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The Republican Party was formed in the month of March 1854. The formation of the party followed a number of controversies which included opposition to Nebraska Act of Kansas. In the year of its formation the Republican Party experienced some accomplishments. It won the control of the House of Representatives. The party members were white men working free; they detested the spread of slavery not because they hated slavery but because they were not comfortable to compete with free labor provided by the black slaves. The symbol of the Republican Party is elephant; the members believed individual freedom is the trademark of the success history of America.
President Ulysses Grant
Ulysses Grant has been described to have run one of the worst governments of the United States of America (Leo and Taranto 99). His government was said to be very weak and lacked effectiveness. Grant was born in April 27 1822 in Ohio, Point Pleasant and grew up in Georgetown; he was the eldest child in the family. His father was a tanner and managed to get a lot of wealth through the work. He grew up to be a man who was able to inspire bravery; he was honorable and he respected others so much. Grant never liked the tanner work, he spent most of his time in his father’s farm where he normally handled horses; from this he developed a skill of handling horses. At around age two he had developed fondness for horses, he played amongst them almost every day; he learnt how to balance himself on the back of a trotting horse. He also learnt how to use a plough and used it until he was about seventeen years old (Garland 467). Grant started school at the age of five. He is described to have been a quiet and shy child who would only talk when he had something to say. His parents were Jesse Root Grant and Hanna Simpson. He was not religious but was born a Methodist. It is recorded that as an adult he only attended church services to please his wife who is said to have been genuinely religious. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1843 and from college he served as a cadet for four years in West Point; this is where a part of his name was mistakenly included as Simpson (Grant and McPherson 13). Grant did not have an interest in military but gave in to the pressure from his father forcing him to join the Military Academy. Had he refused, there would be no alternative college to the Academy and that would mean he would not pursue further studies. He also fought in the war of Mexico as a Quartermaster from 1846 to 1848. Grant got married to Julia Boggs Dent in 1848. The wife was a daughter to a Missouri slave owner. Both the couples had four children. He is said to have been a man who loved the family very much and ensured he remained as close to them as possible (Harris 268).
Ulysses Grant was not a good farmer neither was he a good businessman but he was militarily good. He had a persistent tactics and leadership quality. Due to his persistent nature at work he won the trust of Abraham Lincoln, the then president of the United States of America. The president selected him to be the commander of the Union Army beginning 1864 to 1865 when the war ended (Phelps 83). He accomplished a lot during his military time. In 1860, when civil war broke in America, Grant was working under his brother in the leather shop of his father. This followed his resignation from the military in 1854. The reason for his resignation was that he got frustrated with his commanding officer and they fought, in 1961 he re-entered the military again; he was positioned by the State Governor to command a volunteer brigade. In 1861 he was promoted to be the brigadier general when the confederate garrison surrendered the Civil War. In 1862, he was again given a promotion to the position of major general. Grant got the position of the Army’s General-in- Chief under the directorship of some William Sherman (Headley 468). He suggested that his troops take a total control of a key objective of the Union, Mississippi valley, in order to bring the war to an end. In the year 1862, Grant and his troop grabbed Fort Henry and then launched an attack on Fort Donelson. Grant schemed and with skill fought and won the key city of Mississippi, Vicksburg. The victory separated the Confederacy into two parts; this granted him and his troops the victory they had planned to have over Mississippi. He finally managed to break the hold of Confederacy on Chattanooga. The confederate commander accepted to surrender. In April 1862 Ulysses Grant was engaged in what was considered to be one of the bloodiest warfare in the history of the United States of America. The American citizens and his superiors started to blame him because the war was seen to be very costly in terms of lives. Many of the military and government officials demanded that he be fired but President Abraham Lincoln defended him and instead reaffirmed his faith in Grant. The American civil war ended in 1865 after Lee, the leader of Northern Virgia Army surrendered. Grant then prepared generous terms of surrender in away that would avert sedition trials.
