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Title: From Canal Boy to President - Or the Boyhood and Manhood of James A. Garfield
Author: Alger, Horatio, 1832-1899
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "From Canal Boy to President - Or the Boyhood and Manhood of James A. Garfield" ***

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[Illustration: JAMES A. GARFIELD,
_Copied by permission of_ J.F. RYDER, _Cleveland, G._]




















Is inscribed



The present series of volumes has been undertaken with the view of
supplying the want of a class of books for children, of a vigorous,
manly tone, combined with a plain and concise mode of narration. The
writings of Charles Dickens have been selected as the basis of the
scheme, on account of the well-known excellence of his portrayal of
children, and the interests connected with children--qualities which
have given his volumes their strongest hold on the hearts of parents.
These delineations having thus received the approval of readers of
mature age, it seemed a worthy effort to make the young also
participants in the enjoyment of these classic fictions, to introduce
the children of real life to these beautiful children of the

With this view, the career of Little Nell and her Grandfather, Oliver,
Little Paul, Florence Dombey, Smike, and the Child-Wife, have been
detached from the large mass of matter with which they were originally
connected, and presented, in the author's own language, to a new class
of readers, to whom the little volumes will we doubt not, be as
attractive as the larger originals have so long proved to the general
public. We have brought down these famous stories from the library to
the nursery--the parlor table to the child's hands--having a precedent
for the proceeding, if one be needed, in the somewhat similar work, the
Tales from Shakespeare, by one of the choicest of English authors and
most reverential of scholars, Charles Lamb.

Newtonville, Mass.


If I am asked why I add one to the numerous Lives of our dead President,
I answer, in the words of Hon. Chauncey M. Depew, because "our annals
afford no such incentive to youth as does his life, and it will become
one of the Republic's household stories."

I have conceived, therefore, that a biography, written with a view to
interest young people in the facts of his great career, would be a
praiseworthy undertaking. The biography of General Garfield, however
imperfectly executed, can not but be profitable to the reader. In this
story, which I have made as attractive as I am able, I make no claim to
originality. I have made free use of such materials as came within my
reach, including incidents and reminiscences made public during the last
summer, and I trust I have succeeded, in a measure, in conveying a
correct idea of a character whose nobility we have only learned to
appreciate since death has snatched our leader from us.

I take pleasure in acknowledging my obligations to two Lives of
Garfield, one by Edmund Kirke, the other by Major J.M. Bundy. Such of my
readers as desire a more extended account of the later life of Gen.
Garfield, I refer to these well-written and instructive works.


New York, _Oct_. 8, 1881.












































From a small and rudely-built log-cabin a sturdy boy of four years
issued, and looked earnestly across the clearing to the pathway that led
through the surrounding forest. His bare feet pressed the soft grass,
which spread like a carpet before the door.

"What are you looking for, Jimmy?" asked his mother from within the
humble dwelling.

"I'm looking for Thomas," said Jimmy.

"It's hardly time for him yet. He won't be through work till after

"Then I wish the sun would set quick," said Jimmy.

"That is something we can not hasten, my son. God makes the sun to rise
and to set in its due season."

This idea was probably too advanced for Jimmy's comprehension, for he
was but four years of age, and the youngest of a family of four
children. His father had died two years before, leaving a young widow,
and four children, the eldest but nine, in sore straits. A long and
severe winter lay before the little family, and they had but little corn
garnered to carry them through till the next harvest. But the young
widow was a brave woman and a devoted mother.

"God will provide for us," she said, but sometimes it seemed a mystery
how that provision was to come. More than once, when the corn was low in
the bin, she went to bed without her own supper, that her four children,
who were blessed with hearty appetites, might be satisfied. But when
twelve months had gone by, and the new harvest came in, the fields which
she and her oldest boy had planted yielded enough to place them beyond
the fear of want. God did help them, but it was because they helped

But beyond the barest necessaries the little family neither expected
nor obtained much. Clothing cost money, and there was very little money
in the log-cabin, or indeed in the whole settlement, if settlement it
can be called. There was no house within a mile, and the village a mile
and a half away contained only a school-house, a grist-mill, and a
little log store and dwelling.

Two weeks before my story opens, a farmer living not far away called at
the log-cabin. Thomas, the oldest boy, was at work in a field near the

"Do you want to see mother?" he asked.

"No, I want to see you."

"All right, sir! Here I am," said Thomas, smiling pleasantly.

"How old are you?" asked the farmer.

"Eleven years old, sir."

The farmer surveyed approvingly the sturdy frame, broad shoulders, and
muscular arms of the boy, and said, after a pause, "You look pretty
strong of your age."

"Oh, yes, sir," answered Thomas, complacently "I am strong."

"And you are used to farm work?"

"Yes, sir. I do about all the outdoor work at home, being the only boy.
Of course, there is Jimmy, but he is only four, and that's too young to
work on the farm."

"What does he want?" thought Thomas.

He soon learned.

"I need help on my farm, and I guess you will suit me," said Mr. Conrad,
though that was not his name. In fact, I don't know his name, but that
will do as well as any other.

"I don't know whether mother can spare me, but I can ask her," said
Thomas. "What are you willing to pay?"

"I'll give you twelve dollars a month, but you'll have to make long

Twelve dollars a month! Tom's eyes sparkled with joy, for to him it
seemed an immense sum--and it would go very far in the little family.

"I am quite sure mother will let me go," he said. "I'll go in and ask

"Do so, sonny, and I'll wait for you here."

Thomas swung open the plank door, and entered the cabin.

It was about twenty feet one way by thirty the other. It had three small
windows, a deal floor, and the spaces between the logs of which it was
built were filled in with clay. It was certainly an humble dwelling, and
the chances are that not one of my young readers is so poor as not to
afford a better. Yet, it was not uncomfortable. It afforded fair
protection from the heat of summer, and the cold of winter, and was
after all far more desirable as a home than the crowded tenements of our
larger cities, for those who occupied it had but to open the door and
windows to breathe the pure air of heaven, uncontaminated by foul odors
or the taint of miasma.

"Mother," said Thomas, "Mr. Conrad wants to hire me to work on his farm,
and he is willing to pay me twelve dollars a month. May I go?"

"Ask Mr. Conrad to come in, Thomas."

The farmer entered, and repeated his request.

Mrs. Garfield, for this was the widow's name, was but little over
thirty. She had a strong, thoughtful face, and a firm mouth, that spoke
a decided character. She was just the woman to grapple with adversity,
and turning her unwearied hands to any work, to rear up her children in
the fear of the Lord, and provide for their necessities as well as
circumstances would admit.

She didn't like to spare Thomas, for much of his work would be thrown
upon her, but there was great lack of ready money and the twelve dollars
were a powerful temptation.

"I need Thomas at home," she said slowly, "but I need the money more. He
may go, if he likes."

"I will go," said Thomas promptly.

"How often can you let him come home?" was the next question.

"Every fortnight, on Saturday night. He shall bring his wages then."

This was satisfactory, and Thomas, not stopping to change his clothes,
for he had but one suit, went off with his employer.

His absence naturally increased his mother's work, and was felt as a
sore loss by Jimmy, who was in the habit of following him about, and
watching him when he was at work. Sometimes his brother gave the little
fellow a trifle to do, and Jimmy was always pleased to help, for he was
fond of work, and when he grew older and stronger he was himself a
sturdy and indefatigable worker in ways not dreamed of then.

The first fortnight was up, and Thomas was expected home. No one was
more anxious to see him than his little brother, and that was why Jimmy
had come out from his humble home, and was looking so earnestly across
the clearing.

At last he saw him, and ran as fast as short legs could carry him to
meet his brother.

"Oh, Tommy, how I've missed you!" he said.

"Have you, Jimmy?" asked Thomas, passing his arm around his little
brother's neck. "I have missed you too, and all the family. Are all

"Oh, yes."

"That is good."

As they neared the cabin Mrs. Garfield came out, and welcomed her oldest
boy home.

"We are all glad to see you, Thomas," she said. "How have you got

"Very well, mother."

"Was the work hard?"

"The hours were pretty long. I had to work fourteen hours a day."

"That is too long for a boy of your age to work," said his mother

"Oh, it hasn't hurt me, mother," said Thomas, laughing. "Besides, you
must remember I have been well paid. What do you say to that?"

He drew from his pocket twelve silver half-dollars, and laid them on
the table, a glittering heap.

"Is it all yours, Tommy?" asked his little brother wonderingly.

"No, it belongs to mother. I give it to her."

"Thank you, Thomas," said Mrs. Garfield, "but at least you ought to be
consulted about how it shall be spent. Is there anything you need for

"Oh, never mind me! I want Jimmy to have a pair of shoes."

Jimmy looked with interest at his little bare feet, and thought he would
like some shoes. In fact they would be his first, for thus far in life
he had been a barefooted boy.

"Jimmy shall have his shoes," said Mrs. Garfield; "when you see the
shoemaker ask him to come here as soon as he can make it convenient."

So, a few days later the shoemaker, who may possibly have had no shop of
his own, called at the log-cabin, measured Jimmy for a pair of shoes,
and made them on the spot, boarding out a part of his pay.

The first pair of shoes made an important epoch in Jimmy Garfield's
life, for it was decided that he could now go to school.



The school was in the village a mile and a half away. It was a long walk
for a little boy of four, but sometimes his sister Mehetabel, now
thirteen years old, carried him on her back. When in winter the snow lay
deep on the ground Jimmy's books were brought home, and he recited his
lessons to his mother.

This may be a good time to say something of the family whose name in
after years was to become a household word throughout the republic. They
had been long in the country. They were literally one of the first
families, for in 1636, only sixteen years after the Pilgrims landed on
Plymouth rock, and the same year that Harvard College was founded,
Edward Garfield, who had come from the edge of Wales, settled in
Watertown, Massachusetts, less than four miles from the infant college,
and there for more than a century was the family home, as several
moss-grown headstones in the ancient graveyard still testify.

They did their part in the Revolutionary war, and it was not till the
war was over that Solomon Garfield, the great grandfather of the future
President, removed to the town of Worcester, Otsego County, N.Y. Here
lived the Garfields for two generations. Then Abram Garfield, the father
of James, moved to Northeastern Ohio, and bought a tract of eighty
acres, on which stood the log-cabin, built by himself, in which our
story opens. His wife belonged to a distinguished family of New
England--the Ballous--and possessed the strong traits of her kindred.

But the little farm of eighty acres was smaller now. Abram Garfield died
in debt, and his wife sold off fifty acres to pay his creditors, leaving
thirty, which with her own industry and that of her oldest son served to
maintain her little family.

The school-house was so far away that Mrs. Garfield, who appreciated the
importance of education for her children, offered her neighbors a site
for a new school-house on her own land, and one was built. Here winter
after winter came teachers, some of limited qualifications, to instruct
the children of the neighborhood, and here Jimmy enlarged his stock of
book-learning by slow degrees.

The years passed, and still they lived in the humble log-cabin, till at
the age of twenty-one Thomas came home from Michigan, where he had been
engaged in clearing land for a farmer, bringing seventy-five dollars in

"Now, mother," he said, "you shall have a framed house."

Seventy-five dollars would not pay for a framed house, but he cut timber
himself, got out the boards, and added his own labor, and that of Jimmy,
now fourteen years old, and so the house was built, and the log-cabin
became a thing of the past. But it had been their home for a long time,
and doubtless many happy days had been spent beneath its humble roof.

While the house was being built, Jimmy learned one thing--that he was
handy with tools, and was well fitted to become a carpenter. When the
joiner told him that he was born to be a carpenter, he thought with joy
that this unexpected talent would enable him to help his mother, and
earn something toward the family expenses. So, for the next two years
he worked at this new business when opportunity offered, and if my
reader should go to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, he could probably find upon
inquiry several barns in the vicinity which Jimmy helped to build.

He still went to school, however, and obtained such knowledge of the
mysteries of grammar, arithmetic, and geography as could be obtained in
the common schools of that day.

But Jimmy Garfield was not born to be a carpenter, and I believe never
got so far along as to assist in building a house.

He was employed to build a wood-shed for a black-salter, ten miles away
from his mother's house, and when the job was finished his employer fell
into conversation with him, and being a man of limited acquirements
himself, was impressed by the boy's surprising stock of knowledge.

"You kin read, you kin write, and you are death on figgers," he said to
him one day. "If you'll stay with me, keep my 'counts, and 'tend to the
saltery, I'll find you, and give you fourteen dollars a month."

Jimmy was dazzled by this brilliant offer. He felt that to accept it
would be to enter upon the high-road to riches, and he resolved to do
so if his mother would consent. Ten miles he trudged through the woods
to ask his mother's consent, which with some difficulty he obtained, for
she did not know to what influences he might be subjected, and so he got
started in a new business.

Whether he would have fulfilled his employer's prediction, and some day
been at the head of a saltery of his own, we can not tell; but in time
he became dissatisfied with his situation, and returning home, waited
for Providence to indicate some new path on which to enter.

One thing, however, was certain: he would not be content to remain long
without employment. He had an active temperament, and would have been
happiest when busy, even if he had not known that his mother needed the
fruits of his labor.

He had one source of enjoyment while employed by the black-salter, which
he fully appreciated. Strange to say, his employer had a library, that
is, he had a small collection of books, gathered by his daughter,
prominent among which were Marryatt's novels, and "Sinbad the Sailor."
They opened a new world to his young accountant, and gave him an
intense desire to see the world, and especially to cross the great sea,
even in the capacity of a sailor. At home there was no library, not from
the lack of literary taste, but because there was no money to spend for
anything but necessaries.

He had not been long at home when a neighbor, entering one day, said,
"James, do you want a job?"

"Yes," answered James, eagerly.

"There's a farmer in Newburg wants some wood chopped."

"I can do it," said James, quietly.

"Then you'd better go and see him."

Newburg is within the present limits of Cleveland, and thither James
betook himself the next day.

He was a stout boy, with the broad shoulders and sturdy frame of his
former ancestors, and he was sure he could give satisfaction.

The farmer, dressed in homespun, looked up as the boy approached.

"Are you Mr. ----?" asked James.


"I heard that you wanted some wood chopped."

"Yes, but I am not sure if you can do it," answered the farmer,
surveying the boy critically.

"I can do it," said James, confidently.

"Very well, you can try. I'll give you seven dollars for the job."

The price was probably satisfactory, for James engaged to do the work.
There proved to be twenty-five cords, and no one, I think, will consider
that he was overpaid for his labor.

He was fortunate, at least, in the scene of his labor, for it was on the
shore of Lake Erie, and as he lifted his eyes from his work they rested
on the broad bosom of the beautiful lake, almost broad enough as it
appeared to be the ocean itself, which he had a strange desire to
traverse in search of the unknown lands of which he had read or dreamed.

I suppose there are few boys who have not at some time fancied that they
should like "a life on the ocean wave, and a home on the rolling deep."
I have in mind a friend, now a physician, who at the age of fifteen left
a luxurious home, with the reluctant permission of his parents, for a
voyage before the mast to Liverpool, beguiled by one of the fascinating
narratives of Herman Melville. But the romance very soon wore off, and
by the time the boy reached Halifax, where the ship put in, he was so
seasick, and so sick of the sea, that he begged to be left on shore to
return home as he might. The captain had received secret instructions
from the parents to accede to such a wish, and the boy was landed, and
in due time returned home as a passenger. So it is said that George
Washington had an early passion for the sea, and would have become a
sailor but for the pain he knew it would give his mother.

James kept his longings to himself for the present, and returned home
with the seven dollars he had so hardly earned.

There was more work for him to do. A Mr. Treat wanted help during the
haying and harvesting season, and offered employment to the boy, who was
already strong enough to do almost as much as a man; for James already
had a good reputation as a faithful worker. "Whatever his hands found to
do, he did it with his might," and he was by no means fastidious as to
the kind of work, provided it was honest and honorable.

When the harvest work was over James made known his passion for the

Going to his mother, he said: "Mother, I want above all things to go to

"Go to sea!" replied his mother in dismay. "What has put such an idea
into your head?"

"It has been in my head for a long time," answered the boy quietly. "I
have thought of nothing else for the last year."



James had so persuaded himself that the sea was his vocation, and was so
convinced of the pleasures and advantages it would bring, that it had
not occurred to him that his mother would object.

"What made you think of the sea, James?" his mother asked with a
troubled face.

"It was the books I read last year, at the black salter's. Oh, mother,
did you ever read Marryatt's novels, and 'Sinbad the Sailor'?"

"I have read 'Sinbad the Sailor,' but you know that is a fairy story, my

"It may be, but Marryatt's stories are not. It must be splendid to
travel across the mighty ocean, and see foreign countries."

"A sailor doesn't have the chance to see much. You have no idea of the
hardships of his life."

"I am used to hardships, and I am not afraid of hard work. But you seem
disappointed, mother. What have you thought of for me?"

"I have hoped, James, that you might become a learned man, perhaps a
college professor. Surely that would be better than to be a common

"But I wouldn't stay a common sailor, mother. I would be a captain some

I suppose there is no doubt that, had James followed the sea, he would
have risen to the command of a ship, but the idea did not seem to dazzle
his mother.

"If you go to sea I shall lose you," said his mother. "A sailor can
spend very little time with his family. Think carefully, my son. I
believe your present fancy will be short-lived, and you will some day
wonder that you ever entertained it."

Such, however, was not the boy's idea at the time. His mother might have
reason on her side, but it takes more than reason to dissipate a boy's
passion for the sea.

"You speak of my becoming a scholar, mother," he said, "but there
doesn't seem much chance of it. I see nothing but work as a carpenter,
or on the farm."

"You don't know what God may have in store for you, my son. As you say,
there seems no way open at present for you to become a scholar; but if
you entertain the desire the way will be open. Success comes to him who
is in earnest."

"What, then, do you want me to do, mother! Do you wish me to stay at

"No, for there seems little for you to do here. Go to Cleveland, if you
like, and seek some respectable employment. If, after a time, you find
your longing for the sea unconquered, it will be time to look out for a
berth on board ship."

James, in spite of his earnest longing to go to sea, was a reasonable
boy, and he did not object to his mother's plan. The next morning he
tied his slender stock of clothing in a small bundle, bade a tearful
good-bye to his mother, whose loving glances followed him far along his
road, and with hope and enthusiasm trudged over a hard road to
Cleveland, that beautiful city, whither, nearly forty years afterward,
he was to be carried in funereal state, amid the tears of countless
thousands. In that city where his active life began, it was to finish.

A long walk was before him, for Cleveland was seventeen miles away. He
stopped to rest at intervals, and it was not until the sun had set and
darkness enveloped the town that he entered it with weary feet.

He betook himself to a cheap boarding-place whither he had been
directed, and soon retired to bed. His fatigue brought him a good
night's sleep, and he woke refreshed and cheered to look about him and
decide upon his future plans.

Cleveland does not compare in size with New York, Philadelphia, or
Boston, and thirty-five years ago it was much smaller than now. But
compared with James' native place, and the villages near him, it was an
impressive place. There were large business blocks, and handsome
churches, and paved streets, and a general city-like appearance which
interested James greatly. On the whole, even if he had to give up going
to sea, he thought he might enjoy himself in such a lively place as
this. But of course he must find employment.

So he went into a store and inquired if they wanted a boy.

"What can you do?" asked the storekeeper, looking at the boy with his
countrified air and rustic suit.

"I can read, write, and cipher," answered James.

"Indeed!" said the storekeeper smiling. "All our boys can do that. Is
that all you can do?"

James might have answered that he could chop wood, work at carpentering,
plant and harvest, but he knew very well that these accomplishments
would be but little service to him here. Indeed, he was rather puzzled
to know what he could do that would earn him a living in a smart town
life Cleveland. However, he didn't much expect to find his first
application successful, so he entered another store and preferred his

"You won't suit us," was the brusque reply. "You come from the country,
don't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"You look like it. Well, I will give you a piece of advice."

"What is that, sir?"

"Go back there. You are better suited to country than the city. I
daresay you would make a very good hand on a farm. We need different
sort of boys here."

This was discouraging. James didn't know why he would not do for a city
store or office. He was strong enough, and he thought he knew enough,
for he had not at present much idea of what was taught at seminaries of
a higher grade than the district schools he had been accustomed to

"Well," he said to himself, "I've done what mother asked me to do. I've
tried to get a place here, and there doesn't seem to be a place for me.
After all, I don't know but I'd better go to Ohio."

Cleveland was not of course a sea-port, but it had considerable lake
trade, and had a line of piers.

James found his way to the wharves, and his eye lighted up as he saw the
sloops and schooners which were engaged in inland trade. He had never
seen a real ship, or those schooners and sloops would have had less
attraction for him.

In particular his attention was drawn to one schooner, not over-clean or
attractive, but with a sea-faring look, as if it had been storm-tossed
and buffeted. Half a dozen sailors were on board, but they were grimed
and dirty, and looked like habitual drinkers--probably James would not
have fancied becoming like one of these, but he gave little thought to
their appearance. He only thought how delightful it would be to have
such a floating home.

"Is the captain on board?" the boy ventured to ask.

"He's down below," growled the sailor whom he addressed.

"Will he soon come up?"

He was answered in the affirmative.

So James lingered until the man he inquired for came up.

He was a brutal-looking man, as common in appearance as any of the
sailors whom he commanded, and the boy was amazed at his bearing. Surely
that man was not his ideal of a ship-captain. He thought of him as a
sort of prince, but there was nothing princely about the miserable,
bloated wretch before him.

Still he preferred his application.

"Do you want a new hand?" asked James.

His answer was a volley of oaths and curses that made James turn pale,
for he had never uttered an oath in his life, and had never listened to
anything so disgusting as the tirade to which he was forced to listen.

[Illustration: THE CANAL BOY]

He sensibly concluded that nothing was to be gained by continuing the
conversation with such a man. He left the schooner's deck with a feeling
of discomfiture. He had never suspected that sailors talked or acted
like the men he saw.

Still he clung to the idea that all sailors were not like this captain.
Perhaps again the rebuff he received was in consequence of his rustic
appearance. The captain might be prejudiced against him, just as the
shop-keepers had been, though the latter certainly had not expressed
themselves in such rude and profane language. He might not be fit for a
sailor yet, but he could prepare himself.

He bethought himself of a cousin of his, by name Amos Letcher, who had
not indeed arrived at the exalted position of captain of a schooner, but
was content with the humbler position of captain of a canal-boat on the
Ohio and Pennsylvania Canal.

This seemed to James a lucky thought.

"I will go to Amos Letcher," he said to himself. "Perhaps he can find me
a situation on a canal-boat, and that will be the next thing to being on
board a ship."

This thought put fresh courage into the boy, and he straightway
inquired for the _Evening Star_, which was the name of the boat
commanded by his cousin.



Captain Letcher regarded his young cousin in surprise.

"Well, Jimmy, what brings you to Cleveland?" he asked.

"I came here to ship on the lake," the boy answered. "I tried first to
get a place in a store, as I promised mother, but I found no opening. I
would rather be a sailor."

"I am afraid your choice is not a good one; a good place on land is much
better than going to sea. Have you tried to get a berth?"

"Yes, I applied to the captain of a schooner, but he swore at me and
called me a land-lubber."

"So you are," returned his cousin smiling "Well, what are your plans

"Can't you give me a place?"

"What, on the canal?"

"Yes cousin."

"I suppose you think that would be the next thing to going to sea?"

"It might prepare me for it."

"Well," said Captain Letcher, good-naturedly, "I will see what I can do
for you. Can you drive a pair of horses?"

"Oh, yes."

"Then I will engage you. The pay is not very large, but you will live on
the boat."

"How much do you pay?" asked James, who was naturally interested in the
answer to this question.

"We pay from eight to ten dollars a month, according to length of
service and fidelity. Of course, as a new hand, you can not expect ten

"I shall be satisfied with eight, cousin."

"Now, as to your duties. You will work six hours on and six hours off.
That's what we call a trick--the six hours on, I mean. So you will have
every other six hours to rest, or do anything you like; that is, after
you have attended to the horses."

"Horses!" repeated James, puzzled; for the animals attached to the boat
at that moment were mules.

"Some of our horses are mules," said Captain Letcher, smiling.
"However, it makes no difference. You will have to feed and rub them
down, and then you can lie down in your bunk, or do anything else you

"That won't be very hard work," said James, cheerfully.

"Oh, I forgot to say that you can ride or walk, as you choose. You can
rest yourself by changing from one to the other."

James thought he should like to ride on horseback, as most boys do. It
was not, however, so good fun as he anticipated. A canal-boat horse is
by no means a fiery or spirited creature. His usual gait is from two to
two and a half miles an hour, and to a boy of quick, active temperament
the slowness must be rather exasperating. Yet, in the course of a day a
boat went a considerable distance. It usually made fifty, and sometimes
sixty miles a day. The rate depended on the number of locks it had to
pass through.

Probably most of my young readers understand the nature of a lock. As
all water seeks a level, there would be danger in an uneven country that
some parts of the canal would be left entirely dry, and in others the
water would overflow. For this reason at intervals locks are
constructed, composed of brief sections of the canal barricaded at each
end by gates. When a boat is going down, the near gates are thrown open
and the boat enters the lock, the water rushing in till a level is
secured; then the upper gates are closed, fastening the boat in the
lock. Next the lower gates are opened, the water in the lock seeks the
lower level of the other section of the canal, and the boat moves out of
the lock, the water subsiding gradually beneath it. Next, the lower
gates are closed, and the boat proceeds on its way. It will easily be
understood, when the case is reversed, and the boat is going up, how
after being admitted into the lock it will be lifted up to the higher
level when the upper gates are thrown open.

If any of my young readers find it difficult to understand my
explanation, I advise them to read Jacob Abbot's excellent book, "Rollo
on the Erie Canal," where the whole matter is lucidly explained.

Railroads were not at that time as common as now, and the canal was of
much more importance and value as a means of conveying freight.
Sometimes passengers traveled that way, when they were in not much of a
hurry, but there were no express canal-boats, and a man who chose to
travel in that way must have abundant leisure on his hands. There is
some difference between traveling from two to two and a half miles an
hour, and between thirty and forty, as most of our railroad express
trains do.

James did not have to wait long after his engagement before he was put
on duty. With boyish pride he mounted one of the mules and led the
other. A line connected the mules with the boat, which was drawn slowly
and steadily through the water. James felt the responsibility of his
situation. It was like going to sea on a small scale, though the sea was
but a canal. At all events, he felt that he had more important work to
do than if he were employed as a boy on one of the lake schooners.

James was at this time fifteen; a strong, sturdy boy, with a mass of
auburn hair, partly covered by a loose-fitting hat. He had a bright,
intelligent face, and an earnest look that attracted general attention.
Yet, to one who saw the boy guiding the patient mule along the
tow-path, it would have seemed a most improbable prediction, that one
day the same hand would guide the ship of State, a vessel of much more
consequence than the humble canal-boat.

There was one comfort, at any rate. Though in his rustic garb he was not
well enough dressed to act as clerk in a Cleveland store, no one
complained that he was not well enough attired for a canal-boy.

It will occur to my young reader that, though the work was rather
monotonous, there was not much difficulty or danger connected with it.
But even the guidance of a canal-boat has its perplexities, and James
was not long in his new position before he realized it.

It often happened that a canal-boat going up encountered another going
down, and _vice versa_. Then care has to be exercised by the respective
drivers lest their lines get entangled.

All had been going on smoothly till James saw another boat coming. It
might have been his inexperience, or it might have been the carelessness
of the other driver, but at any rate the lines got entangled. Meanwhile
the boat, under the impetus that had been given it, kept on its way
until it was even with the horses, and seemed likely to tow them along.

"Whip up your team, Jim, or your line will ketch on the bridge!" called
out the steersman.

The bridge was built over a waste-way which occurred just ahead, and it
was necessary for James to drive over it.

The caution was heeded, but too late. James whipped up his mules, but
when he had reached the middle of the bridge the rope tightened, and
before the young driver fairly understood what awaited him, he and his
team were jerked into the canal. Of course he was thrown off the animal
he was riding, and found himself struggling in the water side by side
with the astonished mules. The situation was a ludicrous one, but it was
also attended with some danger. Even if he did not drown, and the canal
was probably deep enough for that, he stood in some danger of being
kicked by the terrified mules.

The boy, however, preserved his presence of mind, and managed, with
help, to get out himself and to get his team out.

Then Captain Letcher asked him, jocosely, "What were you doing in the
canal, Jim?"

"I was just taking my morning bath," answered the boy, in the same

"You'll do," said the captain, struck by the boy's coolness.

Six hours passed, and James' "trick" was over. He and his mules were
both relieved from duty. Both were allowed to come on board the boat and
rest for a like period, while the other driver took his place on the

"Well, Jim, how do you like it as far as you've got?" asked the captain.

"I like it," answered the boy.

"Shall you be ready to take another bath to-morrow morning?" asked his
cousin, slyly.

"I think one bath a week will be sufficient," was the answer.

Feeling a natural interest in his young cousin, Amos Letcher thought he
would examine him a little, to see how far his education had advanced.
Respecting his own ability as an examiner he had little doubt, for he
had filled the proud position of teacher in Steuben County, Indiana, for
three successive winters.

"I suppose you have been to school more or less, Jim?" he said.

"Oh, yes," answered the boy.

"What have you studied?"

James enumerated the ordinary school branches. They were not many, for
his acquirements were not extensive; but he had worked well, and was
pretty well grounded as far as he had gone.



"I've taught school myself," said Captain Letcher, complacently. "I
taught for three winters in Indiana."

James, who, even then, had a high opinion of learning, regarded the
canal-boat captain with increased respect.

"I didn't know that," he answered, duly impressed.

"Yes, I've had experience as a teacher. Now, if you don't mind, I'll ask
you a few questions, and find out how much you know. We've got plenty of
time, for it's a long way to Pancake Lock."


"Don't ask me too hard questions," said the boy. "I'll answer the best I

Upon this Captain Letcher, taking a little time to think, began to
question his young cousin in the different branches he had enumerated.
The questions were not very hard, for the good captain, though he had
taught school in Indiana, was not a profound scholar.

James answered every question promptly and accurately, to the increasing
surprise of his employer.

The latter paused.

"Haven't you any more questions?" asked James.

"No, I don't think of any."

"Then may I ask you some?"

"Yes, if you want to," answered the captain, rather surprised.

"Very well," said James. "A man went to a shoemaker and bought a pair of
boots, for which he was to pay five dollars. He offered a fifty-dollar
bill, which the shoemaker sent out and had changed. He paid his customer
forty-five dollars in change, and the latter walked off with the boots.
An hour later he ascertained that the bill was a counterfeit, and he was
obliged to pay back fifty dollars in good money to the man who had
changed the bill for him. Now, how much did he lose?"

"That's easy enough. He lost fifty dollars and the boots."

"I don't think that's quite right," said James, smiling.

"Of course it is. Didn't he have to pay back fifty dollars in good
money, and didn't the man walk off with the boots?"

"That's true; but he neither lost nor made by changing the bill. He
received fifty dollars in good money and paid back the same, didn't he?"


"Whatever he lost his customer made, didn't he?"


"Well, the man walked off with forty-five dollars and a pair of boots.
The other five dollars the shoemaker kept himself."

"That's so, Jim. I see it now, but it's rather puzzling at first. Did
you make that out yourself?"


"Then you've got a good head--better than I expected. Have you got any
more questions?"

"Just a few."

So the boy continued to ask questions, and the captain was more than
once obliged to confess that he could not answer. He began to form a
new opinion of his young cousin, who, though he filled the humble
position of a canal-boy, appeared to be well equipped with knowledge.

"I guess that'll do, Jim," he said after a while. "You've got ahead of
me, though I didn't expect it. A boy with such a head as you've got
ought not to be on the tow-path."

"What ought I to be doing, cousin?"

"You ought to keep school. You're better qualified than I am to-day, and
yet I taught for three winters in Indiana."

James was pleased with this tribute to his acquirements, especially from
a former schoolmaster.

"I never thought of that," he said. "I'm too young to keep school. I'm
only fifteen."

"That is rather young. You know enough; but I aint sure that you could
tackle some of the big boys that would be coming to school. You know
enough, but you need more muscle. I'll tell you what I advise. Stay with
me this summer--it won't do you any hurt, and you'll be earning
something--then go to school a term or two, and by that time you'll be
qualified to teach a district school."

"I'll think of what you say, cousin," said James, thoughtfully. "I
don't know but your advice is good."

It is not always easy to say what circumstances have most influence in
shaping the destiny of a boy, but it seems probable that the
conversation which has just been detailed, and the discovery that he was
quite equal in knowledge to a man who had been a schoolmaster, may have
put new ideas into the boy's head, destined to bear fruit later.

For the present, however, his duties as a canal-boy must be attended to,
and they were soon to be resumed.

About ten o'clock that night, when James was on duty, the boat
approached the town of Akron, where there were twenty-one locks to be
successively passed through.

The night was dark, and, though the bowman of the _Evening Star_ did not
see it, another boat had reached the same lock from the opposite
direction. Now in such cases the old rule, "first come, first served,"
properly prevailed.

The bowman had directed the gates to be thrown open, in order that the
boat might enter the lock, when a voice was heard through the darkness,
"Hold on, there! Our boat is just round the bend, ready to enter."

