Chester A. Arthur (1829–86) was born in Vermont, though his opponents claimed his “real” birthplace was across the nearby border in Canada. He was a lawyer, a Republican, an advocate for black rights, and a firm believer in the spoils system. He received a patronage job as collector of customs in New York City under the Grant administration and rose to become a power in state Republican circles. He had to resign his position in 1879 after an investigation revealed widespread corruption even though it did not implicate him. In ...

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