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President Chester A. Arthur

On this day, October 5, 1829, Chester Alan Arthur was born. Does that name ring a bell? Do you feel like you are playing Marco Polo with Marco Polo?

When I saw this day in history, I thought that I recognized the name. Then, I looked it up and saw that he became our 21st U.S. President, when he succeeded President James A. Garfield after his assassination. I think I remembered it from one of those tests I took in 4th grade. Or am I thinking of Douglas MacArthur?

I’m not trying to make the blog a history ride, but I think that there is some analogy to what is important in politics today… or what’s not important. I write that, because it seems that before every election, I constantly hear the statement, “this is the most important election ever”. And maybe right now it is. Just as the next one will be more important than this one.

But, I am fascinated by what was important when Arthur became President. Arthur worked on reforms such as the Rivers and Harbors Act. At that time, the act was specifically relating to whether Congress should appropriate $75,000 to improve navigation along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. It was pretty controversial. Now, that navigation doesn’t seem so controversial!

He also signed the Pendleton Civil Service Act into law, which provided competitive testing for jobs in the federal government, rather than just awarding jobs on the basis of a relationship with a politician or political party affiliation.

At the conclusion of his Presidency, Mark Twain evaluated him by writing, “It would be hard indeed to better President Arthur’s administration”. The New York World wrote, “No duty was neglected during his administration, and no adventurous project alarmed the nation”.

When I read about his Presidency, I was interested in what was important then. I also wondered whether we would ever have a President leave office where newspapers and public figures would actually compliment that president’s administration. Hard to imagine in these days of politics.

And speaking of comparisons, how about this pic o’ day?



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