Ellen Arthur Biography :: National First Ladies' Library
Chester Arthur (), the 21st U.S. president, took office after the death of President Suffering from poor health, he did not run for reelection in In , Arthur married Ellen “Nell” Lewis Herndon (), the Virginia-born. I always forget poor Chester A. Arthur, which is a shame, because he was Vermont, which was meeting in the basement of his father's church at the time. His wife died of pneumonia the year before he became president. Ellen Lewis "Nell" Herndon Arthur (August 30, – January 12, ) was the wife of the 21st President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur. Arthur, aged 30, married Herndon, aged 22, on October 25, , at Calvary Episcopal.
During the American Civil Warhe was quartermaster for the state of New York, responsible for organizing food and supplies for Union soldiers. In an era of political machines and the patronage system of political appointments, Republican political boss Roscoe Conklinga U. After Rutherford Hayes became president, he ousted Arthur from the job in in an attempt to reform the New York Custom House and spoils system.
On the 36th ballot, James Garfield, a Civil War general and congressman from Ohiowas chosen as the compromise candidate. Chester Arthur was selected as his running mate.
In the general election, Garfield and Arthur defeated Democratic nominee Winfield Hancock and his running mate William Englishand were sworn into office on March 4, Less than four months later, on July 2, Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteaua mentally unstable, disgruntled political job seeker, at a train station in WashingtonD.
Although Garfield initially survived the shooting, he battled infections and died two months later, at age 49, on September In the early hours of September 20, Arthur was sworn in as president at his Manhattan brownstone at Lexington Avenue by a New York state judge.
Two days later, in Washington, D. Arthur was the second vice president to become chief executive due to an assassination. In Januaryhe signed the Pendleton Civil Service Act, landmark legislation mandating that certain federal government jobs be distributed based on merit rather than political connections.
The act also forbade workers from being fired for political reasons and prohibited compulsory political donations from employees.Chester A. Arthur: Best or Worst President?
Additionally, the Pendleton Act allowed for the establishment of a bipartisan Civil Service Commission to enforce the law. In addition to civil service reform, Arthur tried—with limited success—to lower tariffs. Standing in front of the oval divan in the Blue Room, she began to host a weekly public reception on Saturdays, largely for women who worked weekdays and would otherwise have been unable to meet her.
Any bit of information about her was eagerly sought. An initial description only provided a physical composite: Without the status of a presidential spouse, she felt unbound by the unwritten social coda that had dictated the social interactions of her predecessors who had been wives, and she freely attended social events in private homes. After two months, even the President now felt comfortable with the presence of an official White House hostess. On the eve of her return to Albany, following the end of the series of official dinners he was expected to host as President, Arthur felt compelled to honor his popular sister at a farewell dinner on March By October 3, it was reported that Mrs.
While it was clear that President Arthur still determined the roster of official White House entertaining, he would not make any final decisions until he consulted with his new First Lady.
Since Arthur did not use the bedroom in the southwest corner of the White House traditionally reserved for the Chief Executive, he turned it over to her. It took time for Molly McElroy to fully acclimate to the physical demand of standing and shaking hands on receiving lines for hours on end.
At one of her Saturday receptions, she became fatigued and had to leave her post to rest. By her second year, she had grown into the role. While joining the President at a fancy masked ball, she remained one of the few women who did not wear a costume, preferring instead to watch the pageant of costumes, dancing and other festivities from an upper-floor supper room.
Perhaps due to the unorthodox circumstances of having a First Lady begin her tenure well into an Administration, Chester Arthur seemed willing to break with custom in hosting his state dinners. Beginning with an 11 February diplomatic corps dinner, he increased the traditional number of dinner guests by twenty-five percent. A month later, at their dinner for the Senate, President Arthur and Mrs.
McElroy broke with tradition in several ways.
Chester A. Arthur - HISTORY
The invitation of the famously late-dining President who it was publicly acknowledged, slept until eleven in the morning, called for entertainment first, to be followed by a midnight supper, complete with champagne.
As Arthur escorted their special guest, the legendary Swedish operatic soprano Christina Nilsson and a Senate wife by the arm through the three smaller reception rooms, the First Lady took on the separate duty of standing alone in the East Room to welcome arriving guests, standing just inside the doors.
As her brother shattered precedent, so too did Molly McElroy. Inshe decided to remain in Washington longer than she intended, and to extend her weekly receptions beyond Ash Wednesday, breaking the observed social dictum of suspending large social events through the Lenten season. Wearing primarily black or shades of lavender or grey, she had the rooms illuminated with gaslight and heavily banked with plants, ferns and flowers.
The lead hostess in each room would introduce the guest by name to the next hostess at her right, and thus the guest would be passed down along through the rooms. After all of her hostesses had finished shaking hands, often with upwards of 2, guests each week, Molly McElroy invited them upstairs to the family quarters.
21 Things You Didn't Know About the 21st President
There she had a buffet table set in the center of the long West Sitting Hall spread with tea sandwiches and refreshments. The post-reception upstairs luncheons soon assumed the same level of planning that the large party preceding it had. Molly McElroy also welcomed several of her predecessors to the White House, hosting an elegant private luncheon for Julia Grant, and asking Washington residents Julia Tyler and Harriet Lane to serve as hostesses at some of her receptions.
In time, her husband and each of her four children would come stay for a period of time at the White House, many of them congregating there over Easter, along with other members of the extended Arthur family. Louis-Dispatch would report that Mrs.
Some reports also suggest that she also began taking French lessons while living there. Although briskly practical in her interaction with the White House staff, she was noted by some of them for her tact and unpretentiousness.