ST. ALBANS — A professor from the University of Vermont reflected on the political careers of Vermont presidents Chester A. Arthur and Calvin Coolidge and how their journey to the oval office was almost accidental, at an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) lecture at the St. Albans Museum Wednesday morning,

True recounted each man’s nomination to the vice presidency due to a divided Republican party and how tragedy, an assassination and fatal food poisoning, made each man president of the United States, an office that neither actively sought or especially wanted.

Arthur was born in Fairfield, in 1829, grew up in upstate New York and practiced law in New York City with a focus on civil rights.

Pres. Chester Arthur

This engraved portrait of President Chester Arthur is courtesy of the National Archive.

He served as a quartermaster general in the New York Militia during the American Civil War. After, Arthur devoted his time to Republican Party politics. “He was very good at political organizing,” said True.

As a reward for his efforts, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Arthur to the lucrative and powerful post of collector of customs at the Port of New York in 1871, in charge of the collection of import duties on foreign goods. True said Arthur had the “highest paying job in the federal government,” making more than $50,000 a year.

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