Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Life After the Presidency

Chester A. Arthur died on November 18, 1886, of Bright's disease, a then-fatal kidney ailment. He was first diagnosed with the disease in 1882 and kept it secret. Knowing that his condition was fatal, Arthur made little effort to seek nomination for a second term, although he did not oppose efforts by others on his behalf. On the fourth ballot at the convention, he lost the Republican nomination to his former secretary of state, James G. Blaine.

Arthur tried to resume the practice of law after leaving the presidency, but his ill health prevented him from doing much work. The disease had seriously weakened his heart, and he became too frail even to go fishing, which was the great love of his life. His death came at home with his children and sisters near at hand. He was buried with full ceremonies in Albany, New York. His successor, President Grover Cleveland, was in attendance.