Chester and Ellen, a 19th Century frog-princess love story


It had to have been those muttonchops. Apparently they were permanently affixed to Chester’s face like birthmarks.


Most men go through periods of ridiculous experimental facial hair growth, but most guys “get over it” and resume their normal, conventional, and boring clean-shaven appearance eventually. The whisker look proves unable to sustain their interest or ebbing ego.


Not so with Chester. Seems sometimes that the 21st POTUS owed much of his historical significance to those wild sideburns!



He refused to shed the scraggly wiry crap for most of his adult life, from his early days when he was a lawyer, through his marriage, through his appointment as Collector of the Port of New York (a total BS overpaid position born of patronage and politics) which was a stepping stone to his Vice Presidency in 1880. Those muttonchops continued to accompany his portraits right though his “replacement” Presidency in 1881.


Can you imagine a man running for President sporting that kind of facial hair in today’s society? He would be laughed right off the podium.



Chester Arthur was a sort of “dandy” in that he enjoyed the regal participation in the finer things in life and was fastidious about his appearance. Evidently, facial hair like his requires serious grooming exertion most simple dudes don’t want to fuss over. This is why the “bald shaven” look adds to one’s manly mystique.


Upon assuming the Presidency, Chester Arthur was dismayed and disgusted by the state of the White House, which was now, at best, a sorry dung hole. It was infested with vermin and was literally crumbling before his eyes. He brought in some fancy designers who, over the term of his Presidency, refurbished the condition of the White House from utter disrepair to that of a sterling and dignified residence befitting the President of the United States, which it remained to this day.


More amazing to consider that Arthur was a widower. It wasn’t a “woman’s touch” that revamped the White House’s cosmetic image. His wife, Ellen, died suddenly from a pneumonia in 1880, well before he became Vice President.


She was a looker. In my humble and horny opinion, I believe she was the hottest First Lady in the history of the United States (all apologies to Barbara Bush).



Ellen was a good-looking lady and she assuredly did not have muttonchops. She was a talented soprano and was born with a striking personal palate of dark hair and eyes contrasted against alabaster skin. Her appearance is described in the following passage:


“Ellen Arthur had an ethereal presence, her physicality often noted by those who met her. Her pale skin contrasted with her strikingly dark eyes and eyebrows, magnified by her round gutta percha-rimmed spectacles…


Ellen was raised in Virginia and her family roots dated back about 200 years to the early years of the colony and her solid identification with the South tested her relationship with Chester, a northern boy from Vermont, during the Civil War. Ellen was a hottie and her ambitious husband definitely dated up. See boys? This is what power, or the lust for power, will get you, if used wisely, regardless of your crazy facial hair.



What on earth did Ellen see in Chester, anyways?


I find myself wondering this, but how can we know the social dynamic of their era. Social life was unrecognizable to what it is today. I would venture to guess that in 1850, “men were men,” even dandies like Chester. Men weren’t hung up on hair product or tattoos or artificial tans or protein powder. When the delicate line distinguishing men from women was easily delineated, the genders behaved more naturally and instinctively. Perhaps men, Chester included, simply wielded brutal masculine power in a primal manner that hypnotized their little dark princesses.


You may suspect Chester was a better-looking man when he married Ellen in 1859. Perhaps you reason his youthful face was more rugged or masculine, or that he was clean-shaven, but this is not the case. The young Chester, the lawyer Chester, obviously did not woo Ellen with his looks alone.



When Ellen died in 1880, Chester was devastated. He vowed to never marry again. He moved his bedroom to a different section of the White House so he would have a clear view of St. John’s Church which sat across the street from his window. St. John’s was Ellen’s childhood parish.


Chester’s Presidency ended on a much higher note than it began, but he left office after only one term and died from Bright’s disease shortly after.


The frog and princess were reunited.