Chester A. Arthur

Political Offices

How did Chester A. Arthur become vice president?

Arthur entered the 1880 Republican National Convention as a loyal member of the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party, led by the influential Conklin. At the 1880 Republican convention, the Stalwarts backed former President Ulysses S. Grant for an unprecedented third term in office. Another faction of the Republican Party backed James G. Blaine. These Republicans were called “Half-Breeds” because they had divided loyalties to Grant when he was president and to civil service reform.

The Stalwarts and Half-Breeds supported Grant and Blaine as their respective candidates. Soon, more party members began questing for a compromise candidate. That candidate proved to be James A. Garfield, who eventually defeated Grant and emerged the victor during the contentious nomination process. The Garfield camp thought that Arthur would make an excellent choice as vice president, as a way to appease the Stalwart, pro-Grant wing of the Republican Party. Because Garfield was only forty-eight years old, no one expected that Arthur would have a big role in the government, including Arthur himself.


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