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Chester A. Arthur 2012
Front of coin shows a bust of Chester A. Arthur, 21th president, 1881 to 1885.

Chester A. Arthur was born in Fairfield, Vermont, in 1829.  He graduated from Union College in 1848, taught school, and practiced law in New York City.  He served as the quartermaster general of New York state early in the Civil War.

When Vice President Arthur became President because of the assassination of President James Garfield in 1881, he became a man of fashion.  He was often seen with the most refined people of major eastern cities.

Before becoming President, Arthur believed strongly in appointing political friends to civil service jobs, but afterward he worked to end that practice by reforming civil service.  Congress was forced to cooperate with this reform because of pressure from the public.  President Garfield had been assassinated over a civil service post.

In 1883, Congress passed the Pendleton Act.  The Act set up a Civil Service Commission and required people to take a written test when they applied for certain government jobs.  Hiring was becoming more fair and employees were protected from being fired for reasons that were merely political.  The Arthur administration also enacted the first federal immigration law.

Although Arthur had a fatal kidney disease, he ran for the presidential nomination as his term was ending in 1884, but he was not nominated.  He died two years later.


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