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Chester A. Arthur

Chester A. Arthur
Chester A. Arthur Occupation Religion Signature Military service Allegiance Service/ branch Rank Unit
President Chester Alan Arthur in 1882 by Charles Milton Bell

Lawyer, Civil servant, Educator (Teacher) Episcopalian

United States of America Union Union Army Brigadier General New York Militia American Civil War


21st President of the United States In office September 19, 1881 – March 4, 1885 Vice President Preceded by Succeeded by None James A. Garfield Grover Cleveland

20th Vice President of the United States In office March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881 President Preceded by Succeeded by Born Died Nationality Political party Spouse James A. Garfield William A. Wheeler Thomas A. Hendricks October 5, 1829(1829-10-05) Fairfield, Vermont November 18, 1886 (aged 57) New York, New York American Republican Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur, niece of Matthew Fontaine Maury William Lewis Herndon Arthur Chester Alan Arthur II Ellen Hansbrough Herndon Arthur Union College


Alma mater

Chester Alan Arthur (October 5, 1829 – November 18, 1886) was an American politician who served as the 21st President of the United States. Arthur was a member of the Republican Party and worked as a lawyer before becoming the 20th vice president under James Garfield. While Garfield was mortally wounded by Charles J. Guiteau on July 2, 1881, he did not die until September 19, at which time Arthur was sworn in as president, serving until March 4, 1885. Before entering elected politics, Arthur was a member of the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party and a political protégé of Roscoe Conkling, rising to Collector of Customs for the Port of New York, a position to which he was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant. He was then removed by the succeeding president, Rutherford B. Hayes, in an effort to reform the patronage system in New York. To the chagrin of the Stalwarts, the onetime Collector of the Port of New York became, as President, a champion of civil service reform. He avoided old political cronies and eventually alienated his old mentor Conkling. Public pressure, heightened by the assassination of Garfield, forced an unwieldy Congress to heed the President. Arthur’s primary achievement was the passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. The passage of this legislation earned Arthur the moniker "The Father of Civil Service" and a favorable reputation among historians.


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Publisher Alexander K. McClure wrote, "No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired… more generally respected." Author Mark Twain, deeply cynical about politicians, conceded, "It would be hard indeed to better President Arthur’s administration."

Chester A. Arthur
ordering this one to bring stones, another sticks, and others sod and mud to finish the dam; and they would all do his bidding without question. But he took good care not to get any of the dirt on his hands. (New York Evening Post, April 2, 1900) Chester Arthur’s Presidency was predicted by James Russel Webster, a Perry resident. A detailed account of this prediction is found in a self-written memorial for Webster.[4] An excerpt from Webster’s memorial:

Early life and education
Chester Alan Arthur was the son of Irish born preacher William Arthur and Vermont born Malvina Stone Arthur. Malvina’s grandfather, Uriah Stone, fought for the Continental Army during the American Revolution and named his son, Malvina’s father, George Washington Stone. Malvina’s mother was part Native American.[1]:4 Most official references list Arthur as having been born in Fairfield in Franklin County, Vermont on October 5, 1829. However, some time in the 1870s Arthur changed it to 1830 to make himself seem a year younger.[1]:5[2] His father had initially migrated to Dunham, Lower Canada, where he and his wife at one point owned a farm about 15 miles (24 km) north of the U.S. border.[1]:4 There has long been speculation that the future president was actually born in Canada and that the family moved to Fairfield later. If Arthur had been born in Canada, a minority opinion is that he would not have been a natural-born citizen, even though his mother was a U.S. citizen, and would have been constitutionally ineligible to serve as vice president or president.[3] During the 1880 U.S. presidential election a New York attorney, Arthur P. Hinman, was hired to explore rumors of Arthur’s foreign birth. Hinman alleged that Arthur was born in Ireland and did not come to the United States until he was fourteen years old. When that story failed to take root Hinman came forth with a new story that Arthur was born in Canada. This claim also fell on deaf ears.[1]:202–203 Arthur spent some of his childhood years living in Perry, New York. One of Arthur’s boyhood friends remembers Arthur’s political abilities emerging at an early age: When Chester was a boy, you might see him in the village street after a shower, watching the boys building a mud dam across the rivulet in the roadway. Pretty soon, he would be

