Portrait of James A. Garfield

James Garfield was promoted to major general on September 19, 1863 for gallantry at the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19 -20, 1863). [Wikimedia Commons]

James Abram Garfield - Facts

November 19, 1831 - September 19, 1881

Key facts about James Abram Garfield who served as a Union Civil War general, U.S. congressman and senator before being elected as the 20th President of the United States in 1880.


Full Name:

  • James Abram Garfield

Birth Date:

  • November 19, 1831

Birth Location:

  • Orange Township, Ohio, near Cleveland


  • Abram and Eliza (Ballou) Garfield


  • Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College) (1851 – 1854)
  • Williams College in Massachusetts (1854 – 1856)


  • College professor
  • School administrator
  • Lawyer
  • Military officer
  • Politician

Career Summary:

  • Brigadier general (USVA)
  • U.S. Congressman
  • U.S. Senator
  • 20th U.S. President


  • Lucretia Rudolph (1858)


  • Boatman Jim

Place of Death:

  • Elberon, New Jersey

Date of Death:

  • September 19, 1881

Place of Burial:

  • Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio


  • James Abram Garfield was born on November 19, 1831, in a log cabin in Orange Township, Ohio, near Cleveland.
  • James Garfield was the last U. S. President born in a log cabin.
  • James Garfield’s father died at the age of thirty-three, when Garfield was 17 months old.
  • After James Garfield’s father died, Garfield’s mother raised the family by managing the family farm.
  • As a teenager, James Garfield briefly worked as a helmsman on the Ohio Canal.
  • James Garfield attended the Geauga Academy in 1849.
  • James Garfield attended the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College) from 1851 to 1854.
  • James Garfield attended Williams College in Massachusetts from 1854 to 1856, graduating with honors.
  • James Garfield served as a professor of ancient languages at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute from 1856 to 1857.
  • James Garfield served as a principal of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute from 1857 to 1860.
  • James Garfield married Lucretia Rudolph on November 11, 1858.
  • James Garfield began to study law in 1858 and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1860.
  • James Garfield was elected as a Republican to the Ohio Senate in 1859, serving until 1861.
  • James Garfield was commissioned as a colonel and commander of the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the summer of 1861.
  • In the autumn of 1862, Major General Don Carlos Buell placed James Garfield in charge of the 18th Brigade and ordered him to clear Confederate forces from eastern Kentucky.
  • On January 10, 1862, Colonel James Garfield defeated Confederate Brigadier General Humphrey Marshall at the Battle of Middle Creek, in Kentucky.
  • James Garfield was promoted to the rank of brigadier general on January 11, 1862.
  • James Garfield commanded the 20th Brigade of Ohio at the Battle of Shiloh (April 6 – 7, 1862).
  • James Garfield served under Major General Thomas Wood during the Siege of Corinth (April 29 – May 30, 1862).
  • James Garfield suffered an illness during the summer of 1863 and returned home on leave to recuperate.
  • James Garfield was named as Major General William S. Rosecrans’ chief-of-staff in the spring of 1863.
  • Although he did not actively campaign, James Garfield was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1862, while he was serving in the field with the Union army.
  • James Garfield was promoted to major general on September 19, 1863 for gallantry at the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19 -20, 1863).
  • James Garfield resigned his commission in the United States Army in December 1863.
  • James Garfield took his seat in the House of Representatives in December 1863.
  • Upon joining the United States House of Representatives in 1863, James Garfield became aligned with Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase and other Radical Republicans.
  • James Garfield served the House of Representatives from December 1863 through March 3, 1881.
  • The Ohio Senate elected James Garfield to the United States Senate on January 13, 1880, but Garfield never served because he was elected to the presidency later that same year.
  • On June 8, 1880, after 36 ballots, delegates to the Republican National Convention in Chicago selected James Garfield as their nominee for the 1880 presidential election.
  • James Garfield conducted the first “front porch campaign” for the U.S. presidency from his home in Mentor, Ohio during the summer and autumn of 1880.
  • James Garfield was elected to the U.S. presidency on November 2, 1880, winning a close contest against fellow Union Civil War General Winfield Scott Hancock.
  • James Garfield was inaugurated as President of the United States on March 4, 1881.
  • At 9:30 a.m. on July 2, 1881, Charles Guiteau, a deranged office-seeker, shot President Garfield twice at the Sixth Street Station of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad in Washington D.C.
  • After being shot on July 2, 1881, President Garfield died from complications caused by his wounds on September 19, at Elberon, New Jersey.
  • James Abram Garfield was buried at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.
  • In 1890, President Garfield’s remains were moved to the newly-erected Garfield Memorial in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title James Abram Garfield - Facts
  • Coverage November 19, 1831 - September 19, 1881
  • Author
  • Keywords james garfield, 20th president of the united states, american civil war, charles guiteau, battle of middle creek
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date November 28, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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