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James Garfield

James Garfield

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James Garfield, the son of a poor farmer, was born in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, on 19th November, 1831. After a brief formal education, Garfield worked as a helmsman on the Ohio Canal.

Garfield returned to education and studied at Geauga Seminary (1849-51) and the Hiram Institute (1851-54). After graduating from Williams College in 1858, Garfield became professor of ancient languages and literature in Hiram College. At the age of 25, Garfield became president of Hiram College. He also became involved in politics and joined the Free Soil Party.

A strong opponent of slavery, Garfield was one of the founders of the Republican Party and in 1859 was elected to the Ohio legislature. On the outbreak of the American Civil War Garfield joined the Union Army and was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel. He helped recruit the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry and commanded a brigade at Shiloh (April, 1862). After fighting at Chickamauga (September, 1863), Garfield was promoted to the rank of major general.

Garfield left the army after he was elected to the 38th Congress and over the next few years became a prominent member of the Radical Republicans. This group favoured the abolition of slavery and believed that freed slaves should have complete equality with white citizens.

Garfield opposed the policies of President Andrew Johnson and argued in Congress that Southern plantations should be taken from their owners and divided among the former slaves. He also attacked Johnson when he attempted to veto the extension of the Freeman's Bureau, the Civil Rights Bill and the Reconstruction Acts.

In November, 1867, the Judiciary Committee voted 5-4 that Andrew Johnson be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. The majority report contained a series of charges including pardoning traitors, profiting from the illegal disposal of railroads in Tennessee, defying Congress, denying the right to reconstruct the South and attempts to prevent the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Garfield supported Johnson's impeachment but was unhappy that his replacement would be Benjamin Wade. Garfield warned that Wade was "a man of violent passions, extreme opinions and narrow views who was surrounded by the worst and most violent elements in the Republican Party." Despite this objections, Garfield voted for impeachment. However, the 35 to 19 vote, was one short of the required two-thirds majority for conviction.

Garfield remained a member of Congress for seventeen years. During this time her served as chairman of the Banking Committee (1869-71) and in 1880 was asked to organize the campaign of John Sherman, who was attempting to become the Republican Party presidential candidate. During the campaign Garfield was so impressive that he became one of the candidates and after 36 ballots defeated Ulysses S. Grant and James G. Blaine for the nomination. To preserve party unity, the conservative Chester Arthur, became the vice-presidential candidate.

The Democratic Party nominated Winfield S. Hancock, who like Garfield had been a senior officer during the American Civil War. It was a close election and Garfield won by 4,449,053 votes to 4,442,030. In his inaugural speech Garfield returned to the issue that had first brought him into politics: "The elevation of the Negro race from slavery to the full rights of citizenship is the most important political change we have known since the adoption of the Constitution of 1787. It has liberated the master as well as the slave from a relation which wronged and enfeebled both."

Garfield attempted to select a Cabinet that would retain the unity of the Republican Party. However, Roscoe Conking, the leader of the Stalwart group, was unhappy with some of Garfield's choices and refused to serve in his administration.

On 2nd July, 1881, Garfield was waiting for a train in Washington with Robert Lincoln, his Secretary of War, when Charles J. Guiteau, shot him in the back. A supporter of Roscoe Conking, Guiteau, surrendered to the police with the words: "I am a Stalwart. Chester Arthur is now the president of the United States. After a four month struggle James Garfield died on 19th September, 1881 and Chester Arthur became president.

I do not now see any way this side a miracle of God which can avoid a civil war with all its attendant horrors. Peaceable dissolution is utterly impossible. Indeed, I cannot say as I would wish it possible. To make the concessions demanded by the South would be hypocritical and sinful. They would neither be obeyed nor respected. I am inclined to believe that the sin of slavery is one of which it may be said that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission. I believe the doom of slavery is drawing near - let war come - and the slaves will get a vague notion that it is waged for them.

On the whole I am greatly pleased with the man. He clearly shows his want of culture - and the marks of western life. But there is no touch of affectation in him and he has a peculiar power of impressing you that he is frank, direct and thoroughly honest. His remarkable good sense, simple and condensed style of expression and evident marks of indomitable will, give me great hopes for the country.

