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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Brooklyn Eagle September 21, 1881 summary on what they call reporting on C.A. Arthur's NBC status

{Beginning of photocopy quote}

Brooklyn Eagle September 21, 1881


The Question of President Arthur’s birthplace
First Called Attention to in the Eagle Last Fall, and then Thoroughly Exhausted –
The Pedigree of the Family Traced -- The Father from the North of Ireland and
The Mother a New England Woman -- Fairfield, Vermont, the Place Where
Our New Chief Magistrate First Saw the Light of Day.

As the question of General Arthur’s nativity has been revived, the following articles from the Eagle of last Fall, which exhaust the subject, are of interest. The question was first raised in these columns by a correspondent, and was not dropped till all the light possible had ben shed upon it. The first article appeared in the EAGLE August 11, 1880, and was as follows:

Where Was he Born? The Discussion About General Arthur’s Place of Birth.
Is He an Irishman? A Question Raised in the Eagle Last Fall, which is of Renewed
Interest Now.

A few weeks after the Republican Presidential nominations had ben made last Fall the question was raised by a correspondent of the EAGLE, whether General Arthur was eligible to the Vice Presidency, it being claimed that he had not been born in the United States. Since the attack on President Garfield, discussion of this subject has been renewed, and although hardly of practical importance, may be said to have derived a certain pertinency from the melancholy success of Guiteau’s crime. In the following excerpte from the EAGLE every fact yet adduced will be found set forth. The first full article appeared August 11, 1880, and was as follows:

Is Mr. Chester A. Arthur an Irishman by Birth?

[ From the Eagle, August 11]

We have received the following communication which seems to us to be important enough to justify its insertion in a prominent place in the EAGLE’s columns:
8 WALL STREET, NEW YORK August 10, 1880 }

To the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle:
I have been informed by good authority, that one William H. Arthur, who was born in the County Antrim, Province of Ulster, Ireland, came to this country about 35 years ago and landed in Canada. From there he went to Franklin County, Vermont, and finally settled as rector of the Baptist Church at Newtonville, near Albany, in this State, where he died on the 27th day of October, 1875.
He was the father of seven children, five girls and two boys. The eldest boy was born either in Belfast or in Aberdeen, where his mother was visiting at the time, and was named Chester A. Arthur, the other son was born in Franklin County, Vermont, or in Canada.
Can this be our Republican candidate for the Vice Presidency? As you seem to be posted on political affairs, will you kindly inform me through the EAGLE – for being a Republican voter I do not wish to throw away my vote upon a man who is not eligible to the position on account of birth.
Also the trip recently taken to Canada by Chester A. Arthur with Mr. Dun, of the Mercantile Agency. It looks rather suspicious. It looks like hunting for records. Yours respectfully,
A.P. Hinman

In the sketches of the life of Mr. Arthur, which followed his nomination for the Vice Presidency, there is an agreement to the fact that his father, the Rev. William Arthur, was a native of the County Antrim, Province of Ulster, Ireland. In the sketch of Mr. Chester A. Arthur published in the New York Times on the 9th of June last, the elder Arthur is described as having “emigrated to this country from the County of Antrim, Ireland, in his eighteenth year.” He had a family of two sons and five daughters, and of this family Chester A. was the first born. The Times does not make any mention of the fact -- if it be a fact – that the Rev. Mr. Arthur settled in Canada. The Times does not state that Chester A. Arthur was born in Franklin County, Vermont, in October, 1830. This gives color to the statement that the Rev. Mr. Arthur emigrated in the first place to Canada, and crossed the border to Franklin County. The writers of the campaign sketches do not agree as to Mr. Arthur’s birthplace, for the writer of the sketch published in the Tribune, on June 9, says “his father was a Baptist clergyman of Troy, “where, it is said, some fifty years ago he (the younger Arthur) was born.” If, as the Times says, the elder Arthur was but eighteen years of age when he came here, he was doubtless at that time unmarried, and if these statements can be substantiated, the proof that the Republican candidate for Vice President was born in the United States would be conclusive, unless it could be shown that he was born in Canada, in which event he would not be eligible, even if elected, to the office for which he is now a candidate. If, on the other hand, it can be shown that the Rev. Mr. Arthur and his wife spent the first years of their married life either in Belfast or Aberdeen, it would be almost conclusive proof that the elder Arthur was more than eighteen years of age when he came to this country, and that his eldest child was not born here. Although fifty years have elapsed since Mr. Chester A. Arthur was born, there must still be living in Franklin County people who are able to verify this fact—if it is a fact. We suppose now that this question has ben raised it will be settled decisively one way or the other.

