The Pen Pal Who Changed a President
When corruption threatened the administration of Chester A. Arthur, one ordinary woman put pen to paper. Julia Sand’s passionate letters caught his attention, and rewrote history.
Edited by Abby Carney | Images courtesy Library of Congress
When Julia Sand spied the visitor in her parlor, she could barely believe it. She had dreamed of this moment for months. At last, he had come to see her.
The man, at 6 feet 2 inches, towered over Sand and her family members, who had gathered to greet him. His signature muttonchops had recently turned a distinguished salt-and-pepper gray, manifesting the immense stress of his newish job. The chops flowed into a considerable mustache. Dark brown eyes peered from his round face.
The man was Chester A. Arthur, the 21st president of the United States. He had arrived, unannounced, on Sand’s doorstep one warm August evening in 1882.
Though President Arthur maintained a residence on nearby Lexington Avenue and frequently ventured around Manhattan, Sand had never met him. In fact, the 31-year-old woman had barely left the house in the previous five years. Single and in failing health, she lived with her brother’s family in a spacious home…