October 5, 2020 – In 1881, an assassin shot President James A. Garfield just four months into his term, ending this noble leader’s plans for carrying out Abraham Lincoln’s legacy of equality for formerly enslaved Americans. But how did he get into the big chair?
Our time machine heads into the hurly burley of the 1880 election, the only time two Civil War veterans faced off across the Mason-Dixon line of politics. It’s the ultimate winner, James A. Garfield of Ohio, who we meet in the book The Last Lincoln Republican: The Presidential Election of 1880. Our campaign manager on the road to the White House, is Benjamin Todd Arrington, site manager of the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, Ohio.
Special thanks to Candice Millard for submitting a question for Todd. She’s author of the landmark James A. Garfield book Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President. You find our conversation her latest book, Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill, in our archives.
Also mentioned in this episode: Johnny Cash’s rendition of the Western ballad, “Mr. Garfield,” and Benjamin R. Justesen, author of Forgotten Legacy: William McKinley, George Henry White, and the Struggle for Black Equality. Watch for that interview in the coming months.