Of course, the point in dispute would be of very little consequence, if it were not for the constitutional restriction, which is to the effect that only a natural born citizen of the United States shall be eligible to the office of President, and that no persons shall be eligible for the Vice Presidency who has not the qualifications required in a President. Mr. Arthur was nominated at Chicago with very little deliberation. Indeed, the nomination was turned over to Mr. Conkling, who was given absolute power to send his favorite. He chose his friend, Mr. Arthur, and probably without ever dreaming that he was either by birth or descent an Irishman.
As our correspondent is doubtless well aware, he will not be throwing his vote away even if Mr. Arthur should be shown in advance to be ineligible. The electors, for whom he may vote if he choose, will, if authorized, vote for Mr. Garfield. If Mr. Arthur should be declared ineligible, the Democratic Senate would elect a Vice President, even if Mr. Arthur was the choice of the Electoral College. Mr. English would, in this event, have a walk over.
If it should be proven within a short time that Mr. Arthur is not eligible, his retirement from the canvass would be apt to be insisted upon by his party. There are many Republicans who would like to see Mr. Garfield follow his example, so that the Republican National Convention, if called together again, would be free to name an entirely new ticket—if it thought that course desirable. Mr. Garfield’s nomination, like that of Mr. Arthur, secured very little consideration at the hands of the National Convention which met at Chicago, and probably that body would do far better if it had a chance to try again. As to Mr. Arthur’s eligibility, we shall doubtless have the facts very soon.

Is Mr. Chester A. Arthur a Native Born Citizen?
[From the Eagle, August 11]

A somewhat curious and –under the circumstances—a very important question was raised a day or two ago by Mr. Hinman, a well known lawyer, whose office is located at No. 8 Wall street, New York, but who is a resident of this city. Mr. Hinman, in a letter to the EAGLE, stated, on what he regarded as good authority, that William H. Arthur, a native of Ireland, emigrated to Canada about thirty-five years ago; that, after remaining there for some time, he crossed over to Franklin County in the State of Vermont and finally settled in Newtonville, near Albany, where he died in October, 1875. Mr. William A. Arthur was a clergyman of the Baptist church. He was the father of seven children, of whom five were girls and two were boys. Of the boys, Chester A. was the elder. According to Mr. Hinman, the eldest boy was born in Belfast or in Aberdeen, where his mother was residing at the time, the other son was born in Franklin County, or in Canada. Mr. Hinman’s letter was designed to convey to the public the information that Chester A. Arthur was born before his father had emigrated to this country and while his mother was living either at Belfast, in Ireland, or in Aberdeen, in Scotland. Ordinarily, it would not make the slightest difference in the world whether Chester A. Arthur first saw the light in Ireland, in Scotland, in Canada, or in the United States. It happens, however, that Mr. Arthur’s birthplace is a matter of public concern, because he has been nominated as a candidate for Vice President of the United States—through the favor of Senator Conkling –by the Republican party. If it could be shown that Mr. Arthur was not born in the United States, he is not eligible to the office for which he is a candidate, and even if the Republicans succeeded in electing him they would have their labor for their pains. Mr. Hinman gave as his reasons for taking the public into his confidence the fact that he is a Republican, and that he did not desire to throw away his vote on a candidate who could in no event succeed in obtaining the office. It cannot be said that this is an inadequate reason, and in selecting the EAGLE as his medium of imparting the knowledge he professed to have, touching Mr. Arthur’s place of birth, Mr. Hinman has assuredly succeeded in his purpose of securing such consideration for the issue he has raised that it is certain to be finally disposed of before the question assumes any more importance than it has at this time. Apart from the certain loss of the Vice Presidency, in case Mr. Arthur is of foreign birth, the Republicans would lose, in the event of Mr. Arthur’s election, the influence exerted by the President of the Senate, and the vote of the presiding officer of that body in case of a tie, and it is within the probabilities that the casting vote of the Vice President may determine the political complexion of the Senate after the fourth of March next. Because of these contingencies, the question raised by Mr. Hinman is too serious to be laid aside until it is finally settled. It must not be forgotten that the question, if there should be any occasion for the raising it after the election, will be passed upon by a Congress of opposite politics to Mr. Arthur, and hence it is altogether desirable that it should be finally settled now. Mr. Hinman intimates that he has facts in his possession which he has not yet disclosed, for he directs attention to the circumstances that Mr. Arthur has recently visited, in company with Mr. Dun, and for the purpose, as intimated, of consulting certain records which may be necessary to be appealed to in order to settle the question.

