President Chester A. Arthur, our 21st President, was thrown into office after the death of President James Garfield, who had been assassinated. Arthur assumed office the day of Garfield’s death, September 19th, 1881, and remained President until March 4th, 1885.
Arthur was not the first Vice-President to assume office upon the assassination of his President, but he did stand out in another way – he had no traditional pets such as dogs, cats, or birds. He did however have horses. Two of those horses were a pair of perfectly matched reddish brown bays who would draw his landau.
President Arthur liked entertaining and possibly even showing off just a bit, as he had the Presidential carriage “adorned in leather and lace with a silver harness for two perfectly matched reddish-brown horses,” describes Ruth Tenzer Feldman in Chester A. Arthur. These horses were greatly admired by many and were often described as “perfectly matched” and “beautiful.”
A strict avoidance of reporters gave Arthur a hint of mystery, and upon his deathbed, Arthur ordered all of his private papers destroyed. This is unfortunate as we may have gained insight into his daily life and perhaps even why he preferred horses to any other pet.