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James Jackson (congressman)

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James Jackson
James Jackson, Representative from Georgia, Thirty-fifth Congress, half-length portrait LCCN2010649304 (cropped).jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1857 – January 23, 1861
Preceded byHowell Cobb
Succeeded byAmerican Civil War
Member of the Georgia House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1819-10-18)October 18, 1819
Jefferson County, Georgia
DiedJanuary 13, 1887(1887-01-13) (aged 67)

James Jackson (October 18, 1819 – January 13, 1887) was a United States Representative from Georgia, a judge advocate in the American Civil War, and a chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. Jackson was also a trustee of the University of Georgia. He was the son of William Henry Jackson (see Tree That Owns Itself), the grandson of Georgia governor James Jackson, the nephew of Congressman Jabez Young Jackson[1] and first cousin of Howell Cobb.

Jackson was born in Jefferson County, Georgia and named for his famous grandfather. He attended the University of Georgia and graduated in 1837. After passing the bar examination in 1839, he began to practice law in Athens, Georgia. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives[2] and served from 1845 to 1849. He concurrently served as judge of the superior court from 1846 to 1859. In 1857, was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-fifth and Thirty-sixth United States Congresses and served from March 4, 1857, until January 23, 1861. With the secession of Georgia from the Union, he resigned from Congress.

Jackson served as judge advocate on the staff of General Stonewall Jackson. After the war he moved to Macon, Georgia to practice law again. In 1875, he was appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. He was named as chief justice of the State supreme court in 1880 and served in this position until his death.

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  • ✪ Congressman James A. Garfield and Reconstruction (Lecture)
  • ✪ The Surprise Election and Political Assassination of President James A. Garfield (2003)
  • ✪ Congressman Chaka Fattah talks about Michael Jackson 31-03-2004


Good afternoon thanks Chris for that fine introduction, we'll be selling headshots outside after the program today for my work with PBS its really a pleasure to be here with you today I want to thank Chris and everybody here at Gettysburg for the kind invitation. The chance to come back to Gettysburg is always great for me. I've been back a few times during my Park Service career for some details and for the 150th anniversary a few years ago its really a special thing for me to be able to come back here because this is my home my mom and dad still live here Gettysburg High class of 1991 I guess I have a 25 year reunion coming up this year anyway as Chris said I am now working at James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, Ohio about 25 miles east of downtown Cleveland we just had a great thing happen to us with a PBS American Experience Documentary which aired a few nights ago nationally to an audience of possibly as many as five million people who may have watched it between that film this coming July the Republican National Convention is in Cleveland and of course most of you hopefully know that the National Park Service is this year celebrating its centennial anniversary in 2016 we are expecting a very busy year at James A. Garfield National Historic Site and I'm gonna go ahead and give you the ultimate spoiler here and let you know that James Garfield did not fight at the Battle of Gettysburg. however with the theme of looking at the aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction that is something in which James Garfield played a very pivotal role Reconstruction is you know the post-war period where we are trying to bring the country back together figure out what is going to happen to former slaves what is going to happen with the white south how are we going to bring states back into the Union that had seceded or attempted to secede depending on your philosophical bent there its a very complex time in our history its a very important time in our history and its a part of our history in which James Garfield was very intimately involved so what I'm going to try to do today is paint with very broad strokes here I don't expect that in an hour you will walk out of here knowing everything about James Garfield I don't expect you are going to walk out of here knowing everything about Reconstruction what I hope you will walk out of here in an hour or so knowing is that Garfield is a lot more than what he has been given credit for he's a far more interesting guy, a far more important American political figure in fact than you may have been led to believe so I'm gonna tell you a little bit about James Garfield, I'm gonna tell you where he was on really just a couple of issues during Reconstruction there's so many issues we can get into but because of Garfield's own feelings on certain issues I'm really just going to focus on the aftermath of the Civil War as it relates to slavery and the fate of former slaves because this is something Garfield felt very passionate about we'll talk about some things later in Reconstruction such as the impeachment of Andrew Johnson and the election of 1876 I'm happy to give plugs for some books later if you want to know more about some of these issues and where Garfield stood during Reconstruction after the presentation and of course at the end I will be happy to stick around and answer any questions you might have probably the first question you have is who the heck is James Garfield he's not somebody who people know very much about if you've ever heard the old joke that if you wanted to be president after the Civil War you had to be a Republican, you had to have fought in the war, and you had to have a beard well James Garfield met all of these requirements this is a great quote from Garfield that he wrote at one point about trying to understand biography thinking about when you're trying to write the biography or understand the biography of a person what is it that you really need to know [reads quote on screen] this is Garfield's philosophy on how you learn about someone but what most people know about James Garfield is that on July 2, 1881 he got shot and also that there is an orange cat that shares his name, but we do not get into that where I work we don't care to talk about the cat this really is what most people know about James Garfield he was a Republican he did have a beard he did serve in the Union army he was President of the United States very briefly and on July 2, 1881 he was shot and didn't die until about 80 days later and if you did happen to catch the American Experience documentary the other night did a very nice job of explaining who Garfield really was but the vast majority of that film at least half maybe a little bit more than half of the film is detailing what happened to Garfield after he was shot