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James A. Garfield: The President Who Stopped Corruption

October 28, 20236 min read

Hey there, young historians! Today, we're going to take a journey back in time to learn about a fascinating president from the past, James A. Garfield. He was the 20th President of the United States, and his life was filled with interesting adventures and incredible achievements. Get ready for a fun and educational ride through history!

James Abram Garfield was born on November 19, 1831, in a log cabin in Ohio. Garfield's family didn't have much money, but they believed in the power of education. Young James loved to read and learn. He was a hard worker and saved money to go to college.

Fun Fact 1: Before becoming a teacher and politician, Garfield had many odd jobs. He worked as a canal boat driver, a carpenter, and even served as a janitor at a school.

Garfield went to college at a place called Williams College. There, he showed a passion for learning and became known as a scholar. He didn't just study one subject; he studied many, including mathematics, ancient languages, and science. This broad knowledge would serve him well in his future career.

Fun Fact 2: Garfield loved reading so much that he had a massive library in his home with over 1,000 books. He could also write and speak several languages, including Latin and ancient Greek.

After college, Garfield became a teacher, and he was an excellent one! He taught students about math and science, and he had a unique way of explaining difficult concepts. Garfield was like a mentor, inspiring others to learn and grow. It's a great lesson to remember: Education is not only about what you learn but how you share your knowledge with others.

Fun Fact 3: He was the only president who was both a preacher and a math professor.

When the American Civil War began in 1861, Garfield left his teaching job to join the Union Army. He wasn't just an ordinary soldier; he quickly rose through the ranks and became a general! His leadership and bravery on the battlefield earned him a reputation as a hero. He was a great example of how dedication and hard work can lead to amazing achievements.

Becoming President

After the Civil War, Garfield was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, which is part of the government. He is the only person in history to be elected as a U.S. President while serving in the House of Representatives!

Fun Fact 4: Garfield didn't even want to be president, but his party nominated him, and he became the 20th President of the United States in 1881.

President Garfield had a lot of talents and interests. He could write with both hands, and he was an amazing debater. In fact, he was known for giving long, thoughtful speeches that captivated his audiences. He also had a love for technology and was a pioneer in developing new inventions.

Fun Fact 5: Garfield loved animals and had many pets in the White House, including dogs, cats, birds, and even a horse.

During his short time as president, Garfield accomplished many important things. He worked to stop corruption in the Post Office. Garfield picked a new Supreme Court judge, and he believed in improving farming technology, making sure people had a good education, and fighting for the rights of African Americans.

Garfield had another big idea: changing the way government workers were hired. He thought they should be chosen based on their skills, not just because they knew someone in power. He shared this idea with Congress, and they agreed. In 1883, they passed a law called the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, which made this change.

Tragic End

As president, Garfield was determined to make important changes. Unfortunately, his time in office was cut short by a terrible event. In July 1881, he was shot by a man who was angry about not getting a job in the government. Garfield fought for his life for several months, but he passed away on September 19, 1881. His death was a sad moment in American history. His Presidency of only six months was the second shortest in American history.


James A. Garfield's life was a testament to the power of education, hard work, and dedication. He showed us that you can rise from humble beginnings and achieve great things with a love for learning and a commitment to helping others. His legacy lives on through his contributions to education, politics, and American history.

So, the next time you're facing a tough math problem or studying for a history test, think about President Garfield and his passion for learning. Who knows? Maybe you'll be inspired to become a history-making hero in your own way!

And that's our adventure through history for today. Keep exploring, keep learning, and remember that history is full of incredible stories just waiting for you to discover. See you on the next Presidential journey!


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The entire Little House on the Prairie series takes place in the American Midwest (Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Missouri) from 1870 and 1894. Read one, two, or the whole series! Some of the books have been banned due to inappropriate language, so choose carefully.


O.K. Corral: A Lucky Luke Adventure by Xavier Fauche (48 pages comic book)

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Everyone's heard of the Gunfight at O.K. Corral: the most famous shootout of the Old West, between the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday on the side of law and order, and the Clanton brothers and their gang. And it happened in 1881, the same year that James Garfield was president. The gunfight is a legend told many times in books and films, in sometimes contradictory versions... Fortunately, here is the definitive version at last, restoring the unvarnished truth of what is another triumph of ... Lucky Luke.


To the Front!: Clara Barton Braves the Battle of Antietam by Claudia Friddell

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Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881. As a lifelong nurse, this book shows her heroic acts as a first responder during the Civil War. Clara Barton was one of the first women to receive permission to serve on a battlefield, so she snuck her supply wagon to the head of a ten-mile wagon train to deliver provisions to the Antietam Battlefield. On the bloodiest day in American history, Clara and her team of helpers sprang into action as they nursed the wounded and dying, cooked meals for soldiers, and provided doctors with desperately needed medical supplies and lanterns so they could operate through the night.


Download and print this free James A Garfield word search puzzle , which uses terms from this article.

James A Garfield word search page 1 image

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