James A. Garfield

20th President of the United States

Biography I

  • Born in Orange Township, Ohio, on November 19, 1831
  • Garfield's father, a wrestler, died when Garfield was an infant.
  • From 1851 to 1854, he attended the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, and later enrolled at Williams College.
  • On November 11, 1858, Garfield married Lucretia Rudolph, a former pupil. They ultimately had seven children.
  • His life and presidency were cut short when he was shot by a disgruntled office seeker in July 1881.
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Biography II, Career Before the Presidency

  • In 1859, Garfield began to study law, and at the same time, began his career in politics.
  • He was elected to the Ohio State Senate in 1859, serving until 1861.
  • In the summer of 1861, Garfield was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the Union Army.
  • In October 1862, he won a seat in Congress, representing Ohio's 19th Congressional District.
  • Garfield became a member of the Radical Republicans
  • Garfield strongly supported abolition.
  • Supported the impeachment of president Andrew Johnson.
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Biography III, The Presidency

  • Garfield was nominated as the Republican candidate for the presidency in 1880.
  • Chester A. Arthur was nominated as his vice president, and later took over as president following Garfield's assassination.
  • During his limited time in office, Garfield managed to initiate reform of the Post Office Department.
  • Garfield pledged to commit himself to the cause of civil rights.
  • He recommended a universal education system funded by the federal government, in part to empower African Americans.
  • He also appointed several former slaves, including Frederick Douglass, to prominent government positions.
  • Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau on July 2nd 1881, but didn't die from it until some 2 months later.
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Presidential Accomplishments

  • Initiated reform of the Post Office Department's notorious "star route" rings.
  • Reasserted the superiority of the President over the U.S. Senate on the issue of executive appointments.
  • Began to reverse the southern Democratic conciliation policy through the appointment of African-Americans (such as Frederick Douglass) and Southern Republicans to positions of prominence

Presidential Failures

  • Getting Assassinated! lol
  • He really wasn't in office for long enough to have any big failures.


  • Garfield served in the House of Representatives for a record 17 terms. A testament to his popularity.
  • His ideals concerning civil rights were strongly supported by northerners.


  • No Slogan.
  • Garfield won the 1880 election on a strict anti-assassination platform Ironically. Garfield developed his political philosophy after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, writing that “the foundation of a strong republic rests on a bedrock of not being assassinated” and vowing “no president shall ever be assassinated while I’m president.” Despite the popularity of his position, Garfield was fatally shot on July 2, 1881, just before delivering a major anti-political-murder speech, also ironically.
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Cabinet Members under Garfield

  • Secretary of State James G. Blaine, 1881
  • Secretary of the Treasury William Windom, 1881
  • Secretary of War Robert T. Lincoln, 1881
  • Attorney General Wayne MacVeagh, 1881
  • Postmaster General Thomas L. James, 1881
  • Secretary of the Navy William H. Hunt, 1881
  • Secretary of the Interior Samuel J. Kirkwood, 1881

Would he be electable today?

Absolutely not. Politics are so manipulative and campaigns are too strategic. Garfield's campaigning would be too "old-school" and he would be way out-of-touch with current issues.