Major General James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield, the last of the "log cabin" presidents, was born in Cuyahoga County, OH, in 1831. He was elected to the Ohio Senate in 1859 as a Republican and, in 1861, favored the use of force to restore the Union. In 1862 he successfully led a brigade at Middle Creek, KY, against Confederate troops; Union victories being at a premium at the time. At 31, he became a brigadier general, and two years later a major general of volunteers. After Garfield's election to Congress in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln persuaded him to resign his commission, it being easier to find major genarals than "effective" Republican congressmen that year. Garfield was elected to eight terms, and became the leading Republican in the House of Representatives.

After the 36th ballot in the 1880 Republican Convention, Garfield, whose choice for the nomination was John Sherman (brother of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman) of Ohio, was selected as the Party's nominee to oppose Winfield Scott Hancock, the candidate of the Democrats. Garfield won the election by a margin of only 10,000 popular votes.

Garfield was shot in Washington on 2 July 1881, by a disgruntled office seeker, and died of his wound on 19 September 1881. Doctors tried to find the bullet with a metal detector invented by Alexander Graham Bell. The device failed because Garfield was placed on a bed with metal springs, and no one thought to move him.

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Photo: Library of Congress
Text: The White House

Created 06 SEP 1999; Modified 23 JUL 2014