Book Review: The Unexpected President

Our 21st President was originally put into the role of Vice-President when James Garfield was selected to be the Republican Nominee. Garfield wasn’t even thought of as a possible candidate when the Republican convention started. Due to nobody getting enough votes, Garfield was finally chosen as a candidate that everyone could agree on. In order to get New York state to vote Republican and to appease the political machine, Chester Arthur was put on the ticket as Vice President.

Unexpected Presidency

Four months after Garfield started his Presidency, he was shot. Two and a half months of battling infection, he died, making Chester Arthur the 21st President of the United States.

Arthur did not want the Presidency, he would have been happy ruling over the Senate and not having the pressures and workload of being President. Arthur also had a huge battle on his hands and it was a public relations battle. Due to him being a Stalwart and part of the Conkling political machine, everyone thought he was a puppet for Roscoe Conkling.

Notable policies that Arthur was credited with was Civil Service Reform (which went against the Stalwarts and Conkling), Chinese Exclusion Act, and building up the Navy. Arthur went into the Presidency viewed as a sleazy politician and end being fairly respected by both sides of the aisle.

Arthur made a half-hearted attempt to gain a second term. He wanted to be chosen but didn’t really want to take on the second term as his health was failing. At that time many did not know that his health was failing, and wonder at his lackadaisical effort at getting a second term. Shortly after leaving office he died of cerebral hemorrhaging. Before his death he had most of his papers burned trying to erase his ways of being a Stalwart along with the things he did to continue the Conkling political machine before becoming President. The Presidency changed Arthur from a sleazy politician to a respectable man.

I enjoyed the book The Unexpected President: The Life and Times of Chester A. Arthur. Chester Arthur was a President I didn’t know much about before reading. You don’t hear a lot about him and not taught much about him in school. I’ve posted about this before, that I want to read a biography about each of the Presidents. Chester Arthur was my 25th President Biography I’ve read. It was hard to find a book about him. He’s not one written about very much.

If you’re wanting to find out more about a President that you hardly hear about, understand some of the corruption going on after the Civil War, this would be a good book to read.

If you’re interested in more of the books I’ve read, check out my reading list here.

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