and this horrible medical care that he endured and the fact that he really died of infection not the bullet wounds and all this other stuff and I won't go too much into all of that simply because you can go online now and watch the American Experience documentary for yourself and see all of that but at any rate this really is the sum of what people know about James Garfield and that includes people who come to Mentor, Ohio and walk the grounds of James A. Garfield National Historic Site and want to tour the home they know that Garfield was assassinated and that's really about all they know and unfortunately until fairly recently that has really been his place in history a very brief presidency and a tragic assassination and a long and very tortuous and very painful death fortunately people are paying more attention to Garfield now and realizing he has much to teach us about Reconstruction about the Civil War about abolition and slavery and so many other issues of the 19th century that are so critical to us understanding things like the Battle of Gettysburg even we can't really understand the Battle of Gettysburg without understanding why the Civil War was fought in the first place and that is certainly something that James Garfield had opinions on but before I talk too much about Reconstruction I want to give you a brief biographical portrait of James Garfield he was born November 19, 1831 you perceptive Gettysburg folks will recognize that date of November 19th as of course also the date of the Gettysburg address so the Gettysburg Address was given on James Garfield's 32nd birthday I don't know which one of those was more important to history I dare say it was probably the Gettysburg Address but at any rate Garfield was actually born on November 19, 1831 in a community called Orange Township, its now called Moreland Hills, its near Cleveland, Ohio very close to Cleveland he was very well educated he had to work very hard to get an education he grew up very poor his father died when Garfield was about 18 months old and he worked a series of sort of odd jobs before he finally decided that he wanted to go to school and ended up excelling as a student and became an accomplished academic in his own right became a teacher a college professor and a college president before he was thirty years old and the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute that I have up there on the screen is now still in existence its now Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio but Garfield went to school there left after he had finished there left and went to Williams College in Massachusetts and he wanted to go to Williams because he wanted to go up to New England and get into the atmosphere of New England because there was so much abolition fervor in New England in the 1850s and Garfield had never left the Western Reserve of Ohio so he wanted to go experience another part of the country and really get a sense of what people were thinking and talking about up in New England because he's starting to hear more and more about slavery and abolition and the fact that many people are predicting at this point that the country will go to war at some point about this issue of slavery so he chooses Williams College very specifically because it gives him a chance to go live in New England for a few years but at any rate Garfield becomes fiercely intelligent today a lot of scholars say that he was one of the most purely intelligent people to ever be elected president just a brilliant brilliant man and he had a number of very important and impressive jobs even before he was able to put President of the United States on his resume he's the only president in our history thus far to have been a minister he was a member of the Disciples of Christ, which was along with I believe the Latter Day Saints one of only two Protestant denominations created in the United States of America so he was kind of he was not ordained in that the Disciples of Christ did not ordain people until well into the 20th century he was more like a lay minister almost but he did work as a minister he did preach so he's the only president to have ever worked as a minister he was a teacher a college president he was elected to the Ohio State Senate which was which is where he was when the Civil War began in early 1861 went to the US Congress the House of Representatives for seventeen years in 1880 was elected by the Ohio legislature to represent Ohio in the US Senate beginning in early 1881 and I'll talk more about that later and then of course obviously the 20th President of the United States so a fairly impressive resume for James Garfield who is also a family man married Lucretia Rudolph on November 11 1858 they had seven children five of whom lived to adulthood he and Lucretia did suffer the deaths of two children the first of whom died at about three and a half years old their first child and then their very last child died shortly before his second birthday the other five all survived to adulthood went on to marry and have families of their own and so by the time Mrs. Garfield died in 1918 she had sixteen grandchildren now this being Gettysburg we have of course got to talk about General Garfield because as I said he did serve in the Civil War Garfield grew up in the Western Reserve of Ohio never called himself an abolitionist per se but that is basically what he was his understanding of the law also his understanding of morality from the teachings of the Disciples of Christ he felt slavery was an injustice and a great moral and legal wrong and so when the Civil War came he was still the president of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute he was also in Columbus as an Ohio State Senator but like so many he felt the need to serve the Union in uniform and Garfield is what Civil War buffs might call a political general he didn't go to West Point he didn't serve in any kind of a militia unit or anything like that he is someone who got a commission as an officer because he was politically connected because he had the ability to raise a regiment help equip a regiment and that regiment eventually became the 42nd Ohio Garfield unlike a lot of political generals actually took to the military fairly well and acquitted himself relatively well in uniform for about two and a half years he commanded the 42nd Ohio he commanded the 20th Brigade of the Army of the Ohio then he spent a few months in Washington D.C. kind of waiting for orders to keep him busy they put him on the Fitz John Porter Court Martial which is a fascinating tail that we don't have time to get into today but you can read more about that if you want to his next assignment was as Chief of Staff for the Army of the Cumberland where he was present and actively engaged at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863 and at Chickamauga he undertook this very daring ride to deliver orders to George Thomas who of course was later known as the "Rock of Chickamauga" and Garfield was hailed as a hero perhaps the most impressive thing about Garfield's feat at Chickamauga two things really