James A. Garfield

20th president of the United States

James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831 - September 19, 1881) was the 20th (1881) President of the United States and the 2nd President to be assassinated (killed while in office). President Garfield was in office from March to September of 1881. He was in office for a total of six months and fifteen days.

James Abram Garfield
James A. Garfield.jpg
20th President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
Vice PresidentChester A. Arthur
Preceded byRutherford B. Hayes
Succeeded byChester A. Arthur
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 19th district
In office
March 4, 1863 – March 4, 1881
Preceded byAlbert Riddle
Succeeded byEzra Taylor
Personal details
Born(1831-11-19)November 19, 1831
Moreland Hills, Ohio
DiedSeptember 19, 1881(1881-09-19) (aged 49)
Elberon (Long Branch), New Jersey
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Lucretia Rudolph Garfield

Early lifeEdit

Garfield was born in Orange Township, now Moreland Hills, Ohio. His father died in 1833, when James Abram was 18 months old. He grew up cared for by his mother and an uncle.


In Orange Township, Garfield attended school, a predecessor of the Orange City Schools. From 1851 to 1854, he attended the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later named Hiram College] in Hiram, Ohio. He then transferred to Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he was a brother of Delta Upsilon. He graduated in 1856 as an outstanding student who enjoyed all subjects except chemistry. He then taught at the Eclectic Institute. He was an instructor in classical languages for the 1856-1857 academic year, and was made principal of the Institute from 1857 to 1860.

Personal lifeEdit

On November 11, 1858, he married Lucretia Rudolph. They had seven children (five sons and two daughters): Eliza A. Garfield (1860-63); Harry A. Garfield (1863-1942); James R. Garfield (1865-1950); Mary Garfield (1867-1947); Irvin M. Garfield (1870-1951); Abram Garfield (1872-1958); and Edward Garfield (1874-76). One son, James Rudolph Garfield, followed him into politics and became Secretary of the Interior under President Theodore Roosevelt. Garfield could write in Greek with his left hand and Latin with his right hand at the same time.[1]


Garfield decided that the academic life was not for him and studied law privately. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1860. Even before admission to the bar, he entered politics. He was elected an Ohio state senator in 1859, serving until 1861. He was a Republican all his political life. He was a general in the American Civil War, and fought in the Battle of Shiloh and the Chattanooga Campaign.


Garfield became President March 3, 1881 and was shot in Washington, D.C. on July 2. Garfield was shot in the back by Charles J. Guiteau at about 9:30 am. He was less than four months in term as the 20th President of the United States. Garfield died eleven weeks later on September 19, 1881 aged 49. The 31st Speaker of the United States House of Representatives James G. Blaine was at Garfield's side when he was shot down. Vice President Chester A. Arthur became President.


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