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James Abram Garfield

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James Abram Garfield

Born : 19 November 1831
City : Moreland Hills, Ohio, United States
Rank : ( 227 )
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James Abram Garfield Biography

James A. Garfield

James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831 – September 19, 1881) served as the 20th President of the United States (1881), after completing nine consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (1863–81).

Garfield's accomplishments as President included a controversial resurgence of Presidential authority above Senatorial courtesy in executive appointments; energizing U.S. naval power; and purging corruption in the Post Office Department. Garfield made notable diplomatic and judiciary appointments, including a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Garfield appointed several African-Americans to prominent federal positions. As President, Garfield advocated a bi-metal monetary system, agricultural technology, an educated electorate, and civil rights for African-Americans. He proposed substantial civil service reform, eventually passed by Congress in 1883 and signed into law by his successor, Chester A. Arthur, as the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act.

Childhood

James Garfield was born the youngest of five children on November 19, 1831, in a log cabin in Orange Township, now Moreland Hills, Ohio. His uncle Amos and aunt Alpha Boynton lived next door. The families were very close as Amos was James' father's half brother, and Alpha was his mother's sister. James and his Boynton cousins cherished their memories of childhood together.

Education, marriage and early career
From 1851 to 1854, he attended the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later named Hiram College) in Hiram, Ohio. While at Eclectic, he was most interested in the study of Greek and Latin, and he was also engaged to teach. He developed a regular preaching circuit at neighboring churches, in some cases earning a gold dollar per service.

Military career

At the start of the American Civil War, Garfield quickly grew frustrated with his vain efforts to obtain an officer's commission in the Union Army. Ohio Governor William Dennison, Jr. charged him with a mission to travel to Illinois to acquire musketry and to negotiate with the Governors of Illinois and Indiana for the consolidation of troops. In the summer of 1861 he was finally commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the Union Army and given command of the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

Chief of staff for Rosecrans

In the spring of 1863, Garfield returned to the field as Chief of Staff for William Rosecrans, commander of the Army of the Cumberland; his influence in this position was greater than usual – with duties extending beyond mere communication to actual management of Rosecrans's army

Congressional career

While serving in the army in early 1862, Garfield was approached by friends about political opportunities resulting from the redrawn 19th Ohio Congressional District; it was believed that the incumbent, John Hutchins, was vulnerable. Garfield was conflicted; he was sure that he could better serve in Congress than in camp, but he was determined that his military position not be used as a stepping stone to political advancement. He therefore resorted to his long-held objection to "place-seeking", expressed a willingness to serve if elected, and otherwise left the matter to others.

1864 election and second term

In the 1864 Congressional election, Garfield's district base weakened due to his refusal to support Lincoln's re-election, but was reinvigorated when he reminded his constituents of his traditional disdain of partisanship; he was then nominated by acclamation and his re-election was assured.[88] While resting after the election, Lucretia gave him a note indicating they had been together only 20 out of the 57 weeks since his first election; he immediately resolved to take her and the family with him to live in Washington

Presidential election of 1880

The Ohio legislature had just chosen Garfield in 1879 for the U.S. Senate seat when a faint movement began for Garfield as the next Republican nominee for President to succeed Hayes – he had chosen not to stand for re-election. In early 1880 Garfield endorsed John Sherman for the party's Presidential nomination in exchange for Sherman's earlier support of Garfield for the Senate. However, at the outset of the Republican convention, a deadlock ensued between supporters of former President Grant, James G. Blaine, and Sherman; the delegates began to look to Garfield as an optimal compromise choice.

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