All my former opinions of McClellan are confirmed. His late campaign in Maryland has been most shameful. He has lain perfectly idle 27 days since the last battle with a force almost twice the number of the rebel army and has been constantly been asking for reinforcements. All three (Edwin Stanton, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Halleck) desire to get rid of McClellan and two or three times have been at the point of removing him, but have lacked the courage. Stanton would have done it but was not allowed - the President would have done it, but feared the Border States and the army - Halleck would have done it, but claimed the responsibility should not be placed on his shoulders. It is still being agitated and I think it is to be done soon, but I believe they are waiting for the elections to be over - lest it may strengthen the Peace Democrats who will praise McClellan to the skies.

General Garfield, not much over thirty years old, presented a far more commanding and attractive appearance than General Rosecrans. Very nearly, if not fully, six feet high, well formed, of erect carriage, with a big head of sandy hair, a strong-featured, broad and frank countenance, set in a full beard and lighted up by large blue eyes and a most pleasing smile, he looked like a distinguished personage. his manners were very gentlemanly and cordial, and altogether he produced and sustained a most agreeable impression.

Assassination of James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, was fatally shot at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C., at 9:30 am on Saturday, July 2, 1881. He died in Elberon, New Jersey, 79 days later on September 19, 1881. The shooting occurred less than four months into his term as president. His assassin was Charles J. Guiteau, whose motive was revenge against Garfield for an imagined political debt, and getting Chester A. Arthur elevated to president. Guiteau was convicted of Garfield's murder and executed by hanging one year after the shooting.



Source: National Park Service The Dickey Farm : Warren Corning and his family became residents of Mentor Township in 1810. The core of the property at the time, which is bisected by historic route 20, modern day Mentor Avenue, was owned by the Corning family starting in 1811. When James Dickey married Harriet Corning, one of the Corning family daughters, on June 5, 1835, the land was given as a wedding present. James Dickey continued to buy surrounding property and by 1848 owned a total of 117.46 acres. The Dickey family also expanded their home from the two-room log cabin, which is presumed to have been built by the Corning’s between 1831 and 1832, to a nine-room farm home in 1847. James Dickey passed away in 1855 and his wife Harriet Dickey continued to operate the farm until 1876. Shown in the image above is that same nine-room farm home as well as the barns present on the property.

Source: National Park Service

Date: ca. summer 1877-summer 1879 Front Porch Campaign: The nine-room home was a tight fit for the Garfield family. The family at that point consisted of James A. Garfield, his wife Lucretia Rudolph Garfield, their five children, Harry, James, Mary (Mollie), Irving and Abram, Garfield’s mother Eliza Ballou Garfield, and Lucretia’s father Zeb Rudolph. By 1880, Garfield had expanded the nine room farm home to a twenty-room home. Not long before the construction was completed on the home, the Garfield family made it back to Mentor on May 11, 1880. Garfield’s friend in Congress, Burke Hinsdale, reflects on this time in the Mentor home, “These were the grand years in Garfield’s life… They were years of reading, study, think and communion with friends and family. He was happy in his family, his friends and in his work.”

Source: National Park Service

Date: ca. Fall 1880 The House in the News : As people learned of Garfield’s nomination, and of his newly constructed home, visitors started to go to the home. These visitors came by foot, came by carriage, and the train tracks that ran through Garfield’s land also aided in people’s ability to come to the site. The numbers started to increase as people learned that Garfield was addressing the public on his porch. There were instances where the people that came, did not want to travel back home by foot or they would miss their train back home. So many times people would camp out on Garfield’s lawn, take food from his orchards, and leave the next day. These events are what ultimately led the news reporters to refer to the house as Lawnfield. Many of the reporters were welcomed into the Garfield foyer for additional questioning and photographs of the home. In many instances however, the reporters may have had the opportunity to speak with Grandma Garfield and his daughter Mollie as seen in the image above.

Source: National Park Service

Creator: Frank Leslie's Illustrated News Paper

Date: 1880 Winter Evening at Lawnfield : As the campaign continued the family ultimately decided to stay in Mentor as opposed to returning to Washington. Garfield continued to run his front-porch campaign well into the fall season of that year. Garfield ended up being in the campaign office on November 2, 1880, when he found out that he had won the vote for New York, ultimately giving him a total number of votes to win the election. The Garfield family then stayed in the home throughout the winter of that year, spending what ended up being the only Christmas together as a whole family in the Mentor home. Garfield reflects in his diary about this time in the home and what the future may hold, “I close the year with a sad conviction that I am bidding good-by to the freedom of private life, and to a long series of happy years, which I fear terminate with 1880.”