one he was a staff officer he wasn't commanding troops and when the rest of the army started to retreat and the commanding general William Rosecrans said yeah lets retreat Garfield did not retreat he rode out under Confederate fire to deliver orders to Thomas but the other thing that is fascinating about Garfield's feat at Chickamauga is the fact that he was out there riding under Confederate fire his horse was shot one of his orderlies was killed he's a sitting US Congressman elect he's already been elected to the House of Representatives so he was elected in the fall of 1862 but he didn't have to go to Washington to take his seat until the fall of 1863 and so he was doing all of this staying in the army riding out under Confederate fire at Chickamauga knowing that he was leaving the army soon to go sit in the U.S. Congress so I think that makes the feat all that more impressive he would have been well within his rights to retreat with the rest of the army when the commanding general said lets retreat but he didn't do that so a very impressive military career for Garfield as well he finished as a brevet Major General he is a Brigadier General in this photo as you can see so how does young Garfield feel about slavery as I said he grew up on the Western Reserve of Ohio he grew up in the Disciples of Christ and as a very young man Garfield was actually kind of put off by politics he felt that it wasn't really Christian to be involved in politics and it wasn't until really when he went up to Williams College in Massachusetts and really absorbed some of that abolitionist atmosphere that he started to change his views and started to really view it not just as something acceptable for him to do but as something he needed to do and this quote is a great one where he says [reads first half of quote on screen] He wrote this after going to see two abolitionist speakers one evening at Williams College and I love the part at the end too [reads second half of quote] so here's Garfield at about twenty four years old starting to change his views really on the acceptability of someone from the Disciples of Christ getting involved in politics he is starting to feel like maybe he needs to get more involved instead of just burying his head in the sand and saying I can't really be involved in that because of my religion Garfield also noted in his diary on the day that John Brown was executed he lauded Brown quite heavily in his diary and thought of John Brown as a hero you all know the story of John Brown in trying to incite the slave insurrection at Harpers Ferry and of course being captured by marines led by Robert E. Lee and then executed in December of 1859 and so when the news comes out that Brown has in fact been executed after making the famous statement that I John Brown now feel that the sins of this land can never be purged but with blood and of course it was very evident that he was correct about that Garfield records in his diary when he hears that Brown has been executed [reads quote on screen] so clearly Garfield is getting more and more radical in his anti-slavery views so how did Garfield feel about the war itself keep in mind at the beginning of the Civil War Lincoln said in his First Inaugural he told the South you cannot have a conflict without yourselves being the aggressors the government will not attack you you can have no war without starting it in other words and when the war finally did start on April 12, 1861 with the Confederates firing on Fort Sumter Lincoln said the war shall be fought to preserve the Union here is a quote from one of James Garfield's letters written two days after Fort Sumter [reads quote on screen] today 150 years later most rational people accept that slavery was the main cause of the Civil War we can talk about economics and we can talk about states' rights and those things are all valid to talk about but ultimately they can all be traced back really to the conflict over slavery here is James Garfield recognizing that two days after the firing on Fort Sumter two days it would be a year and a half later before Abraham Lincoln would finally publicly at least come to the same conclusion privately Lincoln came to that conclusion much sooner but he waited for an opportune time to bring that up publicly Garfield knew it from day one or day two if you will here is a quote from another letter written by Garfield on Lincoln's birthday in fact February 12, 1862 [reads quote on screen] so in other words Garfield is saying here fine if you want to say its all about preserving the Union OK as long as we all know what it is really all about until everyone comes around to thinking that abolition is something that needs to happen Garfield actually went to Congress in December of 1863 still wearing his generals uniform he didn't even have any civilian clothes with him that he could wear to Congress which is why I specifically selected this picture of him in uniform and titled the slide Congressman Garfield because he did in fact go to the House of Representatives four days after the death of his first child Eliza in his generals uniform here are just a few more examples of things that Garfield had to say about slavery and really the future of the country after the war in these statements he sounds like a radical Republican [reads quotes on screen] he sounds like a radical and as we start moving in to talking about Reconstruction though Garfield becomes a little tougher to read because at various times in Reconstruction he was very much a radical Republican and at other times he sounds much more like a moderate and at other times he sounds like a conservative so he really was kind of all over the place during Reconstruction Garfield once said of himself that he was cursed because he could see both sides of almost every issue now today maybe if he was running for office today he might be called a flip flopper or wishy washy or whatever I like to think that he wanted to make sure that he was doing right on every single issue and he was very measured in his approach and he could see both sides ultimately it made making decisions that much more of a challenge for him because he could see both sides and of course lets keep in mind too we like to think of people even Abraham Lincoln who have been gone for so long as being above politics but in reality these people were right in the thick of politics they were politicians and so sometimes they were probably saying what they thought they needed to say they were probably saying what they thought their audience wanted to hear they were politicians but in Garfield's case too there is an element of that but there is also this element where he really truly could see merit in both sides of an argument and he called himself cursed for that because it made his life as a political figure very difficult sometimes he wasn't rigidly behind the Republican Party on every issue he was a radical on some issues he was a moderate on others he was a conservative on others so it makes trying to put him in a box or label him during the Reconstruction era very very difficult so unfortunately