Ulysses Grant unfortunately had a quarrel with the president and the secretary of war; he defended and supported the generals who were Nathaniel Banks, Henry Thomas, and Benjamin Butler who were to be sacked by the president. He had also detested the president’s directive that he take a personal command of the army to protect the capital after receiving threats from Robert Lee, Grant responded by outright rejection of such a policy directive; this was the main force that drove him to side with radical Republicans. After Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, he was succeeded by Andrew Johnson. President Johnson favored a modest approach to the Reconstruction in away that would not be detrimental to the people of the South (Church 132). He also pledged to protect the rights of the freed slaves. In August 1867, President Johnson decided to sack Edwin Stanton as the Secretary of War and replaced him with Ulysses Grant. The appointment became controversial; the Congress demanded that Stanton be given a reinstatement even though Grant had occupied the office. The pressure on Stanton’s reinstatement forced Grant to resign from the position.
After spending most of his time in the military war, Ulysses Grant got into politics. Even though he entered the White House, it is recorded that he never admired politics yet he reluctantly allowed himself into it; before he was nominated as lieutenant general he had confirmed to President Lincoln that he never had the ambition of becoming president of the United States of America. His father was once an elected mayor of Georgetown, Ohio, and Bethel at different times, coupled with his quarrel with the president, this might have been one of the motivating factors behind Grant’s entry into politics. But, again, he might not have entered politics were Abraham Lincoln to survive assassination; he might have also found it easy to default on his promise not run for presidency because the person he promised was no longer alive. In 1860 he supported a democrat candidate, Stephen Douglas, for presidency though at that time he was still new and had not acquired eligibility to vote. His support for a democrat contravened an obvious expectation that he would support a republican candidate for the position because his first involvement in civil war was commissioned by a republican and also it was a republican who appointed him as brigadier general, in fact he became a republican but tried to avoid mainstream political issues. The Republican Party nominated Grant for presidency and Schuyler Colfax was picked as the vice president in 1868. The nomination of the two was to shield the republicans from responding to the query regarding how far they were to press on the policy of Reconstruction and the extent of their pledge to the freedman. During his campaigns Grant never offered promises to the American people. His win came as a result of his military contributions that saved the Union. Though he was not involved in major campaigns the major issues during the period were about the post Civil War economic and social policies.
Grant won the elections of that year and became the president he had told President Lincoln would never be; He became the 18th president of the United States of America between 1869 and 1877. His sweeping success was due to his popularity as a hero of war. This made so many Americans to like him for presidency. As much as the republicans thought that in Grant they had created a politician, Grant himself believed he greatly owed it to the American people. During his inauguration speech he mentioned that the presidency office came to him unsolicited and also that he started the duties of the office untrammeled. When he appointed the cabinet, his choice of candidates for various posts stunned many of the republicans; in fact he gave government appointments to some of his army officers. He is said to have been so loyal to those who worked with him in the Union Army that he gave them government positions and failed to sack them even when they were evidently weak and corrupt. President grant had wanted the repayment of bonded debts to be made in form of gold. In 1869 his desire was fulfilled when the Congress successfully approved the Credit Act (Public). This was one of his many achievements as the President of the United States of America. The move by the congress brought to an end the reservations on whether or not the country should trail an inflationary way by redeeming bonds with the greenbacks that were issued in the times of the Civil War. Other achievements of his government were broad reforms in the civil service, the 15th constitutional amendments which gave the African-Americans the right to vote the Amnesty Act, protection of the rights of black Americans. During his reign he also managed to solve fiscal problems, he put in place policies that halted inflation, reduced taxes, and the national debt by more than $300 and $436 million respectively and raised the credit of the nation (Scaturro 5). His government also managed to establish the principle of international arbitration through the Washington Treaty. This principle would later be adopted by the League of Nations, the United Nations, Hague Tribunal and the World Court. Ulysses Grant hated slavery and went to an extent of freeing his slave without selling him.
