You know how you have a favorite president growing up? Like, you get assigned the guy, knowing he’s not one of the big five, but he turns out to be interesting in his own right? Meet mine, James Abram Garfield. I think it was in Mrs. Franti’s third-grade class that we all had to do mini-reports, and I drew James A. Garfield from the hat.
I was totally bummed, but it worked out pretty well in the end. He wasn’t Thomas Jefferson, or Ulysses S. Grant, or even Richard Nixon. Who was this guy?!
James A. Garfield was a general in the Union Army in the Civil War, hailing from just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. He would, during and after the conclusion of the Civil War, serve as the Congressman from Ohio’s 19th District. On the 36th ballot, in 1880, he became the Republican Nominee for President of the United States. The internecine rivalry between the “Half-Breeds” and the “Stalwarts” lead to a controversial convention. The Half-Breeds, hoping to rid the Government of the patronage system that had developed, were pulling for Senator James Blaine, while the Stalwarts were pushing former President Ulysses S. Grant. Garfield would be the compromise candidate, and his Vice President was Chester A. Arthur, a Stalwart. Continue reading