I will not be able to wrap it all up in a nice bow for you when you walk out of here today because Garfield is a very complex guy he sees issues from many different sides and he doesn't always go in lockstep with the Republican Party on everything he is a radical he is a moderate he is a conservative he's got it all he does it all he feels it all going back to however what he thought in 1864 as a young congressman he was still relatively radical at this point relatively allied with the radical Republicans in Congress and saying things that certainly make him sound like a radical Republican [reads quote displayed on screen] so now he is starting to think forward a little bit about what is going to happen to the country when the war is over what does he have to say about former Confederate leaders like Jefferson Davis for example [reads quote displayed on screen] so the Union is God and his angels the Confederacy is Satan he is drawing some pretty clear distinctions here and in this case he sounds like a pretty radical Republican he is not mincing words he is going along with the radical Republican philosophy that the South must be made to pay for causing the war the South must feel the pain for having caused this war and what did Garfield have to say about Lincoln well frankly not a lot of good stuff Garfield actually didn't say a lot of nice things about Abraham Lincoln he felt that Lincoln was far too slow to make the war about the emancipation of slaves remember that letter I showed you a few slides ago where two days after Fort Sumter Garfield is saying the war will soon assume the shape of slavery and freedom and yet Lincoln waits until September of 1862 to finally publicly say that the Union will make abolition of slavery part of its mission as of January 1, 1863 Garfield felt like Lincoln should have been saying that from day one as soon as the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter we all know its about slavery so lets take it to them and lets tell them that we're gonna fight this war not only to save the Union but to get rid of slavery as well Lincoln didn't do that and Garfield was very upset he felt Lincoln was far too slow to come around to the cause of abolition and in 1864 Garfield somewhat publicly said he kind of wished that the Republicans could find somebody better to run for President in 1864 now if you've read Team of Rivals or if you know anything about Lincoln's Cabinet you know that Salmon P. Chase who was from Ohio and a very good friend of James Garfield's was the Secretary of the Treasury and wanted nothing more in life than to be president and was kind of not so subtlety pushing himself as an alternative to Lincoln in 1864 and approached James Garfield about getting involved with that movement Garfield very wisely said yeah I don't think that's a very good idea I think I will stay out of that Chase of course did not become the Republican nominee Lincoln was reelected Garfield sort of grudgingly said well I guess the people want Lincoln to stay in office so we must support him so ultimately he did support Lincoln in 1864 but here he said of Lincoln [reads quote displayed on screen] and at one point I don't have it quoted here but he even called Lincoln a second rate Illinois lawyer incidentally as much as I like James Garfield I think history has supported Lincoln on this particular issue very well Lincoln certainly had a very good sense of when the country would be willing to accept the idea of the war taking on the purpose of abolition as well as saving the Union so I think Lincoln actually I think many of us can agree that Lincoln had the better side of this issue than James Garfield but again give Garfield credit for being passionate and saying we want abolition to be a part of what we're fighting for as well in July 1864 radical Republicans in Congress proposed the Wade-Davis Bill which was named for Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio, here on the left Ben Wade of Ohio and Congressman Henry Winter Davis of Maryland two radical Republicans by the way Garfield idolized Henry Winter Davis the Wade-Davis bill basically tried to establish Reconstruction in the South after the war the war was still going on of course at this time but the Wade-Davis bill tried to establish Reconstruction as something that would be managed by the Congress not by the president so this was the radical Republicans first real attempt to take Reconstruction out of Abraham Lincoln's hands and it goes through Congress and James Garfield supports it even though most of the people back home in his district of the 19th Ohio didn't support it Garfield supported the Wade-Davis bill and it went to Lincoln and as you can imagine Lincoln was not too thrilled with it and actually pocket-vetoed the Wade-Davis bill basically just ignored it until the session expired and didn't have to deal with it but at any rate again at this point its early the war is still going on Garfield who is a veteran of the war is at this point still fairly radical here is what he had to say about Lincoln and about the Wade-Davis bill in 1864 at his own Republican convention back in Ohio where he is being nominated to run for the House again [reads quote displayed on screen] he is talking to his constituents here it's pretty bold really he is justifying why he is at odds with Lincoln and he is also saying that I hold it as my right to go to Congress and vote the way I think is best for this district and best for the country and if you don't want me to do that don't send me back and of course he is renominated and reelected in 1864 still fairly radical at this point how about the 13th amendment anyone here see the movie Lincoln a few years ago? You will recall that the film was primarily about the fight to pass the 13th amendment and I think people went into the theater expecting to see sort of a biography of Lincoln and instead they got a small but very important chunk of his life and his presidency but at any rate the 13th amendment which proposed to ban slavery was very controversial and you saw that reflected in the film one thing that they didn't put in the film which I wish they would have was this very powerful speech that James Garfield gave on the floor of the House on January 13 1865 supporting the 13th amendment why they wouldn't put that in the movie I don't know but maybe now that I'm a big movie star if Steven Spielberg calls me I'm gonna suggest that his next film be about Garfield and perhaps he could focus a scene on this speech or something but at any rate Garfield says you know I didn't intend to get up here and talk about slavery again but responding to some of the things that people voting and speaking against the 13th amendment the day before he felt compelled to get up and give this very powerful and moving speech supporting the 13th amendment and of course if you saw the film or if you read a good history book you know that the amendment passed just a couple of weeks later so it was something that Garfield was very much in support of really all of those post-Civil War Reconstruction amendments 