from Twenty-Three to Twenty-One*




                       "[1882 Apr]


Hon. C.A. Arthur,


Of course you don't care--- do you? ---

whether I am pleased or not

But, as I always growl

when I catch you doing wrong,

my own sense of justice requires it

that I should make some kind of a sound,

when I catch you doing right" :

"your veto of the Chinese Bill delighted me

And, what is more to the point,

a great many other people also were pleased---"


I went out for a ride and now

anything seems possible:

"I may even get down to Washington

before your administration is over"

And I would say then as I say now

"that it is time for you to have done

with political dirty work"

"ask yourself if there is anything in the world

that can make you happier

than truly to serve your fellowmen"

                                      "Yours Sincerely,


Saratoga, N.Y.                               [Julia I. Sand]

April 1882"





Miss Sand,


Public service is indeed a pleasure,

but it would make me much happier

if Nell and little William could

somehow be restored to life






                         "[1882 Apr]


Hon. C.A. Arthur.


What a peaceful time you must have had

when I was not able to read the papers at all"


I know you have been inundated

with letters urging you to do so,

but I ask you not to pardon "that Mason"

For you to do so "would be giving

direct encouragement to Lynch law"

His attempted murder

of a prisoner in his custody

was "cowardly & contemptible" ,

& a dereliction of duty

"his sentence is merciful, not harsh"

"try to make those idiots understand"

                                     "Yours Sincerely,


Saratoga, N.Y.                               [Julia I. Sand]

April 1882"





Miss Sand,


I have not yet reached a decision

about whether to pardon Mr. Mason

When I do, you'll be among the first to know






                         "[1882 May]


Hon. C.A. Arthur


What is there to admire in mediocrity?"

"You have an impartial mind,

when you choose to exert it" , so

"Why do you not do what you do with your whole soul?--

or have you only half of one?

When you vetoed the Chinese Bill,

the better class of people

throughout the country were delighted

Now you sign it"


Are you going to let your Administration be a failure?"


                                     "Yours Sincerely,




Saratoga, N.Y.

May 1882"





Miss Sand,


The lesser period of exclusion

is consistent with our treaty obligations,

and my veto would have been overridden

There will be other issues in the future

when I will veto a proposed bill

even if an override seems likely






                          "[1882 May]


Hon. C.A. Arthur."


"I had just made up my mind never, never,

never again to write you another word---"

"then somebody brought me a newspaper

I felt like flinging it in the fire---

newspapers make me so sick!---

but I condescended to glance at it" :

"District Attorney Woodford was going to . . .

continue the prosecution"


"I couldn't see anything more,

for there were two big tears in my eyes" ,

"very cheerful tears though---

the kind of drops rainbows are made of"


"Will you ever forgive me for not

having trusted you quite enough?"

                                                 "Sincerely your friend,


                                                               [Julia I. Sand]

Saratoga, N.Y.

May 1882"


* [These] Twenty-Three to Twenty-One are so titled because a woman named Julia Sand wrote 23 letters to Chester Arthur, the 21st President.  Her letters total over 150 pages, so I have done some condensing and rearranging as well as adding a few imagined parts as connective tissue.  If Arthur ever responded to her letters, no response is known to have survived, therefore [the author has] imagined what he might have said.  


Michael Ceraolo


Bio:  Michael Ceraolo is a 63-year-old retired firefighter/paramedic and active poet who has had two full-length books (Euclid Creek, from Deep Cleveland Press; 500 Cleveland Haiku, from Writing Knights Press) and has two more full-length books, Euclid Creek Book Two, and Lawyers, Guns, and Money, in the publication pipeline.