"We have as much right as you," said the bowman.

As he spoke he commenced turning the gate.

My young reader will understand from the description already given that
it will not do to have both lower and upper gates open at the same time.
Of course, one or the other boat must wait.

Both bowmen were determined to be first, and neither was willing to
yield. Both boats were near the lock, their head-lights shining as
bright as day, and the spirit of antagonism reached and affected the
crews of both.

Captain Letcher felt called upon to interfere lest there should be
serious trouble.

He beckoned to his bowman.

"Were you here first?" he asked.

"It is hard to tell," answered the bowman, "but I'm bound to have the
lock, anyhow."

The captain was not wholly unaffected by the spirit of antagonism which
his bowman displayed.

"All right; just as you say," he answered, and it seemed likely that
conflict was inevitable.

James Garfield had been an attentive observer, and an attentive
listener to what had been said. He had formed his own ideas of what was
right to be done.

"Look here, captain," he said, tapping Captain Letcher on the arm, "does
this lock belong to us?"

"I really suppose, according to law, it does not; but we will have it,

"No, we will not," replied the boy.

"And why not?" asked the captain, naturally surprised at such a speech
from his young driver.

"Because it does not belong to us."

The captain was privately of opinion that the boy was right, yet but for
his remonstrance he would have stood out against the claims of the rival
boat. He took but brief time for considerations, and announced his

"Boys," he said to his men, "Jim is right. Let them have the lock."

Of course there was no more trouble, but the bowman, and the others
connected with the _Evening Star_, were angry. It irritated them to be
obliged to give up the point, and wait humbly till the other boat had
passed through the lock.

The steersman was George Lee. When breakfast was called, he sat down by

"What is the matter with you, Jim?" he asked.

"Nothing at all."

"What made you so for giving up the lock last night?"

"Because it wasn't ours. The other boat had it by right."

"Jim, you are a coward," said Lee contemptuously. "You aint fit for a
boatman. You'd better go back to the farm and chop wood or milk cows,
for a man or boy isn't fit for this business that isn't ready to fight
for his rights."

James did not answer. Probably he saw that it would be of no use. George
Lee was for his own boat, right or wrong; but James had already begun to
reflect upon the immutable principles of right or wrong, and he did not
suffer his reason to be influenced by any considerations touching his
own interests or his own pride.

As to the charge of cowardice it did not trouble him much. On a suitable
occasion later on (we shall tell the story in due season) he showed that
he was willing to contend for his rights, when he was satisfied that the
right was on his side.



James was not long to fill the humble position of driver. Before the
close of the first trip he was promoted to the more responsible office
of bowman. Whether his wages were increased we are not informed.

It may be well in this place to mention that a canal boat required,
besides the captain, two drivers, two steersmen, a bowman, and a cook,
the last perhaps not the least important of the seven. "The bowman's
business was to stop the boat as it entered the lock, by throwing the
bowline that was attached to the bow of the boat around the snubbing
post." It was to this position that James was promoted, though I have
some doubt whether the place of driver, with the opportunities it
afforded of riding on horse or mule-back, did not suit him better.
Still, promotion is always pleasant, and in this case it showed that
the boy had discharged his humbler duties satisfactorily.

I have said that the time came when James showed that he was not a
coward. Edmund Kirke, in his admirable life of Garfield, has condensed
the captain's account of the occurrence, and I quote it here as likely
to prove interesting to my boy readers:

"The _Evening Star_ was at Beaver, and a steamboat was ready to tow her
up to Pittsburg. The boy was standing on deck with the selting-pole
against his shoulders, and some feet away stood Murphy, one of the boat
hands, a big, burly fellow of thirty-five, when the steamboat threw the
line, and, owing to a sudden lurch of the boat, it whirled over the
boy's head, and flew in the direction of the boatman. 'Look out,
Murphy!' cried the boy; but the rope had anticipated him, and knocked
Murphy's hat off into the river. The boy expressed his regret, but it
was of no avail. In a towering rage the man rushed upon him, with his
head down, like a maddened animal; but, stepping nimbly aside, the boy
dealt him a powerful blow behind the ear, and he tumbled to the bottom
of the boat among the copper ore. Before he could rise the boy was upon
him, one hand upon his throat, the other raised for another blow upon
his frontispiece.

"'Pound the cussed fool, Jim!' cried Captain Letcher, who was looking on
appreciatingly. 'If he haint no more sense'n to get mad at accidents,
giv it ter him! Why don't you strike?'

"But the boy did not strike, for the man was down and in his power.
Murphy expressed regret for his rage, and then Garfield gave him his
hand, and they became better friends than ever before. This victory of a
boy of sixteen over a man of thirty-five obliterated the notion of young
Garfield's character for cowardice, and gave him a great reputation
among his associates. The incident is still well remembered among the
boatmen of the Ohio and Pennsylvania Canal."

The boy's speedy reconciliation to the man who had made so unprovoked an
assault upon him was characteristic of his nature. He never could
cherish malice, and it was very hard work for him to remain angry with
any one, however great the provocation.

Both as a boy and as a man he possessed great physical strength, as may
be inferred from an incident told by the Boston _Journal_ of his life
when he was no longer the humble canal-boy, but a brigadier-general in
the army:

"At Pittsburg Landing one night in 1862 there was a rush for rations by
some newly-arrived troops. One strong, fine-looking soldier presented a
requisition for a barrel of flour, _and, shouldering it, walked off with
ease_. When the wagon was loaded, this same man stepped up to Colonel
Morton, commanding the commissary steamers there, and remarked, 'I
suppose you require a receipt for these supplies?' 'Yes,' said the
Colonel, as he handed over the usual blank; 'just take this provision
return, and have it signed by your commanding officer.' 'Can't I sign
it?' was the reply. 'Oh, no,' said the affable Colonel Morton; 'it
requires the signature of a commissioned officer.' Then came the remark,
that still remains fresh in the Colonel's memory: 'I am a commissioned
officer--I'm a brigadier-general, and my name is Garfield, of Ohio.'"

For four months James remained connected with the canal-boat. To show
that traveling by canal is not so free from danger as it is supposed to
be, it may be stated that in this short time he fell into the water
fourteen times. Usually he scrambled out without further harm than a
good wetting. One night, however, he was in serious pain.

It was midnight, and rainy, when he was called up to take his turn at
the bow. The boat was leaving one of those long reaches of slack-water
which abound in the Ohio and Pennsylvania Canal. He tumbled out of bed
in a hurry, but half awake, and, taking his stand on the narrow platform
below the bow-deck, he began uncoiling a rope to steady the boat through
a lock it was approaching. Finally it knotted, and caught in a narrow
cleft on the edge of the deck. He gave it a strong pull, then another,
till it gave way, sending him over the bow into the water. Down he went
in the dark river, and, rising, was bewildered amid the intense
darkness. It seemed as if the boy's brief career was at its close. But
he was saved as by a miracle. Reaching out his hand in the darkness, it
came in contact with the rope. Holding firmly to it as it tightened in
his grasp, he used his strong arms to draw himself up hand over hand.
His deliverance was due to a knot in the rope catching in a crevice,
thus, as it tightened, sustaining him and enabling him to climb on

It was a narrow escape, and he felt it to be so. He was a thoughtful
boy, and it impressed him. The chances had been strongly against him,
yet he had been saved.

"God did it," thought James reverently, "He has saved my life against
large odds, and He must have saved it for some purpose. He has some work
for me to do."

Few boys at his age would have taken the matter so seriously, yet in the
light of after events shall we not say that James was right, and that
God did have some work for him to perform?

This work, the boy decided, was not likely to be the one he was at
present engaged in. The work of a driver or a bowman on a canal is
doubtless useful in its way, but James doubted whether he would be
providentially set apart for any such business.

It might have been this deliverance that turned his attention to
religious matters. At any rate, hearing that at Bedford there was a
series of protracted meetings conducted by the Disciples, as they were
called, he made a trip there, and became seriously impressed. There,
too, he met a gentleman who was destined to exert an important influence
over his destiny.

This gentleman was Dr. J.P. Robinson, who may be still living. Dr.
Robinson took a great liking to the boy, and sought to be of service to
him. He employed him, though it may have been at a later period, to chop
wood, and take care of his garden, and do chores about the house, and
years afterward, as we shall see, it was he that enabled James to enter
Williams College, and pursue his studies there until he graduated, and
was ready to do the work of an educated man in the world. But we must
not anticipate.

Though James was strong and healthy he was not proof against the disease
that lurked in the low lands bordering on the canal. He was attacked by
fever and ague, and lay for some months sick at home. It was probably
the only long sickness he had till the fatal wound which laid him on his
bed when in the fullness of his fame he had taken his place among kings
and rulers. It is needless to say that he had every attention that a
tender mother could bestow, and in time he was restored to health.

During his sickness he had many talks with his mother upon his future
prospects, and the course of life upon which it was best for him to
enter. He had not yet given up all thoughts of the sea, he had not
forgotten the charms with which a sailor's life is invested in
Marryatt's fascinating novels. His mother listened anxiously to his
dreams of happiness on the sea, and strove to fix his mind upon higher
things--to inspire him with a nobler ambition.

"What would you have me do, mother?" he asked.

"If you go back to the canal, my son, with the seeds of this disease
lurking in your system, I fear you will be taken down again. I have
thought it over. It seems to me you had better go to school this spring,
and then, with a term in the fall, you may be able to teach in the
winter. If you teach winters, and work on the canal or lake summers, you
will have employment the year round."

Nevertheless Mrs. Garfield was probably not in favor of his spending his
summers in the way indicated. She felt, however, that her son, who was a
boy like other boys, must be gradually weaned from the dreams that had
bewitched his fancy.

Then his mother proposed a practical plan.

"You have been obliged to spend all your money," she said, "but your
brother Thomas and I will be able to raise seventeen dollars for you to
start to school on, and when that is gone perhaps you will be able to
get along on your own resources."



James Garfield's experience on the canal was over. The position was such
an humble one that it did not seem likely to be of any service in the
larger career which one day was to open before him. But years afterward,
when as a brigadier-general of volunteers he made an expedition into
Eastern Kentucky, he realized advantage from his four months' experience
on the canal. His command had run short of provisions, and a boat had
been sent for supplies, but the river beside which the men were encamped
had risen so high that the boat dared not attempt to go up the river.
Then General Garfield, calling to his aid the skill with which he had
guided the _Evening Star_ at the age of fifteen, took command of the
craft, stood at the wheel forty-four hours out of the forty-eight, and
brought the supplies to his men at a time when they were eating their
last crackers.

"Seek all knowledge, however trifling," says an eminent author, "and
there will come a time when you can make use of it."

James may never have read this remark, but he was continually acting
upon it, and the spare moments which others devoted to recreation he
used in adding to his stock of general knowledge.

The last chapter closes with Mrs. Garfield's advice to James to give up
his plan of going to sea, and to commence and carry forward a course of
education which should qualify him for a college professor, or a
professional career. Her words made some impression upon his mind, but
it is not always easy to displace cherished dreams. While she was
talking, a knock was heard at the door and Mrs. Garfield, leaving her
place at her son's bedside, rose and opened it.

"I am glad to see you, Mr. Bates," she said with a welcoming smile.

Samuel D. Bates was the teacher of the school near by, an earnest young
man, of exemplary habits, who was looking to the ministry as his chosen

"And how is James to-day?" asked the teacher, glancing toward the bed.

"So well that he is already beginning to make plans for the future,"
answered his mother.

"What are your plans, James?" asked the young man.

"I should like best to go to sea," said James, "but mother doesn't
approve of it."

"She is wise," said Bates, promptly. "You would find it a great

"But, it must be delightful to skim over the waters, and visit countries
far away," said the boy, his cheeks flushing, and his eyes glowing with

"You think so now; but remember, you would be a poor, ignorant sailor,
and would have to stay by the ship instead of exploring the wonderful
cities at which the ship touched. Of course, you would have an
occasional run on shore, but you could not shake off the degrading
associations with which your life on shipboard would surround you."

"Why should a sailor's life be degrading?" asked James.

"It need not be necessarily, but as a matter of fact most sailors have
low aims and are addicted to bad habits. Better wait till you can go to
sea as a passenger, and enjoy to the full the benefits of foreign

"There is something in that," said James, thoughtfully. "If I could only
be sure of going some day."

"Wouldn't it be pleasant to go as a man of culture, as a college
professor, as a minister, or as a lawyer, able to meet on equal terms
foreign scholars and gentlemen?"

This was a new way of putting it, and produced a favorable impression on
the boy's mind. Still, the boy had doubts, and expressed them freely.

"That sounds well," he said; "but how am I to know that I have brain
enough to make a college professor, or a minister, or a lawyer?"

"I don't think there is much doubt on that point," said Bates, noting
the bright, expressive face, and luminous eyes of the sick boy. "I
should be willing to guarantee your capacity. Don't you think yourself
fit for anything better than a common sailor?"

"Yes," answered James. "I think I could make a good carpenter, for I
know something about that trade already, and I daresay I could make a
good trader if I could find an opening to learn the business; but it
takes a superior man to succeed in the positions you mention."

"There are plenty of men with only average ability who get along very
creditably; but I advise you, if you make up your mind to enter the
lists, to try for a high place."

The boy's eyes sparkled with new ambition. It was a favorite idea with
him afterward, that every man ought to feel an honorable ambition to
succeed as well as possible in his chosen path.

"One thing more," added Bates. "I don't think you have any right to
become a sailor."

"No right? Oh, you mean because mother objects."

"That, certainly, ought to weigh with you as a good son; but I referred
to something else."

"What then?"

"Do you remember the parable of the talents?"

James had been brought up by his mother, who was a devoted religious
woman, to read the Bible, and he answered in the affirmative.

"It seems to me that you are responsible for the talents which God has
bestowed upon you. If you have the ability or the brain, as you call
it, to insure success in a literary career, don't you think you would
throw yourself away if you became a sailor?"

Mrs. Garfield, who had listened with deep interest to the remarks of the
young man, regarded James anxiously, to see what effect these arguments
were having upon him. She did not fear disobedience. She knew that if
she should make it a personal request, James was dutiful enough to
follow her wishes; but she respected the personal independence of her
children, and wanted to convince, rather than to coerce, them.

"If I knew positively that you were right in your estimate of me, Mr.
Bates, I would go in for a course of study."

"Consult some one in whose judgment you have confidence, James," said
the teacher, promptly.

"Can you suggest any one?" asked the boy.

"Yes, Dr. J.P. Robinson, of Bedford, is visiting at the house of
President Hayden, of Hiram College. You have heard of him?"


"He is a man of ripe judgment, and you can rely implicitly on what he

"As soon as I am well enough I will do as you advise," said James.

"Then I am satisfied. I am sure the doctor will confirm my advice."

"Mr. Bates," said Mrs. Garfield, as she followed out the young teacher,
"I am much indebted to you for your advice to James. It is in accordance
with my wishes. If he should decide to obtain an education, where would
you advise him to go?"

"To the seminary where I have obtained all the education I possess,"
answered the young man.

"Where is it?"

"It is called the 'Geauga Seminary,' and is located in Chester, in the
next county. For a time it will be sufficient to meet all James' needs.
When he is further advanced he can go to Hiram College."

"Is it expensive?" asked Mrs. Garfield. "James has no money except the
few dollars his brother and I can spare him."

"He will have plenty of company. Most of the students are poor, but
there are chances of finding work in the neighborhood, and so earning a
little money. James knows something of the carpenter's trade?"

"Yes, he helped build the house we live in, and he has been employed on
several barns."

My readers will remember that the Garfields no longer lived in the
humble log-cabin in which we first found them. The money Thomas brought
home from Michigan, supplemented by the labor of James and himself, had
replaced it by a neat frame house, which was much more comfortable and

"That will do. I think I know a man who will give him employment."

"He is a boy of energy. If he gets fairly started at school, I think he
will maintain himself there," said Mrs. Garfield.

The teacher took his leave.

When Mrs. Garfield re-entered the room she found James looking very

"Mother," he said, abruptly, "I want to get well as quick as I can. I am
sixteen years old, and it is time I decided what to do with myself."

"You will think of what Mr. Bates has said, will you not?"

"Yes, mother; as soon as I am well enough I will call on Dr. Robinson
and ask his candid opinion. I will be guided by what he says."



I have stated in a previous chapter that James became acquainted with
Dr. Robinson while still employed on the canal. This statement was made
on the authority of Mr. Philo Chamberlain, of Cleveland, who was part
proprietor of the line of canal-boats on which the boy was employed.
Edmund Kirke, however, conveys the impression that James was a stranger
to the doctor at the time he called upon him after his sickness. Mr.
Kirke's information having been derived chiefly from General Garfield
himself, I shall adopt his version, as confirmed by Dr. Robinson.

When James walked up to the residence of President Hayden, and inquired
for Dr. Robinson, he was decidedly homespun in appearance. He probably
was dressed in his best, but his best was shabby enough. His trousers
were of coarse satinet, and might have fitted him a season or two
before, but now were far outgrown, reaching only half-way down from the
tops of his cowhide boots. His waistcoat also was much too short, and
his coat was threadbare, the sleeves being so short as to display a
considerable portion of his arms. Add to these a coarse slouched hat,
much the worse for wear, and a heavy mass of yellow hair much too long,
and we can easily understand what the good doctor said of him: "He was
wonderfully awkward, but had a sort of independent, go-as-you-please
manner that impressed me favorably."

"Who are you?" asked the doctor.

"My name is James Garfield, from Solon."

"Oh, I know your mother, and knew you when you were a babe, but you have
outgrown my knowledge. I am glad to see you."

"I should like to see you alone," said James.

The doctor led the way to a secluded spot in the neighborhood of the
house, and then, sitting down on a log, the youth, after a little
hesitation, opened his business.

"You are a physician," he said, "and know the fiber that is in men.
Examine me and tell me with the utmost frankness whether I had better
take a course of liberal study. I am contemplating doing so, as my
desire is in that direction. But if I am to make a failure of it, or
practically so, I do not desire to begin. If you advise me not to do so
I shall be content."

In speaking of this incident the doctor has remarked recently: "I felt
that I was on my sacred honor, and the young man looked as though he
felt himself on trial. I had had considerable experience as a physician,
but here was a case much different from any I had ever had. I felt that
it must be handled with great care. I examined his head and saw that
there was a magnificent brain there. I sounded his lungs, and found that
they were strong, and capable of making good blood. I felt his pulse,
and felt that there was an engine capable of sending the blood up to the
head to feed the brain. I had seen many strong physical systems with
warm feet and cold, sluggish brain; and those who possessed such systems
would simply sit round and doze. Therefore I was anxious to know about
the kind of an engine to run that delicate machine, the brain. At the
end of a fifteen minutes' careful examination of this kind, we rose, and
I said:

"Go on, follow the leadings of your ambition, and ever after I am your
friend. You have the brain of a Webster, and you have the physical
proportions that will back you in the most herculean efforts. All you
need to do is to work; work hard, do not be afraid of over-working and
you will make your mark."

It will be easily understood that these words from a man whom he held in
high respect were enough to fix the resolution of James. If he were
really so well fitted for the work and the career which his mother
desired him to follow, it was surely his duty to make use of the talents
which he had just discovered were his.

After that there was no more question about going to sea. He
deliberately decided to become a scholar, and then follow where
Providence led the way.

He would have liked a new suit of clothes, but this was out of the
question. All the money he had at command was the seventeen dollars
which his mother had offered him. He must get along with this sum, and
so with hopeful heart he set out for Geauga Seminary.

He did not go alone. On hearing of his determination, two boys, one a
cousin, made up their minds to accompany him.

Possibly my young readers may imagine the scene of leave-taking, as the
stage drove up to the door, and the boys with their trunks or valises
were taken on board, but if so, imagination would picture a scene far
different from the reality. Their outfit was of quite a different kind.

For the sake of economy the boys were to board themselves, and Mrs.
Garfield with provident heart supplied James with a frying-pan, and a
few necessary dishes, so that his body might not suffer while his mind
was being fed. Such was the luxury that awaited James in his new home. I
am afraid that the hearts of many of my young readers would sink within
them if they thought that they must buy an education at such a cost as
that. But let them not forget that this homespun boy, with his poor
array of frying-pan and dishes, was years after to strive in legislative
halls, and win the highest post in the gift of his fellow-citizens. And
none of these things would have been his, in all likelihood, but for his
early struggle with poverty.

So far as I know, neither of his companions was any better off than
James. All three were young adventurers traveling into the domains of
science with hopeful hearts and fresh courage, not altogether ignorant
of the hardships that awaited them, but prepared to work hard for the
prizes of knowledge.

Arrived at Geauga Seminary, they called upon the principal and announced
for what purpose they had come.

"Well, young men, I hope you mean to work?" he said.

"Yes, sir," answered James promptly. "I am poor, and I want to get an
education as quick as I can."

"I like your sentiments, and I will help you as far as I can."

The boys succeeded in hiring a room in an old unpainted building near
the academy for a small weekly sum. It was unfurnished, but they
succeeded in borrowing a few dilapidated chairs from a neighbor who did
not require them, and some straw ticks, which they spread upon the floor
for sleeping purposes. In one corner they stowe their frying-pans,
kettles, and dishes, and then they set up housekeeping in humble style.

The Geauga Seminary was a Freewill Baptist institution, and was attended
by a considerable number of students, to whom it did not, indeed,
furnish what is called "the higher education," but it was a considerable
advance upon any school that James had hitherto attended. English
grammar, natural philosophy, arithmetic, and algebra--these were the
principal studies to which James devoted himself, and they opened to him
new fields of thought. Probably it was at this humble seminary that he
first acquired the thirst for learning that ever afterward characterized

Let us look in upon the three boys a night or two after they have
commenced housekeeping.

They take turns in cooking, and this time it is the turn of the one in
whom we feel the strongest interest.

"What have we got for supper, boys?" he asks, for the procuring of
supplies has fallen to them.

"Here are a dozen eggs," said Henry Bounton, his cousin.

"And here is a loaf of bread, which I got at the baker's," said his

"That's good! We'll have bread and fried eggs. There is nothing better
than that."

"Eggs have gone up a cent a dozen," remarks Henry, gravely.

This news is received seriously, for a cent means something to them.
Probably even then the price was not greater than six to eight cents a
dozen, for prices were low in the West at that time.

"Then we can't have them so often," said James, philosophically, "unless
we get something to do."

"There's a carpenter's-shop a little way down the street," said Henry.
"I guess you can find employment there."

"I'll go round there after supper."

Meanwhile he attended to his duty as cook, and in due time each of the
boys was supplied with four fried eggs and as much bread as he cared
for. Probably butter was dispensed with, as too costly a luxury, until
more prosperous times.

When supper was over the boys took a walk, and then, returning to their
humble room, spent the evening in preparing their next morning's

In them James soon took leading rank, for his brain was larger, and his
powers of application and intuition great, as Dr. Robinson had implied.
From the time he entered Geauga Seminary probably he never seriously
doubted that he had entered upon the right path.



James called on the carpenter after supper and inquired if he could
supply him with work.

"I may be able to if you are competent," was the reply. "Have you ever
worked at the business?"



"At Orange, where my home is."

"How long did you work at it?"

"Perhaps I had better tell you what I have done," said James.

He then gave an account of the barns he had been employed upon, and the
frame house which he had assisted to build for his mother.

"I don't set up for a first-class workman," he added, with a smile, "but
I think I can be of some use to you."

"I will try you, for I am rather pressed with work just now."

So, in a day or two James was set to work.

The carpenter found that it was as he had represented. He was not a
first-class workman. Indeed, he had only a rudimentary knowledge of the
trade, but he was quick to learn, and in a short time he was able to
help in many ways. His wages were not very large, but they were
satisfactory, since they enabled him to pay his expenses and keep his
head above water. Before the seventeen dollars were exhausted, he had
earned quite a sum by his labor in the carpenter's-shop.

About this time he received a letter from his brother.

"Dear James," he wrote, "I shall be glad to hear how you are getting
along. You took so little money with you that you may need more. If so,
let me know, and I will try to send you some."

James answered promptly: "Don't feel anxious about me, Thomas. I have
been fortunate enough to secure work at a carpenter's-shop, and my
expenses of living are very small. I intend not to call upon you or
mother again, but to pay my own way, if I keep my health."

He kept his word, and from that time did not find it necessary to call
either upon his mother or his good brother, who was prepared to make
personal sacrifices, as he had been doing all his life, that his younger
brother might enjoy advantages which he had to do without.

At length the summer vacation came. James had worked hard and won high
rank in his respective studies. He had a robust frame, and he seemed
never to get tired. No doubt he took especial interest in composition
and the exercises of the debating society which flourished at Geauga, as
at most seminaries of advanced education. In after-life he was so ready
and powerful in debate, that we can readily understand that he must have
begun early to try his powers. Many a trained speaker has first come to
a consciousness of his strength in a lyceum of boys, pitted against some
school-fellow of equal attainments. No doubt many crude and some
ludicrous speeches are made by boys in their teens, but at least they
learn to think on their feet, and acquire the ability to stand the gaze
of an audience without discomposure. A certain easy facility of
expression also is gained, which enables them to acquit themselves
creditably on a more important stage.

James early learned that the best preparation for a good speech is a
thorough familiarity with the subject, and in his after-life he always
carefully prepared himself, so that he was a forcible debater, whom it
was not easy to meet and conquer.

"He once told me how he prepared his speeches," said Representative
Williams, of Wisconsin, since his death. "First he filled himself with
the subject, massing all the facts and principles involved, so far as he
could; then he took pen and paper and wrote down the salient points in
what he regarded their logical order. Then he scanned these critically,
and fixed them in his memory. 'And then,' said he, 'I leave the paper in
my room and trust to the emergency.'"

When the vacation came James began to look about for work. He could not
afford to be idle. Moreover, he hoped to be able to earn enough that he
might not go back empty-handed in the fall.

Generally work comes to him who earnestly seeks it, and James heard of
a man who wanted some wood cut.

He waited upon this man and questioned him about it.

"Yes," he answered, "I want the wood cut. What will you charge to do

"How much is there?"

"About a hundred cords."

James thought of the time when he cut twenty-five cords for seven
dollars, and he named a price to correspond.

"I'll give you twenty-five dollars," said the proprietor of the wood.

It was a low price for the labor involved, but, on the other hand, it
would be of essential service to the struggling student.

"I will undertake it," he said.

"When will you go to work?"

"Now!" answered James promptly.

How long it took him to do the work we have no record, but he doubtless
worked steadfastly till it was accomplished. We can imagine the
satisfaction he felt when the money was put into his hands, and he felt
that he would not need to be quite so economical in the coming term.

Accordingly, when the vacation was over and James went back to the
seminary, he did not re-engage the room which he and his two friends had
rented the term before. He realized that to be in a condition to study
well he must feed his body well, and he was in favor of a more generous
system of diet. Besides, the labor required for cooking was so much time
taken from his study hours.

He heard that a widow--Mrs. Stiles--mother of the present sheriff of
Ashtabula County, was prepared to receive boarders, and, accordingly, he
called upon her to ascertain if she would receive him.

She knew something of him already, for she learned that he had obtained
the reputation of a steady and orderly student, and was disposed to
favor his application.

The next question was an important one to young Garfield.

"How much do you expect me to pay?"

He waited with some anxiety for the answer, for though he had
twenty-five dollars in his pocket, the term was a long one, and tuition
was to be paid also.

"A dollar and six cents will be about right," said Mrs. Stiles, "for
board, washing, and lodging."

"That will be satisfactory," said James, with a sigh of relief, for he
saw his way clear to pay this sum for a time, at least, and for the
whole term if he could again procure employment at his old trade.

A dollar and six cents! It was rather an odd sum, and we should consider
it nowadays as very low for any sort of board in any village, however
obscure or humble. But in those days it was not so exceptional, and
provisions were so much lower that the widow probably lost nothing by
her boarder, though she certainly could not have made much.

James had no money to spare for another purpose, though there was need
enough of it. He needed some new clothes badly. He had neither
underclothing nor overcoat, and but one outside suit, of cheap Kentucky
jean. No doubt he was subjected to mortification on account of his
slender supply of clothing. At any rate he was once placed in
embarrassing circumstances.

Toward the close of the term, as Mrs. Stiles says, his trowsers became
exceedingly thin at the knees, and one unlucky day, when he was
incautiously bending forward, they tore half-way round the leg, exposing
his bare knee.

James was very much mortified, and repaired damages as well as he could
with a pin.

"I need a new suit of clothes badly," he said in the evening, "but I
can't afford to buy one. See how I have torn my trowsers."

"Oh, that is easy enough to mend," said Mrs. Stiles, cheerfully.

"But I have no other pair to wear while they are being mended," said
James, with a blush.

"Then you must go to bed early, and send them down by one of the boys. I
will darn the hole so that you will never know it. You won't mind such
trifles when you become President."

It was a jocose remark, and the good lady little dreamed that, in after
years, the young man with but one pair of pantaloons, and those more
than half worn, would occupy the proud position she referred to.



During his school-life at Geauga Seminary James enjoyed the
companionship of a cousin, Henry B. Boynton, who still lives on the farm
adjoining the one on which our hero was born. The relationship between
the two boys was much closer than is common between cousins; for while
their mothers were sisters, their fathers were half-brothers. Henry was
two years older than James, and they were more like brothers than
cousins. I am sure my young readers will be glad to read what Henry has
to say of their joint school-life. I quote from the account of an
interview held with a correspondent of the Boston _Herald_, bearing the
date of September 23, 1881:

When General Garfield was nominated to the Presidency his old neighbors
in Orange erected a flag-staff where the house stood which Garfield and
his brother erected for their mother and sisters with their own hands,
after the log hut, a little farther out in the field nearer the wood,
had become unfit for habitation. Thomas Garfield, the uncle of the
President, who not long since was killed by a railroad accident,
directed the manual labor of rearing the shaft, and was proud of his

There is nothing except this hole left to mark his birth-place, and the
old well, not two rods off, which he and his brother dug to furnish
water for the family. In the little maple grove to the left, children
played about the school-house where the dead President first gathered
the rudiments upon which he built to such purpose. The old orchard in
its sere and yellow leaf, the dying grass, and the turning maple leaves
seemed to join in the great mourning.

Adjoining the field where the flag floats is an unpretentious home,
almost as much identified with Gen. Garfield's early history as the one
he helped to clear of the forest timber while he was yet but a child. It
is the home of Henry B. Boynton, cousin of the dead President, and a
brother of Dr. Boynton, whose name has become so well known from recent

"While rambling over this place the correspondent came upon this near
relative of Garfield, smaller in stature than he was, but in features
bearing a striking resemblance to him.

"General Garfield and I were like brothers," he said, as he turned from
giving some directions to his farm hands, now sowing the fall grain upon
ground which his cousin had first helped to break. "His father died
yonder, within a stone's throw of us, when the son was but a year and a
half old. He knew no other father than mine, who watched over the family
as if it had been his own. This very house in which I live was as much
his home as it was mine.

"Over there," said he, pointing to the brick school-house in the grove
of maples, around which the happy children were playing, "is where he
and I both started for school. I have read a statement that he could not
read or write until he was nineteen. He could do both before he was
nine, and before he was twelve, so familiar was he with the Indian
history of the country, that he had named every tree in the orchard,
which his father planted as he was born, with the name of some Indian
chief, and even debated in societies, religion, and other topics with
men. One favorite tree of his he named Tecumseh, and the branches of
many of these old trees have been cut since his promotion to the
Presidency by relic-hunters, and carried away.

"Gen. Garfield was a remarkable boy as well as man. It is not possible
to tell you the fight he made amid poverty for a place in life, and how
gradually he obtained it. When he was a boy he would rather read than
work. But he became a great student. He had to work after he was twelve
years of age. In those days we were all poor, and it took hard knocks to
get on. He worked clearing the fields yonder with his brother, and then
cut cord-wood, and did other farm labor to get the necessities of life
for his mother and sisters.

"I remember when he was fourteen years of age, he went away to work at
Daniel Morse's, not four miles down the road from here, and after the
labors of the day he sat down to listen to the conversation of a teacher
in one of the schools of Cleveland, when it was yet a village, who had
called. The talk of the educated man pleased the boy, and, while intent
upon his story, a daughter of the man for whom he was working informed
the future President with great dignity that it was time that _servants_
were in bed, and that she preferred his absence to his presence.

"Nothing that ever happened to him so severely stung him as this
affront. In his youth he could never refer to it without indignation,
and almost immediately he left Mr. Morse's employ and went on the canal.
He said to me then that those people should live to see the day when
they would not care to insult him.

"His experience on the canal was a severe one, but perhaps useful. I can
remember the winter when he came home after the summer's service there.
He had the chills all that fall and winter, yet he would shake and get
his lessons at home; go over to the school and recite, and thus keep up
with his class. The next spring found him weak from constant ague. Yet
he intended to return to the canal.

"Here came the turning-point in his life. Mr. Bates, who taught the
school, pleaded with him not to do so, and said that if he would
continue in school till the next fall he could get a certificate. I
received a certificate about the same time The next year we went to the
seminary at Chester, only twelve miles distant. Here our books were
furnished us, and we cooked our own victuals. We lived upon a dollar a
week each. Our diet was strong, but very plain; mush and molasses, pork
and potatoes. Saturdays we took our axes, and went into the woods and
cut cord-wood. During vacations we labored in the harvest-field, or
taught a district school, as we could.