Chester Alan Arthur (c. 1859) He first attended the Baptist church in Perry, the pastor there being "Elder Arthur", father of Chester A. Arthur. The latter was then a little boy, and Mr. Webster, once calling at his house, put upon his head of the lad, remarked, "this little boy may yet be President of the United States." Years after, calling at the White House, he related the circumstances to President Arthur, who replied that he well remembered the incident although the name of the man who thus predicted his future had long since passed from his memory; then standing up he added. "You may place your hand upon my head again."


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He went to prep school at the academy in Union Village, and then to the Lyceum, where he was known as Chet. During his time at Lyceum Arthur joined other young Whigs in support of Henry Clay and even participated in a melee against those opposed to Clay.[1]:8 Arthur attended Union College in 1845 where he studied the traditional classics. As a senior there in 1848, at age 18, he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and president of the debate society. He often donned a green coat to show his support for the Fenian Brotherhood.[1]:8 While living outside of Hoosick Falls, New York, he went back to Union College and received his Master’s degree in 1851.

Chester A. Arthur
loyalty as party workers rather than for their skill as public servants.

The 1880 election and vice presidency

Early career
Arthur became principal of North Pownal Academy in North Pownal, Vermont in 1849. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1854. Arthur commenced practice in New York City. He was one of the attorneys who successfully represented Elizabeth Jennings Graham, whose lawsuit after being denied seating on a streetcar due to her race contributed to the desegregation of New York City public transportation. Arthur also took an active part in the reorganization of the state militia. During the American Civil War, Arthur served as acting quartermaster general of the state in 1861 and was widely praised for his service. He was later commissioned as Inspector General, and appointed quartermaster general with the rank of brigadier general and served until 1862. After the war, he resumed the practice of law in New York City. With the help of Arthur’s patron and political boss Roscoe Conkling, Arthur was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant as Collector of the Port of New York from 1871 to 1878. This was an extremely lucrative and powerful position at the time, and several of Arthur’s predecessors had run afoul of the law while serving as collector. Honorable in his personal life and his public career, Arthur sided with the Stalwarts in the Republican Party, which firmly believed in the spoils system even as it was coming under vehement attack from reformers. He insisted upon honest administration of the Customs House but nevertheless staffed it with more employees than it really needed, retaining some for their A cartoon depicting President Rutherford B. Hayes kicking Arthur out of the New York Customs House. In 1878, Grant’s successor, Rutherford B. Hayes, attempted to reform the Customs House. He ousted Arthur, who resumed the practice of law in New York City. Conkling and his followers tried to win back power by the nomination of Grant for a third term at the 1880 Republican National Convention, but without success. Grant and James G. Blaine deadlocked, and after 36 ballots, the convention turned to dark horse James A. Garfield, a long time Congressman and General in the Civil War. Knowing the election would be close, Garfield’s people began asking a number of Stalwarts if they would accept the second spot. Levi P. Morton, on Conkling’s advice, refused, but Arthur accepted, telling his furious leader, "This is a higher honor than I have ever dreamt of attaining. I shall accept!"[5] Conkling and his Stalwart supporters reluctantly accepted the nomination of Arthur as vice president. Arthur campaigned hard for his and Garfield’s election, but it was a close contest, with the Garfield-Arthur ticket receiving a nationwide plurality of fewer than ten thousand votes. After the election, Conkling began making demands of Garfield as to appointments, and the Vice President–elect supported his


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longtime patron against his new boss. According to Ira Rutkow’s recent biography of Garfield, the new president disliked the vice president, and he would not let him into his house. Then, on July 2, 1881, President Garfield was shot in the back by Charles J. Guiteau, who shouted: "I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts... Arthur is president now!"[6] Arthur’s shock at the assassination was augmented by his mortification at Guiteau’s claim of political kinship. (Madmen and Geniuses, Barzman, 1974) Garfield initially survived the shooting, but due to a combination of infections and the poor medical care of the time, he gradually deteriorated and died on September 19.