President Grant faced a number of challenges with regards to dealing with foreign matters. One of the significant challenges that Grant faced was the resolution of the Alabama claims against the Britain that concerned the devastation caused to American shipments during the period of civil war. Grant’s administration had a number of weaknesses (Encyclopedia Britannica 425). The administration was riddled with many scandals. Just before his second inauguration as the President of the United States, a scheme meant to siphon funds from a project in which a railway was being built was exposed. This had a far reaching implication on his entire administration even though the scandal also involved some democrats. Some of the officials of his administration were greatly involved in fraudulent activities and corrupt deals. This was a betrayal to the hope the Americans placed on him that he would lead them through the challenges that came up after the Civil War. As the president of the United States of America, Grant received generous presents from his devotees. To make the matters worse, he was seen by two staunch speculators named James Fisk and Jay Gould. The two had a scheme to bend the market in gold. When he acted against the issue it was already late.
Ulysses had many friends some of whom he met in the military. One of the friends who also called on him frequently was General Horace Porter. Grant and Porter had together served in the Union Army and since then had been intimate.
After Grant had retired from the presidential position he became one of the partners of a financial firm. The firm is said to have gone bankrupt later. He started writing his memoir which he sold and used in settling his debts and also taking care of his family. In March 1872 he created Yellowstone as the first national park in the United States of America. In July 1885 Ulysses Grant died of throat cancer.
President Rutherford Birchard Hayes
Hayes was the 19th president of the United States of America and the successor to Ulysses Grant (Taylor 223). He was born on 4th October, 1822 in Delaware, Ohio. In 1817 his parents moved from Vermont and settled in Ohio. His father was Rutherford Hayes Jr. and engaged in farming and also dealt in whiskey as his occupation and died about ten weeks before Birchard Hayes was born. The mother was Sophia Birchard Hayes. After the death of his father, Birchard Hayes was brought up by his mother and other siblings. Religiously, he was born a Baptist.
Hayes started going to school at the age of seven years while still in Delaware, he was later enrolled in a private Methodist seminary high school in Norwalk, Ohio (Taylor 247). He again attended another school situated in Middletown, Connecticut; which presently is part of University of Wesleyan. In 1842, he received a degree from the College of Kenyon. In 1845 he graduated with a law degree from Harvard College. After his degree training he went back to Ohio where he started practicing laws in Fredmond, Ohio, then known as Lower Sandusky. His choice of the place as the base of his practice was motivated by the fact that his uncle stayed there. For five years he practiced law he never got enough clients, he then decided to transfer his practice to Cincinnati where he received more clients. Here he also became a member of The Cincinnati Library Club, when the Civil War started, the Club changed into a military company (Eicher 75). He went on with practicing law until in 1858 when he had an opportunity to become the solicitor of Cincinnati city from 1858 to 1861. As an advocate his practice also involved defending runaway slaves who fled from Kentucky across the River of Ohio. For instance, in 1855 he was involved in the defense of a runaway slave called Rosetta Armstead, the young slave was in company of her owner on her way to Virginia. She was caught by activists who hated slavery, the activists freed her.
James Garfield as a young man was deeply religious and he became highly apprehensive of the politicians. He was associated with the Disciple of Christ. His beliefs later changed and he developed an interest in politics; his strong indulgence into politics started by his support of John Fremont as the republican nominee candidate in 1856, three years later he also got into mainstream politics and offered his candidature for presidency. His interest in politics reduced his concern with religious faith. He was against slavery. He believed that under no conditions should slavery be allowed into any part of the territories of the West. In 1876 he offered his support to Rutherford Hayes for the position of presidency. In fact he concurred with the agreement between the Republican leaders and the Democrats of the South which saw Hayes given the disputed votes thereby becoming the president of the United States of America (Presidential Research Services 2009, para8).
