We all know that college involves education. That's why HuffPost College frequently tries to inject some knowledge into the sometimes information-lite experience of scrolling through Twitter. One of our biggest innovations is our recurring "President's Korner" series, in which we bring you charming, harrowing or amusing anecdotes from the lives of one of the 43 men to have steered the ship of state.
Today, we're bringing you the tale of Chester Alan Arthur, the first president to be hit with a "birther" scandal.
You may know Arthur as "the president with three first names," or "the man with the glorious mutton chops," or the man who is called Vermont's "other" president when compared to Calvin Coolidge, who we guess Vermont is more proud of for some reason? And he was all of these things! He was also an abolitionist, a machine politician turned reformer, and a man who didn't run for re-election due to a kidney problem. Arthur ascended to the presidency following the brief, fatal tenure of James Garfield, but even when he was running for vice-president, people started bandying about rumors that he was actually born in, of all places, Canada. (Which kind of sounds like Kenya, if you squint hard -- maybe the Obama birther conspiracy was launched by Chester Alan Arthur fanatics!)
Arthur was born in a "hastily erected" cabin in Fairfield, Vermont, and he definitely lied about his age, claiming to be a year younger than he was. But some always contended that he was born 47 miles away in Canada.
Democrats hired a laywer named Arthur Hinman to investigate the claims. The New York Times carried this story in 1880:
[Hinman] 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.
Hinman later wrote a pamphlet about the whole business.
Arthur never responded to the allegations, and the story has never been proven.
Next week on "President's Korner": fun facts about William Howard Taft!