulé Lakota subchief Crow Dog had killed the Lakota Chief Spotted Tail on 5 August 1881, and a tribal council made him pay restitution to the victim’s family. The Indian agent arrested Crow Dog, and Attorney General Brewster and Interior Secretary Samuel Kirkwood decided to prosecute Crow Dog and asked for the death penalty. He was convicted on 11 May 1882 and was sentenced to be hanged. Crow Dog appealed to the US Supreme Court which decided 9-0 on 17 December 1883 that the federal court had no jurisdiction over cases involving Indians after a trial by the tribal council, and they released him.
      The Pension building opened in Washington DC with ample office space for disbursing retirement pensions to war veterans and widows.
      On 3 March 1883 the Congress had managed to pass a compromise Tariff Act which critics called the “Mongrel Tariff Act” because it still included strong protectionist barriers to free trade. Republicans who voted against it thought it was not protective enough. Yet on average it only reduced tariffs by 1.47%. The American economy had been growing since 1879, but it began to slow down in 1882 without a precipitous fall. Prices went down, and 6,738 businesses failed in 1883.

United States, Arthur & Elections in 1884

      In February 1884 it was revealed that Irish terrorists rebelling against the British had used bombs made in America. In 1881 British police had found six detonating machines on a steamship from Boston. Arthur ordered federal marshals to stop the arms trafficking.
      On February 26 the US Congress prohibited the enclosure of public land with fences. On March 6 Susan B. Anthony led about a hundred suffragists to the White House and demanded that President Arthur support women voting. In April the United States recognized the Congo state which had been taken over by King Leopold II of Belgium.
      After being treated violently by a conductor on a train on May 4, Ida B. Wells went to a Tennessee court to plead for the right to ride in first class with a first-class ticket.
      After gold was discovered in Alaska, the US Congress on May 17 established a judicial district in the Territory of Alaska and allowed them to use Oregon laws as models.
      Treasury Secretary Charles Folger was often ill and suffered from depression, and he died on September 4. Arthur then moved Gresham to the Treasury for 53 days until he was appointed a Circuit Court judge and was replaced by the financier Hugh McCulloch who as Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary had helped finance the Civil War. In 1884 McCulloch warned that the severe economic depression would continue and could get worse. The economist David A. Wells advised low tariffs and new markets, and that year he published A Primer of Tariff Reform; but the labor commissioner Carrol D. Wright doubted that those reforms would reduce the government’s surplus. About 754,000 or 4% were unemployed in 1884.
      Interior Secretary Teller had been working to restrain the timber industry to protect settlers, and he and Arthur wanted more schools for Indians. By 1884 the US Government was operating 81 boarding schools, 76 day schools, and six industrial schools. Arthur believed that Indians deserved protection by laws, and Teller established a Court of Indian Offenses that empowered Indians to enforce rules regarding their tribal customs. Teller liked to make “surplus” Indian land available to settlers. He told Arthur that Indians did not own the land, and he approved opening part of the Crow Creek Reservation in the Dakota Territory for homesteaders. They investigated and learned that was wrong, and the order was reversed soon after Grover Cleveland became President in 1885. Helen Hunt Jackson, who published A Century of Dishonor in 1881 and the novel Ramona in 1884 to show how Indians suffered from injustice, supported Interior Secretary Teller.
      In May the former Attorney General MacVeagh had published a letter in the New York Times that criticized Arthur for his behavior before he was President. He suggested that people other than those on Wall Street believe that he should be satisfied with one term. On that day business people met at the Cooper Union in New York City to rally support for Arthur, and about a hundred would go to the convention in Chicago to support his re-election. Navy Secretary Chandler would lead the New Hampshire delegation and was ready to manage Arthur’s campaign in Chicago. Then after a cabinet meeting Arthur spoke to him alone and told him not to go to Chicago. Chandler explained that Blaine and others would have politicians there working for him, and Arthur responded,

I know, but I do not want to be nominated
as the result of any political manipulation.
I want a nomination that will reflect the desire of the party,
or none at all.
I don’t believe it is dignified or proper
for a cabinet officer to appear at a national convention
and there work for the nomination of his chief.30

Arthur kept secret the real reason for his reluctance because he knew that he was dying. He asked each cabinet member not to go to the convention. A large rally was held for Arthur in New York City on May 20. Two assistant Postmaster Generals were in charge of his delegates. He communicated with them by telegraph, and he refused to promise the Postmaster General position for 18 delegates. When the Manhattan hotel owner Edward Stokes came to Chicago with $100,000 for Arthur’s campaign, the President told them that the money should be rejected.
      After James G. Blaine was no longer Secretary of State, he moved into a lavish home in Washington and often criticized the policies of the Arthur administration especially in regard to tariffs, the South, and Latin American policy. He was writing Twenty Years in Congress, and in February 1884 newspapers published extracts.
      Blaine had the lawyer Stephen Elkins represent him at the Republican National Convention which began in Chicago on June 3. On the first day young Theodore Roosevelt Jr. proposed that they make the black Mississippi Congressman John Roy Lynch the temporary chairman, and the delegates did so. During the discussion of rules and bargaining Arthur refused to promise any patronage. The Republicans’ platform was for high tariffs to protect manufacturing and domestic business, an international standard on gold and silver coins, and federal projects.
      In the first balloting on June 6 Blaine got 334.5 votes, Arthur 278, Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont 93, and Senator John A. Logan of Illinois 63.5. On the fourth ballot delegates shifted over to Blaine who was nominated with 541 votes. The same night they nominated Senator John Logan of Illinois for Vice President. Arthur telegraphed his support, but he did not campaign. The Stalwart Conkling contemptuously refused to back his archenemy Blaine. When the Republican Convention sent a telegram to General William T. Sherman asking him to be a candidate, he replied, “If nominated, I will not accept. If elected, I will not serve.” The Convention allowed Frances Willard of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) to submit a petition with about 20,000 names; but Republicans lost votes to the Prohibition Party when they mocked and stained it with tobacco juice.
      Readjusters called themselves Virginia’s Republican party, and they had supported Arthur and then accepted Blaine; but his campaign in August told them they were not needed anymore. The Democrat Cleveland would win Virginia by only 6,139 votes as Democrats gained eight of Virginia’s ten seats in the US House of Representatives.
      On July 8 the Democratic Party also met in Chicago, and on the second ballot they nominated New York’s Governor Grover Cleveland for president. Thomas A. Hendricks, the former governor of Indiana, became the candidate for vice president as he had been in 1876.
      Independent Republicans such as Curtis, Schurz, and Godkin, were sometimes called “Mugwumps,” and they opposed Blaine again. Seven of New York City’s journals, which had backed Garfield in 1880 and had a circulation of 500,000, supported Cleveland. In late July a newspaper in Buffalo reported that Grover Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child. Democrats accused Blaine of being corrupted by railroads when he was Speaker of the House. In his autobiography Andrew Dickson White called it the “vilest political campaign ever waged.”31 Yet the Civil Service Commission reported that there were few political assessments and that less than half of what campaigns usually raised was spent.
      Cleveland did not deny that he had an illegitimate child, and in September the Republicans used the slogan “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?” After the election the Democrats responded by laughing and saying “He’s gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!”
      On October 9 the Presbyterian minister Samuel Burchard at the Fifth Avenue Hotel said,

We are Republicans, and don’t propose to have our party
identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents
have been rum, Romanism, and rebellion.32

Democrats used this statement to win votes from Catholics.
      Nearly 10,049,754 people voted in the election, and Cleveland won the popular vote by only 57,577 and the Elector College 219-182. He won New York by only 1,149 votes and all the former slave states plus New Jersey, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Illinois. Again New York tipped the balance, this time to the Democrats who had not elected a President since 1856. The Prohibition Party candidate John P. St. John got 147,482 votes, and Benjamin Butler for the Greenback Party garnered 134,294.
      Arthur’s Secretary of State Frelinghuysen had tried to help bring about peace between Chile and Peru and between Mexico and Guatemala. The latter two negotiated their treaty without US help in September. Efforts to plan a canal across Nicaragua were prolonged and unsuccessful, probably because it would violate the 1850 US treaty with Britain. By the time they negotiated four reciprocity treaties, the election loss in November made it difficult to get the approval of Congress. The Nation editor Godkin argued against violating

the rule which forbids a man retiring from office
to lay down lines of policy or create responsibilities
unnecessarily for his successor.33

