James A. Garfield

Twentieth President 1881


Born: November 19, 1831, in Orange, Ohio.

Education: Graduated from Williams College at Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Occupation: College professor; taught ancient languages and literature at Hiram College and was college president, 1857-61. Served in the Civil War as officer of Ohio volunteers.

Religion: Disciples of Christ.

Family life: Married Luccretia Rudolph in November 1858; they had 5 sons and two daughters. She died on March 14, 1918.

Political career: Served as United States representative from Ohio, 1863-80; House minority leader, 1876. Named to serve in Senate in 1880. Nominated as a "dark horse" by Republican convention, 1880; assassinated in 1881.

Highlights of his presidency: Fought corruption in Post Office system. Promoted better Latin-American relations. Assassinated during first year in office.

Appearance: 6 feet tall, strongly built, light brown hair.

Died: September 19, 1881, in Elbberon, New Jersey after being shot July 2 by Charles J. Guiteau, in Washington D.C.. Charles was a man who had been refused a political job. James Garfield was the second president shot in office. Doctors tried to find the bullet with a metal detector invented by Alexander Graham Bell. But the device failed because Garfield was placed on a bed with metal springs, and no one thought to move him.

Buried: Garfield Tomb, a truly imposing edifice which sits hidden on an entire hilltop in the otherwise ordinary (but large) Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.


  • James A. Garfield National Historic Site
  • Groliers Biography
  • Britannica Biography
  • Inaugural Address



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