The Unexpected President: The Life and Times of Chester A. Arthur
Where: The 92nd Street Y, New York
1395 Lexington Ave.
212-415-5500 Price: $29
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For years, Chester A. Arthur was known as the crooked crony of New York machine boss Roscoe Conkling and had been perceived as unfit to govern.
As President James A. Garfield struggled for his life, Arthur knew better than his detractors that he failed to meet the high standard a president must uphold. And yet, from the moment President Arthur took office, he proved to be not just honest but brave, going up against the very forces that had controlled him for decades. He surprised everyone—and gained many enemies—when he swept house and took on corruption, civil rights for blacks and issues of land for Native Americans. Julia Sand, a bedridden New Yorker, had a great influence over Arthur’s remarkable transformation. She wrote Arthur nearly two dozen letters urging him to put country over party, to find “the spark of true nobility” that lay within him. At a time when women were barred from political life, Sand’s letters inspired Arthur to transcend his checkered past—and changed the course of American history. Scott Greenberger tells the dramatic tale of a machine politician and man-about-town in Gilded Age New York who stumbled into the highest office in the land, only to rediscover his better self when his nation needed him.
A book signing follows the event.