James Roberts 1 The Presidency of Chester Alan Arthur General Purpose: To Inform. Specific Purpose: To inform my audience about the c ircumstances that made Chester Alan Arthur the 21 st President of the United States and a few accomplish ments of his administration.
Central Idea: President Chester Alan Arthur was an unlikely Vice-President and President, yet he held both offices and made a few accomplishments during his administration.
Organization Pattern: Chronological Object: Slide Show Introduction I. Attention Getter: Please raise your hand if you have heard of Chester Alan Arthur. Is he the drummer of a rock band? Did he discover a new speci es? Is he one of the world’s 100 wealthiest persons? It may surprise you to learn that he was t he 21 st President of the United States. Arthur “is one of the forgotten Presidents” (Karabell 2). Perhaps he is forgotten because he did not involve America in a foreign war or because there w as no great crisis during his administration.
Perhaps he is forgotten because America was growing in prosperity and influence or because there were few reforms.
II. Relate to the Audience: Arthur’s obscurity begs the question; why should you take any interest in him? Did you know Arthur signed the first national immigration reform bill? Or that Standard Time was established during his administration? Or that the national budget ran a surplus on his watch, every year?
III. Establish Credibility: After carefully researc hing his Presidency I am prepared to reveal a few choice morsels from President Arthur’s administrati on. My research includes four biographies.
IV. Preview: Throughout the course of this speech, I will inform you about the unlikely Presidency of Chester Alan Arthur. I will discuss 1) Arthur’s ast onishing path to political fame 2) the assassination that made Arthur our 21 st President of the United States, 3) and a few accomplishments of his administration.
[Why don’t we start with how Arthur became Vice-Pre sident.] Body I. Main Point: Arthur rose to political fame overni ght.
A. Sub-Point: Presidential candidate James Garfield chose Chester Arthur as his running- mate.
B. Sub-Point: Arthur had no real political experien ce or credentials. James Roberts 2 1. Example: Arthur was twice the head of the coll ectorship for the New York Port Authority, but he held no other political office prior to his nomination to be Garfield’s Vice-President (Howe 48/91).
C. Sub-Point: Arthur was a political opponent of G arfield.
1. Example: Arthur supported a political group tha t opposed Garfield and did not share his ideology (Reeves 139/177). Imagine Mitt R omney and Barack Obama as running mates; how could that happen? But it did !
[Now let’s turn our attention to how Vice-President Arthur became President Arthur.] II. Main Point: Though he did not want it, Arthur b ecame our 21 st President of the United States.
A. Sub-Point: Arthur became our leader after Garfi eld was assassinated by a madman.
1. Example: President Garfield was assassinated a t a train station in Baltimore (Clark 58). 2. Though he survived the actual shooting on July , 2 nd, Garfield’s wound became infected and he died on September 19 th, 1881 (Pletcher 15-16).
B. Sub-Point: Arthur did not aspire to become the 21 st President of the United States.
1. Example: While Garfield lay dying Arthur remarke d that he did not desire to be President of the United States (Doenecke 54).
2. Testimony: An eyewitness revealed Arthur’s react ion when he learned the president had died. Arthur’s butler stated, “[Arthu r was] sitting alone in his room sobbing like a child, with his head on his desk and his face buried in his hands” (Ackerman 427-428). Arthur and Garfield were never close, so this emotional outburst was probably more than grief at Garfield’s death.
3. Testimony: Arthur discussed being president. He said, “The most frightful responsibility … would be the casting of the Presid ency upon me under the conditions which you and all my friends so well und erstand” (Ackerman 428). [Lastly, let’s examine a few of President Arthur’s accomplishments.] III. Main Point: Arthur’s administration enjoyed mo dest success. [Internal Preview] I will examine his civil service reform, budget surpluses and his dedication of the Washington Monument.
A. Sub-Point: Arthur signed legislation that refor med how our government hires its civil servants.
1. Example: Arthur’s signature took a big step t o ensure that government employees were hired because they “merited” the job, not as a personal favor to someone who had done political favors for the party in po wer (Karabell 107-108). In principle we share in this reform today by prefer ring merit to favoritism. James Roberts 3 B. Sub-Point: In the Arthur administration the fed eral government regularly enjoyed a budget surplus, which is unheard of in the last de cade of American politics.
1. Statistic: the size of the annual surplus was immense, $100 million dollars, in a time when total budget was about $300 million dol lars (Karabell 113). A $100 million surplus would be the equivalent of a tril lion dollar surplus today.
C. Sub-Point: At the end of his administration Art hur dedicated the Washington Monument.
1. Example: In the final months of his presidenc y Chester Arthur dedicated the Washington Monument (Doenecke 182). We won’t reme mber most of today’s political decisions a decade from now, much less in 100 years. The Washington Monument is an iconic American landmark, which tr anscends any one generation. Arthur’s dedication is important beca use stands the test of time and links his generation with ours.
Conclusion I. Transition Signal: So, who was Chester Alan Art hur? We should conclude exactly what his life story tells us.
II. Summary of Main Points: His life reveals that he was an unlikely candidate for Vice-President of the United States, that he did not aspire to become president, yet he still rose to the challenge and made some lasting accomplishments during his admini stration.
III. Call to Action: I urge you to read about Arthu r and other forgotten American leaders. Some of our problems today sound a lot like the problems Ar thur faced. We might learn valuable lessons from the past.
IV. Memorable End: We belong to a generation that is so quick to embrace the new and so quick to forget the past. We may need wisdom from the past, but how will we ever know [Pause] unless we take the trouble to find out?
James Roberts 4 Works Cited Ackerman, Kenneth. Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Mur der of President James A.
Garfield . New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003. Print Clark, James. The Murder of James A. Garfield: The President’s La st Days and the Trial and Execution of His Assassin . Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1993. Print.
Doenecke, Justus. The Presidencies of James A. Garfield & Chester A. Arthur. St. Lawrence, KS: The Regents Press of Kansas, 1981. Print.
Howe, George. Chester A. Arthur: A Quarter-Century of Machine Politics. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1934. Print.
Kane, Joseph. Facts About the Presidents: From Washington to John son. New York: Pocket Books, 1964. Print.
Karabell, Zachary. Chester Alan Arthur . New York: Times Books/Henry Holt and Company, 200 4. Print.
Pletcher, David. The Awkward Years: American Foreign Relations under Garfield and Arthur . Columbia:
University of Missouri Press, 1962. Print.
Reeves, Thomas. Gentleman Boss: The Life of Chester Alan Arthur . New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1975.