Monday, February 16, 2015

President’s Day, 2015

by Jack Le Moine

President’s Day consolidated the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln into one holiday together with the rest of the presidents. This consolidation of multiple holidays into one is a welcome exception to the trend of holiday overload that fills the calendar with holidays. It is a shame that people have stopped observing some of the official holidays.

Presidents have been accorded varying degrees of greatness. Some have been just overlooked. Today, this blog draws attention to one of those.

Chester A. Arthur (President 1881 – 1885) was one of those presidents who did not do much but the nation greatly expanded during his time. Perhaps there’s a causal connection there?

Of all the presidents his reputation and record of corruption in his previous office of Collector of the Port of New York made him distasteful. He epitomized the machine politics of that time. Then he became President on the death of James Garfield. He championed civil service reforms that did away with many of the corrupt practices he had done before.

He was sick at the end of his term and died the next year after his term ended.

Alexander McClure wrote, "No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted as Chester Alan Arthur, and no one ever retired ... more generally respected, alike by political friend and foe."

Here are two pieces of wisdom to take away from his life: (1) the importance of repentance and redemption; and (2) results matter more than activity.

Mark Twain wrote, "[I]t would be hard indeed to better President Arthur's administration."

Further information: The White House.


  1. I do remember the bigwigs of the New York political machines being incredibly angry that their buddy "Chet" turned against them, as they saw it, once he became president.

  2. Er, I remember reading about it, that is. I'm not quite that old. :)

  3. Thanks Danny. Yes, especially since they had not wanted him to run for VP to begin with. Garfield offered it to him to balance the ticket and he jumped at it.