Hayes got married to Lucy in 1852; Lucy Webb was born in Chillicothe, Ohio. She attended the Cincinnati Wesleyan College, which was exclusively for women. Lucy Webb was the first wife of an American President to have graduated from college. Together they had seven sons and a daughter (Miller Center of Public Research 2010, para2).
When the American civil war broke out in 1861, Hayes decided to volunteer for the American army. He was then assigned as a major in the 23rd Volunteer Infantry allotment of Ohio. His lineage had an extensive record of military service. He got wounded in many occasions (Hoogenboom 3). During the period of war Hayes really missed his family’s company; he sent a lot of letters to Lucy, his wife while he was away in the war. His wife remained supportive and frequently visited him where he stayed in the camp. She would leave their young children to care for him during that period he was wounded (The White House 2010 4). Lucy had stopped teaching and was a volunteer nurse in one of the military hospitals. In September 1862 he got serious wounds as he led his brigade in to battle at Fox’s Gap. He was rescued by a detachment from his command after he collapsed due to hemorrhage between the enemy forces. He late rose up the ranks to become major general (Commanders-in-Chief Biographies 2010, 1-7). He continued to play an active role in the military until he had joined the political arena. In 1864 he was nominated by the Republicans of Ohio for the United States House of Representatives; this was based on his good military services. Though he initially resisted the nomination, he later accepted and won the elections. In June 1865 he tendered his resignation from the military and took a seat in Congress. When Hayes got into Congress the American Civil War had just come to an end and the process of reconstruction was commencing. While in Congress he mostly rendered his support to the radical republicans who had formulated reconstruction goals.
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After some times in the Congress he is said to have become an expert in the matters of finance. He served in several important committees which included the Appropriation Committee, House Ways and Means committees and became the chairperson of Banking and Currency committee. He advocated for policies that favored hard money and opposed the inflation of money supply through paper currency issues unbacked by gold. He also preferred low rates of tariffs; this was a direct concern for his rural voters who had required cheap goods from Europe.
In 1866, Hayes got a re-election to the House of Representatives, but soon he resigned because he got nominated for Ohio governor in part in 1867 due to his support for Reconstruction. He won the elections and became the governor of Ohio. He also won the elections in 1869 to serve a second term as the governor. During the period of his service as governor he supported the ratification of the United States Constitutional fifteenth Amendment which gave the black Americans the right to vote, he assisted in reforming the mental hospitals in the state and the school system. The republicans encouraged Hayes to vie again in 1871 and serve his third term as the state governor; however, he declined and retired. He later moved back to his residence in Spiegel Grove found next to Fremont in Ohio. He wanted to retire from public life so that he could work on the farm he inherited from his uncle.
His retirement from politics did not last long. After persistent plea by the Republicans, in 1875 he gave into their demand and ran for the third time to become the governor of Ohio; in fact it is said that he was the first person to serve three terms as the Ohio governor. His performance as a republican Ohio governor impressed the Republican Party members. He was therefore given a nomination to run for presidency in the year 1876. The elections of that year were controversial. He lost in the popular vote to the Democrat, Tidel, however, a disparity arose within the Electoral College; the votes returns from Florida, Oregon, South Carolina and Louisiana were subjects of dispute. It was argued that if Hayes got Electoral College vote from the states he would have actually won the elections by one vote. A special commission was established to resolve on how the doubtful votes would be tallied. Hayes got the favor of the committee’s outcome. Hayes’s success was also influenced by the negotiation between the leader of the Republican and the Southern Democrats. The Republican side conceded to withdraw troops which policed the South immediately Hayes was sworn in as the president of the U.S.A; they also accepted to have no less than one of the Southerners in the cabinet. Amongst all who became the presidents of United States of America he was the first to be given an oath of office within the White House. The oath was conducted in secrecy since notably the preceding elections had been full of controversy; Grant who was predecessor to Hayes had feared the supporters of Tidel would raise rebellion and therefore wanted to guarantee that they did not interfere with the oath taking ceremony. The Democrats acknowledged the concurrence letting Hayes to receive all the votes that were contested. Hayes promised to protect the rights of southern Negroes and also proposed a model of peaceful local autonomy. He favored financial conservatism, championed reforms in the civil service, worked to reconcile the South and North through halting Reconstruction by withdrawing troops from Louisiana and South Carolina. He had concern for the poor, the immigrants and the minorities; he had strong belief that manual training and education were the keys to better life. His diligence is said to have revived the reputation of the office of the president after the impeachment of President Johnson. He managed to reduce corruption and scandals that sprout during Grant’s administration.