Chester A. Arthur
the United States Morrison Waite. This was to avoid any dispute over whether the oath was valid if given by a state official. (A similar situation later occurred with Calvin Coolidge.)

Arthur requested that Garfield’s cabinet and appointees delay their resignations until Congress convened in December.[1]:254 However, shortly after this request Treasury Secretary William Windom and Attorney General Wayne MacVeagh submitted their resignations. Ulysses S. Grant recommended John Jacob Astor III to be the new Treasury Secretary, but Arthur preferred Edwin D. Morgan. Morgan declined the offer twice, but Arthur submitted it to the Senate anyway, and Morgan was confirmed. Morgan, age 72, still refused. The cabinet position was then awarded to stalwart Charles J. Folger (October 27).[1]:254 MacVeagh’s replacement, Benjamin Harris Brewster, another stalwart, was confirmed two months later.[1]:255 Although Secretary of State Blaine agreed to delay his resignation, he changed his mind in mid-October. Conkling felt he himself was the obvious choice to replace Blaine, but Arthur felt such nepotism would disgrace the presidency and selected Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen, another stalwart, recommended by Grant.[1]:256 The next to resign was Postmaster General Thomas Lemuel James, whom Arthur had tried to renominate. Arthur nominated Timothy O. Howe, another stalwart and a long-time friend.[1]:257 For Secretary of the Navy, Arthur nominated William E. Chandler, a recommendation from Blaine which gave some factional balance to the administration. Grant, who had recommended Edward Fitzgerald Beale, was upset by the Chandler pick and never fully forgave Arthur for the offense.[1]:258 Robert Todd Lincoln as Secretary of War was the only member of the Garfield cabinet to continue under Arthur.[1]:259

On the threshold of office, what have we to expect of him? In an 1881 Puck cartoon, Vice President Arthur faces the presidential cabinet (from left to right, Wayne MacVeagh, William Windom, James G. Blaine, Thomas Lemuel James, Samuel J. Kirkwood, Robert Todd Lincoln, William H. Hunt) after President James A. Garfield was fatally wounded by assassin Charles J. Guiteau. On the wall hang three portraits of (left to right) Andrew Johnson, Millard Fillmore, and John Tyler, three other vice-presidents who succeeded to the presidency. A fourth frame hangs next to Johnson with no picture and a question mark underneath meant for Arthur’s portrait.

Presidency 1881–1885
Assumption of office
President Arthur took the oath of office twice. The first time was at his Lexington Avenue residence, when it was given just past midnight on September 20. The oath was given by New York Supreme Court justice John R. Brady. The second time was two days later after he returned to Washington. This time it was given in the Capitol by Chief Justice of

Arthur was aware of the factions and rivalries of the Republican Party, as well as the controversies of cronyism versus civil service reform. Entering the presidency, Arthur believed that the only way to garner the nation’s approval was to be independent from


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both factions. Arthur was determined to go his own way once in the White House. He wound up replacing every member of Garfield’s Cabinet except the Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln. He became a man of fashion in his manner of dress and in his associates; he was often seen with the elite of Washington, D.C., New York City, and Newport. To the indignation of the Stalwarts, the onetime Collector of the Port of New York became, as President, a champion of civil service reform. In 1883, Congress passed the Pendleton Act, which established a bipartisan Civil Service Commission which forbade levying political assessments against officeholders and provided for a "classified system" that made certain government positions obtainable only through competitive written examinations. The system protected employees against removal for political reasons. Acting independently of party dogma, Arthur also tried to lower tariff rates so the government would not be embarrassed by annual surpluses of revenue. Congress raised about as many rates as it trimmed, but Arthur signed the Tariff Act of 1883 anyway. Aggrieved Westerners and Southerners looked to the Democratic Party for redress, and the tariff began to emerge as a major political issue between the two parties.