"Yonder," said he, pointing to a beautiful valley, about two miles
distant, "stands the school-house where Garfield first taught school. He
got twelve dollars a month, and boarded round. I also taught school in a
neighboring town. We both went back to Chester to college, and would
probably have finished our education there, but it was a Baptist school,
and they were constantly making flings at the children of the Disciples,
and teaching sectarianism. As the Disciples grew stronger they
determined their children should not be subjected to such influence; the
college of our own Church was established at Hiram, and there Garfield
and I went."

Though the remainder of the reminiscences somewhat anticipate the
course of our story, it is perhaps as well to insert it here.

"We lodged in the basement most of the time, and boarded at the present
Mrs. Garfield's father's house. During our school-days here I nursed the
late President through an attack of the measles which nearly ended his
life. He has often said, that, were it not for my attention, he could
not have lived. So you see that the General and myself were very close
to one another from the time either of us could lisp until he became
President. Here is a picture we had taken together," showing an old
daguerreotype. "It does not resemble either of us much now. And yet they
do say that we bore in our childhood, and still bear, a striking
resemblance. I am still a farmer, while he grew great and powerful. He
never permitted a suggestion, however, to be made in, my presence as to
the difference in our paths of life. He visited me here before election,
and looked with gratification upon that pole yonder, and its flag,
erected by his neighbors and kinsmen. He wandered over the fields he had
himself helped clear and pointed out to me trees from the limbs of which
he had shot squirrel after squirrel, and beneath the branches of which
he had played and worked in the years of his infancy and boyhood.

"I forgot to say that one of Gen. Garfield's striking characteristics
while he was growing up, was, that when he saw a boy in the class excel
him in anything, he never gave up till he reached the same standard, and
even went beyond it. It got to be known that no scholar could be ahead
of him. Our association as men has been almost as close as that of our
boyhood, though not as constant. The General never forgot his neighbors
or less fortunate kinsmen, and often visited us as we did him."

More vivid than any picture I could draw is this description, by the
most intimate friend of his boyhood, of James Garfield's way of life,
his struggles for an education, his constant desire to excel, and his
devotion to duty. We have already pictured the rustic boy in his humble
room, cooking his own food, and living, as his cousin testifies, on a
dollar a week. Is there any other country where such humble beginnings
could lead to such influence and power? Is there any other land where
such a lad could make such rapid strides toward the goal which crowns
the highest ambition? It is the career of such men that most commends
our Government and institutions, proving as it does that by the humblest
and poorest the highest dignities may be attained. James was content to
live on mush and molasses, pork and potatoes, since they came within his
narrow means, and gave him sufficient strength to pursue his cherished
studies. Nor is his an exceptional case. I have myself known college and
professional students who have lived on sixty cents a week (how, it is
difficult to tell), while their minds were busy with the loftiest
problems that have ever engaged the human intellect. Such boys and young
men are the promise of the republic. They toil upwards while others
sleep, and many such have written their names high on the tablets in the
Temple of Fame.



Ever since he began to study at Geauga Seminary James had looked forward
to earning a little money by keeping school himself; not an advanced
school, of course, but an ordinary school, such as was kept in the
country districts in the winter. He felt no hesitation as to his
competence. The qualifications required by the school committees were by
no means large, and so far there was no difficulty.

There was one obstacle, however: James was still a boy himself--a large
boy, to be sure, but he had a youthful face, and the chances were that
he would have a number of pupils older than himself. Could he keep
order? Would the rough country boys submit to the authority of one like
themselves, whatever might be his reputation as a scholar? This was a
point to consider anxiously. However, James had pluck, and he was ready
to try the experiment.

He would have been glad to secure a school so far away that he could go
there as a stranger, and be received as a young man. But no such
opportunity offered. There was another opening nearer home.

A teacher was wanted for the Ledge Hill district in Orange, and the
committee-man bethought himself of James Garfield.

So one day he knocked at Mrs. Garfield's door.

"Is James at home?" he asked.

James heard the question, and came forward to meet his visitor.

"Good-morning," he said, pleasantly; "did you want to see me?"

"Are you calculating to keep school this winter" asked his visitor.

"If I can get a school to keep," was the reply.

"That's the business I came about. We want a schoolmaster for the Ledge
Hill School. How would you like to try it?"

"The Ledge Hill School!" repeated James, in some dismay. "Why, all the
boys know me there."

"Of course they do. Then they won't need to be introduced."

"Will they obey me? That's what I was thinking of. There are some
pretty hard cases in that school."

"That's where you are right."

"I wouldn't like to try it and fail," said James, doubtfully.

"You won't if you'll follow my advice," said the committee-man.

"What's that?"

"Thrash the first boy that gives you any trouble. Don't half do it; but
give him a sound flogging, so that he will understand who's master.
You're strong enough; you can do it."

James extended his muscular arm with a smile. He knew he was strong. He
was a large boy, and his training had been such as to develop his

"You know the boys that will go to school. Is there any one that can
master you?" asked his visitor.

"No, I don't think there is," answered James, with a smile.

"Then you'll do. Let 'em know you are not afraid of them the first day.
That's the best advice I can give you."

"I shouldn't like to get into a fight with a pupil," said James,

"You'll have to run the risk of it unless you teach a girls' school. I
guess you wouldn't have any trouble there."

"Not of that kind, probably. What wages do you pay?"

"Twelve dollars a month and board. Of course, you'll board round."

Twelve dollars a month would not be considered very high wages now, but
to James it was a consideration. He had earned as much in other ways,
but he was quite anxious to try his luck as a teacher. That might be his
future vocation, not teaching a district school, of course, but this
would be the first round of the ladder that might lead to a college
professorship. The first step is the most difficult, but it must be
taken, and the Ledge Hill School, difficult as it probably would be, was
to be the first step for the future President of Hiram College.

All these considerations James rapidly revolved in his mind, and then he
came to a decision.

"When does the school commence?" he asked.

"Next Monday."

"I accept your offer. I'll be on hand in time."

       *       *       *       *       *

The news quickly reached the Ledge Hill district that "Jim Garfield," as
he was popularly called, was to be their next teacher.

"Have you heard about the new master?" asked Tom Bassett, one of the
hard cases, of a friend.

"No. Who is it?"

"Jim Garfield."

The other whistled.

"You don't mean it?"

"Yes, I do."

"How did you hear?"

"Mr. ----," naming the committee-man, "told me."

"Then it must be so. We'll have a high old time if that's so."

"So we will," chuckled the other. "I'm anxious for school to begin."

"He's only a boy like us."

"That's so."

"He knows enough for a teacher; but knowing isn't everything."

"You're right. We can't be expected to mind a boy like ourselves that
we've known all our lives."

"Of course not."

"I like Jim well enough. He's a tip-top feller; but, all the same, he
aint goin' to boss me round."

"Nor me, either."

This conversation between Tom Bassett and Bill Stackpole (for obvious
reasons I use assumed names) augured ill for the success of the young
teacher. They determined to make it hot for him, and have all the fun
they wanted.

They thought they knew James Garfield, but they made a mistake. They
knew that he was of a peaceable disposition and not fond of quarreling,
and although they also knew that he was strong and athletic, they
decided that he would not long be able to maintain his position. If they
had been able to read the doubts and fears that agitated the mind of
their future preceptor, they would have felt confirmed in their belief.

The fact was, James shrank from the ordeal that awaited him.

"If I were only going among strangers," he said to his mother, "I
wouldn't mind it so much; but all these boys and girls have known me
ever since I was a small boy and went barefoot."

"Does your heart fail you, my son?" asked his mother, who sympathized
with him, yet saw that it was a trial which must come.

"I can't exactly say that, but I dread to begin."

"We must expect to encounter difficulties and perplexities, James. None
of our lives run all smoothly. Shall we conquer them or let them conquer

The boy's spirit was aroused.

"Say no more, mother," he replied. "I will undertake the school, and if
success is any way possible, I will succeed. I have been shrinking from
it, but I won't shrink any longer."

"That is the spirit that succeeds, James."

James laughed, and in answer quoted Campbell's stirring lines with
proper emphasis:

  "I will victor exult, or in death be laid low,
  With my face to the field and my feet to the foe."

So the time passed till the eventful day dawned on which James was to
assume charge of his first school. He was examined, and adjudged to be
qualified to teach; but that he anticipated in advance.

The building is still standing in which James taught his first school.
It is used for quite another purpose now, being occupied as a
carriage-house by the thrifty farmer who owns the ground upon which it
stands. The place where the teacher's desk stood, behind which the boy
stood as preceptor, is now occupied by two stalls for carriage-horses.
The benches which once contained the children he taught have been
removed to make room for the family carriage, and the play-ground is now
a barnyard. The building sits upon a commanding eminence known as Ledge
Hill, and overlooks a long valley winding between two lines of hills.

This description is furnished by the same correspondent of the Boston
_Herald_ to whom I am already indebted for Henry Boynton's reminiscences
contained in the last chapter.

When James came in sight, and slowly ascended the hill in sight of the
motley crew of boys and girls who were assembled in front of the
school-house on the first morning of the term, it was one of the most
trying moments of his life. He knew instinctively that the boys were
anticipating the fun in store for them in the inevitable conflict which
awaited him, and he felt constrained and nervous. He managed, however,
to pass through the crowd, wearing a pleasant smile and greeting his
scholars with a bow. There was trouble coming, he was convinced, but he
did not choose to betray any apprehension.



With as much dignity as was possible under the circumstances, James
stepped to the teacher's desk and rang the bell.

This was hardly necessary, for out of curiosity all the scholars had
promptly followed the young teacher into the school-room and taken their

After the introductory exercises, James made a brief address to the

"I don't need any introduction to you," he said, "for you all know me. I
see before me many who have been my playfellows and associates, but
to-day a new relation is established between us. I am here as your
teacher, regularly appointed by the committee, and it is my duty to
assist you as far as I can to increase your knowledge. I should hardly
feel competent to do so if I had not lately attended Geauga Seminary,
and thus improved my own education. I hope you will consider me a
friend, not only as I have been, but as one who is interested in
promoting your best interests. One thing more," he added, "it is not
only my duty to teach you, but to maintain good order, and this I mean
to do. In school I wish you to look upon me as your teacher, but outside
I shall join you in your sports, and be as much a boy as any of you. We
will now proceed to our daily lessons."

This speech was delivered with self-possession, and favorably impressed
all who heard it, even the boys who meant to make trouble, but they
could not give up their contemplated fun. Nevertheless, by tacit
agreement, they preserved perfect propriety for the present. They were
not ready for the explosion.

The boy teacher was encouraged by the unexpected quiet.

"After all," he thought, "everything is likely to go smoothly. I need
not have troubled myself so much."

He knew the usual routine at the opening of a school term. The names of
the children were to be taken, they were to be divided into classes, and
lessons were to be assigned. Feeling more confidence in himself, James
went about this work in business fashion, and when recess came, the
comments made by the pupils in the playground were generally favorable.

"He's going to make a good teacher," said one of the girls, "as good as
any we've had, and he's so young too."

"He goes to work as if he knew how," said another. "I didn't think Jimmy
Garfield had so much in him."

"Oh, he's smart!" said another. "Just think of brother Ben trying to
keep school, and he's just as old as James."

Meanwhile Tom Bassett and Bill Stackpole had a private conference

"What do you think of Jim's speech, Bill?" asked Tom.

"Oh, it sounded well enough, but I'll bet he was trembling in his boots
all the while he was talkin'."

"Maybe so, but he seemed cool enough."

"Oh, that was all put on. Did you hear what he said about keepin'

"Yes, he kinder looked at you an' me when he was talkin'."

"I guess he heard about our turnin' out the last teacher."

"Of course. I tell you, it took some cheek to come here and order 'round
us boys that has known him all his life."

"That's so. Do you think he's goin' to maintain order, as he calls it?"

"You just wait till afternoon. He'll know better then."

James did not go out to recess the first day. He had some things to do
affecting the organization of the school, and so he remained at his
desk. Several of the pupils came up to consult him on one point or
another, and he received them all with that pleasant manner which
throughout his life was characteristic of him. To one and another he
gave a hint or a suggestion, based upon his knowledge of their character
and abilities. One of the boys said: "Do you think I'd better study
grammar, Jimmy--I mean Mr. Garfield?"

James smiled. He knew the slip was unintentional. Of course it would not
do for him to allow himself to be addressed in school by a pupil as

"Yes," he answered, "unless you think you know all about it already."

"I don't know the first thing about it."

"Then, of course, you ought to study it. Why shouldn't you?"

"But I can't make nothin' out of it. I can't understand it nohow."

"Then you need somebody to explain it to you."

"It's awful stupid."

"I don't think you will find it so when you come to know more about it.
I shall be ready to explain it. I think I can make you understand it."

Another had a sum he could not do. So James found the recess pass
quickly away, and again the horde of scholars poured into the

It was not till afternoon that the conflict came.

Tom Bassett belonged to the first class in geography.

James called out the class.

All came out except Tom, who lounged carelessly in his seat.

"Thomas, don't you belong to this class?" asked the young teacher.

"I reckon I do."

"Then why don't you come out to recite?"

"Oh, I feel lazy," answered Tom, with a significant smile, as if to
inquire, "What are you goin' to do about it?"

James thought to himself with a thrill of unpleasant excitement, "It's
coming. In ten minutes I shall know whether Tom Bassett or I is to rule
this school."

His manner was calm, however, as he said, "That is no excuse. I can't
accept it. As your teacher I order you to join your class."

"Can't you wait till to-morrow?" asked Tom, with a grin, which was
reflected on the faces of several other pupils.

"I think I understand you," said James, with outward calmness. "You defy
my authority."

"You're only a boy like me," said Tom; "I don't see why I should obey

"If you were teacher, and I pupil, I should obey you," said James, "and
I expect the same of you."

"Oh, go on with the recitation!" said Tom, lazily. "Never mind me!"

James felt that he could afford to wait no longer Turning to the class,
he said, "I shall have to delay you for a minute."

He walked deliberately up to the seat where Tom Bassett was sitting.

Tom squared off in the expectation of an assault; but, with the speed of
lightning, the young teacher grasped him by the collar, and, with a
strength that surprised himself, dragged him from his seat, in spite of
his struggles, till he reached the place where the class was standing.

By this time Bill Stackpole felt called upon to help his partner in

"You let him alone!" he said, menacingly, stepping forward.

"One at a time!" said James, coolly. "I will be ready for you in a

He saw that there was only one thing to do.

He dragged Tom to the door, and forcibly ejected him, saying, "When you
get ready to obey me you can come back."

He had scarcely turned when Bill Stackpole was upon him.

With a quick motion of the foot James tripped him up, and, still
retaining his grasp on his collar, said, "Will you go or stay?"

Bill was less resolute than Tom.

"I guess I'll stay," he said; then picked himself up and resumed his
place in the class.

Apparently calm, James returned to his desk, and commenced hearing the
class recite.

The next morning, on his way to school, James overtook Tom Bassett, who
eyed him with evident embarrassment. Tom's father had sent him back to
school, and Tom did not dare disobey.

"Good morning, Tom," said James, pleasantly.

"Mornin'!" muttered Tom.

"I hope you are going to school?"

"Father says I must."

"I am glad of that, too. By the way, Tom, I think I shall have to get
some of the scholars to help me with some of the smaller pupils. I
should like to get you to hear the lowest class in arithmetic to-day."

"You want me to help you teach?" exclaimed Tom, in amazement.

"Yes; it will give me more time for the higher classes."

"And you don't bear no malice on account of yesterday?"

"Oh, no; we are too good friends to mind such a trifle."

"Then," said Tom, impulsively, "you won't have no more trouble with me.
I'll help you all I can."

There was general surprise felt when the young teacher and his
rebellious scholar were seen approaching the school-house, evidently on
the most friendly terms. There was still greater surprise when, during
the forenoon, James requested Tom to hear the class already mentioned.
At recess Tom proclaimed his intention to lick any boy that was impudent
to the teacher, and the new Garfield administration seemed to be
established on a firm basis.

This incident, which is based upon an actual resort to war measures on
the part of the young teacher, is given to illustrate the strength as
well as the amiability of Garfield's character. It was absolutely
necessary that he should show his ability to govern.



While teaching his first school James "boarded round" among the families
who sent pupils to his school. It was not so pleasant as having a
permanent home, but it afforded him opportunities of reaching and
influencing his scholars which otherwise he could not have enjoyed. With
his cheerful temperament and genial manners, he could hardly fail to be
an acquisition to any family with whom he found a home. He was ready
enough to join in making the evenings pass pleasantly, and doubtless he
had ways of giving instruction indirectly, and inspiring a love of
learning similar to that which he himself possessed.

He returned to school with a small sum of money in his pocket, which was
of essential service to him in his economical way of living. But he
brought also an experience in imparting knowledge to others which was
still greater value.

An eminent teacher has said that we never fully know anything till we
have tried to impart it to others.

James remained at the Geauga Seminary for three years. Every winter he
taught school, and with success. In one of these winter sessions, we are
told by Rev. William M. Thayer, in his biography of Garfield, that he
was applied to by an ambitious student to instruct him in geometry.
There was one difficulty in the way, and that a formidable one. He was
entirely unacquainted with geometry himself. But, he reflected, here is
an excellent opportunity for me to acquire a new branch of knowledge.
Accordingly he procured a text-book, studied it faithfully at night,
keeping sufficiently far ahead of his pupil to qualify him to be his
guide and instructor, and the pupil never dreamed that his teacher, like
himself, was traversing unfamiliar ground.

It was early in his course at Geauga that he made the acquaintance of
one who was to prove his closest and dearest friend--the young lady who
in after years was to become his wife. Lucretia Rudolph was the daughter
of a farmer in the neighborhood--"a quiet, thoughtful girl, of
singularly sweet and refined disposition, fond of study and reading,
and possessing a warm heart, and a mind capable of steady growth."
Probably James was first attracted to her by intellectual sympathy and a
community of tastes; but as time passed he discerned in her something
higher and better than mere intellectual aspiration; and who shall say
in the light that has been thrown by recent events on the character of
Lucretia Garfield, that he was not wholly right?

Though we are anticipating the record, it may be in place to say here
that the acquaintance formed here was renewed and ripened at Hiram
College, to which in time both transferred themselves. There as
pupil-teacher James Garfield became in one branch the instructor of his
future wife, and it was while there that the two became engaged. It was
a long engagement. James had to wait the traditional "seven years" for
his wife, but the world knows how well he was repaid for his long

"Did you know Mrs. Garfield?" asked a reporter of the Chicago
_Inter-Ocean_ of Mr. Philo Chamberlain, of Cleveland.

"Yes, indeed," was the reply. "My wife knows her intimately. They used
to teach school together in Cleveland. Mrs. Garfield is a splendid lady.
She wasn't what you would call a brilliant teacher, but she was an
unusually good one, very industrious, and the children made rapid
progress in their studies under her. And then she was studious, too.
Why, she acquired three languages while she was in school, both as a
student and a teacher, and she spoke them well, I am told. They were
married shortly after he came back from Williams, and I forgot to tell
you a nice little thing about the time when he paid Dr. Robinson back
the money he had spent on him. When Dr. Robinson refused to take the
interest, which amounted to a snug little sum, Garfield said: 'Well,
Doctor, that is one big point in my favor, as now I can get married.' It
seems that they had been engaged for a long time, but had to wait till
he could get something to marry on. And I tell you it isn't every young
man that will let the payment of a self-imposed debt stand between him
and getting married to the girl he loves."

Without anticipating too far events we have not yet reached, it may be
said that Lucretia Garfield's education and culture made her not the
wife only, but the sympathetic friend and intellectual helper of her
husband. Her early studies were of service to her in enabling her
partially to prepare for college her two oldest boys. She assisted her
husband also in his literary plans, without losing the domestic
character of a good wife, and the refining graces of a true woman.

But let us not forget that James is still a boy in his teens. He had
many hardships to encounter, and many experiences to go through before
he could set up a home of his own. He had studied three years, but his
education had only begun. The Geauga Seminary was only an academy, and
hardly the equal of the best academies to be found at the East.

He began to feel that he had about exhausted its facilities, and to look
higher. He had not far to look.

During the year 1851 the Disciples, the religious body to which young
Garfield had attached himself, opened a collegiate school at Hiram, in
Portage County, which they called an eclectic school. Now it ranks as a
college, but at the time James entered it, it had not assumed so
ambitious a title.

It was not far away, and James' attention was naturally drawn to it.
There was an advantage also in its location. Hiram was a small country
village, where the expenses of living were small, and, as we know, our
young student's purse was but scantily filled. Nevertheless, so limited
were his means that it was a perplexing problem how he would be able to
pay his way.

He consulted his mother, and, as was always the case, found that she
sympathized fully in his purpose of obtaining a higher education.
Pecuniary help, however, she could not give, nor had he at this time any
rich friends upon whom he could call for the pittance he required.

But James was not easily daunted. He had gone to Geauga Seminary with
but seventeen dollars in his pocket; he had remained there three years,
maintaining himself by work at his old trade of carpenter and teaching,
and had graduated owing nothing. He had become self-reliant, and felt
that what he had done at Chester he could do at Hiram.

So one fine morning he set out, with a light heart and a pocket equally
light, for the infant institution from which he hoped so much.

The Board of Trustees were in session, as we learn from the account
given by one of their number, when James arrived and sought an audience.

After a little delay, the doorkeeper was instructed to bring him in.

James was nineteen at this time. He was no longer as homespun in
appearance as when he sat upon a log with Dr. Robinson, in the seclusion
of the woods, and asked his advice about a career. Nevertheless, he was
still awkward. He had grown rapidly, was of slender build, and had no
advantages of dress to recommend him. One who saw him in after-life,
with his noble, imposing presence, would hardly recognize any similarity
between him and the raw country youth who stood awkwardly before the
Board of Trustees, to plead his cause. It happens not unfrequently that
a lanky youth develops into a fine-looking man. Charles Sumner, at the
age of twenty, stood six feet two inches in his stockings, and weighed
but one hundred and twenty pounds! Yet in after-life he was a man of
noble presence.

But all this while we are leaving James in suspense before the men whose
decision is to affect his life so powerfully.

"Well, young man," asked the Principal, "what can we do for you?"

"Gentlemen," said James, earnestly, "I want an education, and would like
the privilege of making the fires and sweeping the floors of the
building to pay part of my expenses."

There was in his bearing and countenance an earnestness and an
intelligence which impressed the members of the board.

"Gentlemen," said Mr. Frederic Williams, one of the trustees, "I think
we had better try this young man."

Another member, turning to Garfield, said: "How do we know, young man,
that the work will be done as we may desire?"

"Try me," was the answer; "try me two weeks, and if it is not done to
your entire satisfaction, I will retire without a word."

"That seems satisfactory," said the member who had asked the question.

"What studies do you wish to pursue?" asked one gentleman.

"I want to prepare for college. I shall wish to study Latin, Greek,
mathematics, and anything else that may be needed."

"Have you studied any of these already?"

"Yes, sir."


"At the Geauga Seminary. I can refer you to the teachers there. I have
studied under them for three years, and they know all about me."

"What is your name?"

"James A. Garfield."

"There is something in that young man," said one of the trustees to Mr.
Williams. "He seems thoroughly in earnest, and I believe will be a hard

"I agree with you," was the reply.

James was informed that his petition was granted, and he at once made
arrangements for his residence at Hiram.



Hiram, the seat of the Eclectic Institute, was not a place of any
pretension. It was scarcely a village, but rather a hamlet. Yet the
advantages which the infant institution offered drew together a
considerable number of pupils of both sexes, sons and daughters of the
Western Reserve farmers, inspired with a genuine love of learning, and
too sensible to waste their time on mere amusement.

This is the account given of it by President B.A. Hinsdale, who for
fifteen years has ably presided over its affairs: "The institute
building, a plain but substantially built brick structure, was put on
the top of a windy hill, in the middle of a cornfield. One of the cannon
that General Scott's soldiers dragged to the City of Mexico in 1847,
planted on the roof of the new structure, would not have commanded a
score of farm houses.

"Here the school opened at the time Garfield was closing his studies at
Chester. It had been in operation two terms when he offered himself for
enrollment. Hiram furnished a location, the Board of Trustees a building
and the first teacher, the surrounding country students, but the
spiritual Hiram made itself. Everything was new. Society, traditions,
the genius of the school, had to be evolved from the forces of the
teachers and pupils, limited by the general and local environment. Let
no one be surprised when I say that such a school as this was the best
of all places for young Garfield. There was freedom, opportunity, a
large society of rapidly and eagerly opening young minds, instructors
who were learned enough to instruct him, and abundant scope for ability
and force of character, of which he had a superabundance.

"Few of the students who came to Hiram in that day had more than a
district-school education, though some had attended the high schools and
academies scattered over the country; so that Garfield, though he had
made but slight progress in the classics and the higher mathematics
previous to his arrival, ranked well up with the first scholars. In
ability, all acknowledged that he was the peer of any; soon his
superiority to all others was generally conceded."

So James entered upon his duties as janitor and bell-ringer. It was a
humble position for the future President of the United States; but no
work is humiliating which is undertaken with a right aim and a useful
object. Of one thing my boy-reader may be sure--the duties of the
offices were satisfactorily performed. The school-rooms were well cared
for, and the bell was rung punctually. This is shown by the fact that,
after the two weeks of probation, he was still continued in office,
though doubtless in the large number of students of limited means in the
institute there was more than one that would have been glad to relieve
him of his office.

It will hardly be supposed, however, that the position of janitor and
bell-ringer could pay all his expenses. He had two other resources. In
term-time he worked at his trade of carpenter as opportunity offered,
and in the winter, as at Chester, he sought some country town where he
could find employment as a teacher.

The names of the places where he taught are not known to me, though
doubtless there is many an Ohio farmer, or mechanic, or, perchance,
professional man, who is able to boast that he was partially educated by
a President of the United States.

As characteristic of his coolness and firmness, I am tempted to record
an incident which happened to him in one of his winter schools.

There were some scholars about as large as himself, to whom obedience to
the rules of the school was not quite easy--who thought, in
consideration of their age and size, that they might venture upon acts
which would not be tolerated in younger pupils.

The school had commenced one morning, when the young teacher heard angry
words and the noise of a struggle in the school-yard, which chanced to
be inclosed. The noise attracted the attention of the scholars, and
interfered with the attention which the recitation required.

James Garfield stepped quietly outside of the door, and saw two of his
oldest and largest pupils engaged in a wrestling match. For convenience
we will call them Brown and Jones.

"What are you about, boys?" asked the teacher The two were so earnestly
engaged in their conflict that neither returned an answer.

"This must be stopped immediately," said James, decisively. "It is
disrespectful to me, and disturbs the recitations."

He might as well have spoken to the wind. They heard, but they continued
their fight.

"This must stop, or I will stop it myself," said the teacher.

The boys were not afraid. Each was about as large as the teacher, and
they felt that if he interfered he was likely to get hurt.

James thought he had given sufficient warning. The time had come to act.
He stepped quickly forward, seized one of the combatants, and with a
sudden exertion of strength, threw him over the fence. Before he had
time to recover from his surprise his companion was lifted over in the
same manner.

"Now, go on with your fighting if you wish," said the young teacher;
"though I advise you to shake hands and make up. When you get through
come in and report."

The two young men regarded each other foolishly. Somehow all desire to
fight had been taken away.

"I guess we'll go in now," said Brown.

"I'm with you," said Jones, and Garfield entered the school-room, meekly
followed by the two refractory pupils. There was not much use in
resisting the authority of a teacher who could handle them with such

James did not trouble them with any moral lecture. He was too sensible.
He felt that all had been said and done that was required.

But how did he spend his time at the new seminary, and how was he
regarded? Fortunately we have the testimony of a lady, now residing in
Illinois, who was one of the first students at Hiram.

"When he first entered the school," she writes, "he paid for his
schooling by doing janitor's work, sweeping the floor and ringing the
bell. I can see him even now standing in the morning with his hand on
the bell-rope, ready to give the signal, calling teachers and scholars
to engage in the duties of the day. As we passed by, entering the
school-room, he had a cheerful word for every one. He was probably the
most popular person in the institution. He was always good-natured, fond
of conversation, and very entertaining. He was witty and quick at
repartee, but his jokes, though brilliant and sparkling, were always
harmless, and he never would willingly hurt another's feelings.

"Afterward he became an assistant teacher, and while pursuing his
classical studies, preparatory to his college course, he taught the
English branches. He was a most entertaining teacher--ready with
illustrations, and possessing in a marked degree the power of exciting
the interest of the scholars, and afterward making clear to them the
lessons. In the arithmetic class there were ninety pupils, and I can not
remember a time when there was any flagging in the interest. There were
never any cases of unruly conduct, or a disposition to shirk. With
scholars who were slow of comprehension, or to whom recitations were a
burden, on account of their modest or retiring dispositions, he was
specially attentive, and by encouraging words and gentle assistance
would manage to put all at their ease, and awaken in them a confidence
in themselves. He was not much given to amusements or the sports of the
playground. He was too industrious, and too anxious to make the utmost
of his opportunities to study.

"He was a constant attendant at the regular meetings for prayer, and
his vigorous exhortations and apt remarks upon the Bible lessons were
impressive and interesting. There was a cordiality in his disposition
which won quickly the favor and esteem of others. He had a happy habit
of shaking hands, and would give a hearty grip which betokened a
kind-hearted feeling for all. He was always ready to turn his mind and
hands in any direction whereby he might add to his meagre store of

"One of his gifts was that of mezzotint drawing, and he gave instruction
in this branch. I was one of his pupils in this, and have now the
picture of a cross upon which he did some shading and put on the
finishing touches. Upon the margin is written, in the name of the noted
teacher, his own name and his pupil's. There are also two other
drawings, one of a large European bird on the bough of a tree, and the
other a church yard scene in winter, done by him at that time. In those
days the faculty and pupils were wont to call him 'the second Webster,'
and the remark was common, 'He will fill the White House yet.' In the
Lyceum he early took rank far above the others as a speaker and debater.

"During the month of June the entire school went in carriages to their
annual grove meeting at Randolph, some twenty-five miles away. On this
trip he was the life of the party, occasionally bursting out in an
eloquent strain at the sight of a bird or a trailing vine, or a
venerable giant of the forest. He would repeat poetry by the hour,
having a very retentive memory.

"At the Institute the members were like a band of brothers and sisters,
all struggling to advance in knowledge. Then all dressed plainly, and
there was no attempt or pretence at dressing fashionably or stylishly.
Hiram was a little country place, with no fascinations or worldly
attractions to draw off the minds of the students from their work."

Such is an inside view--more graphic than any description I can give--of
the life of James Garfield at Hiram Institute.



Among the readers of this volume there may be boys who are preparing for
college. They will be interested to learn the extent of James Garfield's
scholarship, when he left the Geauga Academy, and transferred himself to
the Institute at Hiram. Though, in his own language, he remembers with
great satisfaction the work which was accomplished for him at Chester,
that satisfaction does not spring from the amount that he had acquired,
but rather that while there he had formed a definite purpose and plan to
complete a college course. For, as the young scholar truly remarks, "It
is a great point gained when a young man makes up his mind to devote
several years to the accomplishment of a definite work."

When James entered at Hiram, he had studied Latin only six weeks, and
just begun Greek. He was therefore merely on the threshold of his
preparatory course for college. To anticipate a little, he completed
this course, and fitted himself to enter the Junior class at Williams
College in the space of three years. How much labor this required many
of my readers are qualified to understand. It required him to do nearly
six years' work in three, though interrupted by work of various kinds
necessary for his support.

He was not yet able to live luxuriously, or even, as we suppose,
comfortably. He occupied a room with four other students, which could
hardly have been favorable for study. Yet, in the first term he
completed six books of Caesar's commentaries, and made good progress in
Greek. During the first winter he taught a school at Warrensville,
receiving the highest salary he had yet been paid, eighteen dollars a
month--of course in addition to board.

At the commencement of the second year the president sent for him.

James obeyed the summons, wondering whether he was to receive any
reprimand for duty unfulfilled.

President Hayden received him cordially, thus dissipating his

"Garfield," he said, "Mr. ----, tutor in English and ancient languages,
is sick, and it is doubtful whether he will be able to resume his
duties. Do you think you can fill his place, besides carrying on your
own work as student?"

Young Garfield's face flushed with pleasure. The compliment was
unexpected, but in every way the prospect it opened was an agreeable
one. His only doubt was as to his qualifications.

"I should like it very much," he said, "if you think I am qualified."

"I have no doubt on that point. You will teach only what is familiar to
you, and I believe you have a special faculty for imparting knowledge."

"Thank you very much, Mr. Hayden," said Garfield. "I will accept with
gratitude, and I will do my best to give satisfaction."

How well he discharged his office may be inferred from the testimony
given in the last chapter.

Though a part of his time was taken up in teaching others, he did not
allow it to delay his own progress. Still before him he kept the bright
beacon of a college education. He had put his hand to the plow, and he
was not one to turn back or loiter on the way. That term he began
Xenophon's Anabasis, and was fortunate enough to find a home in the
president's family.

