Book Review: Chester A. Arthur: The Accidental President

Regnery History

Chester A. Arthur: The Accidental President. John M. Pafford.  Regnery History, September 17, 2019; $29.99

Editor’s Note: A rich New Yorker who has never held an elected position (does this sound currently familiar?) was thrust into the highest governmental position in the United States, the American presidency. He came from the federal civil service system which was rift in cronyism and deep in the bent looting system.

 Arthur was chosen as a running mate for James Garfield, to heal the political party and was not chosen for his political prowess.  The Garfield assassination thrust Arthur into a three- and one-half year “accidental” presidency that he was not groomed for.   But guess what! Chester Arthur brought himself up to speed as he remade the federal government, ignoring the patronage system that fueled his career. He also supported civil service reform.  He rebuilt America’s navy, which had gone into disarray post-Civil War and allowed it to become a world power.

After his death, in 1886, Alexander McClure, a newspaper editor, wrote, “No man entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired…more generally respected.”

About the Author: John M. Pafford, Ph.D is a retired professor of history and philosophy at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan, and the author of Cleveland: The Forgotten Conservative, as well as biographies of Russell Kirk and John Jay.

Sometimes a book/person (President Chester A. Arthur in this case) cannot be judged by its cover…….Carol


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