Source: National Park Service

Date: 1881 The Garfield Fund : During the time from after Garfield had been shot and his death, a subscription fund was created to help support what ultimately would be Lucretia and the children. The fund was created by Cyrus Fields, the founder of the Trans-Sub Atlantic Telegraph [and eventual Telephone] Line. Mr. Fields paid the money to have news reports posted in papers all across the country, encouraging people to donate to the fund what they could to help support the president’s young wife and children. Lucretia was forty-nine when Garfield died and the kids were all between eight and eighteen years old. The fund continued past the time of Garfield‘s death as well as past the time of the funeral and ultimately ended on October 15, 1881. News reporters constantly kept up to date on the donations to the Garfield Fund. This clipping from the New York Times shows the reporting on the total success of the Fund.

Date: October 18, 1881 Memorial Library Expansion : A majority of the construction for the new section of the home was done between 1885 and 1886, as pictured above.Lucretia continued to make changes to both the interior as well as the exterior of the house. Some of these changes included various versions of the front and east porches of the property, taking out original windows and adding bay windows, as well as adding stained glass in the home. She also added some ornamentation to the home with elements primarily in the Queen Anne style, to take it away from the original vernacular style farmhouse. Lucretia also changed the exterior by painting the home. During Garfield’s time, the house had always been white with black shutters and a black slate roof. Lucretia painted the house a grey color with grey-blue and red accents and a red wood shingle roof. These colors fell in line with a much more high Victorian color scheme. With this additional work done to the home, Lucretia also added additional buildings to the property.

Source: National Park Service

Date: 1886 J. Wilkinson Elliott Landscape Plan : Part of Lucretia’s efforts to create more of an estate aesthetic to her property included a comprehensive landscape plan of the property. The plan that was created for the property by J Wilkinson Elliott, never actually came to full fruition. What did come about however, was Lucretia’s desire to connect all of her family’s properties together. Directly to the east was Harry Garfield’s home which the family referred to as Eastlawn. To the west of Lucretia’s home was the second oldest son, James R Garfield’s home, which was referred to as Hollycroft. The landscape plan provided the opportunity for all of the properties to be interconnected with garden paths. There was also a minimum number of entrances from the street to the properties. From Mentor Avenue, there are two entrances marked by large stone pillars. These pillars are at the far west and far-east of what would have encompassed all of the Garfield properties and were set far enough apart to allow carriages through them. There are also smaller, narrower set pillars that would have marked walking paths from the street onto the property.

Source: National Park Service

Date: June 1900 Lucretia Garfield and her Family : Once Lucretia passed away in 1918, what to do with the home became a great debate amongst the Garfield children. Mollie Garfield reflects on the quarreling, “…it has turned out just as mother feared- the farm would become a white elephant or rather a creature that devours incessantly.” When Uncle Joe, Lucretia’s brother, passed away in 1935, the children were forced to deal with the situation head-on. The decision the children ultimately reached was that the best thing for the home and its contents was for it to be donated and run as a museum for the enjoyment of future generations. James R. Garfield served on the Board of Trustees for the Western Reserve and thought the group might be a good fit. The rest of the Garfield children were relieved and Mollie even reassured her brother that “… little mother would have approved.”

Source: The Garfield Collection, Cleveland Memory Project

Date: 1917 The Western Reserve and Lake County Years : The WRHS quickly had to decide what they were going to do with the home and how the museum was going to be run. In the spring of 1936 the WRHS began preparations to the main house so that it could be open to the public for the summer. The WRHS during this time received an anonymous donation of $10,000 by a group of “Cleveland gentleman” to help alleviate the costs of the repairs that were necessary to prepare the home for visitation. The home opened to the public in late August. Over the course of the month of September, there were 2,500 visitors that came through the Garfield house museum.

Source: The Garfield Collection, Cleveland Memory Project

Date: 1936 Lawnfield Publicity : The interpretation of the Garfield home as done by the LCHS from 1938 to 1984 was done in contract with WRHS. The main interpretation done at the home did consist of house tours and pamphlet interpretation for visitors, and with a house museum made available to visitors as well on the third floor of the home. The main story being told at the site during this time was the life of James A. Garfield, hence the emphasis to the Lawnfield title for the site, and more broadly the time periods which he lived. LCHS also used the Garfield home as a headquarters building and as a space to interpret general county history.

