Garfield, James Abram Garfield, James Abram, 1831–81, 20th President of the United States (Mar.–Sept., 1881). Born on a frontier farm in Cuyahoga co., Ohio, he spent his early years in poverty. As a youth he worked as farmer, carpenter, and canal boatman. After graduation (1856) from Williams College, he became a teacher of ancient languages and literature at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute at Hiram, Ohio (the name was later changed, largely through his influence, to Hiram Institute), and later (1857–61) was its principal. He was also a lay preacher of the Disciples of Christ, was admitted (1859) to the bar, and was elected an antislavery state senator. During the Civil War he served in the Union army and was a major gen eral of volunteers when he resigned (1863) to take his seat as Representative in Congress. He was a regular Republican, unhesitatingly following his party's postwar program of radical Reconstruction and later of hard-money deflationism and opposition to civil service reform. On
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Rutherford B. Hayes, James G. Blaine, Chester A. Arthur, President Garfield, James A. Garfield