James A. Garfield (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: During his almost two decades, first as congressman, then briefly as president, Garfield played a key role in every issue of national importance. As party leader, he helped resolve the factionalism within the Republican Party and enabled the Republicans to lead the United States into the twentieth century.
James Abram Garfield was born in a log cabin on November 19, 1831, to Abram and Eliza Garfield, members of the Disciples of Christ church. Abram died in 1833, thus leaving Eliza a widow, the sole provider for her family.
Next to hunting, reading was young Garfield’s greatest interest. He liked history and fiction, especially stories of the American Revolution and stories of the sea. At the age of sixteen, Garfield went to Cleveland, where he was shocked and disappointed by a drunken captain to whom he had applied for work. On that same day, August 16, 1848, Garfield secured a job as driver with his cousin on a canal boat that carried goods between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. After six weeks of working on the canal, Garfield became quite ill and returned home. During his recuperation, his mother and Samuel Bates, a schoolteacher, convinced Garfield of the importance of education.
Garfield enrolled and studied at Geauga Academy in Chester, where he became the academy’s prize Latin student. Originally, Garfield planned to spend the winter months at the academy and...
(The entire section is 2420 words.)
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