« ZurückWeiter »
by his head, but he is within a few feet of the summit. Another volley echoes along the hill when he is half over the crest, but in a moment more he is in safety. As he tears down the slope, a small body of mounted blue-coats gallop forward to meet him. At their head is General Dan M'Cook, his face anxious and pallid. “My God, Garfield !” he cries; “I thought you were killed, certain. How you have escaped is a miracle."
"Garfield's horse has been struck twice, but he is good yet for a score of miles; and at a breakneck pace they go forward, through ploughed fields and tangled forests, and over broken and rocky hills, for four weary miles, till they climb a wooded crest, and are within sight of Thomas. In a slight depression of the ground, with a group of officers about him, he stands in the open field, while over him sweeps the storm of shotted fire that falls in thick rain on the high foot-hill which Garfield is crossing. Shot and shell and canister plough up the ground all about Garfield, but in the midst of it he halts, and, with uplifted right arm and eyes full of tears, he shouts, as he catches sight of Thomas, "There he is! God bless the old hero ! He has saved the army !” moment only he halts, then he plunges down the hill through the fiery storn, and in five minutes is by the side of Thomas. He has come out unscathed from the hurricane of death, for God's good angels have warded off the bullets; but his noble horse staggers a step or two, and then falls dead at the feet of Thomas.'
Garfield served seventeen years in Congress, being returned time after time by his original electors, though not always unopposed. The salary that was attached to his office enabled him to devote himself heartily to its duties. While
the war was still going on, he was naturally a guiding spirit in the committee of military affairs; and when peace was once more proclaimed, he remained one of the most influential members of Congress. He never assumed a leading place in his party ; his aims were too unselfish and his integrity too pure to allow him to condescend to the usual concessions and artifices of political party strife. But this singleness of purpose and nobility of character gave him a steady and strong influence in Congress, supported and increased by his thorough knowledge of affairs, for when Garfield became a politician he had set himself as usual to study and to master his duties in that new sphere. In 1880 the Ohio House of Representatives elected him United States senator, an honour which he had proudly refused to solicit, though he humbly and gratefully accepted it. But before he had taken his seat in the Senate, a new office was bestowed upon him. In June 1880 the National Republican Convention assembled at Chicago, in order to choose a candidate to represent the party in the ensuing Presidential election. Garfield was a member of the Convention, but he had no thought of becoming a candidate. He was evidently in favour with the assemblage, and his speeches were always hailed with applause. The Convention had some difficulty in deciding upon a candidate ; the various factions within the Republican party had their various favourites, and thirtyfour ballots had failed to give any one the requisite majority. In the thirty-fifth ballot, about fifty votes were cast for Garfield. It was hailed as a means of getting beyond the dead-lock. The excitement was intense. No faction could carry its own man, all might compromise upon Garfield. Amid the wildest cnthusiasm, the thirty-sixth ballot declared
James Garfield the Republican candidate. General Hancock was the Democratic choice. On November 2, the national election took place; Garfield had 219 votes, Hancock 185. The former had carried twenty out of thirty-eight States. James A. Garfield was installed as the President of the United States on March 4, 1881.
He had but little time to show his fitness for the great post, but even in the four months during which he wielded the supreme power he gave promise of a wise and firm rule. This is not the place to criticise the formation of his Cabinet, or speculate upon the might-have-beens of his declared policy.
On July 2, President Garfield, on his way to Longbranch in New Jersey, drove to the Baltimore and Potomac Railway Station, at Washington. Just as he was entering the waiting-room, an assassin, named Charles Guiteau, a disappointed place-hunter, springing forward, discharged two barrels of a pistol at him. One bullet entered his arm, the other lodged in his back. At first it was hoped that the wound was not fatal; and for month after month he lingered. Never was there such a time of international sympathy. England and America alike eagerly scanned the daily bulletins, and anxiously rejoiced over every faint symptom of recovery. But, as the weeks drew on, the hoping was against hope; and when at length the sad news came that the skilful care and self-sacrificing nursing had been of no avail, and that General Garfield was dead, a tide of grief swept over both Europe and America. James Garfield dicd September 19, 1881, aged fifty. He was buried seven days after in Lake View Cemetery, at Cleveland, in Ohio, his native place. Guiteau, the assassin, who had been immediately seized, met the punishment his crime deserved on the gallows.
No career is more self-interpreting than Garfield's. It requires no mentor to point out the lessons that it teaches. It is an unblemished record of what determination, integrity, pluck, and hard work can do in this nineteenth century; and the country where such lives are possible has a proud claim to honour among the nations.
WENTY-ONE citizens have sat in the chair of the
President of the United States. The lives of five
of these have been given with some little detail in the pages preceding this; the present chapter contains brief summaries of the careers of the others. Ninety-three years have elapsed between the election of George Washington and the death of General Garfield; and the thirteen colonies that formed the first Union have swelled into the 38 States and II territories that make up the United States of to-day. The progress of the nation has been steady and rapid; under the guidance of men of the most various characters, the most divergent views, and the most diverse talents, it has advanced in prosperity. None of the twenty Presidents whose terms have come to an end has ruled more than eight years; and it has now come to be part of the unwritten Constitution of the United States, that no President shall hold office for more than two consecutive terms of four years each.
Whether one may, after an interval, be elected for a third time, is perhaps not yet definitely decided. At all events, no President ever has had a third term. Seven Presidents have been re-elected,
- Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Lincoln, and Grant; though Lincoln did not live to enjoy his second