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20th President of the US – James Garfield

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The 20th President of the United States of America, James Garfield was affiliated to the US Republican Party. He served the tenure of President from March 1881 to September 1881, one of…

The 20th President of the United States of America, James Garfield was affiliated to the US Republican Party. He served the tenure of President from March 1881 to September 1881, one of the shortest in the US Presidential history.

He won against the Democratic Party candidate Winfield Scott Hancock in the 1880 US elections. He was the second President who was assassinated after Abraham Lincoln.

James Garfield was born in the year 1831 on 19th of November in Orange Township at Ohio. He lost his father when he was an infant of two years, which did not deter him from pursuing education enthusiastically. Being a brilliant student, Garfield completed graduation in 1856 from Williams College of Massachusetts and became a professor of Classics at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute of Ohio. He had a very good knowledge of the classical languages and was a Master in administrative works.

James Garfield was an active member of the Union Army and participated in the American Civil War. He was an able army personnel and was gradually promoted to the rank of an army Major General. But his fascination towards politics continued and in the year 1863, he was elected to the House of Representatives. He remained in the position till 1881.

The US Presidential Elections of 1880 proved to be a turning point in his political life. In the Republican Convention that was held that year, Garfield became the ‘dark horse’ candidate contesting for the Presidential Elections. The margin of votes between him and his opponent from the Democratic Party, Winfield Scott Hancock, was marginal, with a difference of only about 10,000 popular votes.


Full Name: James Abram Garfield
Date of Birth: November 19, 1831, Orange, Ohio
Died on: September 19, 1881, Elberon, New Jersey
Burial site: Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio
Parents: Abram and Eliza Ballou Garfield
Spouse: Lucretia Rudolph (1832-1918; m. 1858)
Children: Eliza Arbella (1860-1863); Harry Augustus
Religion: Disciples of Christ
Education: Williams College (1856)
Profession(s): Educator; soldier
Government ranks: State senator and U.S. Representative from Ohio
Political party: Republican
President Term: March 4, 1881-September 19, 1881
Age when assumed office: 49

Presidential Term and its details

Dates: March 4, 1881-September 19, 1881
Vice President: Chester A. Arthur (1881)

Snapshot of James Garfield’s life

1831 Born in Ohio
1857-61 Serves as president of Hiram College
1859 Serves in Ohio State Senate
1861-63 Serves as colonel in Civil War
1863-80 Serves in the U.S. House of Representatives
1877 Member of the fifteen-man electoral commission appointed by Congress to investigate the presidential election of 1876 and to declare a winner
1881 Inaugurated as president, March 4; shot several times by an assassin, July 2; dies in New Jersey on September 19

Outcome of the Elections

1880 Presidential / Vice Presidential Candidates Popular votes Electoral votes
James A. Garfield / Chester A. Arthur (Republican) 4454416 214
Winfield Scott Hancock / William H. English (Democratic) 4444952 155

There are several achievements that can be credited to the name of James Garfield, the American President. He maintained a strong hold and authority over the New York Customs House.

Senator Roscoe Conkling was in charge of the Customs House entirely. When President Garfield took over, he opposed this monopoly and asked William H Robertson, Conkling’s arch-rival to take care over the entire proceedings of the Customs House. Garfield tried to bring in the federal system in the Customs House. Conkling was infuriated at this and he tried out several steps so that the legislation could be removed. He even resigned from the post expecting an upheaval, but nothing of the sort happened. Two other men were elected and Robertson was confirmed as the man undertaking charge of the New York Customs House.

James Garfield is believed to be shot by a fanatic at the Washington railroad station in the year 1881, which caused his death. the bullet wound caused severe internal hemorrhages and infections throughout his body. the US President James Garfield died on 19th September 1881.

There are certain facts that are worth mentioning about James Garfield. Some of them are as follows:

  • He was one of the left-handed President of the United States of America.
  • James Garfield had the capability of writing Latin with one hand and Greek with the other.
  • When he was shot, doctors tries to detect the bullet with the help of a metal detector but failed to do so.
  • James Garfield was one of the Presidents of the United States of America, who campaigned in more than one language to reach to more number of people.
  • Apart from being a president, he was also a preacher.
  • Perhaps, he had a premonition of his approaching death and he talked regarding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln with Lincoln’s son, Robert Lincoln for a long time just two days before his own death.

Certain quotes of James Garfield have become extremely popular with time. Some of his most quotes include the following:

  • Ideas are the great warriors of the world, and a war that has no idea behind it, is simply a brutality.
  • The chief duty of government is to keep the peace and stand out of the sunshine of the people.
  • A brave man is a man who dares to look the Devil in the face and tell him he is a Devil.
  • If wrinkles must be written on our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. the spirit should never grow old.
  • I have had many troubles in my life, but the worst of them never came.
  • He who controls the money supply of a nation controls the nation.

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