Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns, and Elections

By William C. Binning; Larry E. Esterly et al. | Go to book overview
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GARFIELD, JAMES A. ( 1831-1881) was born on a northeastern Ohio farm on November 19, 1831, and died a half century later on September 19, 1881, as a result of an assassin's bullets fired at the president on July 2 of that year. Born into rural poverty, raised by a widowed mother, Garfield worked his way through various schools, ultimately graduating in 1856 from Williams College in Massachusetts, having first attended what is now Hiram College in Ohio. Garfield returned to the Ohio school, at age 25, as principal of its small faculty. In 1859, on the eve of the Civil War, Garfield was elected to the Ohio Senate. With the outbreak of hostilities in 1861, he organized and with rank of lieutenant colonel took command of a regiment of Ohio volunteers. Following engagement in the battles of Middle Creek, Shiloh, and Chickamauga, Garfield resigned his commission as major general in December of 1863 to take a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, to which Ohio voters had elected him more than a year earlier. Garfield, a skilled orator and rising parliamentarian, a supporter of the radical Republican position on reconstruction, quickly joined his party's leadership ranks within the House. As such he was instrumental, as a member of the Election Commission, in negotiating the compromise that resolved the disputed presidential election of 1876, whereby Republicans were able to maintain control of the presidency while committing themselves to a termination of military occupation in the South. During the Hayes administration, 1877-1881, while Democrats held a House majority, Garfield served his party as its minority leader. In 1880 the Ohio legislature elected Garfield to the U.S. Senate, a seat which he was never to occupy because of his election to the presidency. Garfield, and Chester A. Arthur of New York, became the respective presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the Republican Party after the convention of 1880 deadlocked between its competing factions: "stalwarts" who urged delegates to


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Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns, and Elections


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