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James A. Garfield.
McKinley's Sketch of His Life.
"Mr. Speaker:—Complying with an act of congress passed July, 1864, inviting each of the states of the Union to present to National Statuary Hall the statues of two of its deceased citizens 'illustrious of their heroic renown, or distinguished by civic or military services' worthy of national commemoration, Ohio brings her first contribution in the marble statue of James Abram Garfield. There were other citizens of Ohio earlier associated with the history and progress of the state and illustrious in the nation's annals who might have been fitly chosen for this exalted honor. Governors, United States senators, members of the supreme judiciary of the nation, closely identified with the growth and greatness of the state, who fill a large space in their country's history; soldiers of high achievement in the earlier and later wars of the Republic; cabinet ministers, trusted associates of the martyred Lincoln, who had developed matchless qualities and accomplished masterly results in the nation's supreme crisis; but from the roll of illustrious names the unanimous voice of Ohio called the youngest and latest of her historic dead, the scholar, the soldier, the national representative, the United States senator-elect, the president of the people, the upright citizen, and the designation is everywhere received with approval and acclaim.
"By the action of the authorities of the state he loved so well and served so long, and now, by the action of the national congress in which he was so long a conspicuous figure, he keeps company to-day with the immortal circle' in the old Hall of Representatives, which he was wont to call the 'Third House,' where his strong features and majestic form, represented in marble, will attract the homage of the present and succeeding generations, as in life his great character and commanding qualities earned the admiration of the citizens of his own state and the nation at large, while the lessons of his lifc and the teachings of his broad mind will be cherished and remembered when marble and statues have crumbled to decay.
"James A. Garfield was born on the 19th day of November, 1831, in Orange, Cuyahoga county, Ohio, and died at Elberon, in the state of New Jersey, on the 19th day of September, 1881. His boyhood and youth differed little from others of his own time. His parents were very poor. He worked from an early age, like most boys of that period. He was neither ashamed nor afraid of manual labor, and engaged in it resolutely for the means to maintain and educate himself. He entered Williams College, in the state of Massachusetts, in 1854, and graduated with honor two years later, when he assumed charge of Hiram College in his own state.
“In 1859 he was elected to the senate of Ohio, being its youngest member. Strong men were his associates in that body, men who have since held high stations in the public service. Some of them were his colleagues here. In this, his first political office, he displayed a high order of ability, and developed some of the great qualities which afterward distinguished his illustrious career.
"In August, 1861, he entered the Union army, and in September following was commissioned colonel of the Forty-second Ohio Infantry Volunteers. He was promoted successively brigadier and major-general of the United States Volunteers, and while yet in the army was elected to congress, remaining in the field more than a year after his election, and resigning only in time to take his seat in the house, December 7. 1863. His military service secured him his first national prominence. He showed himself competent to command in the field, although without previous training. He could plan battles and fight them successfully. As an officer, he was exceptionally popular, beloved by his men, many of whom were his former students, respected and honored by his superiors in rank, and his martial qualities and gallant behavior were more than once commended in general orders and rewarded by the government with well-merited promotion.
"He brought to this wide range of subjects vast learning and comprehensive judgment. He enlightened and strengthened every cause he advocated. Great in dealing with them all, dull and commonplace in none, but to me he was the strongest, broadest, and bravest when he spoke for honest money, the fulfillment of the nation's promises, the resumption of specie payments, and the maintenance of the public faith. He contributed his share, in full measure, to secure national honesty and preserve inviolate our national honor. None did more, few, if any, so much, to bring the government back to a sound, stable, and constitutional money. He was a very giant in those memorable struggles, and it required upon his part the exercise of the highest courage. A considerable element of his party was against him, notably in his own state and some parts of his congressional district. The mad passion of inflation and irredeemable currency was sweeping through the West, with the greatest fury in his own state. He was assailed for his convictions, and was threatened with defeat. He was the special target of the hate and prejudice of those who stood against the honest fulfillment of fiational obligations. In a letter to a friend on New Year's eve, 1867'68, he wrote:
“ 'I have just returned from a tedious trip to Ashtabula, where I made a two hours' speech on finance, and when I came home, came through a storm of paper-money denunciation in Cleveland, only to find on my arrival here a sixteen-page letter, full of alarm and prophecy of my political ruin for my opinions on the currency.'