Chester A. Arthur
The Arthur Administration enacted the first general Federal immigration law. Arthur approved a measure in 1882 excluding paupers, criminals, and the mentally ill. Congress also suspended Chinese immigration for ten years with the Chinese Exclusion Act, later making the restriction permanent. The Act had remarkable staying power and was not fully repealed until sixty-one years later in 1943, by which time the US was an ally of Nationalist China in the fight against Japan during World War II. Under such circumstances, the Act had become a national embarrassment to the US and had to be repealed. In relation to Asia and Asians, President Arthur was also in office when the United States became the first Western country to establish diplomatic relations in modern times with Korea, which was then a unified, independent kingdom under the rule of the Joseon Dynasty. This was achieved in 1882 with the signing of the Shufeldt Treaty,[7] named after Commodore Robert W. Shufeldt (1822–1895), the principal U.S. negotiator. Korea had existed in a state of virtual hermetic isolation for centuries until 1876, when she was forced to establish diplomatic relations with Japan on an unequal basis. The US maintained full diplomatic relations with Korea until 1905, when the latter became an unwilling protectorate of Japan following the end of the Russo-Japanese War. In 1884, the International Meridian Conference was held in Washington, D.C. at President Arthur’s behest. This established the Greenwich Meridian and international standardized time, both in use today. President Arthur demonstrated that he was above not only factions within the Republican Party, but possibly the party itself. Perhaps, in part, he felt able to do this because of the well-kept secret he had known since a year after he succeeded to the Presidency, that he was suffering from Bright’s disease, a fatal kidney disease. This accounted for his failure to seek the Republican nomination for President aggressively in 1884. Nevertheless, Arthur was the last incumbent President to submit his name for renomination and fail to obtain it. Arthur sought a full term as President in 1884, but lost the Republican party’s presidential nomination to former Speaker of the House and Secretary of State James G. Blaine of Maine. Blaine, however, lost the general

Arthur being administered the oath of office as President by Judge John R. Brady at his home in New York City after President Garfield’s death, September 20, 1881.


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election to Democrat Grover Cleveland of New York.
Secretary of State

Chester A. Arthur
James G. Blaine Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen William Windom Charles J. Folger Walter Q. Gresham Hugh McCulloch Secretary of War Attorney General Robert T. Lincoln 1881 1881–1885

Significant events during presidency
• • • • • • • Shufeldt Treaty (1882) Standard Oil Trust (1882) Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act (1883) Civil Rights Cases (1883) International Meridian Conference (1884) Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad Company v. Illinois (1886)
Secretary of Treasury

1881 1881–1884 1884 1884–1885 1881–1885

Administration and Cabinet

Wayne MacVeagh Benjamin H. Brewster Thomas L. James Timothy O. Howe Walter Q. Gresham Frank Hatton

1881 1881–1885

Postmaster General

1881 1881–1883 1883–1884 1884–1885 1881–1882 1882–1885

Secretary of the Navy

William H. Hunt William E. Chandler Samuel J. Kirkwood Henry M. Teller

Secretary of the Interior

1881–1882 1882–1885

Judicial appointments
Supreme Court appointments
Chester A. Arthur
The Arthur Cabinet Office President Vice President Name Chester A. Arthur None Term 1881–1885 1881–1885

• Samuel Blatchford - 1882 • Horace Gray - 1882

Other courts
In addition to his two Supreme Court appointments, Arthur appointed four judges to the United States circuit courts, and thirteen judges to the United States district courts.

