James A. Garfield Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


James A. Garfield

Birthday :

November 19, 1831

Died On :

September 19, 1881

Also Known For :

US President

Birth Place :

Moreland Hills, Ohio, United States of America

Zodiac Sign :


James A. Garfield was an American politician and the 20th President of the United States of America. Born on November 19, 1831, he served as the president of the country from March 4, 1881, until his assassination. Before ascending to the oval office, James A. Garfield served nine terms in the House of Representatives and was elected to the Senate prior to assuming office as president. James A. Garfield has since become the only member of the House to be voted president. During the American Civil War, James A. Garfield served as a major general in the Union Army and was involved in the battle of Middle Creek, Shiloh, and Chickamauga.

During his short tenure of office, James A. Garfield strengthened the American naval power, reinstating the presidential authority against senatorial courtesy in executive appointments and dealing with corruption in the Post Office. On July 2, 1881, James A. Garfield was shot by Charles J. Guiteau, an aggrieved lawyer, and writer, at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington DC. Even though the wound was not fatal at the time, it got infected by what was said to be the unclean and unprotected hands by his doctors. He died on September 19, 1981. Guiteau was convicted of murder and executed in June 1882.

Early Life And Education

James A. Garfield was born on November 19, 1831, to Abram and Elizabeth Garfield in a log cabin in Orange Township currently Moreland Hills, Ohio. James A. Garfield was the youngest child of five by his parents. Abram died in 1933, so Eliza took charge of the upbringing of the children even though very poor. In 1942, she married Warren Belden but this second marriage did not last as they divorced 1850. James A. Garfield suffered abuse and was teased by his fellow boys because he was fatherless and poor. With this, he took solace in reading. He left home at age 16 and found a job on a canal boat. James A. Garfield fell sick after six weeks of work and had to return home. It was at this time that he was convinced his mother and local education official to seek education.

James A. Garfield then attended the Geauga Seminary in Chester Township in 1848. Despite taking longer to be in school, James A. Garfield was a brilliant student and worked as a carpentry assistant and teacher to support his education. James A. Garfield worked for a year after completing Geauga to earn money to continue his education. In 1851, James A. Garfield entered the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute in Hiram, Ohio and graduated in 1854. While there, James A. Garfield was hired as a teacher while still a student. James A. Garfield left and enrolled At Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts as a third-year student after passing a cursory examination in 1954 and graduated in 1856.



After his graduation, James A. Garfield returned to teach at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute in Hiram. In 1857, he became the president of the Institute. James A. Garfield later read law at a Cleveland law firm and was admitted to the bar in 1861. James A. Garfield joined politics on the conviction of a local Republican leader after the death of Cyrus Prentiss, the nominee for the local state senate seat. With this, he became the party’s nominee on the sixth ballot and subsequently won the election serving until 1861. James A. Garfield joined the Union Army’s war effort during the American Civil War. He first served as a colonel in the 42nd Ohio Infantry Regiment. James A. Garfield was promoted to brigadier general at age 30 and later as a major general for his efforts in the war.


Congressional Career

James A. Garfield contested and won New Ohio 19th district seat on the ticket of the Republican Party for the 38th Congress. He defeated his main contender D.B Woods. James A. Garfield assumed his seat in December 1863 during which he strongly supported the abolishing of slavery and confiscations of the lands of the rebels. He served nine terms in the House spanning from 1863 to 1881.



In 1880, the Republican Party elected James A. Garfield as an uncompromised candidate for that year’s presidential election. James A. Garfield did not actually fill for nomination as the main contenders were former President Grant, Blaine, and Sherman. None of the candidates were able to achieve the majority vote 379 as  Grant had 304 votes and Blaine in second with 284; Sherman's 93. During subsequently balloting the Jeremiah McLain Rusk, of the Wisconsin delegation and Benjamin Harrison an Indiana delegate sifted some of the anti-Grant votes to James A. Garfield, a dark horse candidate. James A. Garfield had 50 votes on the 35th ballot through that. Even though he protested he did not want to contest, it was overruled, and at the end, James A. Garfield was able to gain 399 votes to become the Republican nominee picking Stalwart as his vice.

James A. Garfield contested against the Democrats nominee Winfred Scot Hancock of Pennsylvania. Garfield won 214 of the Electoral College against 155 of Hancock making him the 20th president of the United States of America.  As president, James A. Garfield introduced several reforms in education, foreign policy and dealt with the corruption of the Post Office Department during his short stay in office.


Shooting And Death

On July 2, 1881, Charles J. Guiteau, an aggrieved office-seeker shot James A. Garfield at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C. He was shot two times one in the arm and the other piercing his back, breaking the rib and landed in the abdomen. James A. Garfield shouted, "My God, what is this?"  Guiteau also said"I did it. I will go to jail for it. I am a Stalwart and Arthur will be President."

However, did not die on the spot and was taken to an office and later to the White House. Doctors who came to assess the bullets wounds all did with unsterilized instruments and uncleaned hands. This led to the infection of the wounds leading to his death on September 18, 1881, in Elberon, New Jersey. James A. Garfield became the fourth US president to be assassinated. Guiteau was charged with the murder of Garfield on October 14, 1881. On January 5, 1882, a jury found him guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed on June 30, 1882.


Personal Life

James A. Garfield was married to Lucretia Rudolph in 1858. The couple had seven children, but five survived infancy.

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