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Arthur Research Notes

From Decisions of Destiny by Richard L. Tobin, The World Publishing Company

It is conceivable that Chester Alan Arthur was not only an accident in the Presidency but literally ineligible for the office. In 1884, the, year Arthur would have been up for re-election had his own party not disowned him, one A. P. Hinman published a tiny booklet in New York attempting to prove that Arthur had not been born in the United States, as was claimed, but in reality came into the world beyond the Canadian border of Vermont. Hinman’s little known book is entitled “How a British Subject Became President of the United States,”15 undeniably a political tract inspired by the forces of James G. Blaine, who would have done (and did) just about anything to seize the presidential nomination.

The Constitution requires that the President and the Vice-President shall be natural born citizens. Article II reads: “No person except a natural born citizen . . . shall be eligible to the office of President,” and the Twelfth Amendment reads: “But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States.”

The question raised by Hinman at the urging of Blaine or Conkling or Sherman (or any one of a dozen jealous politicians of the time) was whether Arthur, being in their eyes Canadian-born, was legally eligible for the office of Vice-President under Article XII of the Amendments. If he was ineligible for Vice-President he was, under the Constitution, ineligible to succeed Garfield.

Hinman’s book claimed that Arthur, when nominated for the Vice-Presidency, was, at first, unable to name his birthplace. After diligent search, during what was said to be a fishing trip to Canada immediately following his nomination, Arthur found no existing record of his Canadian birth; so he was, in Hinman’s words, “safe in naming some out-of-the-way place in the United States.” He chose Fairfield, Vermont, where a deceased brother had been born.

15. A. P. Hinman, “How a British Subject Became President of the
United States** (New York, 1884), now in the possession of Theodore
Carlson, Wilton, Connecticut.

Vermont Historic Sites – Home of Chester A. Arthur

Some mystery surrounds the early years of Chester A. Arthur. The most frequently asked question is “Where was he born?” The President Arthur State Historic Site is a 1953 recreation of the second house in which Arthur lived as an infant. The confusion stems from the fact that Arthur himself told people that his birthyear was 1830 (it was actually 1829). The building in which he was born was actually a primitive cabin hastily erected in the village of Fairfield. The Baptist Congregation later completed the parsonage where the family moved shortly after the birth of the future president. It was this parsonage which was reconstructed by the State of Vermont.

The granite monument, dedicated in 1903, is situated on a small plot of land presented to the State of Vermont by P.B.B. Northrop. At that time it was believed this was the location of the birthplace of Chester Arthur. In 1950 the State of Vermont purchased the land around the monument and the present building was recreated in 1953 using as a guide an old photograph of the house which stood on this site.

Official White House biography of Arthur

Arthur demonstrated as President that he was above factions within the Republican Party, if indeed not above the party itself. Perhaps in part his reason was the well-kept secret he had known since a year after he succeeded to the Presidency, that he was suffering from a fatal kidney disease. He kept himself in the running for the Presidential nomination in 1884 in order not to appear that he feared defeat, but was not renominated, and died in 1886. Publisher Alexander K. McClure recalled, “No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired … more generally respected.”

Definitive Biography of Chester A. Arthur

Leo C. Donofrio says on his Natural Born Citizen web site that he worked with the author of Chester Alan Arthur by Greg Dehler. I found a  review on by J. Hughes. It’s presented here as a bit of information. This writer and Donofrio agree that the Thomas C Reeves book is the definitive biography.

The author, on the staff of a small Colorado community college, presents a thinly-researched short biography, relying too heavily, as he states, on secondary sources “from Interlibrary Loan.”

Very little is presented about President Arthur’s life. Referencing the Hinman “pamphlet” (actually a book not included in the bibliography) is alluded to when briefly discussing the question on where Arthur was actually born. Too many secondary sources are referenced; not enough original work.

Careful editing is needed: some quotes are not referenced; some adverbs and adjectives don’t fit the sentence-thought; at the end of one paragraph, an unfinished sentence begins.

Julia Sand served as an encourager to President Arthur, and not as the constant critic that Professor Dehler makes her out to be. She, among others, are not listed in the book’s Index, which makes searching for information the more difficult.

Calling Arthur’s role in a major desegregation case as a “minor role,” he actually played a major role in defending the woman involved. Some of Dehler’s “facts” about this, et al, are incorrect.

At best, this is a thin biography, not carefully edited, and not well researched. It is a mostly critical treatment of Chester Arthur’s major contributions to the nation, couched in criticism. With every section that tells some of Arthur’s accomplishments, there is always the “but,” inserted. Even Arthur taking a vacation to Yellowstone Park, is presented from a critical angle, and the real purpose is left unstated.