Social and personal life
Arthur married Ellen "Nell" Lewis Herndon[8] on October 25, 1859. She was the only child of Elizabeth Hansbrough and Captain William Lewis Herndon USN. She was a favorite


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Chester A. Arthur

Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur niece of Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury, USN of the United States Naval Observatory where her father had worked. In 1860, Chester Arthur and "Nell" had a son, William Lewis Herndon Arthur, who was named after Ellen’s father. This son died at age two of a brain disease. Another son, Chester Alan Arthur II, was born in 1864, and a girl, named Ellen Hansbrough Herndon after her mother, in 1871. Ellen Arthur died of pneumonia on January 12, 1880, at the early age of 42, only twenty months before Arthur became President. Arthur stated that he would never remarry and, while in the White House, asked his sister Mary, the wife of writer John E. McElroy, to assume certain social duties and help care for his daughter. President Arthur also had a memorial to his beloved "Nell"—a stained glass window was installed in St. John’s Episcopal Church within view of his office and had the church light it at night so he could look at it. The memorial remains to this day. Arthur is remembered as one of the most society-conscious presidents, earning the nickname "the Gentleman Boss" for his style of dress and courtly manner. Professor Marina Margaret Heiss at the University of Virginia lists Arthur as an example of an INTJ personality.[9]

Official White House portrait of Chester A. Arthur Upon taking office, Arthur did not move into the White House immediately. He insisted upon its redecoration and had 24 wagonloads of furniture, some including pieces dating back to John Adams’ term, carted away and sold at public auction.[10] Former president Rutherford B. Hayes bought two wagonloads of furniture which today are at his home Spiegel Grove. Arthur then commissioned Louis Comfort Tiffany to replace them with new pieces. A famous designer now best-known for his stained glass, Tiffany was among the foremost designers of the day.[11] Arthur was a fisherman who belonged to the Restigouche Salmon Club and once reportedly caught an 80-pound bass off the coast of Rhode Island. By the end of his presidency, Arthur had acquired wide personal popularity. On the day he left office, four young women (ignorant of Arthur’s pledge not to marry again) offered to marry him. He was sometimes called "Elegant Arthur" for his commitment


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to fashionable attire and was said to have "looked like a president." He reportedly kept 80 pairs of pants in his wardrobe and changed pants several times a day. He was called "Chet" by family and friends, and by his middle name, with the stress on the second syllable ("Al-AN").

Chester A. Arthur
New York City to serve as counsel to his old law firm. However, he was often indisposed because of his Bright’s disease. He managed a few public appearances but none after the end of 1885.[1]:417 After summering in New London, Connecticut he returned (October 1) quite ill. On November 16, by his order, nearly all of his papers, personal and official, were burned. The next morning he suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage and never regained consciousness. He died the next day.[1]:418 His post presidency was the second shortest, longer only than that of James Polk who died 104 days after leaving office. On November 22, a private funeral was held at the Church of the Heavenly Rest. His pallbearers were Walter Q. Gresham, Robert Todd Lincoln, William E. Chandler, Frank Hatton, Benjamin H. Brewster, Philip Sheridan, Cornelius Rea Agnew, Cornelius Newton Bliss, Robert G. Dun, George H. Sharpe, Charles Lewis Tiffany and Cornelius Vanderbilt. Also in attendance were president Grover Cleveland, former president Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Franklin Butler, Chief Justice Morrison Waite, Justices Samuel Blatchford and John Marshall Harlan, Roscoe Conkling and James G. Blaine.[1]:418 Chester was buried next to Ellen in the Arthur family plot in the Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York, in a large sarcophagus on a large corner plot that contains the graves of many of his family members and ancestors. Sculptor Ephraim Keyser designed the sarcophagus.