But he was not content with working in term-time. When the summer
brought a vacation, he felt that it was too long a time to be lost. He
induced ten students to join him, and hired Professor Dunshee to give
them lessons for one month. During that time he read the Eclogues and
Georgics of Virgil entire, and the first six books of Homer's Iliad,
accompanied by a thorough drill in the Latin and Greek grammar. He must
have "toiled terribly," and could have had few moments for recreation.
When the fall term commenced, in company with Miss Almeda Booth, a
mature young lady of remarkable intellect, and some other students, he
formed a Translation society, which occupied itself with the Book of
Romans, of course in the Greek version. During the succeeding winter he
read the whole of "Demosthenes on the Crown."

The mental activity of the young man (he was now twenty) seems
exhaustless. All this time he took an active part in a literary society
composed of some of his fellow-students. He had already become an easy,
fluent, and forcible speaker--a very necessary qualification for the
great work of his life.

"Oh, I suppose he had a talent for it," some of my young readers may

Probably he had; indeed, it is certain that he had, but it may encourage
them to learn that he found difficulties at the start. When a student at
Geauga, he made his first public speech. It was a six minutes' oration
at the annual exhibition, delivered in connection with a literary
society to which he belonged. He records in a diary kept at the time
that he "was very much scared," and "very glad of a short curtain across
the platform that hid my shaking legs from the audience." Such
experiences are not uncommon in the career of men afterward noted for
their ease in public speaking. I can recall such, and so doubtless can
any man of academic or college training. I wish to impress upon my young
reader that Garfield was indebted for what he became to earnest work.

While upon the subject of public speaking I am naturally led to speak of
young Garfield's religious associations. His mind has already been
impressed with the importance of the religious element, and he felt
that no life would be complete without it. He had joined the Church of
the Disciples, the same to which his uncle belonged, and was baptized in
a little stream that runs into the Chagrin River. The creed of this
class of religious believers is one likely to commend itself in most
respects to the general company of Christians; but as this volume is
designed to steer clear of sect or party, I do not hold any further
reference to it necessary. What concerns us more is, that young
Garfield, in accordance with the liberal usages of the Disciples, was
invited on frequent occasions to officiate as a lay preacher in the
absence of the regular pastor of the Church of the Disciples at Hiram.

Though often officiating as a preacher, I do not find that young
Garfield ever had the ministry in view. On the other hand, he early
formed the design of studying for the legal profession, as he gradually
did, being admitted to the bar of Cuyahoga County, in 1860, when himself
president of Hiram College.

So passed three busy and happy years. Young Garfield had but few idle
moments. In teaching others, in pursuing his own education, in taking
part in the work of the literary society, and in Sunday exhortations,
his time was well filled up. But neither his religion nor his love of
study made him less companionable. He was wonderfully popular. His
hearty grasp of the hand, his genial manner, his entire freedom from
conceit, his readiness to help others, made him a general favorite. Some
young men, calling themselves religious, assume a sanctimonious manner,
that repels, but James Garfield never was troubled in this way. He
believed that

  "Religion never was designed
    To make our pleasures less,"

and was always ready to take part in social pleasures, provided they did
not interfere with his work.

And all this while, with all his homely surroundings, he had high
thoughts for company. He wrote to a student, afterward his own successor
to the presidency, words that truly describe his own aspirations and
habits of mind. "Tell me, Burke, do you not feel a spirit stirring
within you that longs _to know, to do, and to dare_, to hold converse
with the great world of thought, and hold before you some high and noble
object to which the vigor of your mind and the strength of your arm may
be given? Do you not have longings like these which you breathe to no
one, and which you feel must be heeded, or you will pass through life
unsatisfied and regretful? I am sure you have them, and they will
forever cling round your heart till you obey their mandate."

The time had come when James was ready to take another step upward. The
district school had been succeeded by Geauga Seminary, that by Hiram
Institute, and now he looked Eastward for still higher educational
privileges. There was a college of his own sect at Bethany, not far
away, but the young man was not so blinded by this consideration as not
to understand that it was not equal to some of the best known colleges
at the East.

Which should he select?

He wrote to the presidents of Brown University, Yale, and Williams,
stating how far he had advanced, and inquiring how long it would take to
complete their course.

From all he received answers, but the one from President Hopkins, of
Williams College, ended with the sentence, "If you come here, we shall
be glad to do what we can for you." This sentence, so friendly and
cordial, decided the young man who otherwise would have found it hard to
choose between the three institutions.

"My mind is made up," he said. "I shall start for Williams College next

He was influenced also by what he already knew of Dr. Hopkins. He was
not a stranger to the high character of his intellect, and his
theological reputation. He felt that here was a man of high rank in
letters who was prepared to be not only his teacher and guide, but his
personal friend, and for this, if for no other reason, he decided in
favor of Williams College. To a young man circumstanced as he was, a
word of friendly sympathy meant much.



James Garfield had reached the mature age of twenty-two years when he
made his first entrance into Williamstown. He did not come quite
empty-handed. He had paid his expenses while at Hiram, and earned three
hundred and fifty dollars besides, which he estimated would carry him
through the Junior year. He was tall and slender, with a great shock of
light hair, rising nearly erect from a broad, high forehead. His face
was open, kindly, and thoughtful, and it did not require keen perception
of character to discern something above the common in the awkward
Western youth, in his decidedly shabby raiment.

Young Garfield would probably have enjoyed the novel sensation of being
well dressed, but he had never had the opportunity of knowing how it
seemed. That ease and polish of manner which come from mingling in
society he entirely lacked. He was as yet a rough diamond, but a diamond
for all that.

Among his classmates were men from the cities, who stared in undisguised
amazement at the tall, lanky young man who knocked at the doors of the
college for admission.

"Who is that rough-looking fellow?" asked a member of a lower class,
pointing out Garfield, as he was crossing the college campus.

"Oh, that is Garfield; he comes from the Western Reserve."

"I suppose his clothes were made by a Western Reserve tailor."

"Probably," answered his classmate, smiling.

"He looks like a confirmed rustic."

"That is true, but there is something in him. I am in his division, and
I can tell you that he has plenty of talent."

"His head is big enough."

"Yes, he has a large brain--a sort of Websterian intellect. He is bound
to be heard of."

"It is a pity he is so awkward."

"Oh, that will wear off. He has a hearty, cordial way with him, and
though at first we were disposed to laugh at him, we begin to like

"He's as old as the hills. At any rate, he looks so."

"How old are you?"


"Compared with you he is, for he is nearly twenty-three. However, it is
never too late to learn. He is not only a good scholar, but he is very
athletic, and there are few in college who can equal him in athletic

"Why didn't he come to college before? What made him wait till he was an
old man?"

"I understand that he has had a hard struggle with poverty. All the
money he has he earned by hard labor. Dr. Hopkins seems to have taken a
liking to him. I saw him walking with the doctor the other day."

This conversation describes pretty accurately the impression made by
Garfield upon his classmates, and by those in other classes who became
acquainted with him. At first they were disposed to laugh at the tall,
awkward young man and his manners, but soon his real ability, and his
cordial, social ways won upon all, and he was installed as a favorite.
The boys began to call him Old Gar, and regarded him with friendship and
increasing respect, as he grew and developed intellectually, and they
began to see what manner of man he was.

Perhaps the readiest way for a collegian to make an impression upon his
associates is to show a decided talent for oratory. They soon discovered
at Williams that Garfield had peculiar gifts in this way. His speaking
at clubs, and before the church of his communion in Hiram, had been for
him a valuable training. He joined a society, and soon had an
opportunity of showing that he was a ready and forcible speaker.

One day there came startling news to the college. Charles Sumner had
been struck down in the Senate chamber by Preston S. Brooks, of South
Carolina, for words spoken in debate. The hearts of the students
throbbed with indignation--none more fiercely than young Garfield's. At
an indignation meeting convened by the students he rose and delivered,
so says one who heard him, "one of the most impassioned and eloquent
speeches ever delivered in old Williams."

It made a sensation.

"Did you hear Old Gar's speech at the meeting?" asked one of another.

"No, I did not get in in time."

"It was great. I never heard him speak better. Do you know what I


"Gar will be in Congress some day himself. He has rare powers of debate,
and is a born orator."

"I shouldn't wonder myself if you were right. If he ever reaches
Congress he will do credit to old Williams."

James had given up his trade as a carpenter. He was no longer obliged to
resort to it, or, at any rate, he preferred to earn money in a different
way. So one winter he taught penmanship at North Pownal, in Vermont, a
post for which he was qualified, for he had a strong, bold, handsome

"Did you know Mr. Arthur, who taught school here last winter?" asked one
of his writing pupils of young Garfield.

"No; he was not a student of Williams."

"He graduated at Union College, I believe."

"Was he a good teacher?"

"Yes, he was very successful, keeping order without any trouble, though
the school is considered a hard one."

This was Chester A. Arthur, whose name in after years was to be
associated with that of the writing-teacher, who was occupying the same
room as his Presidential successor. But to James Garfield, at that time,
the name meant nothing, and it never occurred to him what high plans
Providence had for them both. It was one of those remarkable cases in
which the paths of two men who are joined in destiny traverse each
other. Was it not strange that two future occupants of the Presidential
chair should be found teaching in the same school-room, in an obscure
Vermont village, two successive winters?

As the reader, though this is the biography of Garfield, may feel a
curiosity to learn what sort of a teacher Arthur was, I shall, without
apology, conclude this chapter with the story of a pupil of his who, in
the year 1853, attended the district school at Cohoes, then taught by
Chester A. Arthur. I find it in the Troy _Times_:

"In the year 1853 the writer attended the district school at Cohoes. The
high department did not enjoy a very enviable reputation for being
possessed of that respect due from the pupils to teacher. During the
year there had been at least four teachers in that department, the last
one only remaining one week. The Board of Education had found it
difficult to obtain a pedagogue to take charge of the school, until a
young man, slender as a May-pole and six feet high in his stockings,
applied for the place. He was engaged at once, although he was
previously informed of the kind of timber he would be obliged to hew.

"Promptly at nine o'clock A.M. every scholar was on hand to welcome the
man who had said that he would 'conquer the school or forfeit his
reputation.' Having called the morning session to order, he said that he
had been engaged to take charge of the school. He came with his mind
prejudiced against the place. He had heard of the treatment of the
former teachers by the pupils, yet he was not at all embarrassed, for he
felt that, with the proper recognition of each other's rights, teacher
and scholars could live together in harmony. He did not intend to
threaten, but he intended to make the scholars obey him, and would try
and win the good-will of all present. He had been engaged to take
charge of that room, and he wished the co-operation of every pupil in so
doing. He had no club, ruler, or whip, but appealed directly to the
hearts of every young man and young lady in the room. Whatever he should
do, he would at least show to the people of this place that this school
could be governed. He spoke thus and feelingly at times, yet with
perfect dignity he displayed that executive ability which in after years
made him such a prominent man. Of course the people, especially the
boys, had heard fine words spoken before, and at once a little smile
seemed to flit across the faces of the leading spirits in past

"The work of the forenoon began, when a lad of sixteen placed a marble
between his thumb and finger, and, with a snap, sent it rolling across
the floor. As the tall and handsome teacher saw this act, he arose from
his seat, and, without a word, walked toward the lad.

"'Get up, sir,' he said.

"The lad looked at him to see if he was in earnest; then he cast his
eyes toward the large boys to see if they were not going to take up his

"'Get up, sir,' said the teacher a second time, and he took him by the
collar of his jacket as if to raise him. The lad saw he had no common
man to deal with, and he rose from his seat.

"'Follow me, sir,' calmly spoke the teacher, and he led the way toward
the hall, while the boy began to tremble, wondering if the new teacher
was going to take him out and kill him. The primary department was
presided over by a sister of the new teacher, and into this room he led
the young transgressor.

"Turning to his sister he said: 'I have a pupil for you; select a seat
for him, and let him remain here. If he makes any disturbance whatever,
inform me.' Turning to the boy he said: 'Young man, mind your teacher,
and do not leave your seat until I give permission,' and he was gone.

"The lad sat there, feeling very sheepish, and as misery loves company,
it was not long before he was gratified to see the door open and observe
his seat-mate enter with the new teacher, who repeated the previous
orders, when he quietly and with dignity withdrew.

"The number was subsequently increased to three, the teacher returning
each time without a word to the other scholars concerning the
disposition made of the refractory lads. The effect upon the rest of the
school was remarkable. As no intimation of the disposition of the boys
was given, not a shade of anger displayed on the countenance of the new
teacher, nor any appearances of blood were noticeable upon his hands,
speculation was rife as to what he had done with the three chaps. He
spoke kindly to all, smiled upon the scholars who did well in their
classes, and seemed to inspire all present with the truth of his remarks
uttered at the opening of the session.

"At recess the mystery that had enveloped the school was cleared away,
for the three lads in the primary department were seen as the rest of
the scholars filed by the door. While all the rest enjoyed the recess,
the three lads were obliged to remain in their seats, and when school
was dismissed for the forenoon, the new teacher entered the
primary-room, and was alone with the young offenders. He sat down by
them, and like a father talked kindly and gave good advice. No parent
ever used more fitting words nor more impressed his offspring with the
fitness thereof than did the new teacher. Dismissing them, he told them
to go home, and when they returned to school to be good boys.

"That afternoon the boys were in their seats, and in two weeks' time
there was not a scholar in the room who would not do anything the
teacher asked. He was beloved by all, and his quiet manner and cool,
dignified ways made him a great favorite. He only taught two terms, and
every reasonable inducement was offered to prevail upon him to remain,
but without avail. His reply was: "I have accomplished all I intended,
namely, conquered what you thought was a wild lot of boys, and received
the discipline that I required. I regret leaving my charge, for I have
learned to love them, but I am to enter a law office at once."

"That teacher was Chester A. Arthur, now President of the United States;
the teacher of the primary department was his sister, now Mrs.
Haynesworth, and the first of the three refractory boys was the writer.
When it was announced that our beloved teacher was to leave us, many
tears were shed by his scholars, and as a slight token of our love, we
presented him with an elegant volume of poems."



Probably young Garfield never passed two happier or more profitable
years than at Williams College. The Seminaries he had hitherto attended
were respectable, but in the nature of things they could not afford the
facilities which he now enjoyed. Despite his years of study and struggle
there were many things in which he was wholly deficient. He had studied
Latin, Greek, and mathematics, but of English literature he knew but
little. He had never had time to read for recreation, or for that higher
culture which is not to be learned in the class-room.

In the library of Williams College he made his first acquaintance with
Shakespeare, and we can understand what a revelation his works must have
been to the aspiring youth. He had abstained from reading fiction,
doubting whether it was profitable, since the early days when with a
thrill of boyish excitement he read "Sinbad the Sailor" and Marryatt's
novels. After a while his views as to the utility of fiction changed. He
found that his mind was suffering from the solid food to which it was
restricted, and he began to make incursions into the realm of poetry and
fiction with excellent results. He usually limited this kind of reading,
and did not neglect for the fascination of romance those more solid
works which should form the staple of a young man's reading.

It is well known that among poets Tennyson was his favorite, so that in
after years, when at fifteen minutes' notice, on the first anniversary
of Lincoln's assassination, he was called upon to move an adjournment of
the House, as a mark of respect to the martyred President, he was able
from memory to quote in his brief speech, as applicable to Lincoln, the
poet's description of some

  "Divinely gifted man,
  Whose life in low estate began,
  And on a simple village green,
    Who breaks his birth's invidious bars,
  And grasped the skirts of happy chance,
  And breasts the blows of circumstance,
    And grapples with his evil stars;
  Who makes by force his merit known,
    And lives to clutch the golden keys
    To mould a mighty state's decrees,
  And shape the whisper of the throne;
  And moving up from high to higher,
    Becomes on Fortune's crowning slope
    The pillar of a people's hope,
  The center of a world's desire."

I am only repeating the remark made by many when I call attention to the
fitness of this description to Garfield himself.

Our young student was fortunate in possessing a most retentive memory.
What he liked, especially in the works of his favorite poet, was so
impressed upon his memory that he could recite extracts by the hour.
This will enable the reader to understand how thoroughly he studied, and
how readily he mastered, those branches of knowledge to which his
attention was drawn. When in after years in Congress some great public
question came up, which required hard study, it was the custom of his
party friends to leave Garfield to study it, with the knowledge that in
due time he would be ready with a luminous exposition which would supply
to them the place of individual study.

Young Garfield was anxious to learn the language of Goethe and
Schiller, and embraced the opportunity afforded at college to enter upon
the study of German. He was not content with a mere smattering, but
learned it well enough to converse in it as well as to read it.

So most profitably the Junior year was spent, but unhappily James had
spent all the money which he had brought with him. Should he leave
college to earn more? Fortunately, this was not necessary. Thomas
Garfield, always unselfishly devoted to the family, hoped to supply his
younger brother with the necessary sum, in installments; but proving
unable, his old friend, Dr. Robinson, came to his assistance.

"You can pay me when you are able, James," he said.

"If I live I will pay you, doctor. If I do not--"

He paused, for an idea struck him.

"I will insure my life for eight hundred dollars," he continued, "and
place the policy in your hands. Then, whether I live or die, you will be

"I do not require this, James," said the doctor kindly.

"Then I feel all the more under obligations to secure you in return for
your generous confidence."

It was a sensible and business-like proposal, and the doctor assented.
The strong, vigorous young man had no difficulty in securing a policy
from a reputable company, and went back to college at the commencement
of the Senior year. I wish to add that the young man scrupulously repaid
the good doctor's timely loan, for had he failed to do so, I could not
have held him up to my young readers as in all respects a model.

There was published at Williams College, in Garfield's time, a magazine
called the _Williams Quarterly_. To this the young man became a frequent
contributor. In Gen. James S. Brisbin's campaign Life of Garfield, I
find three of his poetic contributions quoted, two of which I will also
transfer to my pages, as likely to possess some interest for my young
reader. The first is called


and commences thus:

  "Bottles to right of them,
  Bottles to left of them,
  Bottles in front of them,
    Fizzled and sundered;
  Ent'ring with shout and yell,
  Boldly they drank and well,
  They caught the Tartar then;
  _Oh, what a perfect sell!_
    Sold--the half hundred!
  Grinned all the dentals bare,
  Swung all their caps in air,
  Uncorking bottles there,
  Watching the Freshmen, while
    Every one wondered;
  Plunged in tobacco smoke,
  With many a desperate stroke,
  Dozens of bottles broke;
  Then they came back, but not,
    Not the half hundred!"

Lest from this merry squib, which doubtless celebrated some college
prank, wrong conclusions should be drawn, I hasten to say that in
college James Garfield neither drank nor smoked.

The next poem is rather long, but it possesses interest as a serious
production of one whose name has become a household word. It is entitled


  "'Tis beauteous night; the stars look brightly down
  Upon the earth, decked in her robe of snow.
  No light gleams at the window save my own,
  Which gives its cheer to midnight and to me.
  And now with noiseless step sweet Memory comes,
  And leads me gently through her twilight realms.
  What poet's tuneful lyre has ever sung,
  Or delicatest pencil e'er portrayed
  The enchanted, shadowy land where Memory dwells?
  It has its valleys, cheerless, lone, and drear,
  Dark-shaded by the lonely cypress tree.
  And yet its sunlit mountain tops are bathed
  In heaven's own blue. Upon its craggy cliffs,
  Robed in the dreamy light of distant years,
  Are clustered joys serene of other days;
  Upon its gently sloping hillside's bank
  The weeping-willows o'er the sacred dust
  Of dear departed ones; and yet in that land,
  Where'er our footsteps fall upon the shore,
  They that were sleeping rise from out the dust
  Of death's long, silent years, and round us stand,
  As erst they did before the prison tomb
  Received their clay within its voiceless halls.

  "The heavens that bend above that land are hung
  With clouds of various hues; some dark and chill,
  Surcharged with sorrow, cast their sombre shade
  Upon the sunny, joyous land below;
  Others are floating through the dreamy air,
  White as the falling snow, their margins tinged
  With gold and crimson hues; their shadows fall
  Upon the flowery meads and sunny slopes,
  Soft as the shadows of an angel's wing.
  When the rough battle of the day is done,
  And evening's peace falls gently on the heart,
  I bound away across the noisy years,
  Unto the utmost verge of Memory's land,
  Where earth and sky in dreamy distance meet,
  And Memory dim with dark oblivion joins;
  Where woke the first remembered sounds that fell
  Upon the ear in childhood's early morn;
  And wandering thence along the rolling years,
  I see the shadow of my former self
  Gliding from childhood up to man's estate.
  The path of youth winds down through many a vale,
  And on the brink of many a dread abyss,
  From out whose darkness comes no ray of light,
  Save that a phantom dances o'er the gulf,
  And beckons toward the verge. Again, the path
  Leads o'er a summit where the sunbeams fall;
  And thus, in light and shade, sunshine and gloom,
  Sorrow and joy, this life-path leads along."

During the year 1856 young Garfield was one of the editors of the
college magazine, from which the above extracts are made. The hours
spent upon his contributions to its pages were doubtless well spent.
Here, to use his own words, he learned "to hurl the lance and wield the
sword and thus prepare for the conflict of life." More than one whose
names have since become conspicuous contributed to it while under his
charge. Among these were Professor Chadbourne, S.G.W. Benjamin, Horace
E. Scudder, W.R. Dimmock, and John Savary. The last-named, now resident
in Washington, has printed, since his old friend's death, a series of
sonnets, from which I quote one:

  "How many and how great concerns of state
    Lie at the mercy of the meanest things!
    This man, the peer of presidents and kings;
  Nay, first among them, passed through dangers gate
  In war unscathed, and perils out of date,
    To meet a fool whose pistol-shot yet rings
    Around the world, and at mere greatness flings
  The cruel sneer of destiny or fate!
  Yet hath he made the fool fanatic foil
    To valor, patience, nobleness, and wit!
    Nor had the world known, but because of it,
  What virtues grow in suffering's sacred soil.
    The shot which opened like a crack of hell,
    Made all hearts stream with sacred pity's well
    And showed that unity in which we dwell."



During his second winter vacation a great temptation assailed James. It
was not a temptation to do wrong. That he could easily have resisted.

I must explain.

At Prestenkill, a country village six miles from Troy, N.Y., the young
student organized a writing school, to help defray his expenses. Having
occasion to visit Troy, his interest in education led him to form an
acquaintance with some of the teachers and directors of the public

One of these gentlemen, while walking with him over the sloping sides of
a hill overlooking the city, said: "Mr. Garfield, I have a proposition
to make to you."

The student listened with interest.

"There is a vacancy in one of our public schools. We want an experienced
teacher, and I am sure you will suit us. I offer you the place, with a
salary of twelve hundred dollars a year. What do you say?"

The young man's heart beat for a moment with repressible excitement. It
was a strong temptation. He was offered, deducting vacations, about one
hundred and twenty-five dollars a month, while heretofore his highest
wages had been but eighteen dollars per month and board. Moreover, he
could marry at once the young lady to whom he had been for years

He considered the offer a moment, and this was his answer:

"You are not Satan and I am not Jesus, but we are upon the mountain, and
you have tempted me powerfully. I think I must say, 'Get thee behind
me!' I am poor, and the salary would soon pay my debts and place me in a
position of independence; but there are two objections. I could not
accomplish my resolution to complete a college course, and should be
crippled intellectually for life. Then, my roots are all fixed in Ohio,
where people know me and I know them, and this transplanting might not
succeed as well in the long run as to go back home and work for smaller

So the young man decided adversely, and it looks as if his decision was
a wise one. It is interesting to conjecture what would have been his
future position had he left college and accepted the school then offered
him. He might still have been a teacher, well known and of high repute,
but of fame merely local, and without a thought of the brilliant destiny
he had foregone.

So he went back to college, and in the summer of 1856 he graduated,
carrying off the highest honor--the metaphysical oration. His class was
a brilliant one. Three became general officers during the
rebellion--Garfield, Daviess, and Thompson. Rockwell's name is well
known in official circles; Gilfillan is Treasurer of the United States.
There are others who fill prominent positions. In the class above him
was the late Hon. Phineas W. Hitchcock, who for six years represented
Nebraska in the United States Senate--like Garfield, the architect of
his own fortunes.

"What are your plans, Garfield?" asked a classmate but a short time
before graduation.

"I am going back to Ohio, to teach in the school where I prepared for

"What is the name of the school?"

"Hiram Institute."

"I never heard of it."

"It has only a local reputation."

"Will you get a high salary?"

"No; the institute is poor, and can pay me but little."

"I think you are making a mistake."

"Why so?"

"You are our best scholar, and no one can rival you in speaking in the
societies. You should study law, and then go to one of our large cities
and build up a reputation, instead of burying yourself in an
out-of-the-way Ohio town, where you may live and die without the world
hearing of you."

"Thank you for your good opinion of me. I am not sure whether I deserve
it, but if I do, I shall come to the surface some day. Meanwhile, to
this humble school (it was not yet a college) I owe a large debt of
gratitude. I am under a promise to go back and do what I can to pay that

"In doing so you may sacrifice your own prospects."

"I hope not. At any rate, my mind is made up."

"Oh, well, in that case I will say no more. I know that if your mind is
made up, you are bound to go. Only, years hence you will think of my

"At any rate," said Garfield, cordially, "I shall bear in mind the
interest you have shown in me. You may be right--I admit that--but I
feel that it is my duty to go."

I doubt whether any man of great powers can permanently bury himself, no
matter how obscure the position which he chooses. Sooner or later the
world will find him out, and he will be lifted to his rightful place.
When General Grant occupied a desk in the office of a lawyer in St.
Louis, and made a precarious living by collecting bills, it didn't look
as if Fame had a niche for him; but occasion came, and lifted him to
distinction. So I must confess that the young graduate seemed to be
making a mistake when, turning his back upon Williams College, he sought
the humble institution where he had taught, as a pupil-teacher, two
years before, and occupied a place as instructor, with an humble salary.
But even here there was promotion for him. A year later, at the age of
twenty-six, he was made president of the institution. It was not,
perhaps, a lofty position, for though Hiram Institute now became Hiram
College, it was not a college in the New England sense, but rather a
superior academy.

Let us pause a minute and see what changes have taken place in ten

At the age of sixteen Jimmy Garfield was glad to get a chance to drive a
couple of mules on the tow-path of the Ohio and Pennsylvania Canal. The
ragged, homespun boy had disappeared. In his place we find James A.
Garfield, A.B., president of a Western college--a man of education and
culture. And how has this change been brought about! By energy,
perseverance, and a resolute purpose--a soul that poverty could not
daunt, an ambition which shrank from no hardship, and no amount of
labor. They have been years of toil, for it takes time to transform a
raw and ignorant country lad into a college president; but the toil has
not harmed him--the poverty has not cramped him, nor crippled his
energies. "Poverty is very inconvenient," he said on one occasion, in
speaking of those early years, "but it is a fine spur to activity, and
may be made a rich blessing."

The young man now had an assured income; not a large one, but Hiram was
but an humble village. No fashionable people lived there. The people
were plain in their tastes, and he could live as well as the best
without difficulty. He was employed in a way that interested and pleased
him, and but one thing seemed wanting. His heart had never swerved from
the young lady with whom he first became acquainted at Geauga, to whom
he was more closely drawn at Hiram, and to whom now for some years he
had been betrothed. He felt that he could now afford to be married; and
so Lucretia Rudolph became Mrs. Garfield--a name loved and honored, for
her sake as well as his, throughout the length and breadth of our land.
She, too, had been busily and usefully employed in these intervening
years. As Mr. Philo Chamberlain, of Cleveland, has told us elsewhere,
she has been a useful and efficient teacher in one of the public schools
of that city. She has not been content with instructing others, but in
her hours of leisure has pursued a private course of study, by which her
mind has been broadened and deepened. If some prophetic instinct had
acquainted her with the high position which the future had in store for
her, she could have taken no fitter course to prepare herself to fulfil
with credit the duties which, twenty years after, were to devolve upon
her as the wife of the Chief Magistrate of the Union.

This was the wife that Garfield selected, and he found her indeed a
helper and a sympathizer in all his sorrows and joys. She has proved
equal to any position to which the rising fame of her husband lifted
her. Less than a year ago her husband said of her: "I have been
wonderfully blessed in the discretion of my wife. She is one of the
coolest and best-balanced women I ever saw. She is unstampedable. There
has not been one solitary instance in my public career when I suffered
in the smallest degree for any remark she ever made. It would have been
perfectly natural for a woman often to say something that could be
misinterpreted; but, without any design, and with the intelligence and
coolness of her character, she has never made the slightest mistake that
I ever heard of. With the competition that has been against me, such
discretion has been a real blessing."

Public men who have risen from humble beginnings often suffer from the
mistakes of wives who have remained stationary, and are unfitted to
sympathize with them in the larger life of their husbands. But as James
A. Garfield grew in the public esteem, and honors crowded upon him, step
by step his wife kept pace with him, and was at all times a fitting and
sympathetic companion and helpmeet.

They commenced housekeeping in a neat little cottage fronting the
college campus; and so their wedded life began. It was a modest home,
but a happy one, and doubtless both enjoyed more happy hours than in the
White House, even had the last sorrowful tragedy never been enacted. As
President, James A. Garfield belonged to the nation; as the head of
Hiram College, to his family. Greatness has its penalties, and a low
estate its compensations.



When James Garfield presented himself at Hiram, an awkward, overgrown
boy of nineteen, in his rustic garb, and humbly asked for the position
of janitor and bell-ringer, suppose the trustees had been told, "In
seven years your institute will have developed into a college, and that
boy will be the president," we can imagine their amazement.

Yet it had all come true. Nowhere, perhaps, but in America could such a
thing have happened, and even here it seldom happens that such an upward
stride is made in so short a time.

After all, however, the important question to consider is, "What sort of
a college president did this humble canal-boy, who counted it promotion
when he was elected a janitor and bell-ringer, become?"

For information upon this point, we go to one of his pupils, Rev. I.L.
Darsie, of Danbury, Conn., who writes as follows:

"I attended the Western Reserve Institute when Garfield was principal,
and I recall vividly his method of teaching. He took very kindly to me,
and assisted me in various ways, because I was poor, and was janitor of
the buildings, and swept them out in the morning and built the fires, as
he had done only six years before, when he was a pupil in the same
college. He was full of animal spirits, and used to run out on the green
every day and play cricket with his scholars. He was a tall, strong man,
but dreadfully awkward. Every now and then he would get a hit, and he
muffed his ball and lost his hat as a regular thing.[A] He was
left-handed, too, and that made him seem all the clumsier. But he was
most powerful and very quick, and it was easy for us to understand how
it was that he had acquired the reputation of whipping all the other
mule-drivers on the canal, and of making himself the hero of that
thoroughfare, when he followed its tow-path, only ten years earlier.

[Footnote A: I have seen it somewhere stated that when a Congressman at
Washington he retained his interest in the game of base-ball, and always
was in attendance when it was possible, at a game between two
professional clubs.]

"No matter how old the pupils were, Garfield always called us by our
first names, and kept himself on the most intimate terms with all. He
played with us freely, and we treated him out of the class-room just
about as we did one another. Yet he was a most strict disciplinarian,
and enforced the rules like a martinet. He combined an affectionate and
confiding manner with respect for order in a most successful manner. If
he wanted to speak to a pupil, either for reproof or approbation, he
would generally manage to get one arm around him, and draw him close up
to him. He had a peculiar way of shaking hands, too, giving a twist to
your arm, and drawing you right up to him. This sympathetic manner has
helped him to advancement. When I was janitor, he used sometimes to stop
me, and ask my opinion about this and that, as if seriously advising
with me. I can see now that my opinion could not have been of any value,
and that he probably asked me partly to increase my self-respect and
partly to show that he felt an interest in me. I certainly was his
friend all the firmer for it.

"I remember once asking him what was the best way to pursue a certain

"'Use several text-books,' he answered. 'Get the views of different
authors as you advance. In that way you can plow a deeper furrow. I
always study in that way.'

"He tried hard to teach us to observe carefully and accurately. He broke
out one day in the midst of a lesson with, 'Henry, how many posts are
there under the building down-stairs?' Henry expressed his opinion, and
the question went around the class, hardly any one getting it right.
Then it was, 'How many boot-scrapers are there at the door?' 'How many
windows in the building?' 'How many trees in the field?' He was the
keenest observer I ever saw. I think he noticed and numbered every
button on our coats. A friend of mine was walking with him through
Cleveland one day, when Garfield stopped and darted down a cellar-way,
asking his companion to follow, and briefly pausing to explain himself.
The sign, 'Saws and Files,' was over the door, and in the depths was
heard a regular clicking sound. 'I think this fellow is cutting files,'
said he, 'and I have never seen a file cut.

"Down they went, and, sure enough, there was a man recutting an old
file; and they stayed ten minutes, and found out all about the process.
Garfield would never go by anything without understanding it.

