#20. Garfield, James A

25 Days

Until November 3


A President Will Be Chosen

In 1880

James A Garfield became the 20th United States president receiving 39,213 more Popular Votes than his opponent.

  • 4,453,295 Americans voted for James A Garfield
  • 4,414,082 Americans voted for his opponent

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831 – September 19, 1881) was the 20th president of the United States, from March 4, 1881, until his death by assassination six and a half months later. Two words come to mind when I read the story of James’ life: What If? What if his presidency had lasted more than six months? He had high ideals – what impact might he have made on our country? What if x-ray had already been invented when he was shot? His wound wouldn’t even be considered serious today, and he wouldn’t have suffered the infection caused by endless probing with unsterilized fingers, and instruments. What if he hadn’t cheated on his wife? What if his mother hadn’t gone through a scandalous divorce? What if? We can only follow the consequences of those actions in James Garfield’s life. He did overcome the poverty he was born into. He did study so hard and learn so much he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He did build a strong enough marriage with Lucretia Rudolph that they had seven children together, and she was there at his bedside during those last awful months.

Would I invite this man to my party? No, I would not. A pallor of sadness hung over James Garfield. Nothing he did seemed to make him proud, or content – and this was a guy who spoke Latin and Greek and had the mathematical talent to develop a trapezoid proof of the Pythagorean theorem! “Ha, guess I showed you” is the attitude that comes across. He once wrote “I lament that I was born to poverty, and in this chaos of childhood, seventeen years passed before I caught any inspiration … a precious 17 years when a boy with a father and some wealth might have become fixed in manly ways.”

To be continued…