13th 14th and 15th how did Garfield feel about black suffrage? well now we are going to start getting into the weeds a little bit here because this is where we start to see Garfield maybe sometimes saying one thing but doing another he was always very publicly supportive of Civil Rights for African Americans after the war very much in favor of doing everything within the government's power to give former slaves every opportunity they could to try to right this wrong that had been done to them over centuries but privately like a lot of political figures including Abraham Lincoln he didn't always have the nicest things to say about African Americans he wasn't sure how he felt about black people getting the right to vote and as he says in this quote at the top "I never could fall in love with the creatures" I mean not a great thing for Garfield to say but again as I said at the beginning he was a complicated guy he didn't necessarily feel that black men were equal to white men nor did Abraham Lincoln for a long part of his life and yet he still didn't think that justified keeping black people in bondage and felt that the Civil War needed to be fought to rid the country of the scourge of slavery so even though he says some things privately that maybe we are a little uncomfortable with today in 2016 publicly he is still very supportive of laws and legal actions to give former slaves and African Americans full civil and political rights [reads second quote displayed on screen] this is Garfield speaking publicly on the Fourth of July in 1865 so how did Garfield feel about former Confederates we already talked a few slides ago about him saying early on in 1864 that they should be banished or executed here's a couple of quotes where he talks about what should happen to former Confederates [reads first quote displayed on screen] so there's this big debate going on about letting former Confederates come back to Washington as Congressmen restoring citizenship this kind of thing so Garfield is obviously at this point at least opposing that [reads second quote on screen] and then yet here in a private letter on September 13, 1865 really just around the same time that he is writing these other things [reads third quote displayed on screen] so again he is sort of of two minds here isn't he it is making it very hard for us to pin down what he feels he is saying these things publicly and privately that they are traitors and should be executed or banished and yet but I personally don't feel any hard feelings towards them so it makes Garfield not always easy to understand where he stood on things what about Andrew Johnson who of course becomes president after Lincoln is assassinated we all remember Johnson as a Southern Democrat put on the ticket with Lincoln in 1864 really as a show of unity really it didn't matter that Johnson was a vicious racist it only mattered that he was a southerner he had stayed loyal to the Union and he was a Democrat so what a great show of loyalty and it really doesn't matter because we will stick him in the Vice Presidency and never have to worry about him again and then of course Lincoln is assassinated and suddenly Andrew Johnson is president Johnson tried to continue Lincoln's lenient Reconstruction policy on the South Johnson of course did not have the political skill or the standing with Congress that Lincoln had and Johnson is very quickly overrun by the radicals in Congress who sense an opportunity here it is like a shark smelling blood in the water they know they can pounce on Andrew Johnson and that is what they do Garfield knows Andrew Johnson they are friendly Johnson was actually hoping to kind of use Garfield as kind of a mediator between the president and radical Republicans and that did not really work out well for either one of them Garfield and the other radicals held African American suffrage as the most important thing to come out of these Reconstruction amendments and the thing that was really a litmus test for Southern states to come back into the Union Johnson did not want black people to have the right to vote as I said he was a vicious racist he wanted Southern states to be able to come easily back into the Union as did Lincoln but he did not want to see black people get the right to the ballot and so this put the radicals and Johnson on a very dangerous course that was going to lead eventually to Andrew Johnson being impeached now this is a quote from Garfield in 1866 when he is still relatively friendly with Johnson it is a year and a half before the impeachment thing comes up but he is running for reelection so here is an example of Garfield telling the people what he thinks they want to hear [reads quote displayed on screen] doesn't sound much like a moderate here does he? if you think partisan politics is a relatively recent invention I can assure you it is not frankly it is fairly tame today compared to what it was so again this is Garfield trying to appeal to his constituents to reelect him again in 1866 to the House of Representatives which they do again at this point he is still on relatively good terms with Johnson but he is trying to straddle his friendship with Johnson with the growing fervor among radical Republicans to get rid of Johnson and of course they eventually try to do that when Johnson violates the Tenure of Office Act the Tenure of Office Act was basically a law that was passed that said that a president could not remove cabinet officers with the approval of the Senate so it basically gave the Senate control over who presidents had working for them and James Garfield voted for the Tenure of Office Act when it came up for a vote now this is something that during his brief presidency that he would very much come to regret because he would then and I will talk about that at the end he would then be faced with really quite a challenge from a senator from his own party trying to control appointments but that is 1881 this is 1867 and 1868 Garfield who is trying to stay on good terms with Johnson who is trying to stay on good terms with his radical Republican colleagues as impeachment starts to come up and the call for impeachment starts to gain steam Garfield says this is not a good idea not because he doesn't think Johnson should be kicked out but because he just doesn't think its going to work so he is against it really because he thinks it will fail but then Johnson violates the tenure of office act he tries to fire Edwin Stanton as Secretary of War without consulting the Senate and Garfield finally says ok Johnson has got to go and again remember Garfield had supported and voted for the Tenure of Office Act the Tenure of Office Act was later deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court so no question that the Tenure of Office Act was wrong headed and wrong spirited and really just a political ploy to try to get Andrew Johnson so it was later taken off the books because it was ruled unconstitutional at any rate Garfield supported the impeachment once Johnson had violated the Tenure of Office Act but interestingly enough Garfield was not in Washington