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Out Shining Everybody in Humiliation at Albany
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
July 16, 1881
Object number
Exhibition Label
This caricature of Chester Arthur, drawn by noted political satirist Thomas Nast, appeared on the July 16, 1881, cover of Harper's Weekly. The depiction appeared two weeks after President James A. Garfield was shot and mortally wounded by a deranged office seeker. It was especially embarrassing for Arthur because at the time he had been furthering the interests of his own New York State political machine called the Stalwarts. Led by Roscoe Conkling and Thomas Platt, the Stalwarts were actively fighting certain presidential appointments President Garfield was proposing. (Arthur is depicted shining his cronies' shoes.) Yet upon his assumption to the presidency, Arthur, to his credit, distanced himself from the system of political patronage in which he had risen. By signing the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act in 1883," which endorsed a nonpolitical system based on merit, he ironically became known as "The Father of Civil Service.".
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Thomas Nast, 27 Sep 1840 - 7 Dec 1902
Chester Alan Arthur, 5 Oct 1829 - 18 Nov 1886
Alternate Title
Chester Alan Arthur
Wood engraving on paper
Image: 37 × 23.2 cm (14 9/16 × 9 1/8")
Sheet: 40.4 × 28.5 cm (15 7/8 × 11 1/4")
Mat (Verified): 55.9 × 40.6 cm (22 × 16")
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply