Chester Alan Arthur was an American attorney and politician who served as the 21st President of the United States from 1881 to 1885; he succeeded James A. Garfield upon the latter's assassination. At the outset, Arthur struggled to overcome a slightly negative reputation, which stemmed from his early career in politics as part of New York's Republican political machine. He succeeded by embracing the cause of civil service reform. His advocacy for, and subsequent enforcement of, the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act was the centerpiece of his administration.
Arthur was born in Fairfield, Vermont, grew up in upstate New York, and practiced law in New York City. He served as quartermaster general in the New York Militia during the American Civil War. Following the war, he devoted more time to Republican politics and quickly rose in the political machine run by New York Senator Roscoe Conkling. Appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant to the lucrative and politically powerful post of Collector of the Port of New York in 1871, Arthur was an important supporter of Conkling and the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party. In 1878, the new president, Rutherford B.