While in the White House, the first lady, Lucy Webb, under his directive never allowed alcohol to be served within the White House. President Hayes supported her and for the period they stayed in the White House no alcoholic drink was served. He only served one term as he had promised. In 1881 he retired and stayed in his residence in Fremont. After his term as president he went on to contribute to the transformation of correctional facilities- prisons and aided public black schools, he also engaged in the affairs of the veterans and contributed to local charities. Moreover, he traveled regularly for speaking appointments. He had a lot of interests in doing social reforms; this heightened his passionate concern in the increasing disparity between members of low and high economic classes. Rutherfield Birchard Hayes was seen as any other American president. However he had some unique characteristics; he was the only American president to have had a Paraguay department named after him, this was because he, in a ceremonial exchange of swords, stabbed the country’s dictator to death, he signed an Act of Desert Land of 1877; according to the Act one would be allowed to pay $1.25 per acre to purchase 640 acres of land in the desert and lastly, he signed the 1876 Everglades Act which allowed the sales to the rubes of valueless land in the swamps.
Hayes government had its own weaknesses. His election to presidency was controversial and followed a series of negotiations in which the South Democrats struck a deal with the leaders of the Republican Party. This was considered by other Democrats as unscrupulous and lack of principles. The commission which handed the one vote victory to Hayes was also seen to be tainted and unfair.
Hayes government was the first in the American history to have allowed troops to fire and kill striking workers. The 1877 Railroad Strike resulted in countrywide rioting. The troops fired into the group of striking workers and ended up killing about seventy of them. This was one of the mistakes to have been done by his government. Rutherford Birchard Hayes died on 17th January, 1893 in his Spiegel Grove home. Before his death he was known to a great writer of letters. He sent so many letters to different people during his stay in the White House. Records also show that he had a diary which he kept from age 12 until he died.
President James Garfield
He is considered to be the final of the log cabin president. He was the twentieth president of the United Sates of America and a successor to President Rutherford Birchard Hayes. He was born on 19th November of 1831 Cuyahoga County, Ohio; he had three siblings and he was the youngest. His father, Abraham Garfield, died while he was less than two years old. His mother, Elizabeth Ballou, worked very hard to make both ends meet as they lived in relative poverty. James Garfield started going to school at the age of three years; he went to a local school and in 1849 he was transferred to Geauga Academy. After he was aged enough, he was engaged in driving canal boat teams; from this he managed to raise enough money for his school fees (Severn 26). He also worked on people’s firms to earn some income and helped his mother meet the family basic needs. In1849, while out of school on vacation Garfield practiced and learnt carpentry, helped in harvesting of crops, taught and engaged in any activity that would generate income for his education (Ridpath 496). His hard work made him independent. He attended Williams College located in Massachusetts from where he graduated in 1856. Garfield had got pleasure from billiards, fishing, hunting, and moderate drinking. As a man he got joy in ladies, in fact he dated three women concurrently before finally settling on Lucretia. Since he never got to see his father he cherished his mother so much. He credited his mother for the success he had in life.