Source: The Garfield Collection, Cleveland Memory Project

Date: 1891 Governmental Interest : The site of the Garfield home was evaluated in a major governmental projects, including the national Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings. The survey documented a brief history of Garfield career, his relationship with the farm, and a physical analysis of the site. Another federal recognition the site received was its designation on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The nomination was completed by Frederick Crawford on behalf of the Western Reserve Historical Society. The site was also documented as a part of the Historic American Building Survey. The survey of Lawnfield, however, was done after the early run of the HABS program in 1931, and was not actually completed until 1985. This documentation included architectural renderings of the entirety of the home, many of the other structures on the property, and photographs, as seen above. With the site now having national recognition, it was brought before Congress to be inducted as a National Park.

Source: Library of Congress

Creator: Historic American Buildings Survey

Date: 1985 Restoration of the Garfield Home : Congress allocated $12.5 million for the restoration of the home. At this point there were a series of researched options that the NPS could take to address all the restorations and other site concerns. The plan that was ultimately decided however was a compromise of all of the created plans but stuck to the original $12.5 million budget. This allowed for not only the restoration on the interior and exterior of the home to be addressed, as seen above, but also provide funding for the ground and adaptive reuse of many of the historic structures on the property to fit NPS needs. For example, the carriage house is now the Visitor Center for the site. The Tenant house is now the headquarters building for the NPS administrative staff, and the barn buildings have ben repurposed for both maintenance needs as well as additional classroom spaces for programming.

Source: National Park Service

Date: 1996 The Reopening of the Garfield Home : The restoration of the Garfield home was complete in 1998, and the site re-opened to the public on June 19, 1998. The night before there was a Garfield Family Reunion, where over 100 members of the family spanning multiple generations came to celebrate the reopening of their ancestor’s beloved home. The main day consisted of a large ceremony with live music and people all over the site. There was an open house for visitors to finally see the finished interior, and when they were done people were able to enjoy the other historically restored buildings on the site. The line to get into the home wrapped around the whole east side of the house, and people were parking at the mall and walk down to the site. There were even people from the Post Office doing same day cancellations commemorate the event. Although the restoration had faced both good and bad press during the work itself, the reopening of the home was ultimately met with a positive response from the Mentor community and beyond.

Source: National Park Service

Date: 1998 The National Park Service Mission : As the National Historic Site has developed over the past ten years, the NPS staff is striving to make sure the interpretation of the Garfield home is appropriate and accurate, but also engaging and thought provoking to the visitors of the site. The NPS has designated the period of significance for the Garfield home to start with James A. Garfield Campaign in 1881 and continuing past his death and through a majority of his family’s life in the home, up to 1904. This allows the Park Rangers to tell not only Garfield’s story and his significance to history, but also about his wife and the children and what they have done for his legacy. Part of this legacy includes the grand memorial library that Lucretia created. The historically recreated library, as pictured above, is today considered the first Presidential Memorial Library.

Former president James Garfield’s spine put on display

On May 21, 2000, the bones of President James Garfield’s spine are on display for a final day at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C. The exhibit featured medical oddities from the museum’s archives.

The British medical journal The Lancet published a story about the exhibit in May 2000. Among many other medical curiosities, the display featured President Garfield’s spinal column that showed exactly where one out of two assassin’s bullets had passed through it on July 2, 1881. The first bullet grazed Garfield’s arm. The second bullet lodged below his pancreas.

Alexander Graham Bell, who was one of Garfield’s physicians at the time, tried to use an early version of a metal detector to find the second bullet, but failed. Historical accounts vary slightly as to the exact cause of Garfield’s death. Physicians may have given him treatments that hastened his demise, including the administering of quinine, morphine, brandy and calomel he was also fed through the rectum. Others insist Garfield died from an already advanced case of heart disease that the trauma of the shooting exacerbated. Autopsy reports described how pressure from the festering pancreatic wound created a fatal aneurism. Regardless, Garfield succumbed to complications from his wounds 80 days after being shot.

Garfield’s spine is not the only presidential body part to have been an item of interest at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. The museum also owns some of Lincoln’s skull fragments and President Eisenhower’s gallstones. A museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, keeps a tumor removed from President Grover Cleveland. John F. Kennedy’s brain, which was removed during his autopsy after his assassination in 1963, disappeared and has never been found.

Civil War and Congressional Career

In the summer of 1861, Garfield was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in the Union Army. Later that year, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, commanding a brigade at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862.

Garfield&aposs political career continued during wartime. In October 1862, he won a seat in Congress, representing Ohio&aposs 19th Congressional District. After the election, Garfield relocated to Washington, where he developed a close alliance with Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase. Garfield became a member of the Radical Republicans, led by Chase, and found himself frustrated by moderates including Abraham Lincoln.

Garfield not only favored abolition but also believed that the leaders of the rebellion had forfeited their constitutional rights. He supported the confiscation of southern plantations and the punishment of rebellion leaders.

Following President Lincoln&aposs assassination, Garfield attempted to ameliorate the strife between his own Radical Republicans and the new president, Andrew Johnson. When Johnson undermined the Freedman&aposs Bureau, however, Garfield rejoined the Radicals, subsequently supporting Johnson&aposs impeachment.

James A. Garfield: 5 Accomplishments

James A. Garfield, 20th US President, is mostly remembered for being assassinated while in office. Regardless of his brief tenure, President James A. Garfield was still able to attain some pretty good milestone for his nation. Worldhistoryedu.com presents to you five major accomplishments of President James A. Garfield.

Steered his administration in a very independent and objective manner

Upon entering the White House in March 1881, Garfield continued the civil service reforms started by his predecessor President Rutherford B. Hayes.

He stood his grounds and opposed Conkling’s Patronage Machine. Roscoe Conkling was a very powerful New York Senator and a member of the “Stalwarts” (conservative politicians). President Garfield refused appointing a friend of Conkling to the position of collector of the Port of New York.


Todd Arrington is the National Park Service’s Site Manager at James A. Garfield National Historic Site. He has worked at the site since 2009, first as the Chief of Interpretation and Education (2009-15) and in his current role since late 2015. He has been a career National Park Service employee for over 21 years, and James A. Garfield NHS is the fourth park in which he has worked.
Todd is a historian by training and education and holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2012). He is particularly interested in the early Republican Party, from the party’s founding in 1854 through the tragically brief presidency of James A. Garfield in 1881.

Todd is heard in chapters one, three and five, as the voice of A. F. Rockwell at the beginning of chapter four, and as the voice of Joseph Stanley-Brown in the round robin letter.

Alan Gephardt has worked at James A. Garfield NHS as a seasonal ranger since 2009. He is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, where he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in history. He has had a lifelong passion for presidential history. His education on the life of President Garfield has caused him to become equally interested in Mrs. Garfield, and the five Garfield children who grew to adulthood. Alan enjoys working on his house and yard, and uses a bicycle in lieu of a car as much as possible.

Alan’s contributed to chapters two, four, and five and is the voice of Whitelaw Reid at the beginning of chapter two.

Joan Kapsch , Park Guide at James A. Garfield NHS, has long been involved in local history. She was educated at Cleveland State University, where she earned her degree in history. One of her professors was Alan Peskin, who wrote a comprehensive biography of James Garfield, and it was from that affiliation that her interest in the political life of James A. Garfield grew. Joan worked for many years at the county historical society, and while there helped with research for the NPS restoration of the Garfield site. She came to James A. Garfield NHS in 1998. Joan has contributed to a number of local history publications, and developed award-winning school programs. As part of her interpretive work at the park, Joan wrote the site’s guidebook, James A. Garfield-His Life and Legacy. You will hear her voice throughout this season.

Rebekah Knaggs ' role in A Fickle Current podcast was more behind the scenes on the technical side as the audio editor for everyone's wonderful research about James A. Garfield and the 1880 Campaign. Rebekah's voice can be heard however in many of the narrative texts as well as the voice of Mollie Garfield in the round robin letter.

Rebekah worked as a Volunteer and then Park Guide at the William Howard Taft National Historic site from 2017-2018. She was at James A. Garfield National Historic Site from 2018-2020 and is currently working at the First Ladies National Historic Site.

Rachel Knaggs is a student at the University of the Arts, majoring in Trumpet Performance and minoring in Music Education. She is a volunteer at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site, and has contributed by bringing historic music to the modern ear. She transcribed and arranged General Garfield’s Campaign March along with other historic pieces used for the sites online programming. You can hear the Garfield campaign march as the title theme in A Fickle Current podcast.

