Chester Arthur with Ham

21st PRESIDENT

NAME: Chester Alan (pronounced Alán) Arthur. He was named after Dr. Chester Abell, the physician who delivered him, and his paternal grandfather, Alan Arthur.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: A sturdily built, handsome figure, Arthur stood 6 feet 2 inches tall and had a chubby, round face, high forehead, fleshy nose, black eyes, and wavy brown hair. As a young man he was trim, weighing perhaps 175-185 pounds, but a penchant for late-night feasts brought him up to 225 pounds by the time he became president. His most distinctive feature was the sidewhiskers and mustache he wore throughout most of his career. A fastidious dresser, he had an extensive wardrobe that is said to have included 80 pairs of pants and changed clothes for every occasion, often several times a day. He was nicknamed Elegant Arthur. While he was president his health steadily eroded from terminal Bright’s disease.

PERSONALITY: Arthur was an amiable, easy-going fellow, an accomplished raconteur, a careful observer of social amenities, a man of charm, grace, and polish. Yet, observes biographer Thomas C. Reeves, “Though few would have guessed it of this urbane politician, Arthur was a deeply emotional, even romantic person, capable of great loyalties and easily brought to tears.” Reeves notes further that Arthur spent considerable effort to conceal that he retained much of the romanticism of his youth.

PRIMARY SOURCE: DeGregorio, William A. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. 7th ed. Fort Lee: Barricade Books, 2009.

Chester Arthur with Ham

James Garfield Grover Cleveland