James Garfield met his future wife, Lucretia Rudolph Garfield at Geauga Seminary. They were both classmates. The two later got married and had seven children two of whom died and never lived to reach adulthood. He later returned to Hiram College in Ohio, then known as Eclectic Institute where he became a professor of classical languages, and after one year he became the president of the college from 1857 to 1861. His wife Lucretia who was trained as an educator went on with teaching until 1860 when she gave birth to a daughter. She never opposed her husband’s political activities in public. It is recorded that Garfield was first elected to the Senate of Ohio in 1859 through the Republican Party. During that period there were states which had started seceding. He supported the idea of pressurizing the states to stay back in the Union.
He later pursued law and became an advocate in the year 1860 and also was serving as the Senator of the Ohio State until 1861. He joined the military in 1861 and later rose to the rank of major general. He participated in the war that took place in Chickamauga and Shiloh. In 1862 he directed a contingent against Confederate troops in Kentucky (Virtual War Museum 2000 par 8). While still serving in the Union Army, he was elected to the Congress and immediately resigned from the military and served in Congress to the year 1880. After he was elected into the Congress, Garfield moved his family to Washington D.C; they got additional six children while still in Washington D.C. In 1880, Garfield was nominated by the Republicans to run for president. His nomination was a compromise between the moderates and the conservatives. The Republican Party also nominated Chester A. Arthur as the running mate. Garfield heeded the advice of Hayes not to campaign, after the elections were done Garfield got 214votes out of the 369 votes cast by the Electoral College. His opponent in the presidential race was also a fellow veteran of war General Winfield S. Hancock. When he got into the office he resigned from his Senate position. Before rising to be the president he had served in the House of Representatives for nine consecutive terms. Garfield stayed with his family including his mother in the White House. It is recorded that he used to carry his mother up and down the staircases of the White House. Surprisingly the first lady had no interest in social activities and duties associated with the first lady’s office. However, she did lots of research on the White House with the intention of restoring its glorious features, unfortunately she caught malaria and the plan failed. While she was recovering in New Jersey she received information that her husband had been shot.
Garfield stayed in the office of presidency for less that one year. Due to the short time, he did not have the chance to make a big administrative impact as other preceding presidents had done. It is argued that for the short time he stayed in the office he spent much of it dealing with issue of patronage. One of the problems was the inquiry as regards the likely fraudulent award of mail route agreements made using taxes by the personnel implicated. The outcome of the investigation revealed that many republicans got involved in the scandal. It is argued that this revelation led to civil service reforms. President Garfield is said to have been short from the back by a mentally sick office seeker. The incident happened on 2nd July 1881 but the president died later on 19th of the same month due to poisoning of blood (Ogilvie 29). The president was set to visit New England and when he was passing via the anteroom of the Baltimore in company of Mr. James Blaine a man whose application to serve as the United States of American representative to France fired at him at a railway station. After the funeral the family went home and stayed in their farm situated in northern Ohio. The wife led a private life; she managed to create a library of her husband’s literally works.
Garfield never escaped controversies; while serving at the Congress he was linked to the scandalous Credit Mobilier Company. It is said that he was amongst the congressmen who got hard stock in the company.
It is clear that all the three presidents succeeded one another. They all had almost similar experiences in life right from childhood to adulthood; they were born in poverty and had to struggle to meet the basics of life. They all struggled against all odds to acquire intellectual knowledge and education, in fact amongst the three former United States of American presidents only Garfield never pursued law to become an advocate. He pursued a degree in classical languages while Ulysses and Hayes pursued law and practiced as advocates. They were also antislavery; they hated it from their childhood until their death. Their successive governments fought to liberate slaves and gave voting rights to the black Negroes.
Another striking characteristic of the three is that all of them served in the Union Army and rose through the ranks to become major generals. They worked excellently according to their times, they were credited with the liberation of the Union and ending the American Civil War. All the three presidents were nominated by the Republican Party, they are said not to have liked getting into politics but were forced by circumstances. In fact it is recorded that the three never campaigned or gave any serious campaign promises but managed to win against the Democrats. They were all born Methodists but changed their religious courses after they became adults.
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