- Became President when James Garfield was assassinated
- In 1855, as an attorney, he successfully represented a black woman who had been denied a seat on a Manhattan streetcar due to her race
- The case helped lead to the desegregation of public transportation in New York City
- As an attorney, Arthur was also involved in the so called Lemmon Slave Case that said slaves being transferred to a slave state through New York would be freed
- As president, Arthur struggled with how if at all to protect the civil rights of Blacks. As accounted by Frederick Douglas: “the Republican Party had faltered since Rutherford B. Hayes, Garfield was too weak to uphold it, and Arthur would do nothing to stop the decline”.
Expressed concern for the growing racial discrimination of blacks especially when the supreme court struck down the civil rights act of 1875 but did little if anything to stop the problem