Park Ranger Mary Lintern has been at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site for twenty years. In addition to her duties as an interpreter of history, she coordinates many of the site's special events such as Presidents' Day, Easter Monday Egg Roll, An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe, and A Winter's Evening at Lawnfield. She is the volunteer coordinator and the bookstore coordinator, and also co-manages the site’s Facebook page. In 2013 and 2014, Mary had the honor of being a story contributor for C-Span’s First Ladies Influence & Image and for American Experience’s Murder of a President. Mary can be heard as the voice of Aunt Patty Mays in the round robin letter.

Ryan Krapf joined the team at James A. Garfield NHS in 2019, primarily as the park's business associate, though he enjoys engaging with interpretive matters as often as possible. His National Park Service path began in 2016 as a seasonal ranger at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, working with dedicated volunteers and providing interpretation throughout the park. An passionate hiker, Ryan has logged more than 3,500 miles on the Appalachian Trail (including one successful thru-hike) and continues to bring home tales from his travels to parks across the country. Ryan and his wife live in northeast Ohio, always looking forward to their next adventure. Ryan is the voice of James A. Garfield, appearing in chapters one and five.

Dan McGill is a graduate student at Kent State University department of History. Before working at James A. Garfield National Historic Site, Dan was an intern at the Cuyahoga County Solders’ & Sailors’ Monument in Cleveland. He specializes in the study of War & Society and focuses on the actions of combat veterans in public life. Dan is the voice of James G. Blaine at the beginning of chapter one, and of William E. Chandler starting chapter three.

Richard Robyn . Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Kent State University’s Washington (DC) academic/internship program before retirement this pandemic summer of 2020, Dr. Robyn – along with his wife Sylviane - have been volunteers at the JAGNHS for a number of years, and hope to continue when the site reopens completely to visitors. In one of the courses he taught, Introduction to American Politics (POL 10100), Dr. Robyn included a unit on President James Garfield, and led student groups to tour the site. It was always gratifying when a student came to better appreciate “the greatest American president you don’t know” because of Garfield’s extraordinary talents and his extremely short tenure as president because of his assassination. Rick’s contributions can be heard in Chapters 1, 3 and 5.

Debbie Weinkamer has been involved with the Garfield family story since 1998 and has done extensive research into their life and times. She is the Lead Volunteer at James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, OH where she guides public tours, creates and presents programs and exhibits, assists in training new VIPs (Volunteers in Parks), and works with school groups. She has been portraying Lucretia Garfield since 2001. Having an Associate in Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, Debbie strives to make her presentations engaging, meaningful, and educational – for audiences of all ages.

She continues to be a seasonal volunteer docent at President James A. Garfield’s Birthplace (Replica Cabin) in Moreland Hills, OH, and is honored to be personal friends with the Cleveland-area descendants of the Garfields. Debbie is married to her high school sweetheart (a history enthusiast), and has two married sons, two grandsons, and a new granddaughter. She is a part of chapters two, four and five, and is the voice of Lucretia Garfield in the round robin letter.

The music in episode four of A Fickle Current is courtesy of the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.

The original Fisk Jubilee Singers introduced ‘slave songs’ to the world in 1871 and were instrumental in preserving this unique American musical tradition known today as Negro spirituals.

They broke racial barriers in the United States and abroad in the late 19th century. At the same time, they raised money in support of their beloved school.

Today’s Fisk Jubilee Singers are vocal artists and students at Fisk University who sing and travel worldwide continuing the tradition of singing the Negro spiritual around the world. This allows the ensemble to share this rich culture globally, while preserving this unique music.

The two songs heard in this episode are “I Got A Home In-A Dat Rock” and “In Bright Mansions.” Both come from the album In Bright Mansions.


