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Key Dates

1858 Garfield was elected to the Ohio State Legislature.

1862 Garfield was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

1880 Garfield was elected President.

1881 James A. Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau. Garfield survived for more than two months. Garfield died of blood poisoning.

1881 Sept. 19th Chester A. Arthur became President.

James A. Garfield
20th President

James A. Garfield was born in Orange Township, Ohio on November 19, 1831.

President Garfield was the last of six Presidents born in a log cabin.

He worked on a canal boat when he was younger. He couldn't swim and all most drown when he fell overboard.

James was 6' tall.

He was the only president who served as a preacher. He was a Disciples of Christ preacher.

James A. Garfield served as an officer in the Civil War.

Garfield was the only man in U.S. history who was a congressman, senator-elect, and a president-elect at the same time.

Garfield was the first president to attend his nominating convention.

He campaigned for the presidency from the front porch of his house. Candidates didn't travel to campaign at that time.

James A. Garfield won election by less than10,000 votes. That was less than one tenth of a percent of the votes. The electoral college vote was 214 to 155.

Garfield and Arthur were sworn in March 4, 1881. by Chief Justice Morrison Waite. The inaugural ball was held at the Smithsonian. The Marine Band played songs written by Gilbert and Sullivan. The guest were served turkey and oysters as part of their dinner.

President Garfield was the first President to review an inaugural parade in front of the White House.

His mother, Eliza Ballou Garfield, was the first mother of a president to live in the executive mansion. She was also the first mother to attend the Presidential Inauguration.

James had a dog named Veto.

Lincoln's son, Robert Todd, was Garfield's secretary of war.

Garfield was the first ambidextrous president. He could even write Greek with one hand while writing Latin with the other.

The Secret Service starting guarding the presidents after Garfield was shot on July 2, 1881.

Garfield died of blood poisoning, from doctors probing one of his wounds with bare fingers and un sterilized instruments. Some experts think Garfield would have lived if the doctors did nothing. Garfield's doctor Willard Bliss inserted his finger and instruments into Garfield's wound. Neither his finger or the instruments were sterile.

One of the doctors who attended Garfield at the train station was Charles Purvis. He was one of the first black men to receive medical training at a university. He recommended that blankets be wrapped around the President and that hot water bottles be place under his feet. Thus he became the first black doctor to treat a President of the United States.

At the White House Garfield was also treated by Mrs. Dr. Edson. She was one of the first female doctors in the U.S. and perhaps the first woman doctor to treat a President.

It took Garfield 11 weeks to die after being shot by assassin Charles Guiteau on July 2, 1881. He died on September 19, 1881 in Elberon, New Jersey. He was 49 years and 304 days old.

Chester Arthur became president.

Quotes from Garfield:

"I would rather believe in something and suffer for it, than to slide along into success without opinions."

"Assassination can be no more guarded against that death by lightning; and it is best not to worry about either."

"Justice and goodwill will outlast passion."


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The Presidents of the United States. 22 September 2004:

Davis, Gibbs and Ilus. David A. Johnson. Wackiest White House Pets. New York: Scholastic Press, October 2004

James, Barber and Amy Pastan. Smithsonian Presidents and First Ladies. New York: DK Publishing, 2002

Kane, Joseph Natan. Facts about the Presidents from Washington to Johnson. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1964.

McCullough, Noah, The Essential Book of Presidential Trivia. Random House, USA, 2006

Pine, Joslyn, Presidential Wit and Wisdom: Memorable Quotes from George Washington to Barack Obama . Dover Publications, Mineola, New York, 2009

Huffington Post web site.

Lang, Stephen, The Complete Book of Presidential Trivia, Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, 2011

O'Reilly, Bill, and Dugard, Martin, Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2011

St. George, Judith In the Line of Fire: Presidents' Lives at Stake , Scholastic Inc. New York, 2001

In addition to these books, I have also read and have used information from those listed on my Books About Presidents page.



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This page was last updated on Thursday, May 31, 2018

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