when the vote came up he had actually left Washington in addition to everything else he was also a self taught lawyer and he got called away to do some legal work back in Ohio and so he missed the vote on Andrew Johnson and if you know Johnson was acquitted so we've had two presidential impeachments in our history and both of those presidents were acquitted they were both impeached but neither was convicted so Johnson escaped conviction but didn't have much of a chance to run for president again in 1868 even if he had wanted to so Garfield again is kind of floating back and forth between the moderates and the radicals and then the former Confederate states begin to reject the 14th amendment begin to reject giving former slaves suffrage so now Garfield starts to swing again and starts to go back to being more of a dyed in the wool radical Republican a moderate policy at this point in his mind has been a disastrous failure [reads bottom quote on the screen] so he is really supporting the idea of a military occupation of the South [reads quote displayed on the screen] so the success of the Republican Party and the rights of former slaves are forever entwined here in Garfield's mind but by 1870 the 13th 14th and 15th amendments have passed now Garfield is starting to swing back toward being in the moderate camp again the 15th amendment guaranteeing the right to vote to all citizens regardless of whether they were black or white or had been slaves or not once this amendment passed Garfield thought you know I think we have given black people all the tools they need to start to take on their own responsibility for their own success so he is starting to swing back to the moderate camp a little bit and hes hoping that by swinging back toward being a moderate swinging back toward being more conciliatory toward the South might actually encourage some Southern whites to join the Republican Party so again he is trying to look out now for not only the future of African Americans and he feels like the government had kind of really fulfilled its responsibility to them at this point but he is also now looking to the future of the Republican Party as well and realizing that if the Republican Party is just regionalized in the North it really is going to have a hard time its gotta be able to start widening its appeal it needs some white southerners to come on as well and so by backing off the radical Republican policy once the 13th 14th and 15th amendments have passed will allow the Republican party to appeal to some Southern whites Garfield was not pleased with the Grant administration's two terms he didn't feel that Grant handled Reconstruction very well and the biggest example of the Grant's administrations failures in Reconstruction was Louisiana Louisiana was kind of the shining example of just how awful Reconstruction was going in parts of the South the Democratic government in Louisiana openly oppressing African Americans openly turning their backs on lynching and things like that Louisiana was the example that Garfield used to to explain how badly the Grant administration had really botched Reconstruction in the South by 1876 of course Grant has served two terms as president there was no constitutional amendment at the time that said Grant had to leave office after two terms but that's what everyone had done living up to the example of George Washington and so the Republican Party needed a presidential candidate in 1876 and kind of like today there were many many people who wanted the job and this is just a few of the people who were trying to win the Republican nomination in 1876 Grant basically took himself out of the running by saying he would not seek a third term Rutherford B. Hayes Roscoe Conkling James Blaine some very well known and very long serving Republicans in Washington thinking about seeking this nomination Garfield wanted James Blaine to be the nominee but instead it was Rutherford B. Hayes who also met all of the post-Civil War requirements a Union veteran and a bearded Republican so why not Hayes Hayes was governor of Ohio had actually been twice governor of Ohio and Hayes became the Republican nominee in 1876 Garfield wanted Blaine but supported Hayes of course because Garfield was relatively strong on backing the Republican Party on most things at least so he was willing to back Hayes he has a nice little quote here in this letter [reads quote displayed on screen] so in other words don't elect Hayes because he's Hayes elect Hayes because he's a Republican the Republican Party is the party of Lincoln the party of abolition the party of emancipation the party that stood by the flag and preserved the Union Congress is basically running the show at this point anyway right these weak post-Civil War presidents or at least people think that they were weak they weren't all it doesn't really matter who the Republican is as long as he is a Republican and in this case it is Rutherford B. Hayes so the 1876 presidential election came down to Hayes the Republican from Ohio and Samuel Tilden the democratic governor of New York how many of you have ever heard of President Samuel J. Tilden? The election was disputed at the end of the day on election day Tilden won the popular vote ok Tilden won the popular vote and this has happened several times in American history where the person who wins the popular vote doesn't become president in 1876 Tilden won the popular vote but the Republican Party was very concerned by what it was seeing in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida anybody here remember 2000? Florida again at any rate the Republicans are concerned about the legality of the election especially in Louisiana they are concerned about stories of black voters being intimidated or killed or not being allowed to vote so they sent party operatives out to these states to try to figure out what was going on so when the sun set on election day 1876 nobody quite knew who was going to be president because the votes of these three southern states were in question so in 2000 it was just Florida in 1876 it was these three Louisiana South Carolina and Florida now how many people do you think you know white people are really voting Republican in Louisiana South Carolina and Florida in 1876 probably not very many because Reconstruction was still going on Federal troops are still in parts of the South the memory of Lincoln is still very much alive the war is still very much alive there aren't very many white Southern Republicans in 1876 but the Republican party is concerned about some of these reports of voter intimidation and other things and so they start sending operatives out to some of these states to figure out what was going on and Garfield himself was sent by Grant to Louisiana Garfield goes to Louisiana to try to figure out what the heck was going on in Louisiana was there voter intimidation who really won Louisiana who really won the electoral votes of Louisiana because if Hayes wins Louisiana South Carolina and Florida he wins the Electoral College by one vote who is going to be the 19th President of the United