"To the same friend he wrote in 1878:
“ 'On the whole it is probable I will stand again for the house. I am not sure, however, but the Nineteenth district will go back upon me upon the silver question. If they do, I shall count it an honorable discharge.'
"These and more of the same tenor, which I might produce from his correspondence, show the extreme peril attending his position upon the currency and silver questions, but he never flinched, he never wavered; he faced all the dangers, assumed all the risks, voting and speaking for what he believed would secure the highest good. He stood at the forefront, with the waves of an adverse popular sentiment beating against him, threatening his political ruin, fearlessly contending for sound principles of finance against public clamor and a time-serving policy. To me his greatest effort was made on this floor in the Fifty-fifth congress, from his old seat yonder near the center aisle. He was at his best. He rose to the highest requirements of the subject and the occasion. His mind and soul were absorbed with his topic. He felt the full responsibility of his position and the necessity of averting a policy (the abandonment of specie resumption) which he believed would be disastrous to the highest interests of the country. Unfriendly criticism seemed only to give him breadth of contemplation and boldness and force of utterance.
“In General Garfield, as in Lincoln and Grant, we find the best representation of the possibilities of American life. Boy and man, he typifies American youth and manhood, and illustrates the beneficence and glory of our free institutions. His early struggles for an education, his selfsupport, his lack of means,' his youthful yearnings, find a prototype in every city, village, and hamlet of the land.
“His broad and benevolent nature made him the friend of all mankind. He loved the young men of the country, and drew them to him by the thoughtful concern with which he regarded them. He was generous in his helpfulness to all, and to his encouragement and words of cheer many are indebted for much of their success in life. In personal character he was clean and without reproach. As a citizen, he loved his country and her institutions, and was proud of her progress and prosperity. As a scholar and a man of letters, he took high rank. As an orator, he was exceptionally strong and gifted. As a soldier, he stood abreast with the bravest and best of the citizen soldiery of the Republic. As a legislator, his most enduring testimonial will be found in the records of congress and the statutes of his country. As president, he displayed moderation and wisdom, with executive ability, which gave the highest assurance of a most successful and illustrious administration.
"Mr. Speaker, another place of great honor we fill to-day. Nobly and worthily is it filled. Garfield, whose eloquent words I have just pronounced, has joined Winthrop and Adams, and the other illustrious ones, as one of the elect of the states, peopling yonder venerable and beautiful hall. He receives his high credentials from the hands of the state which has withheld from him none of her honors, and history will ratify the choice. We add another to the immortal membership. Another enters 'the sacred circle. In silent eloquence from the 'American Pantheon' another speaks, whose life-work, with its treasures of wisdom, its wealth of achievement, and its priceless memories, will remain to us and our descendants a precious legacy forever and forever.”—Accepting the statue of Garfield, presented by the State of Ohio, House of Representatives, January 19, 1886.
GARFIELD IN THE CIVIL WAR. When the Civil War broke out Garfield offered his services to his country and they were at once accepted. He began his new life as lieutenant-colonel, but of the art and science of war he knew little.
It was probably the only office he ever accepted without suitable qualifications. But he set himself to learn. With saw and plane he fashioned whole armies out of maple blocks, and with these woodenheaded, but thoroughly manageable, soldiers he mastered the whole range of infantry tactics.
Garfield was now thirty years of age. His regiment; the Fortysecond Ohio, was ready for the field. Owing to Garfield's constant training, it had the reputation of being the best drilled regiment in Ohio, and in recognition of his faithful services he was made a full colonel.
Orders came to report to Buell at Louisville. The regiment was to go for its baptism of fire. As Garfield took leave of his mother she quietly and patriotically said:
"Go, my son; your life belongs to your country."
The confederate general, Humphrey Marshall, was moving in on eastern Kentucky. Buell laid the situation before Garfield and said: