Chester Alan Arthur: The American Presidents Series: The 21st President, 1881-1885

Chester Alan Arthur: The American Presidents Series: The 21st President, 1881-1885

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Chester Alan Arthur: The American Presidents Series: The 21st President, 1881-1885 by Zachary Karabell

The Gilded Age bon vivant who became America's unlikeliest chief executive-and who presided over a sweeping reform of the system that nurtured him

Chester Alan Arthur never dreamed that one day he would be president of the United States. A successful lawyer, Arthur had been forced out as the head of the Custom House of the Port of New York in 1877 in a power struggle between the two wings of the Republican Party. He became such a celebrity that he was nominated for vice president in 1880-despite his never having run for office before.

Elected alongside James A. Garfield, Arthur found his life transformed just four months into his term, when an assassin shot and killed Garfield, catapulting Arthur into the presidency. The assassin was a deranged man who thought he deserved a federal job through the increasingly corrupt "spoils system." To the surprise of many, Arthur, a longtime beneficiary of that system, saw that the time had come for reform. His opportunity came in the winter of 1882-83, when he pushed through the Pendleton Act, which created a professional civil service and set America on a course toward greater reforms in the decades to come.

Chester Arthur may be largely forgotten today, but Zachary Karabell eloquently shows how this unexpected president-of whom so little was expected-rose to the occasion when fate placed him in the White House.

"By exploring the Gilded Age's parallels with our own divisive political scene, Karabell does an excellent job of cementing the volume's relevance for contemporary readers. " - Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466834620
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/21/2004
Series: American Presidents Series
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 264,730
File size: 345 KB

About the Author

Zachary Karabell is the author of several works of American and world history, including The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election and Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal. He has taught at Harvard and Dartmouth, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsweek. He lives in New York City.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., (1917-2007) was the preeminent political historian of our time. For more than half a century, he was a cornerstone figure in the intellectual life of the nation and a fixture on the political scene. He won two Pulitzer prizes for The Age of Jackson (1946) and A Thousand Days (1966), and in 1988 received the National Humanities Medal. He published the first volume of his autobiography, A Life in the Twentieth Century, in 2000.

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Chester Alan Arthur 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous 4 months ago
To take the reins, Arthur did A solid biography - well written with a good flavor for what America was in the late 1800s.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'll say up front, that this book may not be for everyone. If one doesn't particularly care for the history of the Republican party, specifically the conflict between Half Breeds and Stalwarts, then this probably won't appeal to them. Zachary Karabell has seemingly done the impossible. He took one of the forgotten names of the presidency, and made a strong argument for him being amongst the best presidents our country has ever had. Arthur is probably best known for being the man who became president following Garfield's assassination, and for signing the Pendleton act. But Karabell shows that there was a lot more to him than those two things. Karabell also doesn't pull any punches, he freely admits how much Arthur benefited from the kickbacks that he received as Collector of the Port of New York, and his very loose work ethic (he never did today, what could be put off until tomorrow). So it's not like he paints Arthur as being something he wasn't. But, shortcomings like that are counterbalanced with some of his great achievements in office, in addition to the Pendleton act, his veto of a bill that would have deported millions of immigrants, his push to use some of the country's $100 Million dollar surplus to advance the U.S. Navy, and a veto of a Rivers and Harbors Act that would have appropriated federal funds in a manner he thought excessive. In addition to Arthur, Karabell also gives the reader great insight to other names of the time period such as Roscoe Conkling and James G. Blaine, who were very important to Arthur's political career.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another disappointing read from the American Presidents Series. I don't know why these books annoy me so much, but I think its that they are often disorganized, cursory, and lack the ability to bring imagery and liveliness to the story. In the case of C. A. Arthur, the text seems to be a blast of miscellaneous facts cobbled together and loosely organized chronologically. There is no attempt to draw the reader in and depict the setting, scene, mood, or atmosphere, and no "threading" of stories to add interest -- just bland facts strewn together. That said, it would certainly get a passing grade at the local community college. Having just finished "Destiny of the Republic" (an excellent James Garfield biography), which covers a presidency that lasted a mere 4 months, I know my dislike is not due to the lack of material. It is, again and again with this Series, a lack of quality writing. Because the Series is written by various authors, perhaps the fault lies with editor Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.? Regardless,...this is probably the last of these I will read and will stick to "full bodied" biographies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having read about fifteen of the series I can say that the author's writing style of this long-needed account of Chester A. Arthur's obscure Presidency is by far superior to any of the other prominent historians read so far. A very interesting premise is posed by the author that Arthur's support for the Pendleton Act and Civil Service Reform lays the basis for the latter day Progressive movement and growth of governmental sprawl. More of Arthur's interesting personal life should ,however, been included. Once again a tremendous writer in the author--Zachary Karabell.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chester Alan Arthur was the greatest president of the United States. Chester A. Arthur (The American Presidents Series) clearly displays the amazing turnaround of Arthur from corruption to outstanding leadership at home and abroad. He deserves the praise of all Americans. If he had not had such a difficult Congress to work with, the nation would know more about Arthur and some of the quite fascinating ideas he had. Arthur was a leader, and should still be among the United States of America and the world.