On an issue of this kind, Mr. Arthur must be held to be better informed than almost anybody can be. If he were not born in the United States, that fact must have been made familiar to him in early childhood, and before the Arthur family could have regarded it as of being of any possible consequence. On the other hand, the allegation touching Mr. Arthur’s foreign birth can hardly be dismissed as “a canard,” or “an attempt to get up a political sensation,” for at most there is, in point of time and probability, or possibility, but a very few years in dispute between Mr. Hinman and Mr. Arthur’s life. The facts which are given in the authorized campaign sketches of Mr. Arthur’s life were undoubtedly furnished by himself. Mr. Arthur’s statement is to the effect that his father was but eighteen years of age when he emigrated to this country. If this be so, it settles the point in dispute, for it seems to be admitted on both sides that there were four children born to Mr. Arthur before Chester A. appeared upon the scene. If the elder Mr. Arthur was but eighteen years of age when he left his native country, the Republican candidate for Vice President was unquestionably born on this side of the Atlantic. Mr. Hinman desires to make it appear that Chester A. Arthur was not born in either Canada or in the United States, for he asserts that his father came to this country “about thirty-five years ago.” Mr. Chester A. Arthur authoritatively states that he is now in his 50th year. It would follow of course, that if the older Mr. Arthur came to this country about thirty-five years ago, Mr. Chester A. Arthur was quite 15 years of age when he came here with his parents. Mr. Arthur’s attention has been called to Mr. Hinman’s letter in the EAGLE, and it must be admitted that he meets the statements contained in it squarely. In an interview with a reporter of the Brooklyn Times, Mr. Arthur is thus reported:
“In order that the question may be definitely settled, general,” said the reporter, “will you favor the readers of the Times by naming your actual birthplace?”

“I was born in Franklin County, Vermont,” replied General Arthur. “My father, the late William Arthur, D.D., was of Scotch blood, and was a native of the north of Ireland. He came to this country when he was 18 years of age, and resided her several years before he was married. My mother was a native of New England and was never across the ocean in her life. There were four daughters born before I was, but only one of them is now living. I have also a younger brother serving in the United States Army. As to my recent trip to Canada in company with Mr. Dun, we have for years been in the habit of going on fishing excursions to Canada annually. In fact, this statement that I am of foreign birth is altogether the most ridiculous one I have yet heard.” This is consistent, so far as it goes, and is as frank and positive as words can make any declaration. We think, however, that Mr. Arthur makes a mistake in declaring the statement of Mr. Hinman’s to be “ridiculous,” if it were said of Mr. Garfield, for instance, that he was not born in this country, in view of the well known facts attending his birth, such a statement would be “ridiculous.” But a dispute as to whether the elder Arthur came to this country at age 18, as stated, or at the age of 39, as asserted, is not ridiculous. The allegation may be untrue, but it is not ridiculous. Again the Republican organs which are supporting Mr. Arthur are at issue concerning his birthplace. In the absence of any additional facts, Mr. Arthur’s statement must be accepted as conclusive.
In the case of the head of the Republican ticket it

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{public domain: I typed this from a photocopy available at the Brooklyn Library}

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