Tag Archives: Chester A. Arthur

The Sassy Sundries: My Week in Review

Goddamn, it’s still lovely out. It may feel like August outside, but it’s October, baby, and the Red Sox are playing some baseball! Life is good. Well, actually life could be better for me. I’ve been a bit down this week, but hey, with wonderful things afoot, things are bound to improve.

It’s that time again. Time for me to tally up the week’s events, personal, political, and nonsensical. Without any further ado, here are the week’s Sassy Sundries:

Happy Birthday, Chester A. Arthur

A little celebratory cake, surrounded by Chester A. Arthur memorabilia

A very Happy Birthday today to Chester A. Arthur, the Ultimate Blank Years President. Today also marks the anniversary of my first comment from Robyn. Glad to know you, Blog Pal. Plus One

Hypocritical homophobic Senator Larry Craig fails in his attempt to reverse his guilty plea to a charge that he solicited sex in an airport men’s room. He’s still determined to stay in the Senate until the end of his term in January 2009. Yeah, good luck with that, Senator. Minus One

The Boston Red Sox, with help from the scrappy Baltimore Oriels, win their division for the first time since 1995. There’s a long row to hoe, but the hometown team’s performance in Game One was a great way to start. Oh, and Satan’s Minions lost their first game. Plus Five

Congress initiates legislation to hold American contractors operating in Iraq accountable in US courts after reports emerge in Septmeber that employees of Blackwater USA opened fire and killed Iraqi civilians under questionable circumstances. With the administration strongly opposed to the proposed legislation, I doubt anything will pass, but the effort counts for something. Even

W delivers on his promise and vetoed the S-CHIP bill, stating that it would lead to socialized health care. Oh, no! Not a healthcare system where everyone’s covered, people live longer, and the infant mortality rate goes down! There’s been some talk about how this bill would be funded, but the way I see it, if we didn’t have an illegal and unnecessary war draining billions and billions of dollars a year, coming up with $35 billion to insure children wouldn’t take much doing. Minus Five

I finally got to see the Mountain Goats Sunday night at the Middle East. Fantastic show. Am looking forward to the National this weekend and Architecture in Helsinki the next (other shows to follow). October isn’t just for baseball. Plus Three

Total Plus: 9
Total Minus: 6

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: +3

Last Week’s Total: +4

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Happy Birthday, Chester A. Arthur, Ultimate Blank Years President

Happy Birthday, Mr. President…
Chester A. Arthur, born this day in 1829 in Fairfield, Vermont


When people find out that I have a Master’s in US history, they often ask “Who’s your favorite president?”

“Chester A. Arthur,” I reply.*

The looks I get are priceless. Many times I get a “Who?” or a “Bah! He wasn’t a president!”

Ah yes, ignorance about Blank Years presidents. The Blank Years is my term for those years in the late nineteenth century when no one pays a lick of attention to the presidency. See, United States history survey courses follow the presidency very closely through Andrew Jackson’s presidency. Things taper off a bit until Lincoln, and then courses cover Johnson and Grant, but the late nineteenth century? It takes a real trivia buff to be able to name those presidents period, let alone in order.

When covering the late nineteenth century, survey courses focus on economic and social issues that shaped the post-Civil War United States. No one bothers with the presidents again until Teddy Roosevelt. Hence, the Blank Years. And no president exemplifies the Blank Years better than Chester A. Arthur.

This line pretty much sums up everything known about the man I call Chet, the twenty-first president of the United States of America: Although a decent and honorable man, Chester A. Arthur was a firm believer in the spoils system. He filled posts with corrupt members of machine politics.**

Occasionally surveys will give an expanded bio that mentions his being the Quartermaster General of the State of New York before he was named the Collector of the Port of New York, and that he was named as James Garfield’s running mate after President Hayes’s attempt to oust Arthur from the Port job (who says that the spoils system doesn’t have its perks?). When Garfield was assassinated in 1881, less than a year into his term, Arthur became president. He was never elected in his own right. He was born in Vermont. He died in 1886. He had great facial hair. Yep. That’s pretty much it.

I think it was a combination of pity and shock that no one knew more about a president than the above that endeared Chester A. Arthur to me. I like saying his name—I draw out the long “A”—Chester A. Arthur. Ah, poor Chet. It makes me laugh to think that he was president. He’s become my favorite answer to questions I don’t know the answer to. Question: Who wrote War and Peace? Answer: Chester A. Arthur. Who is your favorite president? Chester A. Arthur. Easy as pie!

To honor my favorite Blank Years president, I have a small but growing collection of Chester A. Arthur memorabilia. That’s the kind of weirdo chick I am. I’m always on the lookout, so if you know of any Chet goods, let me know.

Chester A. Arthur Goods

Happy Birthday, Chet,
hope this doesn’t make you roll over in your grave

*He isn’t, of course, but I don’t have a favorite president. I like components of several presidents, but explaining this is long and complicated, and people’s eyes glaze over, so I’ve chosen the wiseass route.

**I’d give a citation for this, but this is the standard line absolutely everywhere (especially the “firm believer” part), and I wouldn’t know where to begin.