"Mr. Garfield was very fond of lecturing in the school. He spoke two or
three times a week, on all manner of topics, generally scientific,
though sometimes literary or historical. He spoke with great freedom,
never writing out what he had to say, and I now think that his lectures
were a rapid compilation of his current reading, and that he threw it
into this form partly for the purpose of impressing it upon his own

"His facility of speech was learned when he was a pupil at Hiram. The
societies had a rule that every student should take his stand on the
platform and speak for five minutes on any topic suggested at the moment
by the audience. It was a very trying ordeal. Garfield broke down badly
the first two times he tried to speak, but persisted, and was at last,
when he went to Williams, one of the best of the five-minute speakers.
When he returned as principal, his readiness was striking and

Henry James says: "Garfield taught me more than any other man, living
or dead, and, proud as I am of his record as a soldier and a statesman,
I can hardly forgive him for abandoning the academy and the forum."

So President Hinsdale, one of Garfield's pupils, and his successor as
president, testifies: "My real acquaintance with Garfield did not begin
till the fall of 1856, when he returned from Williams College. He then
found me out, drew near to me, and entered into all my troubles and
difficulties pertaining to questions of the future. In a greater or less
degree this was true of his relations to his pupils generally. There are
hundreds of these men and women scattered over the world to-day, who can
not find language strong enough to express their feeling in
contemplating Garfield as their old instructor, adviser, and friend.

"Since 1856 my relations with him have been as close and confidential as
they could be with any man, and much closer and more confidential than
they have been with any other man. I do not say that it would be
possible for me to know anybody better than I know him, and I know that
he possesses all the great elements of character in an extraordinary
degree. His interest in humanity has always been as broad as humanity
itself, while his lively interest in young men and women, especially if
they were struggling in narrow circumstances to obtain an education, is
a characteristic known as widely over the world as the footsteps of
Hiram boys and girls have wandered.

"The help that he furnished hundreds in the way of suggestions,
teaching, encouragement, inspiration, and stimulus was most valuable.
His power over students was not so much that of a drill-master, or
disciplinarian, as that of one who was able to inspire and energize
young people by his own intellectual and moral force."

An illustration of the interest he felt in his pupils may be given.

A student came to the president's study at the close of a college term
to bid him good-bye. After the good-bye was said, he lingered, and
Garfield said: "I suppose you will be back again in the fall, Henry?"

"No," he stammered, "I am not coming back to Hiram any more. Father says
I have got education enough, and that he needs me to work on the farm;
that education doesn't help a farmer along any."

He was a bright boy--not a prodigy, by any means, but one of those
strong, awkward, large-headed fellows, such as James Garfield had
himself been.

"Is your father here?" asked the young president, affected by the boy's
evident sorrow.

"Yes, father is here, and is taking my things home for good."

"Well, don't feel badly. Please tell him Mr. Garfield would like to see
him at his study before he leaves the college."

"Yes, sir, I will."

In half an hour the father, a sturdy farmer, entered the study and
awkwardly sat down.

"So you have come to take Henry home, have you?" asked the president.

"Yes," answered the farmer.

"I sent for you because I wanted to have a little talk with you about
Henry's future. He is coming back again in the fall, I hope?"

"Wal, I think not. I don't reckon I can afford to send him any more.
He's got eddication enough for a farmer already, and I notice that when
they git too much, they sorter git lazy. Yer eddicated farmers are
humbugs. Henry's got so far 'long now that he'd rather have his head in
a book than be workin'. He don't take no interest in the stock, nor in
the farm improvements. Everybody else is dependent in this world on the
farmer, and I think that we've got too many eddicated fellows settin'
'round now for the farmers to support."

To this Garfield answered that he was sorry for the father's decision,
since his son, if permitted to come the next term, would be far enough
advanced to teach school, and so begin to help himself along. Teaching
would pay better than working on the farm in the winter.

"Do you really think Henry can teach next winter?" asked the father, to
whom the idea was a new one.

"I should think so, certainly," answered Garfield. "But if he can not do
so then, he can in a short time."

"Wal, I will think on it. He wants to come back bad enough, and I guess
I'll have to let him. I never thought of it that way afore."

The victory was won. Henry came back the next term, and after finishing
at Hiram, graduated at an Eastern college.



Probably Garfield considered now that he was settled in life. He had
married the woman of his choice, set up a pleasant home, and was fully
occupied with a class of duties that suited him. Living frugally, he was
able to lay by a portion of his salary annually, and saw the way open,
if life and health continued, to a moderate prosperity. He seemed to be
a born teacher, and his life seemed likely to be passed in that pleasant
and tranquil office.

Many years before, while still unmarried, his mother had been a teacher,
and one of her experiences when so occupied was so remarkable that I can
not forbear quoting it:

"About the year 1820 she and her sister were left alone in the world,
without provision, so far as the inheritance or possession of property
was concerned. Preferring to live among relatives, one went to reside
with an uncle in Northern Ohio, and the other, Eliza, afterward Mrs.
Garfield, came to another uncle, the father of Samuel Arnold, who then
lived on a farm near Norwich, Muskingum County, Ohio. There Eliza Ballou
made her home, cheerfully helping at the house or in the field, as was
then sometimes the custom in a pioneer country. Having something more
than what at that day was an ordinary education, Eliza procured about
twenty pupils, and taught a summer school.

"The school-house was one of the most primitive kind, and stood in the
edge of dense and heavily-timbered woods. One day there came up a
fearful storm of wind and rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning.
The woods were badly wrecked, but the wind left the old log-house
uninjured. Not so the lightning. A bolt struck a tree that projected
closely over the roof, and then the roof itself. Some of the pupils were
greatly alarmed, and no doubt thought it the crack of doom, or the day
of judgment. The teacher, as calm and collected as possible, tried to
quiet her pupils and keep them in their places. A man who was one of the
pupils, in speaking of the occurrence, says that for a little while he
remembered nothing, and then he looked around, and saw, as he thought,
the teacher and pupils lying dead on the, floor. Presently the teacher
began to move a little. Then, one by one, the pupils got up, with a
single exception. Help, medical and otherwise, was obtained as soon as
possible for this one, but, though life was saved for a time, reason had
forever fled."

This was certainly a fearful experience for a young teacher.

It was while on a visit to her sister, already married, in Northern
Ohio, that Eliza made the acquaintance of Abram Garfield, the father of
the future President. In this neighborhood, while on a visit to his
relatives, at the age of seventeen, James obtained a school and taught
for a single term.

Having retraced our steps to record this early experience of James'
mother, we take the opportunity to mention an incident in the life of
her son, which was omitted in the proper place. The story was told by
Garfield himself during his last sickness to Mr. Crump, steward of the
White House.

"When I was a youngster," said the President, "and started for college
at Hiram, I had just fifteen dollars--a ten-dollar bill in an old,
black-leather pocketbook, which was in the breast pocket of my coat, and
the other five dollars was in my trowsers' pocket. I was walking along
the road, and, as the day was hot, I took off my coat and carried it on
my arm, taking good care to feel every moment or two of the pocketbook,
for the hard-earned fifteen dollars was to pay my entrance at the

"After a while I got to thinking over what college life would be like,
and forgot all about the pocketbook for some time, and when I looked
again it was gone! I went back mournfully along the road, hunting on
both sides for the pocketbook. Presently I came to a house where a young
man was leaning over a gate, and he asked me when I came up what I was
hunting for. Upon my explaining my loss, and describing the pocketbook,
the young man handed it over. That young man," the President added,
turning to his devoted physician, "was Dr. Bliss. He saved me for

"Yes," said the doctor, "and if I hadn't found your ten dollars you
wouldn't have become President of the United States."

Many a true word is spoken in jest. It might have happened that the boy
would have been so depressed by the loss of his money that he would have
given up his plan of going to Hiram and returned home to fill an humbler
place in the world.

But it is time to return from this digression and resume our narrative.

Devoted to his profession, young Garfield had given but little attention
to politics. But in the political campaign of 1857 and 1858 he became
interested in the exciting political questions which agitated the
community, and, taking the stump, he soon acquired the reputation of a
forcible and logical stump orator. This drew the attention of the voters
to him, and in 1859 he was tendered a nomination to the Ohio Senate from
the counties of Portage and Summit. His speeches during the campaign of
that year are said to have been warm, fresh, and impassioned, and he was
elected by a handsome majority.

This was the first entrance of the future President upon public life.
The session was not long, and the absence of a few weeks at Columbus
did not seriously interfere with his college duties.

In the Senate he at once took high rank. He was always ready to speak,
his past experience having made this easy. He took care to inform
himself upon the subjects which came up for legislation, and for this
reason he was always listened to with respectful attention. Moreover,
his genial manners and warmth of heart made him a general favorite among
all his fellow legislators, whether they belonged to his party or to the

Again, in the session of 1860-61, being also a member of the Senate, he
took a prominent part in such measures as were proposed to uphold the
National Government, menaced by the representative men of the South. He
was among the foremost in declaring that the integrity of the Union must
be protected at all hazards, and declared that it was the right and duty
of the Government to coerce the seceded States.

When the President's call for seventy-five thousand men was made public,
and announcement was made to the Ohio Senate, Senator Garfield sprang to
his feet, and amid loud applause moved that "twenty thousand troops and
three millions of money" should be at once voted as Ohio's quota! He
closed his speech by offering his services to Governor Dennison in any

This offer the Governor bore in mind, and on the 14th of August, 1861,
Garfield was offered the Lieutenant-Colonelcy of the Forty-second Ohio
regiment, which he had been instrumental in forming.

It was a serious moment for Garfield. The acceptance of this commission
would derange all his cherished plans. It would separate him from his
wife and child, and from the loved institution of which he was the head.
He must bid farewell to the calm, studious life, which he so much
enjoyed, and spend days and months in the camp, liable at any moment to
fall the victim of an enemy's bullet.

Suppose he should be killed? His wife would have no provision but the
small sum of three thousand dollars, which he had been able by great
economy to save from his modest salary.

He hesitated, but it was not for long. He was not a man to shrink from
the call of duty. Before moving he wrote to a friend:

"I regard my life as given to the country. I am only anxious to make as
much of it as possible before the mortgage on it is foreclosed."



Having made up his mind to serve his country in the field, Garfield
immediately wrote to the Governor accepting the appointment.

The regiment to which he was assigned was recruited from the same
counties which he represented in the State Senate. A large number of the
officers and privates had been connected as students with Hiram College,
and were personally known to Garfield.

His first step was to qualify himself for his new position. Of the art
and mystery of war the young scholar knew little, but he was no worse
off than many another whom the exigencies of his country summoned from
peaceful pursuits to the tented field and the toilsome march. It was
probably the only office which he ever assumed without suitable
qualifications. But it was not in his nature to undertake any duties
without endeavoring to fit himself for their discharge.

His method of studying the art of war was curious and original. Falling
back on his old trade of carpenter, he brought "his saw and jack-plane
again into play, fashioned companies, officers and non-commissioned
officers out of maple blocks, and with these wooden-headed troops he
thoroughly mastered the infantry tactics in his quarters." There was
this advantage in his method, that his toy troops were thoroughly

The next step was to organize a school for the officers of his regiment,
requiring thorough recitation in the tactics, while their teacher
illustrated the maneuvers by the blocks he had prepared for his own
instruction. He was obliged to begin with the officers, that they might
be qualified to assist him in instructing the men under their command.
He was then able to institute regimental, squad, skirmish, and bayonet
drill, and kept his men at these exercises from six to eight hours daily
till the Forty-second won the reputation of being the best drilled
regiment to be found in Ohio.

My boy readers will be reminded of the way in which he taught geometry
in one of his winter schools, preparing himself at night for the lesson
of the next day. I would like to call their attention also to the
thoroughness with which he did everything. Though previously ignorant of
military tactics he instructed his regiment in them thoroughly,
believing that whatever was worth doing at all was worth doing well.

He was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel, but by the time his organization
was completed he was promoted to the Colonelcy.

At last the preliminary work was completed. His men, an undisciplined
body when he took them in hand, had become trained soldiers, but as yet
they had not received what Napoleon III. called the "baptism of fire."
It is all very well to march and countermarch, and practice the ordinary
evolutions like militia-men at a muster, but how was the regiment, how
was its scholarly commander likely to act in the field?

On the 14th of December orders for the field were received by Colonel
Garfield's command, stationed at Camp Chase.

Then came the trial of parting with wife and mother and going forth to
battle and danger. To his mother, whose highest ambition had been that
her son should be a scholar, it was doubtless a keen disappointment that
his settled prospects should be so broken up; but she, too, was
patriotic, and she quietly said: "Go, my son, your life belongs to your

Colonel Garfield's orders were to report to General Buell at Louisville.
He moved his regiment by way of Cincinnati to Catlettsburg, Kentucky, a
town at the junction of the Big Sandy and the Ohio, and was enabled to
report to his commander on the 19th of December.

Then, for the first time, he learned what was the nature of the duty
that was assigned to him. It was no less than to save Kentucky to the
Union. A border State, with an interest in slavery, public opinion was
divided, and it was uncertain to which side it would incline. The
Confederates understood the value of the prize, and they had taken
measures, which promised to be successful, to wrest it from the Union.
The task had been committed to Gen. Humphrey Marshall, who had invaded
Eastern Kentucky from the Virginia border, and had already advanced as
far north as Prestonburg.

Gen. Marshall fortified a strong natural position near Paintville, and
overran the whole Piedmont region. This region contained few slaves--but
one in twenty-five of the whole population. It was inhabited by a brave
rural population, more closely resembling their Northern than their
Southern neighbors. Among these people Marshall sent stump orators to
fire them with enthusiasm for the Confederate cause. Such men would make
valuable soldiers and must be won over if possible.

So all that portion of the State was in a ferment. It looked as if it
would be lost to the Union. Marshall was daily increasing the number of
his forces, preparing either to intercept Buell, and prevent his advance
into Tennessee, or, cutting off his communications, with the assistance
of Beauregard, to crush him between them.

To Colonel Garfield, an inexperienced civilian, who had only studied
military tactics by the aid of wooden blocks, and who had never been
under fire, it was proposed to meet Marshall, a trained soldier, to
check his advance, and drive him from the State. This would have been
formidable enough if he had been provided with an equal number of
soldiers; but this was far from being the case. He had but twenty-five
hundred men to aid him in his difficult work, and of these eleven
hundred, under Colonel Craven, were a hundred miles away, at Paris,
Kentucky, and this hundred miles was no level plain, but a rough,
mountainous country, infested with guerrillas and occupied by a disloyal

Of course, the first thing to be done was to connect with Colonel
Craven, but, considering the distance and the nature of the country to
be traversed, it was a most difficult problem. The chances were that
Gen. Marshall, with his vastly superior force, would attack the two
bodies of soldiers separately, and crush them before a union could be

Gen. Buell explained how matters stood to the young colonel of
volunteers, and ended thus:

"That is what you have to do, Colonel Garfield--drive Marshall from
Kentucky, and you see how much depends on your action. Now go to your
quarters, think of it overnight, and come here in the morning and tell
me how you will do it."

In college Garfield had been called upon to solve many difficult
problems in the higher mathematics, but it is doubtful whether he ever
encountered a more knotty problem than this one.

He and Colonel Craven represented two little boys of feeble strength,
unable to combine their efforts, who were called upon to oppose and
capture a big boy of twice their size, who knew a good deal more about
fighting than they did.

No wonder the young colonel felt perplexed. But he did not give up. It
was not his way. He resolved to consider whether anything could be done,
and what.

My chief object in writing this volume being to commend its subject as
an example for boys, I think it right to call attention to this trait
which he possessed in a conspicuous degree. Brought face to face with
difficulty--with what might almost be called the impossible, he did not
say, "Oh, I can't do it. It is impossible." He went home to devise a

First of all, it was important that he should know something of the
intervening country--its conformation, its rivers and streams, if there
were any. So, on his way to his room he sought a book-store and bought
a rude map of Kentucky, and then, shutting himself up in his room, while
others were asleep, he devoted himself to a lesson in geography. With
more care than he had ever used in school, he familiarized himself with
the geography of the country in which he was to operate, and then set
himself to devise some feasible plan of campaign.

It was a hard problem, and required still more anxious thought, because
the general to whom he was to report it, was, unlike himself, a man
thoroughly trained in the art of war.

The next morning, according to orders, he sought again his commanding

Gen. Buell was a man of great reticence and severe military habits, and
if the plan were weak or foolish, as might well be from the utter lack
of experience of the young officer who was to make it, he would
unhesitatingly say so.

As Garfield laid his rude map and roughly outlined plan on the table,
and explained his conception of the campaign, he watched anxiously to
see how Gen. Buell was impressed by it. But the general was a man who
knew how to veil his thoughts. He waited in silence till Garfield had
finished, only asking a brief question now and then, and at the end,
without expressing his opinion one way or the other, merely said:
"Colonel Garfield, your orders will be sent you at six o'clock this

Garfield was not compelled to wait beyond that hour.

Promptly the order came, organizing the Eighteenth Brigade of the Army
of the Ohio, under the command of Colonel Garfield, with a letter of
instructions, embodying essentially the plan submitted by the young
officer in the morning.

When Garfield set out with his command the next morning, Gen. Buell said
to him at parting:

"Colonel, you will be at so great a distance from me, and communication
will be so difficult, that I must commit all matters of detail and much
of the fate of the campaign to your discretion. I shall hope to hear a
good account of you."



Col. Garfield had already sent on his regiment in advance to Louisa,
twenty-eight miles up the Big Sandy.

There he joined them on the 24th, having waited at Catlettsburg only
long enough to forward to them necessary supplies.

The arrival of the regiment was opportune, for the district was
thoroughly alarmed. A regiment had been stationed there--the Fourteenth
Kentucky--but had hastily retreated to the mouth of the river during the
night of the 19th, under the impression that Marshall was advancing with
his forces to drive them into the Ohio. It was a false alarm, but the
Union citizens were very much alarmed, and were preparing with their
families to cross the river for safety. With the appearance of
Garfield's regiment a feeling of security returned.

I am anxious to make plain to my boy readers the manner in which the
young colonel managed his campaign. I think they will have no difficulty
in understanding that Garfield had two very difficult things to
accomplish. Colonel Craven knew nothing of Garfield's advance, nor of
his plans. It was necessary to inform him. Again, if possible, a
junction must be effected. The first was difficult, because the
intervening country was infested with roving bands of guerrillas, and a
messenger must take his life in his hands. How, again, could a junction
be effected in the face of a superior enemy, liable to fall upon either
column and crush it?

Obviously the first thing was to find a messenger.

Garfield applied to Col. Moore of the Fourteenth Kentucky, and made
known his need.

"Have you a man," he asked, "who will die rather than fail or betray

"Yes," answered the Kentuckian, after a pause, "I think I have. His name
is John Jordan, and he comes from the head of the Blaine."

This was a small stream which entered the Big Sandy, a short distance
from the town.

At the request of Garfield, Jordan was sent for. In a short time he
entered the tent of the Union commander.

This John Jordan was a remarkable man, and well known in all that
region. He was of Scotch descent, and possessed some of the best traits
of his Scotch ancestry. He was a born actor, a man of undoubted courage,
fertile in expedients, and devoted to the Union cause.

Garfield was a judge of men, and he was impressed in the man's favor at
first sight. He describes Jordan as a tall, gaunt, sallow man, about
thirty years of age, with gray eyes, a fine falsetto voice, and a face
of wonderful expressiveness. To the young colonel he was a new type of
man, but withal a man whom he was convinced that he could trust.

"Why did you come into this war?" he asked, with some curiosity.

"To do my share, colonel, and I've made a bargain with the Lord. I gave
Him my life to start with, and if He has a mind to take it, it's His.
I've nothing to say agin it."

"You mean you have come into the war, not expecting to get out of it

"Yes, colonel."

"You know what I want you to do. Will you die rather than let this
dispatch be taken?"

"I will."

Garfield looked into the man's face, and he read unmistakable sincerity.

He felt that the man could be trusted, and he said so.

The dispatch was written upon tissue paper. It was then rolled into the
form of a bullet, coated with warm lead, and given into the hands of the
messenger. He was provided with a carbine and a brace of revolvers, and
when the moon was down, he mounted his horse in the darkness and set out
on his perilous journey.

It would not do to ride in the daytime, for inevitably he would be
stopped, or shot down. By day he must hide in the woods, and travel only
at night.

His danger was increased by the treachery of one of his own comrades of
the Fourteenth Kentucky, and he was followed by a band of guerrillas in
the Confederate interest. Of this, however, Jordan was not apprised, and
supposing himself secure he sought shelter and concealment at the house
of a man whom he knew to be loyal. Near enough to see, but not to be
seen, the guerrillas waited till the tired messenger was sleeping, and
then coming boldly out of the woods, surrounded the house.

In a fright the good housewife ran up to his chamber, and shook the
sleeping man.

"Wake for your life!" she said. "The guerrillas are outside, clamoring
for you. I have locked the doors, but I can not keep them out long."

Jordan had thrown himself on the bed with his clothes on. He knew that
he was liable to be surprised, and in such an event time was most
valuable. Though awakened from a sound sleep, he had all his wits about

"Thank you," said he. "I have a favor to ask in the name of our cause."

"Be quick, then," said the woman. "They are bursting open the door."

"Take this bullet. It contains a secret dispatch, which, if I am killed,
I enjoin upon you to convey to Colonel Craven, at Paris. Will you do

"If I can."

"Then I am off."

The door burst open, but he made a sudden dash, and escaped capture. He
headed for the woods, amid a volley of bullets, but none of them reached
him. Once he turned round, and fired an answering shot. He did not stop
to see if it took effect, but it was the messenger of Death. One of the
guerrillas reeled, and measured his length upon the ground, dead in a

Fleet as a deer the brave scout pushed on till he got within the
protecting shadows of the friendly woods. There they lost the trail, and
though he saw them from his place of concealment, he was himself unseen.

"Curse him!" said the disappointed leader. "He must have sunk into the
earth, or vanished into the air."

"If he's sunk into the earth, that is where we want him," answered
another, with grim humor.

"You will find I am not dead yet!" said the hidden scout to himself. "I
shall live to trouble you yet."

He passed the remainder of the day in the woods, fearing that his
pursuers might still be lingering about.

"If there were only two or three, I'd come out and face 'em," he said,
"but the odds are too great. I must skulk back in the darkness, and get
back the bullet."

Night came on, and the woman who had saved him, heard a low tapping at
the door. It might be an enemy, and she advanced, and opened it with
caution. A figure, seen indistinctly in the darkness, stood before her.

"Who are you?" she asked doubtfully.

"Don't be afraid, ma'am, it's only me."

"And you--"

"Are the man you saved this morning!"

"God be thanked! Then you were not killed?"

"Do I look like a dead man? No, my time hasn't come yet. I foiled 'em in
the wood, and there I have spent all day. Have you any victuals, for I
am famished?"

"Yes, come in."

"I can not stay. I will take what you have and leave at once, for the
villains may be lurkin' round here somewhere. But first, the bullet!
have you that safe?"

"Here it is."

The scout put it in his pocket, and taking in his hand a paper box of
bread and meat which his loyal hostess brought him, resumed his
hazardous journey.

He knew that there were other perils to encounter, unless he was
particularly fortunate, but he had a heart prepared for any fate. The
perils came, but he escaped them with adroitness, and at midnight of the
following day he was admitted into the presence of Colonel Craven.

Surely this was no common man, and his feat was no common one.

In forty-eight hours, traveling only by night, he had traversed one
hundred miles with a rope round his neck, and without the prospect of
special reward. For he was but a private, and received but a private's
pay--thirteen dollars a month, a shoddy uniform, and hard-tack, when he
could get it.

Colonel Craven opened the bullet, and read the dispatch.

It was dated "Louisa, Kentucky, December 24, midnight"; and directed him
to move at once with his regiment (the Fortieth Ohio, eight hundred
strong) by way of Mount Sterling and McCormick's Gap, to Prestonburg. He
was to encumber his men with as few rations as possible, since the
safety of his command depended on his celerity. He was also requested to
notify Lieutenant-Colonel Woodford, at Stamford, and direct him to join
the march with his three hundred cavalry.

On the following morning Col. Craven's column began to move. The scout
waited till night, and then set out on his return. The reader will be
glad to learn that the brave man rejoined his regiment.



Garfield didn't wait for the scout's return. He felt that no time was to
be lost. The expedition which he had planned was fraught with peril, but
it was no time for timid counsels.

On the morning following Jordan's departure he set out up the river,
halting at George's Creek, only twenty miles from Marshall's intrenched
position. As the roads along the Big Sandy were impassable for trains,
and unsafe on account of the nearness of the enemy, he decided to depend
mainly upon water navigation for the transportation of his supplies.

The Big Sandy finds its way to the Ohio through the roughest and wildest
spurs of the Cumberland Mountains, and is a narrow, fickle stream. At
low-water it is not navigable above Louisa, except for small flat-boats
pushed by hand. At high-water small steamers can reach Piketon, one
hundred and twenty miles from the mouth; but when there are heavy
freshets the swift current, filled with floating timber, and the
overhanging trees which almost touch one another from the opposite
banks, render navigation almost impracticable. This was enough to
intimidate a man less in earnest than Garfield. He did not hesitate, but
gathering together ten days' rations, he chartered two small steamers,
and seizing all the flat-boats he could lay hands on, took his army
wagons apart, and loaded them, with his forage and provisions, upon the

Just as he was ready to start he received an unexpected reinforcement.
Captain Bent, of the Fourteenth Kentucky, entering Garfield's tent, said
to him, "Colonel, there's a man outside who says he knows you. Bradley
Brown, a rebel thief and scoundrel."

"Bradley Brown," repeated Garfield, puzzled. "I don't remember any such

"He has lived near the head of the Blaine, and been a boatman on the
river. He says he knew you on the canal in Ohio."

"Oh, yes, I remember him now; bring him in."

Brown was ushered into the general's tent. He was clad in homespun, and
spattered from head to foot with mud, but he saw in Garfield only the
friend of earlier days, and hurrying up to him, gave him a hearty grasp
of the hand, exclaiming, "Jim, old feller, how are yer?"

Garfield received him cordially, but added, "What is this I hear, Brown?
Are you a rebel?"

"Yes," answered the new-comer, "I belong to Marshall's force, and I've
come straight from his camp to spy out your army."

"Well, you go about it queerly," said Garfield, puzzled.

"Wait till you are alone, colonel. Then I'll tell you about it."

Col. Bent said in an undertone to Garfield, as he left the tent, "Don't
trust him, colonel; I know him as a thief and a rebel."

This was the substance of Brown's communication. As soon as he heard
that James A. Garfield was in command of the Union forces, it instantly
struck him that it must be his old comrade of the canal, for whom he
still cherished a strong attachment. He was in the rebel camp, but in
reality cared little which side was successful, and determined out of
old friendship to help Garfield if he could.

Concealing his design, he sought Marshall, and proposed to visit the
Union camp as a spy, mentioning his former intimacy with Garfield. Gen.
Marshall readily acceded to his plan, not suspecting that it was his
real purpose to tell Garfield all he knew about the rebel force. He
proceeded to give the colonel valuable information on this subject.

When he had finished, Garfield said, "I advise you to go back to

"Go back to him, colonel? Why, he would hang me to the first tree."

"Not if you tell him all about my strength and intended movements."

"But how kin I? I don't know a thing. I was brought into the camp

"Still you can guess. Suppose you tell him that I shall march to-morrow
straight for his camp, and in ten days be upon him."

"You'd be a fool, colonel, to do that, and he 'trenched so strongly,
unless you had twenty thousand men."

"I haven't got that number. Guess again."

"Well, ten thousand."

"That will do for a guess. Now to-day I shall keep you locked up, and
to-morrow you can go back to Marshall."

At nightfall Brown went back to the rebel camp, and his report was made
in accordance with Garfield's suggestions.

The fact was, that deducting those sick and on garrison duty, Garfield's
little army amounted to but fourteen hundred in place of the ten
thousand reported to the rebel commander. This little army was set in
motion the next day. It was a toilsome and discouraging march, over
roads knee-deep in mire, and the troops necessarily made but slow
progress, being frequently obliged to halt. Some days they succeeded in
making but five or six miles. On the 6th of January, however, they
arrived within seven miles of Paintville. Here while Garfield was trying
to catch a few hours' sleep, in a wretched log hut, he was roused by
Jordan, the scout, who had just managed to reach the camp.

"Have you seen Craven?" asked Garfield eagerly.

"Yes; he can't be more'n two days behind me, nohow."

"God bless you, Jordan! You have done us great service," said Garfield,
warmly, feeling deeply relieved by this important news.

"Thank ye, colonel. That's more pay 'n I expected."

In the morning another horseman rode up to the Union camp. He was a
messenger direct from Gen. Buell. He brought with him an intercepted
letter from Marshall to his wife, revealing the important fact that the
Confederate general had five thousand men--forty-four hundred infantry
and six hundred cavalry--with twelve pieces of artillery, and that he
was daily expecting an attack from a Union force of ten thousand.

It was clear that Brown had been true, and that it was from him Gen.
Marshall had received this trustworthy intelligence of the strength of
the Union army.

Garfield decided not to communicate the contents of this letter, lest
his officers should be alarmed at the prospect of attacking a force so
much superior. He called a council, however, and put this question:

"Shall we march at once, or wait the coming of Craven?"

All but one were in favor of waiting, but Garfield adopted the judgment
of this one.

"Forward it is!" he said. "Give the order."

I will only state the plan of Garfield's attack in a general way. There
were three roads that led to Marshall's position--one to the east, one
to the west, and one between the two. These three roads were held by
strong Confederate pickets.

Now, it was Garfield's policy to keep Marshall deceived as to his
strength. For this reason, he sent a small body to drive in the enemy's
pickets, as if to attack Paintville. Two hours after, a similar force,
with the same orders, were sent on the road to the westward, and two
hours later still, a small force was sent on the middle road. The first
pickets, retreating in confusion, fled to the camp, with the
intelligence that a large body of Union troops were on their way to make
an attack. Similar tidings were brought by the two other bodies of
pickets, and Marshall, in dismay, was led to believe that he was menaced
by superior numbers, and hastily abandoned Paintville, and Garfield,
moving his men rapidly over the central route, occupied the town.

Gen. Marshall would have been intensely mortified had he known that this
large Union army was little more than one-fourth the size of his own.

But his alarm was soon increased. On the evening of the 8th of January,
a spy entered his camp, and reported that Craven, with _thirty-three
hundred men_, was within twelve hours' march at the westward.

The big general (he weighed three hundred pounds) was panic-stricken.
Believing Garfield's force to number ten thousand, this reinforcement
would carry his strength up to over thirteen thousand. Ruin and defeat,
as he fancied, stared him in the face, for how could his five thousand
men encounter nearly three times their number? They would, of course, be
overwhelmed. There was safety only in flight.

So the demoralized commander gave orders to break camp, and retreated
precipitately, abandoning or burning a large portion of his supplies.

Garfield saw the fires, and guessed what had happened, being in the
secret of Marshall's delusion. He mounted his horse, and, with a
thousand men, entered the deserted camp at nine in the evening. The
stores that were yet unconsumed he rescued from destruction for the use
of his own army.

In order to keep up the delusion, he sent off a detachment to harass the
retreat of his ponderous adversary and fill his mind with continued

The whole thing was a huge practical joke, but not one that the rebels
were likely to enjoy. Fancy a big boy of eighteen fleeing in dismay from
a small urchin of eight, and we have a parallel to this flight of Gen.
Marshall from an intrenched position, with five thousand troops, when
his opponent could muster but fourteen hundred men in the open field.

Thus far, I think, it will be agreed that Colonel Garfield was a
strategist of the first order. His plan required a boldness and dash
which, under the circumstances, did him the greatest credit.

The next morning Colonel Craven arrived, and found, to his amazement,
that Garfield, single-handed, had forced his formidable enemy from his
strong position, and was in triumphant possession of the deserted rebel



Col. Garfield has gained a great advantage, but he knows that it must be
followed up. His ambition is not satisfied. He means to force a fight
with Marshall, despite the odds.

He has been reinforced, but Craven's men are completely exhausted by
their long and toilsome march. They are hardly able to drag one foot
after the other. Garfield knows this, but he explains to his men what he
proposes to do. He orders those who have strength to come forward. Of
the men under his immediate command seven hundred obey the summons. Of
Craven's weary followers four hundred heroic men volunteer to accompany

So at noon of the 9th, with eleven hundred men, Garfield sets out for
Prestonburg, sending all his available cavalry to follow the line of the
enemy's retreat. At nine o'clock that night, after a march of eighteen
miles, he reaches the mouth of Abbott's Creek with his eleven hundred
men. He hears that his opponent is encamped three miles higher up on the
same stream. He sends an order back to Lieutenant-Colonel Sheldon, who
is left in command at Paintville, to bring up every available man with
all possible dispatch, for he intends to force a battle in the morning.

He requires to know the disposition of Marshall's forces, and here the
gallant scout, John Jordan, again is of service to him. While a dozen
Confederates were grinding at a mill, they were surprised by as many
Union men, who, taking them by surprise, captured their corn, and made
them prisoners. Jordan eyed the miller with a critical eye, and a plan
was instantly formed. The miller was a tall, gaunt man, and his clothes
would fit the scout. He takes a fancy to exchange raiment with the
miller. Then, smearing his face with meal, he goes back to the
Confederate camp in a new character. Even if he is surprised he will
escape suspicion, for the miller is a pronounced disunionist, and he
looks his very image.

