THE BAY STATE MONTHLY.
A Massachusetts Magazine.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year
1884, by John N.
McClintock and Company, in the office of the Librarian of Congress at
* * * * *
Chester Alan Arthur.
By Ben: Perley Poore.
Chester Alan Arthur was born at Fairfield, Vermont, October 5, 1830. His father, the Reverend Doctor William Arthur, was a Baptist clergyman, who emigrated from county Antrim, Ireland, when only eighteen years of age. He had received a thorough classical education, and was graduated from Belfast University, one of the foremost institutions of learning in Ireland. Marrying an American, Miss Malvina Stone, soon after his arrival, he became the father of several children. Chester was the eldest of two sons, having four sisters older and two younger than himself. While fulfilling his clerical duties as the pastor, successively, of a number of Baptist churches in New York State, Dr. Arthur edited for several years The Antiquarian, and wrote a work on Family Names, which is highly prized by genealogists. Of Scotch-Irish descent, he was a man of great force of character, impatient of restraint, at home in a controversy, and frank in the expression of his opinions. He was a pronounced emancipationist, although he never expected to see the overthrow of slavery, which it was his good fortune to witness, as his life was spared until the twenty-seventh of October, 1875, when he died at Newtonville, near Albany. He was a personal friend of Gerrit Smith, and they had participated in the organization of the New York State Anti-Slavery Society, which was dispersed by a mob during its first meeting at Utica, on the twenty-first of October, 1835 (the day on which William Lloyd Garrison was mobbed in Boston, and was lodged in jail for his own protection). A friend of the slave from conscience and from conviction, Dr. Arthur was never backward in expressing his convictions, and his children imbibed his teachings.
When a lad, young Arthur enjoyed at home the tutelage of his father, whose thorough knowledge of the classics enabled him to lay the foundation of his son’s future education broad and deep. He entered Union College in 1845, when only fifteen years of age. His collegiate course was full of promise, and every successive year he was declared to be one of those who had taken “maximum honors,” although he was compelled to absent himself during two winters, when he taught school to earn the requisite funds for defraying his expenses, without drawing upon his father’s means. Yet he kept up with his class, and when he was graduated in 1848, he was one of six out of a class of over one hundred, who were elected members of the Phi Beta Kappa, an honor only conferred on the best scholars.