In 1940, the United States Department of the Army reserved 21,418 acres (87 km 2 ) for the construction of two facilities: [3] The Ravenna Ordnance Plant, near Ravenna and the Portage Ordnance Depot, near Windham. The facilities officially opened on March 23, 1942, although the Atlas Powder Company commenced operations there on August 18, 1941. During World War II, the two facilities were combined as the Ravenna Arsenal. [1] [3]

The Ravenna Arsenal had an immediate effect upon the communities of Portage County. Over 14,000 people were employed at the Arsenal during World War II, [2] and the village of Windham was chosen as the site to house many of these workers. Windham experienced a population boom as a result its growth of over 1200% was the largest of any U.S. municipality in the 1950 Census, as was reported in the June 1951 edition of National Geographic Magazine. [4]

At the end of World War II, the facility was placed on "standby" status. In November 1945, control of the facility was transferred from Atlas Powder to the U.S. Army. The facility continued to be in operation on a limited basis. [1]

During the Korean War, the Ravenna Arsenal resumed full operations. In 1951, Firestone won several defense contracts, among which was operation of the facility under a subsidiary, Ravenna Arsenal, Inc. The facility once again was placed on standby in 1957. The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the forerunner to NASA, then commenced aeronautical experiments at the facility. [1] Among these experiments was aircraft crash testing, which led to the development of an inerting system to prevent jet fuel fires. [5]

The Ravenna Arsenal was used for the last time for the production of ammunition during the Vietnam War. In 1971, the facility was again placed on standby. Ammunition at the facility was then demilitarized, a process which continued until 1984. [1] It also was part of ammunition refurbishment and minor research and development projects until 1992. [6]

After years of inactivity, the facility became a Superfund site and plans to burn some of the buildings at the site were being discussed. However, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) work group recommended that the Army not burn the buildings due to the high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the paint. [7] Cleanup of the site is expected to continue through 2018. [8]

Meanwhile, transfer of the facility was ultimately made to the Ohio National Guard, although there were several intermediate caretakers. In 1983, Firestone sold its contract to Physics International Company. Ten years later, Mason & Hangar-Silas Mason Company, Inc. assumed caretaker status. [1]

The Ravenna Training and Logistics Site of the Ohio National Guard began as a tenant unit of the Army facility, which at that time was officially designated the Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant (RVAAP). 16,164 acres (65 km 2 ) of the facility were included in the RTLS tenancy by May 16, 1999. On January 16, 2002, transfer of this land was made to the RTLS, and the RVAAP became a tenant site of the RTLS – essentially switching the roles of the two facilities. [1] The site is now known as Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center and currently occupies approximately 93% of the land originally covered by the RVAAP. [9]

On September 11, 2007, the facility was opened to invited guests and members of the news media for a tour. At this tour, it was revealed that the RTLS would eventually encompass the 21,500 acres (87 km 2 ) formerly known as the Ravenna Arsenal. At that time, only 1,000 acres (4.0 km 2 ) remained under RVAAP control. [10]

Camp Garfield is currently being looked at as the location of a proposed Eastern United States missile defense site. [11] It was renamed for James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, on October 18, 2018. Garfield lived in Portage County for many years prior to his election as president, and as a state senator in the 1860s, helped appropriate funds to create the Ohio volunteer forces, the precursor to the Ohio National Guard. [12]

The essayist Scott Russell Sanders spent part of his childhood living on the grounds of the Ravenna Arsenal. The Arsenal figures prominently in his memoirs The Paradise of Bombs (1987) and A Private History of Awe (2006).

The Hole in the Horn Buck is officially listed as the second largest non-typical white-tailed deer of all time by the Boone and Crockett Club. The buck’s antlers score 328 2/8 non-typical points. The name of the buck derives from the mysterious hole in the buck’s right antler. It was later claimed by eyewitness, George Winters, to be caused from a piece of chain-link fence that pierced the antler shortly before it died. The world record white-tailed deer was stuck under the fence to the Ravenna Arsenal in 1940.

The site can be seen in Marvel's 2014 film Captain America: The Winter Soldier.



Date: November 11, 2014 Garfield's Many Professions: James A. Garfield held several jobs and positions during his lifetime. He was a minister, a congressman, a war hero and general in the volunteer Union Army, the president of Hiram College, a lawyer, a state representative, a senator, and finally the President of the United States of America. Image courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration. Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division (NWCS-S) A Family Man: President Garfield enjoyed a sizable family in life. As things went, the family would soon lose its patriarch to an assassin's bullet. The image of Abraham Lincoln on the wall thus creates a type of ominous portent, as Lincoln was the first US president to be assassinated. Garfield was the second.

Source: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division The Assassination of Garfield: Garfield's presidency lasted only 200 days, from March 4, 1881, until his death on September 19, 1881. The President's death was the result of being shot at the Baltimore and Potomac Railway Station by assassin Charles J. Guiteau on July 2, 1881. Garfield was then on his way to vacation with his wife in Long Branch, New Jersey. Although surviving the initial attack, the president ultimately died from the wounds suffered that day.