His midnight ramble enabled him to learn precisely what it was
important for Garfield to know. He found out their exact position, and
that they had laid an ambuscade for the Union commander. They were
waiting for him, strongly posted on a semicircular hill at the forks of
Middle Creek, on both sides of the road, with cannon commanding its
whole length, hidden by the trees and underbrush.

"They think they've got you, general," said Jordan. "They're waitin' for
you as a cat waits for a mouse."

Upon a steep ridge called Abbott's Hill, the Union soldiers, tired and
sleepy, had thrown themselves upon the wet ground. There was a dense
fog, shutting out the moon and stars, and shrouding the lonely mountain
in darkness. The rain was driven in blinding gusts into the faces of the
shivering men, and tired as they were they hailed with joy the coming of
morning. For more than one brave man it was destined to be his last day
upon earth.

At four o'clock they started on their march. About daybreak, while
rounding a hill, their advance guard was charged upon by a body of
Confederate horsemen. In return Garfield gave the Confederates a
volley, that sent them reeling up the valley.


It was clear that the main body of the enemy was not far away. To
determine this Garfield sent forward a body of skirmishers to draw the
fire of the enemy. He succeeded, for a twelve-pound shell whistled above
the trees, then plowed up the hill, and buried itself in the ground at
the feet of the little band of skirmishers.

Noon came, and Garfield made the necessary preparations for battle. He
could not have been without apprehension, for he knew, though the enemy
did not, that their force was far superior to his. He sent forward his
mounted escort of twelve men to make a charge and draw the enemy's fire.
His plan succeeded. Another shell whistled over their heads, and the
long roll of five thousand muskets was heard.

It was certainly a remarkable battle, when we consider that a small band
of eleven hundred men without cannon had undertaken to attack a force of
five thousand, supported by twelve pieces of artillery, charging up a
rocky hill, over stumps, over stones, over fallen trees, and over high

"The battle was fought on the margin of Middle Creek, a narrow, rapid
stream, and three miles from where it finds its way into the Big Sandy,
through the sharp spurs of the Cumberland Mountain. A rocky road, not
ten feet in width, winds along this stream, and on its two banks abrupt
ridges, with steep and rocky sides, overgrown with trees and underbrush,
shut closely down upon the road and the little streamlet. At twelve
o'clock Garfield had gained the crest of the ridge at the right of the
road, and the charge of his handful of horsemen had drawn Marshall's
fire, and disclosed his actual position.

"The main force of the Confederates occupied the crests of the two
ridges at the left of the stream, but a strong detachment was posted on
the right, and a battery of twelve pieces held the forks of the creek,
and commanded the approach of the Union army. It was Marshall's plan to
drive Garfield along the road, and then, taking him between two
enfilading fires, to surround and utterly destroy him. But his hasty
fire betrayed his design, and unmasked his entire position.

"Garfield acted with promptness and decision. A hundred undergraduates,
recruited from his own college, were ordered to cross the stream climb
the ridge whence the fire had been hottest, and bring on the battle.
Boldly the little band plunged into the creek, the icy water up to their
waists, and clinging to the trees and underbrush, climbed the rocky
ascent. Half-way up the ridge the fire of at least two thousand rifles
opens upon them; but, springing from tree to tree, they press on, and at
last reach the summit. Then suddenly the hill is gray with Confederates,
who, rising from ambush, pour their deadly volleys into the little band
of only one hundred. In a moment they waver, but their leader calls out,
'Every man to a tree! Give them as good as they send, my boys!'

"The Confederates, behind rocks and a rude intrenchment, are obliged to
expose their heads to take aim at the advancing column; but the Union
troops, posted behind the huge oaks and maples, can stand erect, and
load and fire, fully protected. Though they are outnumbered ten to one,
the contest is therefore, for a time, not so very unequal.

"But soon the Confederates, exhausted with the obstinate resistance,
rush from cover, and charge upon the little handful with the bayonet.
Slowly they are driven down the hill, and two of them fall to the ground
wounded. One never rises; the other, a lad of only eighteen, is shot
through the thigh, and one of his comrades turns back to bear him to a
place of safety. The advancing Confederates are within thirty feet, when
one of them fires, and his bullet strikes a tree directly above the head
of the Union soldier. He turns, levels his musket, and the Confederate
is in eternity. Then the rest are upon him; but, zigzagging from tree to
tree, he is soon with his driven column. But not far are the brave boys
driven. A few rods lower down they hear the voice of the brave Captain
Williams, their leader.

"'To the trees again, my boys!' he cries. 'We may as well die here as in

"To the trees they go, and in a moment the advancing horde is checked,
and then rolled backward. Up the hill they turn, firing as they go, and
the little band follows. Soon the Confederates reach the spot where the
Hiram boy lies wounded, and one of them says: 'Boy, give me your

"'Not the gun, but its contents,' cries the boy, and the Confederate
falls mortally wounded. Another raises his weapon to brain the prostrate
lad, but he too falls, killed with his comrade's own rifle. And all this
is done while the hero-boy is on the ground, bleeding. An hour afterward
his comrades bear the boy to a sheltered spot on the other side of the
streamlet, and then the first word of complaint escapes him. As they are
taking off his leg, he says, in his agony, 'Oh, what will mother do?'"

Poor boy! At that terrible moment, in the throes of his fierce agony, he
thought not of himself, but of the mother at home, who was dependent on
his exertions for a livelihood. For in war it is not alone the men in
the field who are called upon to suffer, but the mothers, the wives, and
the children, left at home, whose hearts are rent with anxiety--to whom,
at any moment, may come the tidings of the death of their loved one.

On a rocky height, commanding the field, Garfield watched the tide of
battle. He saw that it was unequal, and that there was danger that his
troops would be overmatched. He saw that they were being driven, and
that they would lose the hill if not supported.

Instantly he ordered to the rescue five hundred of the Ohio Fortieth and
Forty-second, under Major Pardee and Colonel Craven. They dashed boldly
into the stream, holding their cartridge-boxes above their heads, and
plunged into the fight, shouting:

"Hurrah for Williams and the Hiram boys!"

But their position was most critical, for shot, and shell, and canister,
and the fire of four thousand muskets are now concentrated upon them.

"This will never do!" cries Garfield. "Who will volunteer to carry the
other mountain?"

Colonel Munroe, of the Twenty-second Kentucky, responded quickly, "We
will. We know every inch of the ground."

"Go in, then," cries Garfield, "and give them Columbia!"

I have not space to record the varying fortunes of the day. For five
hours the contest rages. By turns the Union forces are driven back, and
then, with a brave charge, they regain their lost ground, and from
behind rocks and trees pour in their murderous volleys. The battle began
at noon, and when the sun sets on the brief winter day it is still

Posted on a projecting rock, in full sight of both armies, stands the
Union commander--his head uncovered, his hair streaming in the wind, and
his heart full of alternate hopes and fears. It looks as if the day were
lost--as if the gallant eleven hundred were conquered at last, when, at
a critical moment, the starry banner is seen waving over an advancing
host. It is Sheldon and reinforcements--long and anxiously expected!
Their shouts are taken up by the eleven hundred! The enemy see them and
are panic-stricken.

The day is won!



I have followed Col. Garfield through the Kentucky campaign, not because
it compared in importance with many other military operations of the
war, but because in its conduct he displayed in a remarkable degree some
of the traits by which he was distinguished. From a military point of
view it may be criticised. His attack upon an enemy far his superior in
numbers, and in a more favorable position, would scarcely have been
undertaken by an officer of more military experience. Yet, once
undertaken, it was carried through with remarkable dash and brilliancy,
and the strategy displayed was of a high order.

I must find room for the address issued to his little army on the day
succeeding the battle, for it tells, in brief, the story of the

"SOLDIERS OF THE EIGHTEENTH BRIGADE: I am proud of you all! In four
weeks you have marched, some eighty and some a hundred miles, over
almost impassable roads. One night in four you have slept, often in the
storm, with only a wintry sky above your heads. You have marched in the
face of a foe of more than double your number--led on by chiefs who have
won a national reputation under the old flag--intrenched in hills of his
own choosing, and strengthened by all the appliances of military art.
With no experience but the consciousness of your own manhood, you have
driven him from his strongholds, pursued his inglorious flight, and
compelled him to meet you in battle. When forced to fight, he sought the
shelter of rocks and hills. You drove him from his position, leaving
scores of his bloody dead unburied. His artillery thundered against you,
but you compelled him to flee by the light of his burning stores, and to
leave even the banner of his rebellion behind him. I greet you as brave
men. Our common country will not forget you. She will not forget the
sacred dead who fell beside you, nor those of your comrades who won
scars of honor on the field.

"I have recalled you from the pursuit that you may regain vigor for
still greater exertions. Let no one tarnish his well-earned honor by any
act unworthy an American soldier. Remember your duties as American
citizens, and sacredly respect the rights and property of those with
whom you have come in contact. Let it not be said that good men dread
the approach of an American army.

"Officers and soldiers, your duty has been nobly done. For this I thank

The battle had been won, but the victorious army was in jeopardy. They
had less than three days' rations, and there were great difficulties in
the way of procuring a further supply. The rainy season had made the
roads impassable for all but horsemen.

Still there was the river. But the Big Sandy was now swollen beyond its
banks, and the rapid current was filled with floating logs and uptorn
trees. The oldest and most experienced boatmen shook their heads, and
would not attempt the perilous voyage.

What was to be done?

Col. Garfield had with him Brown, the scout and ex-canal-boatman, who
had returned from reconnoitering Marshall's camp, with a bullet through
his hat. Garfield asked his advice.

"It's which and t'other, General Jim," he answered, "starvin' or
drownin'. I'd rather drown nur starve. So gin the word, and, dead or
alive, I'll git down the river!"

Garfield gave the word, but he did not let the brave scout go alone.
Together in a small skiff they "got down the river." It was no light
task. The Big Sandy was now a raging torrent, sixty feet in depth, and,
in many places, above the tops of the tall trees which grew along its
margin. In some deep and narrow gorges, where the steep banks shut down
upon the stream, these trees had been undermined at the roots, and,
falling inward, had locked their arms together, forming a net-work that
well-nigh prevented the passage of the small skiff and its two
navigators. Where a small skiff could scarcely pass, could they run a
large steamboat loaded with provisions?

"Other men might ask that question, but not the backwoods boy who had
learned navigation on the waters of the Ohio and Pennsylvania Canal. He
pushed to the mouth of the river, and there took possession of the
_Sandy Valley_, a small steamer in the quartermaster's service. Loading
her with supplies, he set about starting up the river, but the captain
of the boat declared the thing was impossible. Not stopping to argue the
point, Garfield ordered him and his crew on board, and _himself taking
the helm_, set out up the river.

"Brown he stationed at the bow, where, with a long fending-pole in his
hand, he was to keep one eye on the floating logs and uprooted trees,
the other on the chicken-hearted captain.

"The river surged and boiled and whirled against the boat, tossing her
about as if she were a cockle-shell. With every turn of her wheel she
trembled from stem to stern, and with a full head of steam could only
stagger along at the rate of three miles an hour. When night came the
captain begged to tie up till morning, for breasting that flood in the
dark was sheer madness; but Brown cried out, 'Put her ahead, Gineral
Jim,' and Garfield clutched the helm and drove her on through the

"Soon they came to a sudden bend in the stream, where the swift current
formed a furious whirlpool, and this catching the laboring boat,
whirled her suddenly round, and drove her, head on, into the
quicksands. Mattocks were plied, and excavations made round the imbedded
bow, and the bowman uttered oaths loud enough to have raised a small
earthquake; but still the boat was immovable. She was stuck fast in the
mud, and every effort to move her was fruitless. Garfield ordered a
small boat to be lowered, and take a line to the other bank, by which to
warp the steamer free; but the captain and now the crew protested it was
certain death to attempt to cross that foaming torrent at midnight.

"They might as well have repeated to him the Creed and the Ten
Commandments, for Garfield himself sprang into the boat and called to
Brown to follow. He took the helm and laid her bow across the stream,
but the swift current swept them downward. After incredible labor they
made the opposite bank, but far below the steamboat. Closely hugging the
shore, they now crept up the stream, and fastening the line to a tree,
rigged a windlass, and finally warped the vessel again into deep water.

"All that night, and all the next day, and all the following night they
struggled with the furious river, Garfield never but once leaving the
helm, and then for only a few hours' sleep, which he snatched in his
clothes in the day-time. At last they rounded to at the Union camp, and
then went up a cheer that might have been heard all over Kentucky. His
waiting men, frantic with joy, seized their glorious commander, and were
with difficulty prevented from bearing him on their shoulders to his

The little army was saved from starvation by the canal-boy, who had not
forgotten his old trade. He had risked his life a dozen times over in
making the perilous trip, which has been so graphically described in the
passages I have quoted. But for his early and humble experience, he
never would have been able to bring the little steamer up the foaming
river. Little did he dream in the days when, as a boy, he guided the
_Evening Star_, that fifteen years hence, an officer holding an
important command he would use the knowledge then acquired to save a
famishing army. We can not wonder that his men should have been
devotedly attached to such a commander.

I have said that the Kentucky campaign was not one of the most
important operations of the civil war, but its successful issue was most
welcome, coming at the time it did. It came after a series of disasters,
which had produced wide-spread despondency, and even dimmed the courage
of President Lincoln. It kindled hope in the despondent, and nerved
patriotic arms to new and vigorous efforts.

"Why did Garfield, in two weeks, do what it would have taken one of you
Regular folks two months to accomplish?" asked the President, of a
distinguished army officer.

"Because he was not educated at West Point," answered the officer,

"No," replied Mr. Lincoln; "that wasn't the reason. It was because, when
a boy, he had to work for a living."

This was literally true. To his struggling boyhood and early manhood,
and the valuable experience it brought him, Garfield was indebted for
the strength and practical knowledge which brought him safely through a
campaign conducted against fearful odds.

His country was not ungrateful. He received the thanks of the commanding
general for services which "called into action the highest qualities of
a soldier--fortitude, perseverance, courage," and a few weeks later a
commission as brigadier-general of volunteers, to date from the battle
of Middle Creek.

So Jim Garfield, the canal-boy, has become a general. It is an important
step upward, but where are others to come?

If this were designed to be a complete biography of General Garfield, I
should feel it my duty to chronicle the important part he took in the
battle of Chickamauga, where he acted as chief of staff to General
Rosecranz, aiding his superior officer at a most critical point in the
battle by advice which had an important influence in saving the day. I
should like to describe the wonderful and perilous ride of three miles
which he took, exposing his life at every moment, to warn General Thomas
that he is out-flanked, and that at least seventy thousand men are
closing down upon his right wing, to crush his twenty-five thousand to
fragments. Sometimes I hope a poet, of fitting inspiration, will sing of
that ride, and how, escaping from shot and shell, he plunged down the
hill through the fiery storm, reaching Thomas in safety, though his
noble horse at that moment fell dead at his feet. I can not spare time
for the record, but must refer my young reader to the pages of Edmund
Kirke, or General James S. Brisbin.

Other duties, and another important field of action, await Garfield, and
we must hurry on. But, before doing so, I must not fail to record that
the War Department, recognizing his important services at the battle of
Chickamauga, sent him a fortnight later the commission of a



While Garfield was serving his country to the utmost of his ability in
the field, the voters of the Nineteenth District of Ohio, in which he
had his home, were called upon to select a man to represent them in
Congress. It perhaps exceeds any other portion of the State in its
devotion to the cause of education and the general intelligence of its
inhabitants. The people were mostly of New England origin, and in
selecting a representative they wanted a man who was fitted by
education, as well as fidelity, to do them credit.

Their choice fell upon Garfield, who was known to them at home as the
head of one of their chief institutions of learning, and whose
reputation had not suffered in the field. They did not even consult him,
but put him in nomination, and elected him by an overwhelming majority.

It was a gratifying compliment, for in our country an election to
Congress is regarded as a high honor, which no one need be reluctant to
accept. We have on record one of our most distinguished statesmen--John
Quincy Adams--who, after filling the Presidential chair, was content to
go back to Washington as a member of the House of Representatives from
his district in Massachusetts. It was undoubtedly more in harmony with
the desires and tastes of the young man--for he was still a young
man--than service in the field. But he felt that that was not the
question. Where was he more needed? The war was not over. Indeed, it
seemed doubtful when it would be finished; and Garfield was now in a
position to serve his country well as a military commander.

When on the march to Chattanooga, Garfield consulted Gen. Rosecranz,
owning that he was perplexed in attempting to decide.

Rosecranz said: "The war is not yet over, nor will it be for some time
to come. Many questions will arise in Congress which will require not
only statesman-like treatment, but the advice of men having an
acquaintance with military affairs. For that reason you will, I think,
do as good service to the country in Congress as in the field. I not
only think that you can accept the position with honor, but that it is
your duty to do it."

He added, and we may be sure that his advice accorded with the personal
judgment of the man whom he was addressing, "Be true to yourself, and
you will make your mark before your country."

Some months were to elapse before he would require to go to Washington,
for Congress was not to meet till December.

He went to Washington, undecided even yet whether to remain as a
legislator, or to return to his old comrades in the army. He only wished
to know where he could be of most service to his country, and he finally
decided to lay the matter before President Lincoln.

Lincoln gave substantially the same advice as Rosecranz: "We need men
who will help us carry the necessary war measures; and, besides, we are
greatly lacking in men of military experience in the House to promote
legislation about the army. It is your duty, therefore, to enter

When, on the 5th of December, 1863, Garfield took his seat in the House
of Representatives, he was the youngest member of that body. The
Military Committee was the most important committee of Congress, and he
was put upon that, on account of his practical experience in the field.
This, of course, brought him, though a new and young member, into
immediate prominence, and his familiarity with the wants of the army
enabled him to be of great service.

I do not propose to detail at tiresome length the legislative
achievements of Gen. Garfield in the new position which he was destined
to fill for eighteen years. I shall only refer to such as illustrate his
characteristic devotion to duty without special regard to his own
interests. He never hesitated to array himself in opposition to the
popular will, if he thought the people were wrong. It was not long
before an occasion came up which enabled him to assert his independence.

The country needed soldiers, and had inaugurated a system of bounties
which should tempt men to join the ranks of the country's defenders. It
was only a partial success. Some men, good and true, were led to join by
the offer of a sum which made them more at ease about the comfort of
their families, but many joined the service from mercenary
considerations only, who seized the first opportunity to desert, and
turning up in another locality, enlisted again and obtained a second
bounty. These men obtained the name of bounty-jumpers, and there was a
host of them. Yet the measure was popular with soldiers, and Congress
was unanimously in favor of it. Great was the amazement of his
fellow-members when the young member from the Nineteenth Ohio district
rose in his seat and earnestly opposed it. He objected that the policy
was ruinous, involving immense expense, while effecting little good. He
claimed that the country had a right to the service of every one of its
children at such a crisis, without hire and without reward.

But one man stood with him, so unpopular was the stand he had taken; but
it was not long before the bounty system broke down, and Garfield's
views were adopted.

Later on he had another chance to show his independence. President
Lincoln, foreseeing that at a certain date not far ahead the time of
enlistment of nearly half the army would expire, came before Congress
and asked for power to draft men into service. It met with great
opposition. "What! force men into the field! Why, we might as well live
under a despotism!" exclaimed many; and the members of Congress, who
knew how unpopular the measure would be among their constituents,
defeated it by a two-thirds vote.

It was a critical juncture. As Lincoln had said in substance, all
military operations would be checked. Not only could not the war be
pushed, but the Government could not stand where it did. Sherman would
have to come back from Atlanta, Grant from the Peninsula.

The voting was over, and the Government was despondent. Then it was that
Garfield rose, and moving a reconsideration, made a speech full of fire
and earnestness, and the House, carried by storm, passed the bill, and
President Lincoln made a draft for half a million men.

Garfield knew that this action would be unpopular in his district. It
might defeat his re-election; but that mattered not. The President had
been assailed by the same argument, and had answered, "Gentlemen, it is
not necessary that I should be reëlected, but it is necessary that I
should put down this rebellion." With this declaration the young
Congressman heartily sympathized.

Remonstrances did come from his district. Several of his prominent
supporters addressed him a letter, demanding his resignation. He wrote
them that he had acted according to his views of the needs of the
country; that he was sorry his judgment did not agree with theirs, but
that he must follow his own. He expected to live long enough to have
them all confess that he was right.

It was about this time that he made his celebrated reply to Mr.
Alexander Long, of Ohio, a fellow Congressman, who proposed to yield
everything and to recognize the Southern Confederacy.

The excitement was intense. In the midst of it Garfield rose and made
the following speech:

"MR. CHAIRMAN," he said, "I am reminded by the occurrences of this
afternoon of two characters in the war of the Revolution as compared
with two others in the war of to-day.

"The first was Lord Fairfax, who dwelt near the Potomac, a few miles
from us. When the great contest was opened between the mother country
and the colonies, Lord Fairfax, after a protracted struggle with his own
heart, decided he must go with the mother country. He gathered his
mantle about him and went over grandly and solemnly.

"There was another man, who cast in his lot with the struggling
colonists, and continued with them till the war was well-nigh ended. In
an hour of darkness that just preceded the glory of the morning, he
hatched the treason to surrender forever all that had been gained to the
enemies of his country. Benedict Arnold was that man!

"Fairfax and Arnold find their parallels of to-day.

"When this war began many good men stood hesitating and doubting what
they ought to do. Robert E. Lee sat in his house across the river here,
doubting and delaying, and going off at last almost tearfully to join
the army of his State. He reminds one in some respects of Lord Fairfax,
the stately Royalist of the Revolution.

"But now when tens of thousands of brave souls have gone up to God under
the shadow of the flag; when thousands more, maimed and shattered in
the contest, are sadly awaiting the deliverance of death; now, when
three years of terrific warfare have raged over us; when our armies have
pushed the Rebellion back over mountains and rivers, and crowded it into
narrow limits, until a wall of fire girds it; now when the uplifted hand
of a majestic people is about to hurl the bolts of its conquering power
upon the Rebellion; now, in the quiet of this hall, hatched in the
lowest depths of a similar dark treason, there rises a Benedict Arnold,
and proposes to surrender all up, body and spirit, the nation and the
flag, its genius and its honor, now and forever, to the accursed
traitors to our country! And that proposition comes--God forgive and
pity our beloved State--it comes from a citizen of the time-honored and
loyal commonwealth of Ohio!

"I implore you, brethren in this House, to believe that not many births
ever gave pangs to my mother State such as she suffered when that
traitor was born! I beg you not to believe that on the soil of that
State another such a growth has ever deformed the face of nature, and
darkened the light of God's day!"



If Garfield at once took a prominent place in the House of
Representatives, it was by no means because it was composed of inferior
men. On the other hand, there has seldom been a time when it contained a
larger number of men either prominent, or destined in after days to be
prominent. I avail myself of the detailed account given of its members
by Major Bundy, in his excellent Life of Garfield. There are some names
which will be familiar to most of my young readers:

"Its then most fortunate and promising member was Schuyler Colfax, the
popular Speaker. But there were three young members who were destined to
a more lasting prominence. The senior of these who had enjoyed previous
service in he House, was Roscoe Conkling, already recognized by Congress
and the country as a magnificent and convincing speaker. The other two
were James G. Blaine and James A. Garfield. Only a year the senior of
Garfield, Blaine was about to begin a career as brilliant as that of
Henry Clay, and the acquisition of a popularity unique in our political
history. But in this Congress there were many members whose power was
far greater than that of either of the trio, who may yet be as much
compared as Clay, Webster, and Calhoun were in former days.

"In the first place, there was Elihu B. Washburne, 'the watch-dog of the
treasury,' the 'father of the House,' courageous, practical, direct, and
aggressive. Then there was Thaddeus Stevens, who was one of the very few
men capable of driving his party associates--a character as unique as,
and far stronger than, John Randolph; General Robert C. Schenck, fresh
from the army, but a veteran in Congress, one of the ablest of practical
statesmen; ex-Governor Boutwell, of Massachusetts; ex-Governor Fenton,
of New York, a very influential member, especially on financial
questions; Henry Winter Davis, the brilliant orator, of Maryland;
William B. Allison, since one of the soundest and most useful of Iowa's
Senators; Henry L. Dawes, who fairly earned his promotion to the
Senate, but who accomplished so much in the House that his best friends
regret the transfer; John A. Bingham, one of the most famous speakers of
his time; James E. English, of Connecticut, who did valiant and
patriotic service as a War Democrat; George H. Pendleton, now Senator
from Ohio, and a most accomplished statesman, even in his early service
in the House; Henry G. Stebbins, who was to make a speech sustaining Mr.
Chase's financial policy that was unequaled for its salutary effect on
public opinion; Samuel J. Randall, now Speaker; John A. Griswold, of New
York; William Windom, one of the silent members, who has grown steadily
in power; James F. Wilson, who was destined to decline three successive
offers of Cabinet positions by President Grant; Daniel W. Voorhies, of
Indiana, now Senator; John A. Kasson, of Iowa, now our Minister to
Austria; Theodore M. Pomeroy, of New York, afterward Acting Speaker for
a brief period; William R. Morrison, of Illinois, since a Democratic
candidate for the Presidency; William S. Holman and George W. Julian, of
Indiana, both able men; and Fernando Wood--these were all prominent
members of the House. It will be seen that the House was a more trying
arena for a young member like Garfield than the Senate would have been;
for the contests of the former--unsubdued and unmitigated by 'the
courtesy of the Senate'--were conducted by as ready and able a corps of
debaters as ever sat in that body."

This was surely a formidable array of men, and a man of ordinary powers
would have found it prudent to remain silent during the first session,
lest he should be overwhelmed by some one of the ready speakers and
experienced legislators with whom he was associated. But the canal-boy,
who had so swiftly risen from his humble position to the post of college
president and major-general, till at the age of thirty-two he sat in the
national council the youngest member, was not daunted. His term of
service as State Senator was now of use to him, for it had given him a
knowledge of parliamentary law, and the practice in speaking which he
gained long ago in the boys' debating societies, and extended in
college, rendered him easy and master of himself.

Indeed he could not remain silent, for he represented the "boys at the
front," and whenever a measure was proposed affecting their interests,
he was expected to take part in the debate. It was not long before the
House found that its new member was a man of grace and power, with whom
it was not always safe to measure weapons. He was inclined to be
peaceful, but he was not willing to permit any one to domineer over him,
and the same member did not often attempt it a second time.

My young readers are sure to admire pluck, and they will, therefore,
read with interest of one such occasion, when Garfield effectually
quelled such an attempt. I find it in a chapter of reminiscences
contributed to the Boston _Journal_, by Ben Perley Poore, the well-known

"When the Jenckes Bankrupt Bill came before the House, Gen. Garfield
objected to it, because in his opinion it did not provide that the
estates of rebels in arms should escape the operations of the law. He
also showed that money was being raised to secure the enactment of the
bill, and Mr. Spalding, of the Cleveland district, was prompted by Mr.
Jenckes to 'sit down on him.' But Gen. Garfield was not to be silenced
easily and quite a scene ensued. The next day Garfield rose to a
personal explanation, and said:

"'I made no personal reference whatever; I assailed no gentleman; I
called no man's honor in question. My colleague from the Cleveland
district (Mr. Spalding) rose and asked if I had read the bill. I
answered him, I believe, in courteous language and manner, that I had
read it, and immediately on my statement to that effect he said in his
place in the House, and it has gone on the record, that he did not
believe I had read it; in other words, that he believed I had lied, in
the presence of my peers in this House. I felt, under such
circumstances, that it would not be becoming my self-respect, or the
respect I owe to the House, to continue a colloquy with any gentleman
who had thus impeached my veracity and I said so.

"'It pains me very much that a gentleman of venerable age, who was in
full maturity of life when I was a child, and whom I have respected
since my childhood, should have taken occasion here in this place to use
language so uncalled for, so ungenerous, so unjust to me, and
disgraceful to himself. I have borne with the ill-nature and bad blood
of that gentleman, as many others in this House have, out of respect for
his years; but no importunity of age shall shield him, or any man, from
my denunciation, who is so lacking in the proprieties of this place as
to be guilty of such parliamentary and personal indecency as the House
has witnessed on his part. I had hoped that before this time he would
have acknowledged to me the impropriety and unjustifiableness of his
conduct and apologized for the insult. But he has not seen fit to take
this course. I leave him to his own reflections, and his conduct to the
judgment of the House.'"

Those who listened to these spirited rebukes saw that the young member
from Ohio would not allow himself to be snubbed or insulted with
impunity, and the few who were accustomed to descend to such discourtesy
took warning accordingly. They were satisfied that Garfield, to quote a
common phrase, would give them as good as they sent, and perhaps a
little better. The boy, who at sixteen, when employed on the tow-path,
thrashed the bully of thirty-five for insulting him, was not likely in
his manhood to submit to the insults of a Congressional bully. He was a
man to compel respect, and had that resolute and persistent character
which was likely ere long to make him a leader. So Disraeli, coughed
down in his first attempt to speak before the English House of Commons,
accepted the situation, but recorded the prediction that one day they
would hear him. He, too, mounted step by step till he reached the
highest position in the English Government outside of royalty. A man who
is destined to be great is only strengthened by opposition, and rises in
the end victorious over circumstances.

Garfield soon made it manifest that he had come to Washington to work.
He was not one to lie back and enjoy in idleness the personal
consequence which his position gave him. All his life he had been a
worker, and a hard worker, from the time when he cut one hundred cords
of wood, at twenty-five cents a cord, all through his experience as a
canal-boy, a carpenter, a farm-worker, a janitor, a school teacher, a
student, and a military commander, and now that he had taken his place
in the grand council of the nation, he was not going to begin a life of
self-indulgent idleness.

In consideration of his military record he was, at his entrance into
Congress, put upon the Military Committee; but a session or two later,
at his own request, he was assigned a place on the Committee of Ways and
Means. His reason for this request was, that he might have an
opportunity of studying the question of finance, which he had sufficient
foresight to perceive would one day be a great question, overshadowing
all others. He instantly set himself to a systematic and exhaustive
study of this subject, and attained so thorough a knowledge of it that
he was universally recognized as a high authority--perhaps the highest
in the department. He made speech after speech on the finance question,
and was a pronounced advocate of "Honest Money," setting his face like a
flint against those who advocated any measures calculated to lower the
national credit or tarnish the national reputation for good faith.

"I am aware," said he one day in debate, "that financial measures are
dull and uninviting in comparison with those heroic themes which have
absorbed the attention of Congress for the last five years. To turn from
the consideration of armies and navies, victories and defeats, to the
array of figures which exhibits the debt, expenditure, taxation, and
industry of the nation requires no little courage and self-denial; but
to these questions we must come, and to their solution Congress and all
thoughtful citizens must give their best efforts for many years to

It was not only a wise but a bold thing to do, for among the members of
his own party, in Ohio, financial heresies had crept in, and a party
platform was adopted in 1867, looking to the payment of the bonds of the
Government in greenbacks. He was advised to say nothing on the subject
lest it should cost him the nomination in the election just at hand; but
he met the question boldly, and declared that the district could only
have his services "on the ground of the honest payment of this debt, and
these bonds in coin, according to the letter and spirit of the

Nevertheless he was renominated by acclamation.



On the 15th day of April, 1865, the country was thrilled from end to end
by the almost incredible report that President Lincoln had been
assassinated the evening previous while witnessing a performance at
Ford's Theatre, in Washington.

The war was not yet over, but peace seemed close at hand. All were
anticipating its return with joy. The immense sacrifices of loyal men
seemed about to be rewarded when, like a clap of thunder in a clear sky,
came the terrible tidings, which were flashed at once over the
telegraphic wires to the remotest parts of the country.

The people at first were shocked and silent. Then a mighty wave of wrath
swept over the country--a wrath that demanded victims, and seemed likely
in the principal city of the country to precipitate scenes not unlike
those witnessed in the "Reign of Terror" in France.

The boys who read this story can not understand the excitement of that
day. It was unlike the deep sorrow that came upon us all on the second
of July, for Lincoln died a martyr, at a time when men's passions had
been stirred by sectional strife, and his murder was felt to be an
outgrowth of the passions which it engendered; but Garfield fell, slain
by the hand of a worthless wretch, acting upon his own responsibility.

I shall venture, for the information of young readers, to whom it may be
new, to quote the graphic description of an eye-witness, contributed to
General Brisbin's interesting life of our subject:

"I shall never forget the first time I saw General Garfield. It was the
morning after President Lincoln's assassination. The country was excited
to its utmost tension.... The newspaper head lines of the transaction
were set up in the largest type, and the high crime was on every one's
tongue. Fear took possession of men's minds as to the fate of the
Government, for in a few hours the news came on that Seward's throat was
cut, and that attempts had been made on the lives of others of the
Government officers. Posters were stuck up everywhere, in great black
letters, calling upon the loyal citizens of New York, Brooklyn, Jersey
City, and neighboring places, to meet around the Wall Street Exchange
and give expression to their sentiments.

"It was a dark and terrible hour. What might come next no one could
tell, and men spoke with bated breath. The wrath of the workingmen was
simply uncontrollable, and revolvers and knives were in the hands of
thousands of Lincoln's friends, ready, at the first opportunity, to take
the law into their own hands, and avenge the death of their martyred
President upon any and all who dared to utter a word against him.

