Portraits: James Garfield   Leave a comment

James Garfield (1831 – 1881)James Garfield, photo

The 20th President of the United States, 1881

AKA: Boatman Jim

From: Ohio

College: Williams College

Married to: Lucretia Rudolph Garfield

Children: Eliza Arbella Garfield, Harry Augustus Garfield, James Rudolph Garfield, Mary Garfield, Irvin M. Garfield, Abram Garfield, Edward Garfield

Party: Republican

Previous Jobs: Janitor, carpenter, teacher, lawyer, state senator, Colonel of the 42nd Ohio Volunteers, Brigadier General, US Representative, US Senator,

In His Words:  “For mere vengeance I would do nothing. This nation is too great to look for mere revenge. But for security of the future I would do every thing.”

“If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should not grow old.”

“A pound of pluck is worth a ton of luck.”

“Poverty is uncomfortable, as I can testify; but nine times out of ten the best thing that can happen to a young man is to be tossed overboard and compelled to sink or swim for himself.”

“Tell her I am seriously hurt; how seriously I cannot yet say. I am myself, and hope she will come to me soon. I send my love to her.”

Not true: The assassin wasn’t really directly responsible for his death — his doctor was!  Though Garfield was shot by a would-be assassin (and crazy man who had been barred from seeing the President) and died from the wound … cleaner medical procedures could have probably saved him.  He was treated by physicians that didn’t use sterile practices.  His wounds began to fester, and after an 80-day struggle with infection, the President died of blood poisoning.

True: James Garfield was the last President born in a log cabin.

As one of 4 children, Garfield grew up poor on a farm near Cleveland.  He may have been raised as our poorest President.  He worked his way through school as a janitor, carpenter, and, eventually, part-time teacher.

Garfield was ambidextrous.  He sometimes wrote Latin with one hand while writing Greek with his other to entertain guests.

Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s son, was in Garfield’s cabinet.  Lincoln was a witness to the assassination of three Presidents: Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and William McKinley.

Garfield was a skilled orator, and recognized as having great political skill.  His time in office was very brief, however (he was shot less than 4 months after his inauguration), so we’ll never know what kind of President he might have been.

In spite of Lincoln’s assassination, Presidents still walked around Washington with little fanfare or accompaniment.  In this case, Garfield was walking to meet a train with his Secretary of State when he was shot in the back by the would-be assassin.

His last words: “My work is done.”

Garfield Assassination

This image first appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.
Stop that man! He shot the President!
CREDIT: Berghaus, A., artist, Upham, C., artist. The caption reads: “Washington, D.C.–The attack on the President’s life–Scene in the ladies’ room of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad depot–The arrest of the assassin / from sketches by our special artist’s [sic] A. Berghaus and C. Upham.”, 1881. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. .

The Official Portrait: Calvin Curtis painted the official White House Portrait of James Garfield in 1881.James Garfield, official Presidential Portrait

James Garfield signature


Big Mo on Garfield

“Murder Most Foul”

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