Source: Library of Congress Guarding the President's Body: As in the case of Abraham Lincoln following his assassination, President Garfield's body was likewise protected from unwanted intrusions. This image shows a group of soldiers guarding Garfield's tomb in Lake View Cemetery shortly after his death in 1881. The Garfield Memorial was not completed until 1890.

Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections The Garfield Memorial: The main building of the Garfield Memorial is a 198 feet tall circular tower, 50 feet in diameter, made of rough faced stones. Near the cornice, 16 windows wrap all the way around the tower, reaching up to a cone-shaped roof that caps the structure. The Memorial also has 2 smaller cone-shaped towers that capping the portico. Image courtesy of New York Public Library. Digital Library. Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views. Statue of Garfield: The sculpture of Garfield by Alexander Doyle was created in Italy with great detail. The upturned head is an accurate reflection of Garfield's mannerisms. It was a habit particularly used during debates in the House of Representatives. The crease located between the first and second buttonholes on the left lapel of the coat is likewise intentional. President Garfield used to wear his coat buttoned across his breast, especially when walking in the street. Wearing the coat in such a fashion produced a crease much like the one later immortalized in marble.

Source: Wikimedia Commons In Memory of the President: This image shows US President Garfield's son James R Garfield standing in tribute to his father. The son delivered an address on the spot where his father was born in Orange Township, Ohio, on Nov. 19, 1831. The boulder bearing a bronze plaque indicates where the log cabin in which President Garfield was born once stood. Students of Hiram College, where Garfield was president from 1857 to 1863, also took part in the ceremony.

Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections

Brief History of the Garfield Papers

"General Garfield's habit was to keep everything," Lucretia Garfield thus described her husband's relationship to his papers in a draft of a letter to Mary Abigail Dodge, who was collecting the letters of Garfield's secretary of state James G. Blaine. Garfield's custom of keeping everything reverted to the preservation habits of his mother, Eliza Ballou Garfield, who kept the first letter he ever wrote her, which he titled "The First Epistle of James." His deep interest in his own papers continued throughout his life, an interest perpetuated by his widow until her death in 1918, and then by his children.

On the backs of many letters will be found a note in Garfield's hand, "To be preserved." His diary contains numerous references to his papers. He even arranged his wife's letters and sometimes identified the correspondent. From 1863 to 1869 the Garfield papers were kept in his office in the House of Representatives, at the various residences in which the Garfields lived in Washington, and in their Ohio home. In 1876, Garfield purchased a farm near Mentor, Ohio, subsequently known as "Lawnfield." Gradually the Garfields enlarged the house, and a number of books and papers were moved to his office and library there. Garfield's presidency effectively ended when disappointed office-seeker Charles J. Guiteau shot the president on July 2, 1881. Garfield survived until September 19, 1881, and during the interval when he lingered, Lucretia Garfield took several actions which are now reflected in the Library's collection of Garfield Papers. She sought through the press a copy of everything printed about her husband. The clippings received as a result are now in scrapbooks labeled "Eighty Days," the interval of the president's survival.

Following Garfield's death, his secretary Joseph Stanley-Brown resigned as private secretary to President Chester A. Arthur to "put in order and prepare for the biographer the letters, papers, and literary remains of the late President." The papers were finally prepared in 1885 and shipped to Mentor, where they were stored in a secure and fireproof "Memorial Room" added on to Mrs. Garfield's spacious farmhouse. Once Garfield's authorized biographer Theodore Clarke Smith completed his Life and Letters of James Abram Garfield in 1925, long-deferred decisions were made about the ultimate location of the Garfield papers. After numerous delays, James R. Garfield wrote to the Librarian of Congress on December 30, 1930, that he was sending eight boxes of papers–150 bound volumes of letters and 10 of indexes. A second and third shipment followed shortly afterwards, with subsequent gifts and purchases following through 2000.

A fuller history of the provenance of the collection was prepared for the Index to the James A. Garfield Papers, pp. v-xvi (PDF and page view) and was subsequently reproduced in the finding aid (PDF and HTML). A version appears on this website as the essay Provenance of the James A. Garfield Papers.

Watch the video: James Takes Down Halloween (July 2022).


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