States and of course Democrats are threatening revolt Tilden or blood they say, Tilden won the popular vote nothing illegal was going on in these states Samuel J. Tilden will be the 19th president so its an open question nobody knows just like 2000 where we didn't know for a month and a half or whatever it was the same situation in 1876 it was a disputed election nobody knew who was going to win James Garfield in talking to Rutherford B. Hayes tells Hayes it would be a great help if in some discreet way you could let the South know that you would treat them fairly if you became president and I've quoted Allen Peskin here and Peskin is the author of Garfield which even though it was published in 1978 is still the authoritative academic biography of James Garfield and so Peskin has his view as well that if Hayes can become president maybe that helps create the Republican Party or help create for the Republican Party starting to build this white power base in the South Garfield was talking about previously so whereas in 2000 the decision was finally kicked over to the Supreme Court in 1876 they didn't send it to the Supreme Court they created an electoral commission to try to figure out who exactly was going to win these electoral votes and James Garfield for his part very publicly said this is a terrible idea this commission its a terrible way to solve a constitutional crisis and in the spirit of no good deed goes unpunished for saying that they put him on the commission the commission was made up of 15 members 5 senators 5 members of the House and 5 Supreme Court Justices 7 of them were Republicans 7 of them were Democrats and one called himself an Independent and again Garfield was opposed to this idea but ended up on the commission and the commission basically voted right along party lines 7 Republicans voted for Hayes 7 Democrats voted for Tilden and it all came down to that one Independent who ended up voting for Hayes so Rutherford B. Hayes is the 19th President of the United States not Samuel J. Tilden and there is a lot of speculation that Hayes and the way that his operatives basically got those electoral votes basically got those three states to turn their electoral votes over to him was he agreed to begin to pull Federal troops out of specifically Louisiana but really the South as a whole there is some confusion on whether or not Hayes himself had anything to do with that Hayes was a relatively seems to have been a relatively honest guy but certainly Republican operatives in the South may have been or made that deal that allowed Hayes to become president allowed the Republicans to keep their hold on the White House and denied the Democrats who had not had a president elected since James Buchanan in 1856 the only president from our home state of Pennsylvania widely considered the worst president in American history that is why he is the only one from Pennsylvania perhaps who knows so by 1880 of course Hayes says very early on he is only going to serve one term so once again in 1880 the Republican Party doesn't know who its nominee is going to be and at the 1880 Republican Convention in Chicago James Garfield goes there to give a speech nominating a guy named John Sherman brother of William Tecumseh Sherman to nominate Sherman to be the Republican presidential candidate in 1880 the convention is deadlocked there are many candidates who want to be the nominee including Ulysses S. Grant who now has decided to come back and save the Union one more time and the Republican party starts going through ballot after ballot after ballot after ballot after ballot after ballot after ballot thirty six ballots before they could finally pick a nominee and hey we're in presidential politics season right now the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire next week so lets face it by the time these conventions come up in the summer we're gonna know who the candidates are long before the conventions but in 1880 nobody had a clue who was going to emerge as the Republican presidential nominee so when it became clear that none of the announced candidates Grant Blaine people like that could actually Sherman get the nomination they started looking for what they called a compromise candidate and eventually on that 36th ballot settled on none other than James Garfield himself Garfield who had gone there and given a speech nominating Sherman the speech was so good that people said well we don't want to vote for Sherman but we would vote for that guy so Garfield becomes the nominee and as his votes are being cast and his name is being nominated he's standing on a table saying wait wait wait I have not put my name forward you cannot nominate me without my permission and they bang him down from the stand and tell him he is out of order so Garfield becomes the Republican presidential nominee in 1880 does anyone know who he ran against in 1880? Winfield Scott Hancock probably no one here has ever heard of Winfield Scott Hancock (laughter) in Gettysburg yeah Hancock so you know that old joke that I told at the beginning that after the Civil War to be president you only had to be a Republican have a beard and have a Union Civil War vet record that worked that was a very strong platform the war record at least was a very strong platform in every election after the Civil War except for 1880 because James Garfield's military career while impressive couldn't hold a candle to Winfield Scott Hancock he could not sit back and say vote for me because I fought for the Union because certainly Winfield Scott Hancock had gone to West Point and served twenty some years in the army already he certainly had a good military record as well Garfield wins the election and in his inaugural address keep in mind you know Reconstruction is really kind of ending at this point Federal troops are being pulled out of the South because of that deal with the Hayes people four years before and really Republicans are now trying to move away from Reconstruction they want to be done with it they want to move on to bigger and better things and yet interestingly in 1881 when he gives his Inaugural Address Garfield is still one of the few talking about the need to make sure that we are doing everything we can for former slaves "the elevation of the negro race from slavery to the full rights of citizenship is the most important political change we have known since the adoption of the Constitution of 1787" he doesn't have to say that in 1881 he doesn't have to talk about civil rights for African Americans in 1881 the party is trying to move past that and yet Garfield comes back to it clearly is something that even though he maybe sometimes has said things privately that weren't as kind as we would like them to be here in 2016 it does seem to have been something of a personal conviction for him Garfield of course as we know doesn't stay president for very long the big issue that he has to deal with during his brief presidency is civil service reform which is represented in this cartoon by the baby there is Hayes leaving this on Garfield's doorstep Hayes had actually