If you’re looking for the definitive Chester Arthur, see the book by Thomas C. Reeves.

I wonder if I need a separate category just for Chester A. Arthur.

I have requested both Reeves’ biography and Hinman’s little book through interlibrary loan. They will arrive when they arrive and I’ll get to them when I can.

Top Ten Obama Conspiracy Predictions for 2009

It’s going to be a real challenge to come up with predictions for 2009 stranger than what we’ve seen for real in 2008. Who would have figured Chester A. Arthur as a usurper? Let’s turn up the lava lamp, put on the tin foil hat and sit under our pyramid as we foretell

The Top Ten Obama Conspiracy Theories to be Revealed in 2009

  1. The Constitution is a fake! Real Constitution requires president to be third-generation American.
  2. Obama’s father was really Lee Harvey Oswald.
  3. Actual Obama birth certificate is in secret warehouse in Washington DC, next to The Ark of the Covenant.
  4. Obama is the offspring of two gay men.
  5. The fourteenth amendment was not legally ratified. African Americans are not citizens.
  6. Obama birth certificate, passport, drivers license, social security card, voter registration card and an American Express card were purchased on the street in San Francisco for $600.
  7. Obama original birth registration in Hawaii is treated with CIA poison. Anyone who touches will die horribly.
  8. Pentagon has contingency plan to take over the government January 21 if birth certificate is not produced.
  9. Barack Obama is actually a clone made from cells taken from John F. Kennedy.
  10. Hawaii is not a state!

The Mysterious Mr. Hinman

I was slumming over on Donofrio’s Native Born Citizen site trying to separate a little truth from fiction about our dearly departed President Chester A. Arthur and found that some of Donofrio’s information comes third hand from Mr. Arthur P. Hinman, who the New York times described back in the day as a “Democratic operative.” The times reported that Hinman came sniffing around Franklin County, Vermont (Arthur’s birthplace) looking for records.

ST. ALBANS, Vt., Dec. 21.–”A stranger arrived here a few days ago, and registered at the American House as A. P. Hinman, of New-York. Since then he has been very busy in the adjoining town of Fairfield, ostensibly collecting materials for a biography of Vice-President-elect Arthur. He has privately stated to leading Democratic citizens, however, that he is employed by the Democratic National Committee to obtain evidence to show that Gen. Arthur is an unnaturalized foreigner. He claims to have discovered that Gen. Arthur was born in Canada, instead of Fairfield; that his name is Chester Allen instead of Chester Abell [sic]; that he was 50 years old in July instead of October, as has been stated, and generally that he is an alien and ineligible to the office of Vice-President.

The New York Times, 1880

So we have a professional smearbot from the 19th century feeding into a 21st century controversy. Hinman published a little 90-paged book entitled How A British Subject Became President of the United States. One must greet Mr. Hinman with a good bit of skepticism because the thesis of his book was that President Arthur was born in Canada, which isn’t true according to Arthur biographers (including Thomas C. Reeves’ definitive biography Gentleman Boss).

How a British Subject became President of the United States (1844) is now available exclusively here at (3.5 Mb). A higher resolution version is available upon request.

Natural born citizen

With this odd fellow we elected President has come discussion about the Constitutional requirements for being President, and in particular that pesky little phrase “natural born citizen.” There are some very long (and some long-winded) discussions about what this means. I personally think the thing is being over analyzed.

I hit the Concise Oxford English Dictionary for the “old meaning” of the term, and it provided a very simple definition: “having a position by birth.” so “natural born citizen” means being a citizen at birth. There’s nothing new here, and indeed this is what is usually understood by the term. If you look at all the uses of “natural born,” it means “born with” some characteristic, e.g. natural-born storyteller, natural-born swimmer, natural-born athlete, natural-born mathematician, natural-born musician, and on and on. A natural born citizen is just someone born with the quality of being a citizen.

At first blush, this would seem to be a slam dunk answer for Barack Obama’s natural born citizenship, since the fourteenth amendment defines: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” There’s no question in my mind that Barack Obama was born in the United States. Some quibble about the latter part: “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Keep in mind that now we are talking about citizenship in general, not the qualifications for President. Some argue that the children of non-citizens born in the United States should not be citizens because they are subject to the government of their parents, that they have divided jurisdiction. This non-citizenship for the children of non-citizens would be a big surprise to hundreds of thousands of Americans with US Birth Certificates and carrying US Passports, and to the US State Department and most of the population. However, the question of citizenship for the children of non-citizens was settled long ago by the United States Supreme Court in the case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark. Wong was born in the US, the child of two Chinese temporary workers. He tried to re-enter the country and was denied entry because he was not a citizen. The Supreme Court in a 6-2 vote declared that he was indeed a citizen. Continue Reading →