Chester Arthur 21st President, 1881-1885

Birthplace, Fairfield, Vermont
Chester Alan Arthur was born on October 5, 1830 in Fairfield, Vermont. The son of Malvina Arthur and the Reverend William Arthur, a passionate abolitionist, young Chester and his family migrated from one Baptist parish to another in Vermont and New York. The fifth of eight children, Chester had six sisters and one older brother. Before beginning school in Union Village (now Greenwich), New York, he studied the fundamentals of reading and writing at home

Some mystery surrounds the early years of Chester A. Arthur. The most frequently asked question is “Where was he born?” The President Arthur State Historic Site is a 1953 recreation of the second house in which Arthur lived as an infant. The confusion stems from the fact that Arthur himself told people that his birth year was 1830 (it was actually 1829). The building in which he was born was actually a primitive cabin hastily erected in the village of Fairfield. The Baptist Congregation later completed the parsonage where the family moved shortly after the birth of the future president. It was this parsonage, which was reconstructed by the State of Vermont.

The granite monument, dedicated in 1903, is situated on a small plot of land presented to the State of Vermont by P.B.B. Northrop. At that time it was believed this was the location of the birthplace of Chester Arthur. In 1950 the State of Vermont purchased the land around the monument and the present building was recreated in 1953 using as a guide an old photograph of the house, which stood on this site.

Gravesite, Albany Rural Cemetery, Albany, New York

Chester A. Arthur died on November 18, 1886 of Bright’s disease, a then-fatal kidney ailment. He was first diagnosed with the disease in 1882, and kept it secret. Knowing that his condition was fatal, Arthur made little effort to seek nomination for a second term, although he did not oppose efforts by others on his behalf. On the fourth ballot at the convention, he lost the Republican nomination to his former secretary of state James G. Blaine.

Arthur tried to resume the practice of law after leaving the presidency, but his ill health prevented him from doing much work. The disease had seriously weakened his heart and he became too frail even to go fishing, which was the great love of his life. His death came at home with his children and sisters near at hand. He was buried with full ceremonies at the Rural Cemetery in Albany, New York. His successor, President Grover Cleveland, was in attendance.

Established on October 7, 1844, the Albany Rural Cemetery is one of the most beautiful historic cemeteries in upstate New York. Its 467 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds include the burial plots of many distinguished national and local dignitaries, including President Chester A Arthur. The Albany Rural Cemetery contains a large collection of tombs and monuments by well known sculptors and remains from 18th century graveyards removed from downtown Albany. The lodge and chapel were designed in 1882 and 1884, respectively, by Robert W. Gibson, and the superintendent’s house was designed in 1899 by Marcus T. Reynolds.

In 1886, President Chester Alan Arthur, the 21st President of the United States, was interred at Albany Rural Cemetery. The lot had been purchased by his father, the Reverend Willam Arthur. His memorial was designed by Ephriam Keyser and dedicated on June 15, 1889. Friends of the President contributed a fun that provided $10,000 for the memorial and for a statue that was erected in New York City.