      Commodore Stephen B. Luce had been advocating a Naval War College since 1877, and Navy Secretary Chandler finally established one at Newport, Rhode Island on 6 October 1884. He closed down unneeded navy yards at Pensacola, Florida and New London, Connecticut. Political favor had been retaining officers who were dismissed for misconduct or incompetence, but in 1884 Chandler wrote to the Senate Naval Committee to stop doing that.
      John Elk was born on a Winnebago reservation but left and renounced his tribal allegiance to become a US citizen. On 8 April 1880 the voting registrar Charles Wilkins had refused to let Elk register to vote. On 3 November 1884 the US Supreme Court decided in Elk v. Wilkins that Native Americans born in the United States were not US citizens because they were not subject to federal jurisdiction. Republican Senator Henry Dawes of Massachusetts introduced a bill to grant US citizenship to all Indians who lived away from the tribe.
      In December the Democrats with the 200-119 advantage over the Republicans in the House elected Samuel J. Randall as Speaker because he was for high tariffs. They authorized about $14 million for the Rivers and Harbors Bill and granted a $1 million loan to the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition with $300,000 for the United States building at the site in New Orleans. Coal strikes in Pennsylvania and Ohio led to the establishment of a National Bureau of Labor in the Interior Department. They made the Chinese Exclusion Act stronger and removed burdens on the American shipping trade.
      In 1884 Grant and Ward’s brokerage firm collapsed, bankrupting the Marine National Bank, Grant’s son Buck, the cartoonist Thomas Nast, and others. This caused a panic in which about a tenth of US businesses failed.
      The World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition opened in New Orleans on December 16, drew four million people, and grossed $5 million.
      Early in 1885 the Congress appropriated $1,895,000 for two cruisers and two gunboats, and Arthur made it law on his last day in office on 3 March 1885. President Arthur had been present at the dedication of the completed Washington Monument on February 21.
      After Grant’s death on 23 July 1885 Arthur was chairman of the Grant Monument Committee and helped raised funds for the famous tomb in New York City. On August 8 the funeral parade for Grant included 60,000 soldiers and veterans and was attended by more than a million spectators. That year Arthur attended a fundraising dinner for the new Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. Arthur died on 18 November 1886. The New York Sun, a Democratic newspaper, called him “one of the most successful and meritorious in our whole list of Presidents.” When a statue of Arthur was dedicated in June 1899 in Madison Square, his lawyer Elihu Root said that after Garfield’s death, Arthur was “no longer a leader of a faction, but the president of the whole people, conscious of all his obligations and determined to execute the people’s will.”34


1. Years of My Youth by William Dean Howells, p. 177 in The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 by Richard White, p. 402.
2. The Life and Public Services of James A. Garfield (1881) by E. E. Brown, p. 424.
3. The Diary of James A. Garfield: 1875-1877 ed. Harry James Brown and Frederick D. Williams. p. 396.
4. The Nation’s Hero—In Memoriam: The Life of James Abram Garfield (1881) by J. M. Bundy, p. 216.
5. Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1908 ed. James D. Richardson, Vol. 8, p. 8.
6. Garfield by Allan Peskin, p. 564 in The Presidencies of James A. Garfield & Chester A. Arthur by Justus D. Doenecke, p. 38.
7. Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield by Kenneth D. Ackerman, p. 335.
8. Ibid. p. 379 from several sources.
9. Ibid. p. 380.
10. Ibid. p. 385.
11. Washington Evening Star, July 4, 1881.
12. Dark Horse by Kenneth D. Ackerman, p. 409.
13. The Unexpected President: The Life and Times of Chester A. Arthur by Scott S. Greenberger, p. 165.
14. Ibid., p. 168.
15. Gentleman Boss: The Life and Times of Chester Alan Arthur by Thomas C. Reeves, p. 9-10.
17. The Unexpected President, p. 83.
18. Ibid. p. 85.
19. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 8, p. 33.
20. Outlawing the Spoils by Ari Arthur Hoogenboom, p. 213 in The Unexpected President, p. 183.
21. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 8, p. 45.
22. Ibid. p. 50.
23. Ibid. p. 60.
24. Ibid. p. 61.
25. The Unexpected President, p. 193.
26. The Negro in American History, Volume II: A Taste of Freedom 1854-1927, p. 222.
27. History of California by Hubert Howe Bancroft, Vol. 7, 631.
28. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 8, p. 181-182.
29. Ibid. p. 188.
30. The Unexpected President, p. 227.
31. Gentleman Boss by Reeves, p. 387.
32. The People’s Chronology by James Trager, p. 568.
33. Gentleman Boss by Reeves, p. 408.
34. The Unexpected President, p. 241.

Copyright © 2022 by Sanderson Beck

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