20. James A. Garfield

The Periodic Table of the Presidents - James A. Garfield  James A. Garfield Official Portrait - The Periodic Table of the Presidents

“The Preacher”

Presidential Basics

  • Full name: James Abram Garfield
  • Years in office: 1881
  • Political party: Republican
  • Vice president: Chester A. Arthur
  • Age at inauguration: 49
  • Nicknames: “The Preacher,” “The Teacher President,” “Martyr President”

Random Trivia

  • Ambidextrous: Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other…at the same time!

Birth & Death

  • Birthday: November 19, 1831
  • Birthplace: Orange Township, Ohio
  • Death: September 19, 1881
  • Place of death: Elberon, New Jersey
  • Place of burial: Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Last words: “Swaim, can’t you stop the pain?”


  • Father: Abram Garfield (1799–1833); Farmer
  • Mother: Eliza Ballou Garfield (1801–1888)
  • Wife: Lucretia Rudolph (1832 – 1918)
  • Marriage: November 11, 1858 in Ohio
  • Kids: Seven
    • Eliza Arabella (1860–1863)
    • Harry Augustus (1863–1942)
    • James Rudolph (1865–1950)
    • Mary (1867–1947)
    • Irvin McDowell (1870–1951)
    • Abram (1872–1958)
    • Edward (1874–1876)
  • Home: Lawnfield in Mentor, Ohio

Other Facts

  • Height: 6’
  • Eye color: Blue
  • Ancestry: English, French
  • Religion: Disciples of Christ
  • Born in a log cabin: Yes
  • Owned enslaved people: No
  • Freemason: Yes


  • Early education: Geauga Academy and Western Reserve Eclectic Institute
  • College degree: Yes
  • College: Williams College (graduated with B.A. 1856)


  • Military Service: Yes
  • Lawyer: Yes
  • Professor of Latin and Greek at Hiram Institute, Ohio (1856–1857)
  • President of Hiram Institute (1857–1861)
  • Member of Ohio Legislature (1859–1861)
  • Officer in Civil War (1861–1863)
  • Major General in Civil War (1863)
  • Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1863–1880)
  • Member of the U.S. Senate (1880)
  • President (1881)


  • Diary


Garfield was not the obvious choice as the Republican candidate in the election of 1880.  He and his opponent, Civil War hero Winfield Hancock, differed in little besides the tariff issue.  Republicans wanted a high tariff.

This election is one of the closest in terms of the popular vote.  The electoral votes were not quite as close, due largely to New York leaning toward Garfield at the end.  It is possible that Garfield promised favors to the party bosses in that state.

Campaign Poster

Jag, Farmer Garfield - Cutting a Swath to the White House, lithograph by Currier & Ives, c.1880
Farmer Garfield: Cutting a Swath to the White House, lithograph published by Currier & Ives, c. 1880 (Library of Congress)



Garfield’s Home

Lawnfield – Mentor, Ohio


Garfield’s Tomb




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