7 U.S Presidents That History Kind of Forgot

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6. Chester A. Arthur (President #21, 1881 -1885)

Chester Arthur was one of five Presidents that were never actually elected to office. He served as the Vice President to the 20th Commander and Chief, James A. Garfield, until he was shot by Charles J. Guiteau on July 2, 1881, dying 79 days later on September 19, 1881, for an infection caused by the doctors being unable to find the bullet lodged in his body.

He gained his political spurs in the less than reputable New York political machine, where he had a reputation for favoring his close friends ahead of more qualified politicians and allegedly demanded kickbacks from workers to support the Republican Party.

So it came as a shock to all when Arthur became a reformer in office, ushering in the civil-service commission to crack down on the rampant spoils system. Even Mark Twain said it would be “hard to better” his Administration.

But Arthur’s transformation into a reformer didn’t particularly please other Republicans, and he became one of the few Presidents to fail to win his party’s nomination for re-election. Historians suspect he didn’t campaign very aggressively for it, as early in his term he had learned, but decided to keep secret, that he had a fatal kidney disease.

He died less than two years after leaving office.


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