"Eleven o'clock A.M. was the hour set for the rendezvous. Fifty thousand
people crowded around the Exchange building, cramming and jamming the
streets, and wedged in as tight as men could stand together. With a few
to whom special favor was extended, I went over from Brooklyn at nine
A.M., and even then, with the utmost difficulty, found my way to the
reception room for the speakers in the front of the Exchange building,
and looking out on the high and massive balcony, whose front was
protected by a massive iron railing.

"We sat in solemnity and silence, waiting for General Butler, who, it
was announced, had started from Washington, and was either already in
the city or expected every moment. Nearly a hundred generals, judges,
statesmen, lawyers, editors, clergymen, and others were in that room
waiting for Butler's arrival.

"We stepped out to the balcony to watch the fearfully solemn and swaying
mass of people. Not a hurrah was heard, but for the most part a dead
silence, or a deep, ominous muttering ran like a rising wave up the
street toward Broadway, and again down toward the river on the right. At
length the batons of the police were seen swinging in the air, far up on
the left, parting the crowd, and pressing it back to make way for a
carriage that moved slowly, and with difficult jags through the compact
multitude, and the cry of 'Butler!' 'Butler!' rang out with tremendous
and thrilling effect, and was taken up by the people.

"But not a hurrah! Not one! It was the cry of a great people asking to
know how their President died. The blood bounced in our veins, and the
tears ran like streams down our faces. How it was done I forget, but
Butler was pulled through, and pulled up, and entered the room where we
had just walked back to meet him. A broad crape, a yard long, hung from
his left arm--terrible contrast with the countless flags that were
waving the nation's victory in the breeze. We first realized then the
sad news that Lincoln was dead. When Butler entered the room we shook
hands. Some spoke, some could not; all were in tears. The only word
Butler had for us all, at the first break of the silence was,
'_Gentleman, he died in the fullness of his fame_!' and as he spoke it
his lips quivered, and the tears ran fast down his cheeks.

"Then, after a few moments, came the speaking. And you can imagine the
effect, as the crape fluttered in the wind while his arm was uplifted.
Dickinson, of New York State, was fairly wild. The old man leaped over
the iron railing of the balcony and stood on the very edge, overhanging
the crowd, gesticulating in the most vehement manner, and almost bidding
the crowd 'burn up the rebel, seed, root, and branch,' while a bystander
held on to his coat-tail to keep him from falling over.

"By this time the wave of popular indignation had swelled to its crest.
Two men lay bleeding on one of the side streets, the one dead, the other
next to dying; one on the pavement, the other in the gutter. They had
said a moment before that 'Lincoln ought to have been shot long ago!'
They were not allowed to say it again. Soon two long pieces of scantling
stood out above the heads of the crowd, crossed at the top like the
letter X, and a looped halter pendant from the junction, a dozen men
following its slow motion through the masses, while 'Vengeance' was the

"On the right suddenly the shout arose, '_The World!_' '_The World_!'
and a movement of perhaps eight thousand to ten thousand turning their
faces in the direction of that building began to be executed.

"It was a critical moment. What might come no one could tell, did that
crowd get in front of that office; police and military would have
availed little, or been too late. A telegram had just been read from
Washington, 'Seward is dying!' Just then, at that juncture, a man
stepped forward with a small flag in his hand and beckoned to the

"'Another telegram from Washington!'

"And then, in the awful stillness of the crisis, taking advantage of the
hesitation of the crowd, whose steps had been arrested a moment, a right
arm was lifted skyward, and a voice, clear and steady, loud and
distinct, spoke out:

"'Fellow-citizens! Clouds and darkness are round about Him! His pavilion
is dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies! Justice and judgment are
the establishment of His throne! Mercy and truth shall go before His
face! Fellow-citizens! God reigns and the Government at Washington still

"The effect was tremendous. The-crowd stood rooted to the ground with
awe, gazing at the motionless orator, and thinking of God and the
security of the Government in that hour. As the boiling waters subside
and settle to the sea, when some strong wind beats it down, so the
tumult of the people sank and became still. All took it as a divine
omen. It was a triumph of eloquence, inspired by the moment, such as
falls to but one man's lot, and that but once in a century. The genius
of Webster, Choate, Everett, Seward, never reached it. What might have
happened had the surging and maddened mob been let loose, none can
tell. The man for the crisis was on the spot, more potent than
Napoleon's guns at Paris. I inquired what was his name.

"The answer came in a low whisper, 'It is General Garfield, of Ohio.'"

It was a most dramatic scene, and a wonderful exhibition of the power of
one man of intellect over a furious mob.

How, would the thrilling intensity of the moment have been increased,
had some prophet, standing beside the inspired speaker, predicted that a
little more than sixteen years later he who had calmed the crowd would
himself fall a victim to violence, while filling the same high post as
the martyred Lincoln. Well has it been said that the wildest dream of
the romancer pales beside the solemn surprise of the Actual. Not one
among the thousands there assembled, not the speaker himself, would have
considered such a statement within the range of credibility. Alas, that
it should have been!--that the monstrous murder of the good Lincoln
should have been repeated in these latter days, and the nation have come
a second time a mourner!

Will it be believed that Garfield's arrival and his speech had been
quite accidental, though we must also count it as Providential, since it
stayed the wild excesses of an infuriated mob. He had only arrived from
Washington that morning, and after breakfast had strolled through the
crowded streets, in entire ignorance of the great gathering at the
Exchange building.

He turned down Broadway, and when he saw the great concourse of people,
he kept on, to learn what had brought them together. Butler was speaking
when he arrived, and a friend who recognized him beckoned him to come up
there, above the heads of the multitude.

When he heard the wild cries for "Vengeance!" and noticed the swaying,
impassioned movements of the crowd, he saw the danger that menaced the
public order, and in a moment of inspiration he rose, and with a gesture
challenged the attention of the crowd. What he said he could not have
told five minutes afterward. "I only know," he said afterward, "that I
drew the lightning from that crowd, and brought it back to reason."



In the crowded activities of Garfield's life, my readers may possibly
have forgotten that he was a lawyer, having, after a course of private
study during his presidency of Hiram College, been admitted to the bar,
in 1861, by the Supreme Court of Ohio. When the war broke out he was
about to withdraw from his position as teacher, and go into practice in
Cleveland; but, as a Roman writer has expressed it, "Inter arma silent
leges." So law gave way to arms, and the incipient lawyer became a

When the soldier put off his armor it was to enter Congress, and instead
of practicing law, Garfield helped to frame laws.

But in 1865 there came an extraordinary occasion, which led to the Ohio
Congressman entering upon his long delayed profession. And here I quote
from the work of Major Bundy, already referred to: "About that time
that great lawyer, Judge Jeremiah S. Black, as the attorney of the Ohio
Democrats who had been opposing the war, came to his friend Garfield,
and said that there were some men imprisoned in Indiana for conspiracy
against the Government in trying to prevent enlistments and to encourage
desertion. They had been tried in 1864, while the war was going on, and
by a military commission sitting in Indiana, where there was no war,
they had been sentenced to death. Mr. Lincoln commuted the sentence to
imprisonment for life, and they were put into State's prison in
accordance with the commutation. They then took out a writ of _habeas
corpus_, to test the constitutionality and legality of their trial, and
the judges in the Circuit Court had disagreed, there being two of them,
and had certified their disagreement to the Supreme Court of the United
States. Judge Black said to Garfield that he had seen what Garfield had
said in Congress, and asked him if he was willing to say in an argument
in the Supreme Court what he had advocated in Congress.

"To which Garfield replied: 'It depends on your case altogether.'

"Judge Black sent him the facts in the case--the record.

"Garfield read it over, and said: 'I believe in that doctrine.'

"To which Judge Black replied: 'Young man, you know it is a perilous
thing for a young Republican in Congress to say that, and I don't want
you to injure yourself.'

"Said Garfield: 'It does not make any difference. I believe in English
liberty, and English law. But, Judge Black, I am not a practitioner in
the Supreme Court, and I never tried a case in my life anywhere.'

"'How long ago were you admitted to the bar?' asked Judge Black.

"'Just about six years age.'

"'That will do,' Black replied, and he took Garfield thereupon over to
the Supreme Court and moved his admission.

"He immediately entered upon the consideration of this important case.
On the side of the Government was arrayed a formidable amount of legal
talent. The Attorney-General was aided by Gen. Butler, who was called in
on account of his military knowledge, and by Henry Stanbury. Associated
with Gen. Garfield as counsel for the petitioners were two of the
greatest lawyers in the country--Judge Black and Hon. David Dudley
Field, and the Hon. John E. McDonald, now Senator from Indiana. The
argument submitted by Gen. Garfield was one of the most remarkable ever
made before the Supreme Court of the United States, and was made under
circumstances peculiarly creditable to Garfield's courage, independence,
and resolute devotion to the cause of constitutional liberty--a devotion
not inspired by wild dreams of political promotion, for at that time it
was dangerous for any young Republican Congressman to defend the
constitutional rights of men known to be disloyal, and rightly despised
and hated for their disloyal practices."

I refer any of my maturer readers who may desire an abstract of the
young lawyer's masterly and convincing argument, to Major Bundy's
valuable work, which necessarily goes more deeply into such matters than
the scope of my slighter work will admit. His argument was listened to
with high approval by his distinguished associate counsel, and the
decision of the Supreme Court was given unanimously in favor of his

Surely this was a most valuable _début_, and Garfield is probably the
first lawyer that ever tried his first case before that august tribunal.
It was a triumph, and gave him an immediate reputation and insured him a
series of important cases before the same court. I have seen it stated
that he was employed in seventeen cases before the Supreme Court, some
of large importance, and bringing him in large fees. But for his first
case he never received a cent. His clients were poor and in prison, and
he was even obliged to pay for printing his own brief. His future
earnings from this source, however, added materially to his income, and
enabled him to install his family in that cherished home at Mentor,
which has become, so familiar by name to the American people.

I can not dwell upon Garfield's experience as a lawyer. I content myself
with quoting, from a letter addressed by Garfield to his close friend,
President Hinsdale, of Hiram College, the account of a case tried in
Mobile, which illustrates his wonderful industry and remarkable

Under date of June 18, 1877, Garfield writes "You know that my life has
abounded in crises and difficult situations. This trip has been,
perhaps, not a crisis, but certainly has placed me in a position of
extreme difficulty. Two or three months ago, W.B. Duncan, a prominent
business man in New York, retained me as his lawyer in a suit to be
heard in the United States Court in Mobile, and sent me the papers in
the case. I studied them, and found that they involved an important and
somewhat difficult question of law, and I made myself sufficiently
familiar with it, so that when Duncan telegraphed me to be in Mobile on
the first Monday in June, I went with a pretty comfortable sense of my
readiness to meet anybody who should be employed on the other side. But
when I reached Mobile, I found there were two other suits connected,
with this, and involving the ownership, sale, and complicated rights of
several parties to the Mobile and Ohio Railroad.

"After two days' skirmishing, the court ordered the three suits to be
consolidated. The question I had prepared myself on passed wholly out of
sight, and the whole entanglement of an insolvent railroad, twenty-five
years old, and lying across four States, and costing $20,000,000, came
upon us at once. There were seven lawyers in the case besides me. On one
side were John A. Campbell, of New Orleans, late member of the Supreme
Bench of the United States; a leading New York and a Mobile lawyer.
Against us were Judge Hoadley, of Cincinnati, and several Southern men.
I was assigned the duty of summing up the case for our side, and
answering the final argument of the opposition. I have never felt myself
in such danger of failure before, all had so much better knowledge of
the facts than I, and all had more experience with that class of
litigation? but I am very sure no one of them did so much hard work, in
the five nights and six days of the trial, as I did. I am glad to tell
you that I have received a dispatch from Mobile, that the court adopted
my view of the case, and gave us a verdict on all points."

Who can doubt, after reading of these two cases, that had Garfield
devoted himself to the practice of the law exclusively, he would have
made one of the most successful members of the profession in the
country, perhaps risen to the highest rank? As it was, he was only able
to devote the time he could spare from his legislative labors.

These increased as years sped. On the retirement of James G. Blaine from
the lower House of Congress, the leadership of his party devolved upon
Garfield. It was a post of honor, but it imposed upon him a vast amount
of labor. He must qualify himself to speak, not superficially, but from
adequate knowledge upon all points of legislation, and to defend the
party with which he was allied from all attacks of political opponents.

On this subject he writes, April 21, 1880: "The position I hold in the
House requires an enormous amount of surplus work. I am compelled to
look ahead at questions likely to be sprung upon us for action, and the
fact is, I prepare for debate on ten subjects where I actually take part
in but one. For example, it seemed certain that the Fitz John Porter
case would be discussed in the House, and I devoted the best of two
weeks to a careful 're-examination' of the old material, and a study of
the new.

"There is now lying on top of my book-case a pile of books, revisions,
and manuscripts, three feet long by a foot and a half high, which I
accumulated and examined for debate, which certainly will not come off
this session, perhaps not at all. I must stand in the breach to meet
whatever comes.

"I look forward to the Senate as at least a temporary relief from this
heavy work. I am just now in antagonism with my own party on legislation
in reference to the election law, and here also I have prepared for two
discussions, and as yet have not spoken on either."

My young readers will see that Garfield thoroughly believed in hard
work, and appreciated its necessity. It was the only way in which he
could hold his commanding position. If he attained large success, and
reached the highest dignity in the power of his countrymen to bestow, it
is clear that he earned it richly. Upon some, accident bestows rank; but
not so with him. From his earliest years he was growing, rounding out,
and developing, till he became the man he was. And had his life been
spared to the usual span, it is not likely that he would have desisted,
but ripened with years into perhaps the most profound and scholarly
statesman the world has seen.



In the midst of his political and professional activity, Garfield never
forgot his days of tranquil enjoyment at Hiram College, when he was
devoted solely to the cultivation of his mind, and the extension of his
knowledge. He still cherished the same tastes, and so far as his
leisure--he had no leisure, save time snatched from the engrossing
claims of politics--so far, at any rate, as he could manage the time, he
employed it for new acquisitions, or for the review of his earlier

In January, 1874, he made a metrical version of the third ode of
Horace's first book. I quote four stanzas:

  "Guide thee, O ship, on thy journey, that owest
  To Africa's shores Virgil trusted to thee.
  I pray thee restore him, in safety restore him,
  And saving him, save me the half of my soul.

  "Stout oak and brass triple surrounded his bosom
  Who first to the waves of the merciless sea
  Committed his frail bark. He feared not Africa's
  Fierce battling the gales of the furious North.

  "Nor feared he the gloom of the rain-bearing Hyads
  Nor the rage of fierce Notus, a tyrant than whom
  No storm-god that rules o'er the broad Adriatic
  Is mightier its billows to rouse or to calm.

  "What form, or what pathway of death him affrighted
  Who faced with dry eyes monsters swimming the deep,
  Who gazed without fear on the storm-swollen billows,
  And the lightning-scarred rocks, grim with death on the shore?"

In reviewing the work of the year 1874, he writes: "So far as individual
work is concerned, I have done something to keep alive my tastes and
habits. For example, since I left you I have made a somewhat thorough
study of Goethe and his epoch, and have sought to build up in my mind a
picture of the state of literature and art in Europe, at the period when
Goethe began to work, and the state when he died. I have grouped the
various poets into order, so as to preserve memoirs of the impression
made upon my mind by the whole. The sketch covers nearly sixty pages of
manuscript. I think some work of this kind, outside the track of one's
every-day work, is necessary to keep up real growth."

In July, 1875, he gives a list of works that he had read recently. Among
these are several plays of Shakespeare, seven volumes of Froude's
England, and a portion of Green's "History of the English People." He
did not limit himself to English studies, but entered the realms of
French and German literature, having made himself acquainted with both
these languages. He made large and constant use of the Library of
Congress. Probably none of his political associates made as much, with
the exception of Charles Sumner.

Major Bundy gives some interesting details as to his method of work,
which I quote: "In all his official, professional, and literary work,
Garfield has pursued a system that has enabled him to accumulate, on a
vast range and variety of subjects, an amount of easily available
information such as no one else has shown the possession of by its use.
His house at Washington is a workshop, in which the tools are always
kept within immediate reach. Although books overrun his house from top
to bottom, his library contains the working material on which he mainly
depends. And the amount of material is enormous. Large numbers of
scrap-books that have been accumulating for over twenty years, in number
and in value--made up with an eye to what either is, or may become,
useful, which would render the collection of priceless value to the
library of any first-class newspaper establishment--are so perfectly
arranged and indexed, that their owner with his all-retentive memory,
can turn in a moment to the facts that may be needed for almost any
conceivable emergency in debate.

"These are supplemented by diaries that preserve Garfield's multifarous
political, scientific, literary, and religious inquiries, studies, and
readings. And, to make the machinery of rapid work complete, he has a
large box containing sixty-three different drawers, each properly
labeled, in which he places newspaper cuttings, documents, and slips of
paper, and from which he can pull out what he wants as easily as an
organist can play on the stops of his instrument. In other words, the
hardest and most masterful worker in Congress has had the largest and
most scientifically arranged of workshops."

It was a pleasant house, this, which Garfield had made for himself in
Washington. With a devoted wife, who sympathized with him in his
literary tastes, and aided him in his preparation for his literary work,
with five children (two boys now at Williams College, one daughter, and
two younger sons), all bright and promising, with a happy and joyous
temperament that drew around him warmly-attached friends, with a mind
continually broadening and expanding in every direction, respected and
appreciated by his countrymen, and loved even by his political
opponents, Garfield's lot seemed and was a rarely happy one. He worked
hard, but he had always enjoyed work. Higher honors seemed hovering in
the air, but he did not make himself anxious about them. He enjoyed
life, and did his duty as he went along, ready to undertake new
responsibilities whenever they came, but by no means impatient for
higher honors.

Filling an honored place in the household is the white-haired mother,
who, with justifiable pride, has followed the fortunes of her son from
his destitute boyhood, along the years in which he gained strength by
battling with poverty and adverse circumstances, to the time when he
fills the leading place in the councils of the nation. So steadily has
he gone on, step by step, that she is justified in hoping for him higher

The time came, and he was elected to the United States Senate in place
of Judge Thurman, who had ably represented the State in the same body,
and had been long regarded as one of the foremost leaders of the
Democratic party. But his mantle fell upon no unworthy successor. Ohio
was fortunate in possessing two such men to represent her in the highest
legislative body of the nation.

Doubtless this honor would have come sooner to Garfield, for in 1877 he
was the candidate to whom all eyes were directed, but he could not be
spared from the lower House, there being no one to take his place as
leader. He yielded to the expressed wishes of President Hayes, who, in
the exceptional position in which he found himself, felt the need of a
strong and able man in the House, to sustain his administration and help
carry out the policy of the Government. Accustomed to yield his own
interest to what he regarded as the needs of his country, Garfield
quietly acquiesced in what to most men would have been a severe

But when, after the delay of four years, he was elected to the Senate,
he accepted with a feeling of satisfaction--not so much because he was
promoted as because, in his new sphere of usefulness, he would have more
time for the gratification of his literary tastes.

In a speech thanking the members of the General Assembly for their
support, he said:

"And now, gentlemen of the General Assembly, without distinction of
party, I recognize this tribute and compliment paid to me to-night.
Whatever my own course may be in the future, a large share of the
inspiration of my future public life will be drawn from this occasion
and from these surroundings, and I shall feel anew the sense of
obligation that I feel to the State of Ohio. Let me venture to point a
single sentence in regard to that work. During the twenty years that I
have been in public life, almost eighteen of it in the Congress of the
United States, I have tried to do one thing. Whether I was mistaken or
otherwise, it has been the plan of my life to follow my conviction at
whatever cost to myself.

"I have represented for many years a district in Congress whose
approbation I greatly desired; but, though it may seem, perhaps, a
little egotistical to say it, I yet desired still more the approbation
of one person, and his name was Garfield. [Laughter and applause]. He is
the only man that I am compelled to sleep with, and eat with, and live
with, and die with; and, if I could not have his approbation, I should
have had companionship. [Renewed laughter and applause]. And in this
larger constituency which has called me to represent them now, I can
only do what is true to my best self, following the same rule. And if I
should be so unfortunate as to lose the confidence of this larger
constituency, I must do what every other fair-minded man has to
do--carry his political life in his hand and take the consequences. But
I must follow what seems to me to be the only safe rule of my life; and
with that view of the case, and with that much personal reference, I
leave that subject."

This speech gives the key-note of Garfield's political action. More than
once he endangered his re-election and hazarded his political future by
running counter to what he knew to be the wishes of his constituents and
his party; but he would never allow himself to be a slave to party, or
wear the yoke of political expediency. He sought, first of all, to win
the approval of his own conscience and his own sense of right, and then
he was willing to "take the consequences," even if they were serious
enough to cut short the brilliant career which he so much enjoyed.

I conceive that in this respect he was a model whom I may safely hold up
for the imitation of my readers, young or old. Such men do credit to the
country, and if Garfield's rule of life could be universally adopted,
the country would never be in peril. A conscientious man may make
mistakes of judgment but he can never go far astray.



Before going farther, in order that my young readers may be better
qualified to understand what manner of man Garfield was, I will quote
the remarks made by two of his friends, one a prominent member of the
party opposed to him in politics. In the Milwaukee _Sentinel_ of Sept.
22d, I find this tribute by Congressman Williams, of that State:

"Happening to sit within one seat of him for four years in the House, I,
with others, perhaps had a better opportunity to see him in all of his
moods than those more removed. In action he was a giant; off duty he was
a great, noble boy. He never knew what austerity of manner or
ceremonious dignity meant. After some of his greatest efforts in the
House, such as will live in history, he would turn to me, or any one
else, and say: 'Well, old boy, how was that?' Every man was his
confidant and friend, so far as the interchange of every-day good
feeling was concerned.

"He once told me how he prepared his speeches; that first he filled
himself with the subject, massing all the facts and principles involved,
so far as he could; then he took pen and paper and wrote down the
salient points in what he regarded their logical order. Then he scanned
them critically, and fixed them in his memory. 'And then,' said he, 'I
leave the paper in my room and trust to the emergency.' He told me that
when he spoke at the serenade in New York a year ago, he was so pressed
by callers that the only opportunity he had for preparation was, to lock
the door and walk three times around the table, when he was called out
to the balcony to begin. All the world knows what that speech was.

"He was wrapped up in his family. His two boys would come up to the
House just before adjournment, and loiter about his desk with their
books in their hands. After the House adjourned, other members would go
off in cars or carriages, or walk down the avenue in groups. But
Garfield, with a boy on each side of him, would walk down Capitol Hill,
as we would say in the country 'cross-lots,' all three chatting
together on equal terms.

"He said to me one day during the canvass, while the tears came to his
eyes, 'I have done no more in coming up from poverty than hundreds and
thousands of others, but I am thankful that I have been able to keep my
family by my side, and educate my children.'

"He was a man with whom anybody could differ with impunity. I have said
repeatedly, that were Garfield alive and fully recovered, and a dozen of
his intimate friends were to go to him, and advise that Guiteau be let
off, he would say, 'Yes, let him go.' The man positively knew no malice.
And for such a man to be shot and tortured like a dog, and by a dog!

"He was extremely sensitive. I have seen him come into the House in the
morning, when some guerrilla of the press had stabbed him deeper in his
feelings than Guiteau's bullet did in the body, and when he looked
pallid from suffering, and the evident loss of sleep; but he would utter
no murmur, and in some short time his great exuberance of spirits would
surmount it all, and he would be a boy again.

"He never went to lunch without a troop of friends with him. He loved
to talk at table, and there is no gush in saying he talked a God
socially and intellectually. Some of his off-hand expressions were like
a burst of inspiration. Like all truly great men, he did not seem to
realize his greatness. And, as I have said, he would talk as cordially
and confidentially with a child as with a monarch. And I only refer to
his conversations with me because you ask me to, and because I think his
off-hand conversations with any one reveal his real traits best.

"Coming on the train from Washington, after his nomination, he said:
'Only think of this! I am yet a young man? if elected and I serve my
term I shall still be a young man. Then what am I going to do? There
seems to be no place in America for an ex-President.'

"And then came in what I thought the extreme simplicity and real
nobility of the man. 'Why,' said he, 'I had no thought of being
nominated. I had bought me some new books, and was getting ready for the

"I laughed at the idea of his buying books, like a boy going to college,
and remembered that during his Congressional career he had furnished
materials for a few books himself. And then, with that peculiar roll of
the body and slap on the shoulder with the left hand, which all will
recognize, he said: 'Why! do you know that up to 1856 I never saw a
_Congressional Globe_, nor knew what one was!' And he then explained how
he stumbled upon one in the hands of an opponent in his first public
anti-slavery debate.

"A friend remarked the other day that Garfield would get as enthusiastic
in digging a six-foot ditch with his own hands, as when making a speech
in Congress. Such was my observation. Going down the lane, he seemed to
forget for the time that there was any Presidential canvass pending. He
would refer, first to one thing, then another, with that off-hand
originality which was his great characteristic. Suddenly picking up a
smooth, round pebble, he said, 'Look at that! Every stone here sings of
the sea.'

"Asking why he bought his farm, he said he had been reading about
metals, how you could draw them to a certain point a million times and
not impair their strength, but if you passed that point once, you could
never get them back. 'So,' said he, 'I bought this farm to rest the
muscles of my mind!' Coming to two small wooden structures in the field,
he talked rapidly of how his neighbors guessed he would do in Congress,
but would not make much of a fist at farming, and then called my
attention to his corn and buckwheat and other crops, and said that was a
marsh, but he underdrained it with tile, and found spring-water flowing
out of the bluff, and found he could get a five-foot fall, and with
pumps of a given dimension, a water-dam could throw water back eighty
rods to his house, and eighty feet above it. 'But,' said he, in his
jocularly, impressive manner, 'I did my surveying before I did my

This is certainly a pleasant picture of a great man, who has not lost
his simplicity of manner, and who seems unconscious of his greatness--in
whom the love of humanity is so strong that he reaches out a cordial
hand to all of his kind, no matter how humble, and shows the warmest
interest in all.

Senator Voorhees, of Indiana, was among the speakers at the memorial
meeting in Terre Haute, and in the course of his remarks, said: "I knew
James A. Garfield well, and, except on the political field, we had
strong sympathies together. It is nearly eighteen years since we first
met, and during that period I had the honor to serve seven years in the
House of Representatives with him.

"The kindness of his nature and his mental activity were his leading
traits. In all his intercourse with men, women, and children, no kinder
heart ever beat in human breast than that which struggled on till 10.30
o'clock Monday night, and then forever stood still. There was a light in
his face, a chord in his voice, and a pressure in his hand, which were
full of love for his fellow-beings. His manners were ardent and
demonstrative with those to whom he was attached, and he filled the
private circle with sunshine and magnetic currents. He had the joyous
spirits of boyhood and the robust intellectuality of manhood more
perfectly combined than any other I ever knew. Such a character was
necessarily almost irresistible with those who knew him personally, and
it accounts for that undying hold which, under all circumstances, bound
his immediate constituents to him as with hooks of steel. Such a nature,
however, always has its dangers as well as its strength and its
blessings. The kind heart and the open hand never accompany a
suspicious, distrustful mind. Designing men mark such a character for
their own selfishness, and Gen. Garfield's faults--for he had faults, as
he was human--sprang more from this circumstance than from all others
combined. He was prompt and eager to respond to the wishes of those he
esteemed his friends, whether inside or outside of his own political
party. That he made some mistakes in his long, busy career is but
repeating the history of every generous and obliging man who has lived
and died in public life. They are not such, however, as are recorded in
heaven, nor will they mar or weaken the love of his countrymen.

"The poor, laboring boy, the self-made man, the hopeful, buoyant soul in
the face of all difficulties and odds, _constitute an example for the
American youth, which will never be lost nor grow dim_.

"The estimate to be placed on the intellectual abilities of Gen.
Garfield must be a very high one. Nature was bountiful to him, and his
acquirements were extensive and solid. If I might make a comparison, I
would say that, with the exception of Jefferson and John Quincy Adams,
he was the most learned President in what is written in books in the
whole range of American history.

"The Christian character of Gen. Garfield can not, with propriety, be
omitted in a glance, however brief, at his remarkable career. Those who
knew him best in the midst of his ambition and his worldly hopes will
not fail now at his tomb to bear their testimony to his faith in God and
his love for the teachings of the blessed Nazarene.

"It seems but yesterday that I saw him last, and parted from him in all
the glory of his physical and mental manhood. His eye was full of light,
his tread elastic and strong, and the world lay bright before him. He
talked freely of public men and public affairs. His resentments were
like sparks from the flint. He cherished them not for a moment. Speaking
of one who, he thought, had wronged him, he said to me, that, sooner or
later, he intended to pour coals of fire on his head by acts of kindness
to some of his kindred. He did not live to do so, but the purpose of his
heart has been placed to his credit in the book of eternal life"

A correspondent of the New York _Tribune_ suggests that the following
lines, from Pollok's "Course of Time," apply with remarkable fitness to
his glorious career:

  "Illustrious, too, that morning stood the man
  Exalted by the people to the throne
  Of government, established on the base
  Of justice, liberty, and equal right;
  Who, in his countenance sublime, expressed
  A nation's majesty, and yet was meek
  And humble; and in royal palace gave
  Example to the meanest, of the fear
  Of God, and all integrity of life
  And manners; who, august, yet lowly; who
  Severe, yet gracious; in his very heart
  Detesting all oppression, all intent
  Of private aggrandizement; and the first
  In every public duty--held the scales
  Of justice, and as law, which reigned in him,
  Commanded, gave rewards; or with the edge
  Vindictive smote--now light, now heavily,
  According to the stature of the crime.
  Conspicuous, like an oak of healthiest bough,
  Deep-rooted in his country's love, he stood."



James A Garfield had been elected to the United States Senate, but he
was never a member of that body. Before the time came for him to take
his seat he had been invested with a higher dignity. Never before in our
history has the same man been an actual member of the House of
Representatives, a Senator-elect, and President-elect.

On the 8th of June, 1880, the Republican Convention at Chicago selected
Garfield as their standard-bearer on the thirty-sixth ballot. No one,
probably, was more surprised or bewildered than Garfield himself, who
was a member of the Convention, when State after State declared in his
favor. In his loyalty to John Sherman, of his own State, whom he had set
in nomination in an eloquent speech, he tried to avert the result, but
in vain. He was known by the friends of other candidates to be
thoroughly equipped for the highest office in the people's gift, and he
was the second choice of the majority.


Mary Clemmer, the brilliant Washington correspondent, writes of the
scene thus: "For days before, many that would not confess it felt that
he was the coming man, because of the acclaim of the people whenever
Garfield appeared. The culminating moment came. Other names seemed to
sail out of sight like thistledown on the wind, till one (how glowing
and living it was) was caught by the galleries, and shout on shout arose
with the accumulative force of ascending breakers, till the vast
amphitheater was deluged with sounding and resounding acclaim, such as a
man could hope would envelope and uplift his name but once in a
life-time. And he? There he stood, strong, Saxon, fair, debonair, yet
white as new snow, and trembling like an aspen. It seemed too much, this
sudden storm of applause and enthusiasm for him, the new idol, the
coming President; yet who may say that through his exultant, yet
trembling heart, that moment shot the presaging pang of distant, yet
sure-coming woe?"

Senator Hoar of Massachusetts, who was the President of the Convention,
in a speech made not long afterward, paid the following just tribute to
Garfield's character and qualifications:

"Think of the qualifications for the office which that man combines. Do
you want a statesman in the broadest sense? Do you demand a successful
soldier? Do you want a man of more experience in civil affairs? No
President of the United States since John Quincy Adams has begun to
bring to the Presidential office, when he entered, anything like the
experience in statesmanship of Gen. Garfield. As you look over the list,
Grant, Jackson, and Taylor have brought to the position great fame as
soldiers, but who since John Quincy Adams has had such a civil career to
look back upon as Gen. Garfield? Since 1864 I can not think of one
important question debated in Congress or discussed before the great
tribunal of the American people in which you can not find the issue
stated more clearly and better than by any one else in the speeches in
the House of Representatives or on the hustings of Gen. Garfield--firm
and resolute, constant in his adherence to what he thinks is right,
regardless of popular delusions or the fear that he will become less
popular, or be disappointed in his ambitions.

"Just remember when Republicans and Democrats alike of Ohio fairly went
crazy over the financial heresy, this man stood as with his feet on a
rock, demanding honesty in government. About six years ago I sat by the
side of an Ohio Representative, who had an elaborately prepared table,
showing how the West was being cheated; that Ohio had not as many bank
bills to the square mile as the East, and that the Southwest was even
worse off than Ohio.

"In regard to the great questions of human rights he has stood
inflexible. The successor of Joshua R. Giddings, he is the man on whom
his mantle may be said to have descended. Still he is no blind partisan.
The best arguments in favor of civil service reform are found in the
speeches of Gen. Garfield. He is liberal and generous in the treatment
of the South, one of the foremost advocates of educational institutions
in the South at the national expense. Do you wish for that highest
type--the volunteer citizen soldier? Here is a man who enlisted at the
beginning of the war; from a subordinate officer he became a
major-general, trusted by those best of commanders, Thomas and
Rosecranz, always in the thickest of the fight, the commander of
dangerous and always successful expeditions, and returning home crowned
with the laurels of victory. Do you wish for an honored career, which in
itself is a vindication of the system of the American Republic? Without
the attributes of rank or wealth, he has risen from the humblest to the
loftiest position."

