Because so many people don’t
know the difference between a plural possessive and a singular possessive, I have chosen President’s day to be singular.
Therefore, I have decided to choose the president I wish to honor each year. Last year, the President was Benjamin Franklin Pierce, famed politician and skilled army surgeon. This year, the honor goes
to none other that James A. Garfield (1831-1881), who made the presidency an even 20.
Among other things, Garfield is recognized as the last president
to live in a log cabin, or eat the syrup, or maybe both. Kinda makes ya wonder who the last president will
be who lived in a duplex.
was opposed to the political corruption that had been rampant during Reconstruction, and in under a year made people actually
respect the office of the Presidency once again. For that alone he should be the most honored President
of them all. But how soon we forget.
Originally from Ohio, he went to college in Massachusetts, learning, among other things,
how to spell Massachusetts. He went on to become a classics professor at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute
(Ol’ WREI), which was a lot easier then because there were fewer classics, and he quickly became the president of that
esteemed institution (now known as Hiram -- as in Hiram Walker -- College).
In 1859, Garfield became a Republican senator from Ohio, though back then the Republicans
were more interested in actually governing our country than such things as gay marriage and stem cell research.
In fact, the whole question of gays would not occur until the ‘90s, nearly ten years after Garfield’s death.
Garfield saw service for the Union
Army during the Civil War, but was recalled to the Senate by Lincoln because it was a lot harder to find decent Senators than
decent commanders. Given the history of the North’s commanders during the Civil War, that’s
not saying much.
Congress Garfield stayed for the next 18 years. Then, in 1880, he was given the Republican nomination for
the President pretty much as an after thought when the guy that Garfield was trying to get nominated (Pat Robertson, or something
like that) didn’t get it. It was pretty much a case of, “Hey, how about you?”
The rest is history, which can be said for anything.
Garfield mostly spent his Presidency bickering over who would run the Custom’s House,
which to this day is still a highly prized job in Washington. Once that issue was settled (and I’m
sure everybody remembers how from their grammar school days), Garfield spent the rest of his Presidency dying.
On July 2nd (the day
before my sister’s birthday), 1882 (69 years before my sister’s birthday), Garfield was shot by a pissed attorney
who didn’t get the government appointment that he’d hoped for from Garfield. Garfield managed
to hang on until September 19, and was even treated by Alexander Graham Bell, who had better success with his telephone.
On becoming President after Garfield’s
death, Chester A. Arthur was reported to have said, “Wow, that was easy.”
Garfield managed to remain dead for the next 90 or so years, when he was reincarnated as a cartoon