Physical health
As president Arthur alleviated his stress by taking late evening walks that usually began after 1 AM. He rarely went to bed before 2 AM.[1]:274 However, by the summer of 1882 Arthur was often ill and exhausted, and by the beginning of 1883 he looked emaciated and aged.[1]:318 That March he had attacks from hypertensive heart disease and glomerulonephritis. Officially, Arthur was said to have a cold.[1]:355 In April he took a vacation to Florida for some rest. The trip was cut short when he was hit with severe pain. The White House criticized the media’s sensationalism on the matter and blamed the illness on over exposure and seasickness.[1]:358 In October it was revealed to the press that Arthur had been diagnosed that summer with Bright’s disease.[1]:317 In a private conversation shortly after James G. Blaine’s nomination for the 1884 presidential election Arthur confided in Frank B. Conger that his disease was in an advanced stage and he only had a few months to live, and by the end of his presidency Arthur’s health had deteriorated significantly.[1]:381

Post presidency

See also
• List of American Civil War generals • Arthur Cottage, ancestral home, Cullybackey, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

[1] ^ Reeves, Thomas C. (1975). Gentleman Boss. NY, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-46095-2. [2] 1830 is the date on his grave inscription and occurs in some reference works. [3] per the Constitution of the United States of America, Article II, Section I, Paragraph 5 [1]

Arthur’s grave at Albany Rural Cemetery. Arthur served as President through March 4, 1885. Upon leaving office, he returned to


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Political offices Preceded by William A. Wheeler Vice President of the United States March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881 President of the United States September 19, 1881 – March 4, 1885 Republican Party vice presidential candidate 1880

Chester A. Arthur

Vacant Title next held by Thomas A. Hendricks Succeeded by Grover Cleveland

Preceded by James A. Garfield Party political offices Preceded by William A. Wheeler

Succeeded by John A. Logan

[4] "James R. Webster". USGenWeb Project. webster.htm. [5] Sol Barzaman: Madmen and Geniuses; Follet Books Chicago 1974 [6] Doyle, Burton T.; Swaney, Homer H. (1881). Lives of James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur. Washington: R.H. Darby. p. 61. ISBN 0-104-57546-8. livesofjamesa00doyle/ livesofjamesa00doyle_djvu.txt. [7] Hyo-wan, Lee (June 13, 2008). "Essays Trace US, Japan Roles in Joseon’s Downfall". (Korea Times). www/news/include/ print.asp?newsIdx=25829. Retrieved on May 23, 2009. [8] Ellen "Nell" Lewis Herndon’s biography via [9] "INTJ personality". intj.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-29. [10] "President Chester A. Arthur State Historic Site". html/arthur2.html. Retrieved on 2008-09-21. [11] Mitchell, Sarah E. "Louis Comfort Tiffany’s work on the White House." 2003.[2]

• Chester A. Arthur at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved on 2008-09-28 • White House Biography • Works by Chester Alan Arthur at Project Gutenberg • First State of the Union Address of Chester A. Arthur • Second State of the Union Address of Chester A. Arthur • Third State of the Union Address of Chester A. Arthur • Fourth State of the Union Address of Chester A. Arthur • POTUS - Chester Alan Arthur • Medical and Health history of Chester A. Arthur Persondata NAME ALTERNATIVE NAMES SHORT American politician, lawDESCRIPTION yer, Union Army general DATE OF BIRTH PLACE OF BIRTH DATE OF DEATH PLACE OF DEATH October 5, 1829 Fairfield, Vermont November 18, 1886 New York City, New York Arthur, Chester Alan

External links
• Extensive essay on Chester Arthur and shorter essays on each member of his cabinet and First Lady from the Miller Center of Public Affairs

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Chester A. Arthur

Categories: Union Army generals, Deaths from cerebral hemorrhage, Deaths from stroke, American Episcopalians, People from Vermont, Presidents of the United States, Republican Party (United States) vice presidential nominees, United States presidential candidates, 1884, Scottish-Americans, Scots-Irish Americans, Union College, New York alumni, Vice Presidents of the United States, Fairfield, Vermont, People of Vermont in the American Civil War, History of the United States (1865–1918), Burials at Albany Rural Cemetery, New York Republicans, Collectors of the Port of New York This page was last modified on 25 May 2009, at 13:35 (UTC). All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.) Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) taxdeductible nonprofit charity. Privacy policy About Wikipedia Disclaimers


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