GLASS MEMORIAL PLATE FOR PRESIDENT JAMES A. GARFIELD

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Item Code: 172-5313

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Ten inch glass plate issued as a memorial for President James A. Garfield after his assassination in 1881.

The plate has a border decoration of laurel leaves arranged in groups of three around a stippled field that has a wreath of laurel leaves topped by the word “MEMORIAL.” Worked into the glass at center is a bust of the President.

Plate is in nice condition and free of chips or cracks.

James Abram Garfield was born November 19, 1831 in Moreland Hills, Ohio. He was raised by his widowed mother in humble circumstances on an Ohio farm. In his youth he worked at various jobs, including on a canal boat. He studied at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, graduating in 1856. A year later, Garfield entered politics as a Republican. He married Lucretia Rudolph in 1858, and served as a member of the Ohio State Senate (1859–1861). Garfield opposed Confederate secession, served as a major general in the Union Army during the Civil War, and fought in the battles of Middle Creek, Shiloh, and Chickamauga. He was first elected to Congress in 1862 to represent Ohio's 19th District. Throughout Garfield's extended congressional service after the Civil War, he firmly supported the gold standard and gained a reputation as a skilled orator. Garfield initially agreed with Radical Republican views regarding Reconstruction, but later favored a moderate approach for civil rights enforcement for freedmen.

At the 1880 Republican National Convention, Senator-elect Garfield attended as campaign manager for Secretary of the Treasury John Sherman, and gave the presidential nomination speech for him. When neither Sherman nor his rivals – Ulysses S. Grant and James G. Blaine – could get enough votes to secure the nomination, delegates chose Garfield as a compromise on the 36th ballot. In the 1880 presidential election, Garfield conducted a low-key front porch campaign, and narrowly defeated Democrat Winfield Scott Hancock.

Garfield's accomplishments as president included a resurgence of presidential authority against senatorial courtesy in executive appointments, energizing American naval power, and purging corruption in the Post Office, all during his extremely short time in office. Garfield made notable diplomatic and judiciary appointments, including a U.S. Supreme Court justice. He advocated agricultural technology, an educated electorate, and civil rights for African Americans.

On July 2, 1881, he was shot at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington D.C. by Charles J. Guiteau, a lawyer and writer with a grievance. The wound was not immediately fatal for Garfield, but his doctors' uncleaned and unprotected hands are said to have led to infection that caused his death on September 19. Guiteau was convicted of the murder and was executed in June 1882; he tried to name his crime as simple assault by blaming the doctors for Garfield's death. With his term cut short by his death after only 200 days, and much of it spent in ill health trying to recover from the attack, Garfield is little-remembered other than for his assassination.  [ad]

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