James A. Garfield, (1831-1881), the 20th President of the U.S.

(served as President about 3/4 of 1881 before being assassinated)


First, 4 quotes by Garfield that you’ve never heard before:



(1)  “Of course I deprecate war, but if it is brought to my door, the bringer will find me at home.”


For the rest of a DOZEN quotes and notes, use the DOOR:




   (2)  “This honor comes to me unsought. I have never had the Presidential fever; not even for a day.” He was almost trapped into becoming President.

   (3)  “I love to deal with doctrines and events. The contests of men about men I greatly dislike.”

   (4)  “I never met a ragged boy in the street without feeling that I may owe him a salute, for I know not what possibilities may be buttoned up under his coat.”

   (5)  He was born into extreme poverty in a log cabin in rural Ohio.

   (6)  He was fatherless before he was 2.

   (7)  He worked his way up and rose quickly through “the layers of society, not with aggression or even overt ambition, but with a passionate love of learning.”

   (8)  At age 44 he was a congressman.

   (9)  He became a professor of ancient languages, though he believed that “it was science, above all other disciplines, that had achieved the greatest good.” Academically, he was a brilliant man. When elected President he mourned the quiet contemplative life he was about to lose.

   (10)  Four months after being elected President he was shot in the back by Charles Guiteau, a deranged office-seeker who was a regular visitor to the White House, and had never fired a gun before receiving a divine call to shoot Garfield.

   (11)  Living at the time as Joseph Lister’s discovery and use of antisepsis to prevent infection, which achieved growing acceptance in England, it was rejected in the U. S. and, in particular, by Garfield’d doctor. Had Lister’s work–presented at the Chicago World’s Fair–been accepted in America, Garfield would probably have lived after being shot instead of suffering for months and dying.

   (12)  All this and much, much more may be found in Candice Millard’s Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President (Anchor Books, 2011), a New York Times Notable Book. All info–esp. quoted materials–come from this book.