wanted to reform the civil service to get rid of the patronage system and make the civil service a system based on merit you had to be qualified to get a job not just to know somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody and so here is Hayes who had tried to get it through Congress during his presidency leaving it on Garfield's doorstep for Garfield to deal with and Garfield has to deal with it from a number of different angles this is Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York who was the king the absolute king of the patronage system Conkling is an old radical Republican and Conkling does not want anyone touching the patronage system because that is how he builds his power base in New York so he doesn't want to get rid of the patronage system that allows him to give people jobs because that's how he builds loyalty and power in New York and this other guy happens to be the Vice President of the United States Chester A. Arthur also from New York owes his entire career to Roscoe Conkling Arthur is put on the ticket in 1880 with Garfield as a concession really to the so called stalwart Republicans that are led by Roscoe Conkling so Garfield has his own Vice President working against his own administration trying to oppose reforming the civil service and this young fella named Charles Guiteau who is clearly mentally unstable but also considers himself a good stalwart Republican and also wants a job with the administration that he doesn't get eventually decides that the best thing he can do to save the country and save the Republican Party is to kill James Garfield and make Chester A. Arthur president because Arthur is an acolyte of Conkling and will maintain the patronage system Arthur will save the Union and save the Republican Party and Charles Guiteau will get his job that he wanted that was American consulate to Paris for which he has no experience no qualifications or anything else so we are back to where we started July 2, 1881 Charles Guiteau walks up behind James Garfield in a train station at a distance of four or five feet and fires two shots Garfield is hit and goes down onto the floor of the train station and over the next 80 days is treated with some pretty awful medical care doctors aren't quite accepting of listerian theory about the existence of germs and the need to sterilize hands and instruments and are constantly probing Garfield's wounds with dirty instruments and dirty fingers and they introduce infection into his body and Garfield dies on September 19 so he is shot on July 2 and he doesn't die until September 19 so he lingers for about 80 days and during that time the country is effectively without a president Garfield is still alive although he can't really do the job Arthur is just kind of hanging around not knowing what's going to happen Arthur has also been accused by some people of being involved in this plot which he certainly was not but any rate Arthur is trying to avoid looking like he is doing anything to try to take over the presidency so really for 80 days the country is basically leaderless until exactly two months shy of his 50th birthday September 19, 1881 Garfield dies so what is Garfield's legacy during Reconstruction it's very hard to pin down as I've said he was at various times a radical he was a moderate he was a conservative sometimes he has a very very difficult record to put a label on in Reconstruction because he was all over the place remember that statement he made about being cursed by being able to see both sides of every issue that really manifests itself in the stances he takes on certain issues during Reconstruction there are other issues we could talk about here as well but of course without much more time we can't do that I've really just tried to focus on the major issues of Reconstruction that people are aware of and that led me to concentrate on the fate of former slaves and here's a couple of final quotes from James Garfield [reads first quote displayed on screen] it just wasn't in his personality to hold grudges or to really be just as vicious as perhaps he needed to be to be a radical Republican [reads second quote displayed on screen] and then of course I'm obligated to tell you about James A. Garfield National Historic Site and if anyone here is ever passing through Ohio near Cleveland I hope you will come see us we are a relatively small site this is the home that James Garfield the property that he and his wife purchased in 1876 this is the home from which James Garfield ran his 1880 presidential campaign it was the nation's first ever front porch presidential campaign where people came to Mentor, Ohio and gathered in the front and listened to Garfield give speeches from the front porch of the house Garfield you know if you really get tired of politics over the next 8 or 10 months as we are heading towards a presidential election you can partially blame James Garfield because he really began to revolutionize presidential campaigning he didn't go all over the country giving speeches and when he did give speeches he didn't talk so much about himself he talked more about the party but he did directly communicate with the public which was relatively revolutionary for that time so when people would come to Mentor Ohio and come to the property they would get to actually see Garfield and hear him talk and get a chance to shake his hand or actually have a word with him or a laugh with him so this is the home and we do take people on guided tours through the house we do have Mrs. Garfield's windmill here that was built after the president's death this is the memorial library that was built onto the house after Garfield's death as well Mrs. Garfield had this constructed and it is the we call it the nation's first presidential library because in addition to Garfield's book collection she did also keep his papers his letters his everything that had anything to do with his public career in this library they're not there now they're in the Library of Congress now but they were there for about fifty years so this is where the idea for presidential libraries was born Garfield and the Civil War I had to throw that in because this is Gettysburg again and then finally just how you can find us if you're ever coming in Ohio or you can find us online or anything like that with that I will stop I'm over my time I realize I apologize but I will be glad if anyone has questions to take any questions anyone might have thank you very much for coming today [applause]


  1. ^ "JACKSON, James, (1819 - 1887)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  2. ^ "James Jackson". Find a Grave. January 25, 2003. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Howell Cobb
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 6th congressional district

March 4, 1857 – January 23, 1861
Succeeded by
American Civil War
Legal offices
Preceded by
Hiram B. Warner
Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of Georgia
Succeeded by
Logan E. Bleckley

This page was last edited on 22 April 2020, at 04:05
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