Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Presidential Trivia

Nov. 11, 1858 – 150 years ago - was James A. Garfield’s wedding day. Yesterday’s “This Day in History” note is a perfect lead-in to some presidential trivia. I recently came across a vintage advertising pamphlet which claimed that our 20th President James A. Garfield once taught penmanship in Poestenkill, and Chester A. Arthur, his Vice-President and the 21st President, was a fellow teacher in Rensselaer County. Those facts didn’t check out - here's the real story.

Chester Arthur graduated from Union College in Schenectady, and taught school at Schaghticoke while a college student. James Garfield taught penmanship at an academy in Bennington County VT, where Arthur was acting as Principal. (Garfield did apply to be the school principal in Poestenkill, but he was rejected.)

Arthur also served as principal of the academy at Cohoes while he studied law. Chester A. Arthur is buried in Albany Rural Cemetery – here’s a nice set of photos of his tomb on Flickr.

To learn about Chester A. Arthur's landmark 1855 civil rights victory as a lawyer in NYC, how President Garfield was shot by someone he had rejected for a diplomatic post, or what Alexander Graham Bell invented to try and save Garfield's life, check out the reference links:

James A. Garfield: Nationmaster Encyclopedia and Virtualology

Chester A. Arthur: Nationmaster Encyclopedia and Virtualology

Image Credit: President James A. Garfield assassinated; from an 1881 newspaper engraving, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons