Kurt's Historic Sites

Chester Arthur 1

Chester A. Arthur

Interment Location Visited Sequence in Graves I Have Visited
Menands, NY April 2004 6th President visited; 3rd Vice President visited

Photographed January 6, 2016.

Were it not for the rapid death of James K. Polk, the record for briefest post-presidency would be held by Chester Alan Arthur. His tenure as chief executive concluded on March 4, 1885, and he died a mere 20 months later at age 57. Four days following his decease, Arthur was interred near his wife Ellen at Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, a village just north of New York’s capital city.

Friends paid sculptor Ephraim Keyser to create the memorial that stands over the 21st president’s burial site. It primarily consists of a bronze angel of sorrow with its hand and a palm frond resting on a polished granite sarcophagus. It was set in place in May 1889.

Photographed August 16, 2014.
Chester Arthur's Grave site
Photographed April 2004.

Arthur was the fourth vice president to fill a presidential vacancy created by death and the second to do so following an assassination. In Arthur’s three and a half years as chief executive, his most noted actions were signing the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act into law. The former is infamous as the first federal law in United States history that restricted immigration based on race. The legislation remained on the books until 1943.

A plaque on the base of the president’s memorial states his birth year as 1830 as opposed to the correct year of 1829. At some point between 1870 and 1880, Arthur began to maintain that he was born a year later than he actually was. In all likelihood this was an attempt to appear more youthful, as it placed his birth not only in a more recent year, but a more recent decade.

Photographed August 16, 2014.

Fast Facts

Born: October 5, 1829 in Fairfield, Vermont

Spouse: Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur (m. 1859-1880)

Highest Military Rank: Brigadier General — New York Militia

Political Affiliation: Republican Party

Vice Presidential Tenure: 1881 under James A. Garfield

Presidential Tenure: 1881-1885

Vice President: Vacant

Died: November 18, 1886 in New York, New York

Cause of Death: Stroke

Age: 57

Interment: Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, New York

"The wisdom of our fathers, foreseeing even the most dire possibilities, made sure that the Government should never be imperiled because of the uncertainty of human life. Men may die, but the fabrics of our free institutions remain unshaken. No higher or more assuring proof could exist of the strength and permanence of popular government than the fact that though the chosen of the people be struck down his constitutional successor is peacefully installed without shock or strain except the sorrow which mourns the bereavement."
- Chester A. Arthur

September 22, 1881 in his first address upon assuming the presidency after the death of James A. Garfield

Sources Consulted and Further Reading

Arthur, Chester A. “Address Upon Assuming the Office of the President,” September 22, 1881. Transcript. From University of Virginia, Miller Center. https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/presidential-speeches/september-22-1881-address-upon-assuming-office-president.

Lamb, Brian and the staff of C-SPAN. Who’s Buried in Grant’s Tomb? A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. Rev. ed. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

Picone, Louis L. The President is Dead! The Extraordinary Stories of the Presidential Deaths, Final Days, Burials, and Beyond. Rev. ed. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2020.

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