When the nominee of the convention had leisure to reflect upon his new
position, and then cast his eye back along his past life, beginning with
his rustic home in the Ohio wilderness, and traced step by step his
progress from canal-boy to Presidential candidate, it must have seemed
to him almost a dream. It was indeed a wonderful illustration of what we
claim for our Republican institutions, the absolute right of the poorest
and humblest, provided he has the requisite talent and industry to
aspire to the chief place and the supreme power. "It was the most
perfect instance of the resistless strength of a man developed by all
the best and purest impulses, forces, and influences of American
institutions into becoming their most thorough and ablest embodiment in
organic and personal activity, aspiration, and character."

The response to the nomination throughout the country was most hearty.
It was felt that the poor Ohio canal-boy had fitted himself, after an
arduous struggle with poverty, for the high post to which he was likely
to be called. The _N.Y. Tribune_, whose first choice had been the
brilliant son of Maine, James G. Blaine, welcomed the result of the
convention thus:

"From one end of the nation to the other, from distant Oregon to Texas,
from Maine to Arizona, lightning has informed the country of the
nomination yesterday of James A. Garfield, as the Republican candidate
for the Presidency.

"Never was a nomination made which has been received by friend and foe
with such evidence of hearty respect, admiration, and confidence. The
applause is universal. Even the Democratic House of Representatives
suspended its business that it might congratulate the country upon the
nomination of the distinguished leader of the Republicans.

"James Abram Garfield is, in the popular mind, one of the foremost
statesmen of the nation. He is comparatively a young man, but in his
service he commands the confidence and admiration of his countrymen of
all parties. His ability, his thorough study, and his long practical
experience in political matters gives an assurance to the country that
he will carry to the Presidential office a mind superior, because of its
natural qualifications and training, to any that has preceded him for
many years. He will be a President worthy in every sense to fill the
office in a way that the country will like to see it filled--with
ability, learning, experience, and integrity. That Gen. Garfield will be
elected we have no question. He is a candidate worthy of election, and
will command not only every Republican vote in the country, but the
support of tens of thousands of non-partisans who want to see a
President combining intellectual ability with learning, experience, and
ripe statesmanship."

The prediction recorded above was fulfilled. On the second of November,
1880, James A. Garfield was elected President of the United States.

Had this been a story of the imagination, such as I have often written,
I should not have dared to crown it with such an ending. In view of my
hero's humble beginnings, I should expect to have it severely
criticised as utterly incredible, but reality is oftentimes stranger
than romance, and this is notably illustrated in Garfield's wonderful



On the evening of March 3d, preceding the inauguration, the
President-elect met twenty of his college classmates at supper at
Wormley's Hotel, in Washington, and mutual congratulations were
exchanged. He was the first President of the United States selected from
among the graduates of Williams College, and all the alumni, but more
especially the class of 1856, were full of pride and rejoicing. From
none probably were congratulations more welcome to the new President
than from his old academic associates. If I transcribe the speech which
Gen. Garfield made upon that occasion it is because it throws a light
upon his character and interprets the feelings with which he entered
upon the high office to which his countrymen had called him:

"CLASSMATES: To me there is something exceedingly pathetic in this
reunion. In every eye before me I see the light of friendship and love,
and I am sure it is reflected back to each one of you from my inmost
heart. For twenty-two years, with the exception of the last few days, I
have been in the public service. To-night I am a private citizen.
To-morrow I shall be called to assume new responsibilities, and on the
day after, the broadside of the world's wrath will strike. It will
strike hard. I know it, and you will know it. Whatever may happen to me
in the future, I shall feel that I can always fall back upon the
shoulders and hearts of the class of '56 for their approval of that
which is right, and for their charitable judgment wherein I may come
short in the discharge of my public duties. You may write down in your
books now the largest percentage of blunders which you think I will be
likely to make, and you will be sure to find in the end that I have made
more than you have calculated--many more.

"This honor comes to me unsought. I have never had the Presidential
fever--not even for a day; nor have I it to-night. I have no feeling of
elation in view of the position I am called upon to fill. I would thank
God were I to-day a free lance in the House or the Senate. But it is
not to be, and I will go forward to meet the responsibilities and
discharge the duties that are before me with all the firmness and
ability I can command. I hope you will be able conscientiously to
approve my conduct; and when I return to private life, I wish you to
give me another class-meeting."

This brief address exhibits the modesty with which Gen. Garfield viewed
his own qualifications for the high office for which twenty years of
public life had been gradually preparing him. While all are liable to
mistakes, it is hardly to be supposed that a man so prepared, and
inspired by a conscientious devotion to what he deemed to be right,
would have made many serious blunders. During his brief administration
he made, as the country knows, an admirable beginning in reforming
abuses and exacting the most rigid economy in the public service. There
was every probability of his being his own successor had his life been

The inaugural ceremonies were very imposing. Washington was thronged as
it had never been before on any similar occasion. Private citizens,
civic bodies, and military companies were present from every part of
the country. Prominent among the eminent citizens present was the
stately and imposing figure of Gen. Hancock, who had been the nominee of
the opposing party, and who, with admirable good feeling and good taste,
had accepted an invitation to be present at the inauguration of his
successful rival.

And there were others present whom we have met before. The wife and
mother of the new President, with flushed cheeks and proud hearts,
witnessed the ceremonies that made the one they loved the head of the
State. To him they were more than all the rest. When he had taken the
oath of office in the presence of the assembled tens of thousands,
Garfield turned to his aged mother and imprinted a kiss upon her cheek,
and afterward upon that of his wife. It was a touch of nature that
appealed to the hearts of all present.

In the White House, one of the best rooms was reserved for his aged
mother, for whom he cherished the same fond love and reverence as in his
boyish days. It was a change, and a great one, from the humble log-cabin
in which our story opens; it was a change, too, from the backwoods boy,
in his suit of homespun, to the statesman of noble and commanding
figure, upon whom the eyes of the nation were turned. The boy who had
guided the canal-boat was now at the helm of the national vessel, and
there was no fear that he would run her aground. Even had storms come,
we might safely trust in him who had steered the little steamboat up the
Big Sandy River, in darkness and storm and floating obstructions, to the
camp where his famished soldiers were waiting for supplies. For, as is
the case with every great man, it was difficulty and danger that nerved
Garfield to heroic efforts, and no emergency found him lacking.

His life must now be changed, and the change was not altogether
agreeable. With his cordial off-hand manners, and Western freedom, he,
no doubt, felt cramped and hampered by the requirements of his new
position. When he expressed his preference for the position of a
freelance in the House or Senate, he was sincere. It was more in
accordance with his private tastes. But a public man can not always
choose the place or the manner in which he will serve his country.
Often she says to him, "Go up higher!" when he is content with an humble
place, and more frequently, perhaps, he has to be satisfied with an
humble place when he considers himself fitted for a higher.

So far as he could, Gen. Garfield tried to preserve in the Executive
Mansion the domestic life which he so highly prized. He had his children
around him. He made wise arrangements for their continued education, for
he felt that whatever other legacy he might be able to leave them, this
would be the most valuable. Still, as of old, he could count on the
assistance of his wife in fulfilling the duties, social and otherwise,
required by his exalted position.

Nor was he less fortunate in his political family. He had selected as
his Premier a friend and political associate of many years' standing,
whose brilliant talent and wide-spread reputation brought strength to
his administration. In accepting the tender of the post of Secretary of
State, Mr. Blaine said: "In our new relation I shall give all that I am,
and all that I can hope to be, freely and joyfully to your service. You
need no pledge of my loyalty in heart and in act. I should be false to
myself did I not prove true both to the great trust you confide to me,
and to your own personal and political fortunes in the present and in
the future. Your administration must be made brilliantly successful, and
strong in the confidence and pride of the people, not at all directing
its energies for re-election, and yet compelling that result by the
logic of events and by the imperious necessities of the situation.

"I accept it as one of the happiest circumstances connected with this
affair, that in allying my political fortunes with yours--or rather, for
the time merging mine in yours--my heart goes with my head, and that I
carry to you not only political support, but personal and devoted
friendship. I can but regard it as somewhat remarkable that two men of
the same age, entering Congress at the same time, influenced by the same
aims, and cherishing the same ambitions, should never, for a single
moment, in eighteen years of close intimacy, have had a misunderstanding
or a coolness, and that our friendship has steadily grown with our
growth, and strengthened with our strength.

"It is this fact which has led me to the conclusion embodied in this
letter; for, however much, my dear Garfield, I might admire you as a
statesman, I would not enter your Cabinet if I did not believe in you as
a man and love you as a friend."

When it is remembered that Mr. Blaine before the meeting of the
convention was looked upon as the probable recipient of the honor that
fell to Garfield, the generous warmth of this letter will be accounted
most creditable to both of the two friends, whose strong friendship
rivalry could not weaken or diminish.

So the new Administration entered upon what promised to be a successful
course. I can not help recording, as a singular circumstance, that the
three highest officers were ex-teachers. Of Garfield's extended services
as teacher, beginning with the charge of a district school in the
wilderness, and ending with the presidency of a college, we already
know. Reference has also been made to the early experience of the
Vice-President, Chester A. Arthur, in managing a country school. To this
it may be added that Mr. Blaine, too, early in life was a teacher in an
academy, and, as may readily be supposed, a successful one. It is seldom
in other countries that similar honors crown educational workers. It
may be mentioned, however, that Louis Philippe, afterward King of the
French, while an exile in this country, gave instruction in his native
language. It is not, however, every ruler of boys that is qualified to
become a ruler of men. Yet, in our own country, probably a majority of
our public men have served in this capacity.



I should like to end my story here, and feel that it was complete. I
should like with my countrymen to be still looking forward with interest
to the successful results of an administration, guided by the
experienced statesman whose career we have followed step by step from
its humble beginnings. But it can not be.

On the second of July, in the present year, a startling rumor was borne
on the wings of the lightning to the remotest parts of the land:

"President Garfield has been assassinated!"

The excitement was only paralleled by that which prevailed in 1865, when
Abraham Lincoln was treacherously killed by an assassin. But in this
later case the astonishment was greater, and all men asked, "What can it

We were in a state of profound peace. No wars nor rumors of war
disturbed the humble mind, and the blow was utterly unexpected and

The explanation came soon enough. It was the work of a wretched
political adventurer, who, inflated by an overweening estimate of his
own abilities and importance, had made a preposterous claim to two high
political offices--the post of Minister to Austria, and Consul to
Paris--and receiving no encouragement in either direction, had
deliberately made up his mind to "remove" the President, as he termed
it, in the foolish hope that his chances of gaining office would be
better under another administration.

My youngest readers will remember the sad excitement of that eventful
day. They will remember, also, how the public hopes strengthened or
weakened with the varying bulletins of each day during the protracted
sickness of the nation's head. They will not need to be reminded how
intense was the anxiety everywhere manifested, without regard to party
or section, for the recovery of the suffering ruler. And they will
surely remember the imposing demonstrations of sorrow when the end was
announced. Some of the warmest expressions of grief came from the
South, who in this time of national calamity were at one with their
brothers of the North. And when, on the 26th of September, the last
funeral rites were celebrated, and the body of the dead President was
consigned to its last resting-place in the beautiful Lake View Cemetery,
in sight of the pleasant lake on which his eyes rested as a boy, never
before had there been such imposing demonstrations of grief in our
cities and towns.

These were not confined to public buildings, and to the houses and
warehouses of the rich, but the poorest families displayed their bit of
crape. Outside of a miserable shanty in Brooklyn was displayed a cheap
print of the President, framed in black, with these words written below,
"We mourn our loss." Even as I write, the insignia of grief are still to
be seen in the tenement-house districts on the East Side of New York,
and there seems a reluctance to remove them.

But not alone to our own country were confined the exhibitions of
sympathy, and the anxious alternations of hope and fear. There was
scarcely a portion of the globe in which the hearts of the people were
not deeply stirred by the daily bulletins that came from the sick couch
of the patient sufferer. Of the profound impression made in England I
shall give a description, contributed to the New York _Tribune_ by its
London correspondent, Mr. G.W. Smalley, only premising that the sympathy
and grief were universal: from the Queen, whose messages of tender,
womanly sympathy will not soon be forgotten, to the humblest
day-laborers in the country districts. Never in England has such grief
been exhibited at the sickness and death of a foreign ruler, and the
remembrance of it will draw yet closer together, for all time to come,
the two great sections of the English-speaking tongue. Were it not a
subject of such general interest, I should apologize for the space I
propose to give to England's mourning:

"It happened that some of the humbler classes were among the most eager
to signify their feelings. The omnibus-drivers had each a knot of crape
on his whip. Many of the cabmen had the same thing, and so had the
draymen. In the city, properly so called, and along the water-side, it
was the poorer shops and the smaller craft that most frequently
exhibited tokens of public grief. Of the people one met in mourning the
same thing was true. Between mourning put on for the day and that which
was worn for private affliction it was not possible to distinguish. But
in many cases it was plain enough that the black coat on the
workingman's shoulders, or the bonnet or bit of crape which a shop-girl
wore, was no part of their daily attire. They had done as much as they
could to mark themselves as mourners for the President. It was not much,
but it was enough. It had cost them some thought, a little pains,
sometimes a little money, and they were people whose lives brought a
burden to every hour, who had no superfluity of strength or means, and
on whom even a slight effort imposed a distinct sacrifice. They are not
of the class to whom the Queen's command for Court mourning was
addressed. Few of that class are now in London. St. James' Street and
Pall Mall, Belgravia and May Fair are depopulated. The compliance with
the Queen's behest has been, I am sure, general and hearty, but
evidences of it were to be sought elsewhere than in London.

"Of other demonstrations it can hardly be necessary to repeat or enlarge
upon the description you have already had. The drawn blinds of the
Mansion House and of Buckingham Palace, the flags at half-mast in the
Thames on ships of every nationality, the Stock and Metal Exchanges
closed, the royal standard at half-mast on the steeple of the royal
church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields; the darkened windows of great
numbers of banking houses and other places of business in the city
itself--of all these you have heard.

"At the West End, the shops were not, as a rule, draped with black. Some
of them had the Union Jack at half-mast; a few the Stars and Stripes in
black with white and black hangings on the shop fronts. The greater
number of shop-keepers testified to their association with the general
feeling by shutters overhanging the tops of the windows, or by
perpendicular slabs at intervals down the glass. Some had nothing; but
in Regent Street, Bond Street, St. James' Street, and Piccadilly, which
are the fashionable business streets of the West End, those which had
nothing were the exception. The American Legation in Victoria Street,
and the American Consulate in Old Broad Street, both of which were
closed, were in deep mourning. The American Dispatch Agency, occupying
part of a conspicuous building in Trafalgar Square, had nothing to
indicate its connection with America or any share in the general

"In many private houses--I should say the majority in such streets as I
passed through during the day--the blinds were down as they would have
been for a death in the family. The same is true of some of the clubs,
and some of the hotels. The Reform Club, of which Garfield is said to
have been an honorary member, had a draped American flag over the door.

"To-day, as on every previous day since the President's death, the
London papers print many columns of accounts, each account very brief,
of what has been done and said in the so-called provincial towns. One
journal prefaces its copious record by the impressive statement that
from nearly every town and village telegraphic messages have been sent
by its correspondents describing the respect paid to General Garfield on
the day of his funeral. These tributes are necessarily in many places of
a similar character, yet the variety of sources from which they proceed
is wide enough to include almost every form of municipal,
ecclesiastical, political, or individual activity. Everywhere bells are
tolled, churches thrown open for service, flags drooping, business is
interrupted, resolutions are passed. Liverpool, as is natural for the
multiplicity and closeness of her relations with the United States, may
perhaps be said to have taken the lead. She closed, either in whole or
in part, her Cotton Market, her Produce Markets, her Provision Market,
her Stock Exchange. Her papers came out in mourning. The bells tolled
all day long.

"Few merchants, one reads, came to their places of business, and most of
those who came were in black. The Mayor and members of the Corporation,
in their robes, attended a memorial service at St. Peter's, and the
cathedral overflowed with its sorrowing congregation. Manchester,
Newcastle, Birmingham, Glasgow, Bradford, Edinburgh were not much behind
Liverpool in demonstrations, and not at all behind it in spirit. It is
an evidence of the community of feeling between the two countries that
so much of the action is official. What makes these official acts so
striking, also, is the evident feeling at the bottom of this, that
between England and America there is some kind of a relation which
brings the loss of the President into the same category with the loss of
an English ruler.

"At Edinburgh it is the Lord Provost who orders the bells to be tolled
till two. At Glasgow the Town Council adjourns. At Stratford-on-Avon the
Mayor orders the flag to be hoisted at half-mast over the Town Hall, and
the blinds to be drawn, and invites the citizens to follow his example,
which they do; the bell at the Chapel of the Holy Cion tolling every
minute while the funeral is solemnized at Cleveland. At Leeds the bell
in the Town Hall is muffled and tolled, and the public meeting which the
United States Consul, Mr. Dockery, addresses, is under the presidency of
the acting Mayor. Mr. Dockery remarked that as compared with other great
towns, so few were the American residents in Leeds, that the great
exhibition of sympathy had utterly amazed him. The remark is natural,
but Mr. Dockery need not have been amazed. The whole population of Leeds
was American yesterday; and of all England. At Oxford the Town Council
voted an address to Mrs. Garfield. At the Plymouth Guildhall the maces,
the emblems of municipal authority, were covered with black At Dublin
the Lord Mayor proposed, and the Aldermen adopted, a resolution of

"In all the cathedral towns the cathedral authorities prescribed
services for the occasion. I omit, because I have no room for them,
scores of other accounts, not less significant and not less affecting.
They are all in one tone and one spirit. Wherever in England, yesterday,
two or three were gathered together, President Garfield's name was
heard. Privately and publicly, simply as between man and man, or
formally with the decorous solemnity and stately observance befitting
bodies which bear a relation to the Government, a tribute of honest
grief was offered to the President and his family, and of honest
sympathy to his country. Steeple spoke to steeple, distant cities
clasped hands. The State, the Church, the people of England were at one
together in their sorrow, and in their earnest wish to offer some sort
of comfort to their mourning brothers beyond the sea. You heard in every
mouth the old cry, 'Blood is thicker than water.' And the voice which is
perhaps best entitled to speak for the whole nation added, 'Yes, though
the water be a whole Atlantic Ocean.'"

In addition to these impressive demonstrations, the Archbishop of
Canterbury held a service and delivered an address in the church of St.
Martin-in-the-Fields, on Monday. Mr. Lowell had been invited, of
course, by the church wardens, and a pew reserved for him, but when he
reached the church with his party half his pew was occupied.

"The Archbishop, who wore deep crape over his Episcopal robes, avoided
calling his discourse a sermon, and avoided, likewise, through the
larger portion of it, the purely professional tone common in the pulpit
on such occasions. During a great part of his excellent address he
spoke, as anybody else might have done, of the manly side of the
President's character. He gave, moreover, his own view of the reason why
all England has been so strangely moved. 'During the long period of the
President's suffering,' said the Archbishop, 'we had time to think what
manner of man this was over whom so great a nation was mourning day by
day. We learned what a noble history his was, and we were taught to
trace a career such as England before knew nothing of.'

"Among the innumerable testimonies to the purity and beauty of
Garfield's character," says Mr. Smalley, "this address of the Primate of
the English Church surely is one which all Americans may acknowledge
with grateful pride."



My task is drawing near a close. I have, in different parts of this
volume, expressed my own estimate of our lamented President. No
character in our history, as it seems to me, furnishes a brighter or
more inspiring example to boys and young men. It is for this reason that
I have been induced to write the story of his life especially for
American boys, conceiving that in no way can I do them a greater

But I am glad, in confirmation of my own estimate, to quote at length
the eloquent words of Hon. Chauncey M. Depew, in his address before the
Grand Army of the Republic. He says of Garfield:

"In America and Europe he is recognized as an illustrious example of the
results of free institutions. His career shows what can be accomplished
where all avenues are open and exertion is untrammeled. Our annals
afford no such incentive to youth as does his life, and it will become
one of the republic's household stories. No boy in poverty almost
hopeless, thirsting for knowledge, meets an obstacle which Garfield did
not experience and overcome. No youth despairing in darkness feels a
gloom which he did not dispel. No young man filled with honorable
ambition can encounter a difficulty which he did not meet and surmount.
For centuries to come great men will trace their rise from humble
origins to the inspirations of that lad who learned to read by the light
of a pine-knot in a log-cabin; who, ragged and barefooted, trudged along
the tow-path of the canal, and without money or affluent relations,
without friends or assistance, by faith in himself and in God, became
the most scholarly and best equipped statesman of his time, one of the
foremost soldiers of his country, the best debater in the strongest of
deliberative bodies, the leader of his party, and the Chief Magistrate
of fifty millions of people before he was fifty years of age.

"We are not here to question the ways of Providence. Our prayers were
not answered as we desired, though the volume and fervor of our
importunity seemed resistless; but already, behind the partially lifted
veil, we see the fruits of the sacrifice. Old wounds are healed and
fierce feuds forgotten. Vengeance and passion which have survived the
best statesmanship of twenty years are dispelled by a common sorrow.
Love follows sympathy. Over this open grave the cypress and willow are
indissolubly united, and into it are buried all sectional differences
and hatreds. The North and the South rise from bended knees to embrace
in the brotherhood of a common people and reunited country. Not this
alone, but the humanity of the civilized world has been quickened and
elevated, and the English-speaking people are nearer to-day in peace and
unity than ever before. There is no language in which petitions have not
arisen for Garfield's life, and no clime where tears have not fallen for
his death. The Queen of the proudest of nations, for the first time in
our recollections, brushes aside the formalities of diplomacy, and,
descending from the throne, speaks for her own and the hearts of all her
people, in the cable, to the afflicted wife, which says: 'Myself and my
children mourn with you.'

"It was my privilege to talk for hours with Gen. Garfield during his
famous trip to the New York conference in the late canvass, and jet it
was not conversation or discussion. He fastened upon me all the powers
of inquisitiveness and acquisitiveness, and absorbed all I had learned
in twenty years of the politics of this State. Under this restless and
resistless craving for information, he drew upon all the resources of
the libraries, gathered all the contents of the newspapers, and sought
and sounded the opinions of all around him, and in his broad, clear mind
the vast mass was so assimilated and tested that when he spoke or acted,
it was accepted as true and wise. And yet it was by the gush and warmth
of old college-chum ways, and not by the arts of the inquisitor, that
when he had gained he never lost a friend. His strength was in
ascertaining and expressing the average sense of his audience. I saw him
at the Chicago Convention, and whenever that popular assemblage seemed
drifting into hopeless confusion, his tall form commanded attention, and
his clear voice and clear utterances instantly gave the accepted

"I arrived at his house at Mentor in the early morning following the
disaster in Maine. While all about him were in panic, he saw only a
damage which must and could be repaired. 'It is no use bemoaning the
past,' he said; 'the past has no uses except for its lessons.' Business
disposed of, he threw aside all restraint, and for hours his
speculations and theories upon philosophy, government, education,
eloquence; his criticism of books, his reminiscences of men and events,
made that one of the white-letter days of my life. At Chickamauga he won
his major-general's commission. On the anniversary of the battle he
died. I shall never forget his description of the fight--so modest, yet
graphic. It is imprinted on my memory as the most glorious
battle-picture words ever painted. He thought the greatest calamity
which could befall a man was to lose ambition. I said to him, 'General,
did you never in your earlier struggle have that feeling I have so often
met with, when you would have compromised your future for a certainty,
and if so, what?' 'Yes,' said he, 'I remember well when I would have
been willing to exchange all the possibilities of my life for the
certainty of a position as a successful teacher.' Though he died
neither a school principal nor college professor, and they seem humble
achievements compared with what he did, his memory will instruct while
time endures.

"His long and dreadful sickness lifted the roof from his house and
family circle, and his relations as son, husband, and father stood
revealed in the broadest sunlight of publicity. The picture endeared him
wherever is understood the full significance of that matchless word
'Home.' When he stood by the capitol just pronounced the President of
the greatest and most powerful of republics, the exultation of the hour
found its expression in a kiss upon the lips of his mother. For weeks,
in distant Ohio, she sat by the gate watching for the hurrying feet of
the messenger bearing the telegrams of hope or despair. His last
conscious act was to write a letter of cheer and encouragement to that
mother, and when the blow fell she illustrated the spirit she had
instilled in him. There were no rebellious murmurings against the Divine
dispensation, only in utter agony: 'I have no wish to live longer; I
will join him soon; the Lord's will be done.' When Dr. Bliss told him he
had a bare chance of recovery, 'Then,' said he, 'we will take that
chance, doctor.' When asked if he suffered pain, he answered: 'If you
can imagine a trip-hammer crashing on your body, or cramps such as you
have in the water a thousand times intensified, you can have some idea
of what I suffer.' And yet, during those eighty-one days was heard
neither groan nor complaint. Always brave and cheerful, he answered the
fear of the surgeons with the remark: 'I have faced death before; I am
not afraid to meet him now.' And again, 'I have strength enough left to
fight him yet'--and he could whisper to the Secretary of the Treasury an
inquiry about the success of the funding scheme, and ask the
Postmaster-General how much public money he had saved.

"As he lay in the cottage by the sea, looking out upon the ocean, whose
broad expanse was in harmony with his own grand nature, and heard the
beating of the waves upon the shore, and felt the pulsations of millions
of hearts against his chamber door, there was no posing for history and
no preparation of last words for dramatic effect. With simple
naturalness he gave the military salute to the sentinel gazing at his
window, and that soldier, returning it in tears, will probably carry
its memory to his dying day and transmit it to his children. The voice
of his faithful wife came from her devotions in another room, singing,
'Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah.' 'Listen,' he cries, 'is not that
glorious?' and in a few hours heaven's portals opened and upborne upon
prayers as never before wafted spirit above he entered the presence of
God. It is the alleviation of all sorrow, public or private, that close
upon it press the duties of and to the living.

"The tolling bells, the minute-guns upon land and sea, the muffled drums
and funeral hymns fill the air while our chief is borne to his last
resting-place. The busy world is stilled for the hour when loving hands
are preparing his grave. A stately shaft will rise, overlooking the lake
and commemorating his deeds. But his fame will not live alone in marble
or brass. His story will be treasured and kept warm in the hearts of
millions for generations to come, and boys hearing it from their mothers
will be fired with nobler ambitions. To his countrymen he will always be
a typical American, soldier, and statesman. A year ago and not a
thousand people of the old world had ever heard his name, and now there
is scarcely a thousand who do not mourn his loss. The peasant loves him
because from the same humble lot he became one of the mighty of earth,
and sovereigns respect him because in his royal gifts and kingly nature
God made him their equal."



Probably the nearest and closest friend of Garfield, intellectually
speaking, was his successor in the presidency of Hiram College, B.A.
Hinsdale. If any one understood the dead President it was he. For many
years they corresponded regularly, exchanging views upon all topics that
interested either. They would not always agree, but this necessarily
followed from the mental independence of each. To Mr. Hinsdale we turn
for a trustworthy analysis of the character and intellectual greatness
of his friend, and this he gives us in an article published in the N.Y.
_Independent_ of Sept. 29, 1881:

"First of all, James A. Garfield had greatness of nature. Were I limited
to one sentence of description, it would be: He was a great-natured man.
He was a man of strong and massive body. A strong frame, broad
shoulders, powerful vital apparatus, and a massive head furnished the
physical basis of his life. He was capable of an indefinite amount of
work, both physical and mental. His intellectual status was equally
strong and massive. He excelled almost all men both in the patient
accumulation of facts and in bold generalization. He had great power of
logical analysis, and stood with the first in rhetorical exposition. He
had the best instincts and habits of the scholar. He loved to roam in
every field of knowledge. He delighted in the creations of the
imagination--poetry, fiction, and art. He loved the deep things of
philosophy. He took a keen interest in scientific research. He gathered
into his storehouse the facts of history and politics, and threw over
the whole the life and power of his own originality.

"The vast labors that he crowded into those thirty years--labors rarely
equaled in the history of men--are the fittest gauge of his physical and
intellectual power. His moral character was on a scale equally large and
generous. His feelings were delicate, his sympathies most responsive,
his sense of justice keen. He was alive to delicate points of honor. No
other man whom I have known had such heart. He had great faith in human
nature and was wholly free from jealousy and suspicion. He was one of
the most helpful and appreciative of men. His largeness of views and
generosity of spirit were such that he seemed incapable of personal
resentment. He was once exhorted to visit moral indignation upon some
men who had wronged him deeply. Fully appreciating the baseness of their
conduct, he said he would try, but added: 'I am afraid some one will
have to help me.'

"What is more, General Garfield was religious, both by nature and by
habit. His mind was strong in the religious element. His near relatives
received the Gospel as it was proclaimed fifty years ago by Thomas and
Alexander Campbell. He made public profession of religion before he
reached his twentieth year and became a member of the same church, and
such he remained until his death. Like all men of his thought and
reading, he understood the hard questions that modern science and
criticism have brought into the field of religion. Whether he ever
wrought these out to his own full satisfaction I can not say. However
that may be, his native piety, his early training, and his sober
convictions held him fast to the great truths of revealed religion.
Withal, he was a man of great simplicity of character. No one could be
more approachable. He drew men to him as the magnet the iron filings.
This he did naturally and without conscious plan or effort. At times,
when the burden of work was heavy and his strength overdrawn, intimate
friends would urge him to withdraw himself somewhat from the crowds that
flocked to him; but almost always the advice was vain. His sympathy with
the people was immediate and quick. He seemed almost intuitively to read
the public thought and feeling. No matter what was his station, he
always remembered the rock from which he had himself been hewn.
Naturally he inspired confidence in all men who came into contact with
him. When a young man, and even a boy, he ranked in judgment and in
counsel with those much his seniors.

"It is not remarkable, therefore, that he should have led a great
career. He was always with the foremost or in the lead, no matter what
the work in hand. He was a good wood-chopper and a good canal hand; he
was a good school janitor; and, upon the whole, ranked all competitors,
both in Hiram and in Williamstown, as a student. He was an excellent
teacher. He was the youngest man in the Ohio Senate. When made
brigadier-general, he was the youngest man of that rank in the army.
When he entered it, he was the youngest man on the floor of the House of
Representatives. His great ability and signal usefulness as teacher,
legislator, popular orator, and President must be passed with a single

"He retained his simplicity and purity of character to the end. Neither
place nor power corrupted his honest fiber. Advancement in public favor
and position gave him pleasure, but brought him no feeling of elation.
For many years President Garfield and the writer exchanged letters at
the opening of each new year. January 5th, last, he wrote:

"'For myself, the year has been full of surprises, and has brought more
sadness than joy. I am conscious of two things: first, that I have never
had, and do not think I shall take, the Presidential fever. Second, that
I am not elated with the election to that office. On the contrary, while
appreciating the honor and the opportunities which the place brings, I
feel heavily the loss of liberty which accompanies it, and especially
that it will in a great measure stop my growth.'

"March 26, 1881, in the midst of the political tempest following his
inauguration, he wrote: 'I throw you a line across the storm, to let you
know that I think, when I have a moment between breaths, of the dear old
quiet and peace of Hiram and Mentor.' How he longed for 'the dear old
quiet and peace of Hiram and Mentor' in the weary days following the
assassin's shot all readers of the newspapers know already.

"Such are some main lines in the character of this great-natured and
richly-cultured man. The outline is but poor and meager. Well do I
remember the days following the Chicago Convention, when the biographers
flocked to Mentor. How hard they found it to compress within the limits
both of their time and their pages the life, services, and character of
their great subject. One of these discouraged historians one day wearily
said: 'General, how much there is of you!'

"Space fails to speak of President Garfield's short administration.
Fortunately, it is not necessary. Nor can I give the history of the
assassination or sketch the gallant fight for life. His courage and
fortitude, faith and hope, patience and tenderness are a part of his
country's history. Dying, as well as living, he maintained his great
position with appropriate power and dignity. His waving his white hand
to the inmates of the White House, the morning he was borne sick out of
it, reminds one of dying Sidney's motioning the cup of water to the lips
of the wounded soldier. No man's life was ever prayed for by so many
people. The name of no living man has been upon so many lips. No
sick-bed was ever the subject of so much tender solicitude. That one so
strong in faculties, so rich in knowledge, so ripe in experience, so
noble in character, so needful to the nation, and so dear to his friends
should be taken in a way so foul almost taxes faith in the Divine love
and wisdom. Perhaps, however, in the noble lessons of those eighty days
from July 2d to September 19th, and in the moral unification of the
country, history will find full compensation for our great loss.

"Finally, the little white-haired mother and the constant wife must not
be passed unnoticed. How the old mother prayed and waited, and the
brave wife wrought and hoped, will live forever, both in history and in
legend. It is not impiety to say that wheresoever President Garfield's
story shall be told in the whole world there shall also this, that these
women have done, be told for a memorial of them."

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