The Unexpected President: The Life and Times of Chester A. Arthur
Chester A. Arthur was thrust into the office of the Presidency with James Garfield’s assassination in 1881. He was not viewed as an ideal President. His three years in office have largely been relegated to historical footnote. Chester Arthur was born to a prominent preacher and abolitionist. Arthur yearned to leave his surroundings, moving to New York City to begin a legal career. He won acclaim for his defense of civil rights. He would meet his wife in 1856, only to have his first grasp at fortune in Kansas dashed with the sudden death of his father-in-law. His return to New York would lead to meeting political mentors. The outbreak of the Civil War led to Arthur’s military commission, overseeing distribution of needed materials. The post-war period saw him rising as a lobbyist and government figure. In 1880, he would be chosen as VP running mate, which was heavily criticized. His ascension after Garfield’s death left him in a tough position of attempting to mollify both parties. Would he be successful?
The Unexpected President is a noteworthy attempt to uncover hidden history. The documentary record of Chester Arthur has been missing, largely due to Arthur’s own choice. Scott Greenberger’s work spotlights the 21st President’s young life and time as Chief Executive. Arthur is a complicated person but never dull. His term can now be viewed in a new context with this important work.
Da Capo Press
Scott S. Greenberger