A new biography explores the life and times of one of America’s most forgotten presidents—James Garfield.
President James Garfield served as the 20th president of the United States from March 1881 until his assassination in September 1881—serving the second shortest term in American history behind only William Henry Harrison’s 31-day term. He was replaced by Vice President Chester A. Arthur.
Regardless of his time in office being cut short, Garfield managed to accomplish a surprising amount during his term, helping lead the country through the ongoing Reconstruction era, founding the Department of Education, and accomplishing a great deal as an attorney, abolitionist preacher, war hero, and mathematician. He was also the last president elected who had been born in a log cabin.
President Garfield’s term in office offers a fascinating snapshot of 19th-century American history, exploring the complicated nature of Republican politics, ongoing corruption issues within the federal and state governments after the war, and whose death left a major impact on the country going forward.
In his debut book President Garfield: From Radical To Unifier, biographer and historian C.W. Goodyear digs into the past of one of America’s forgotten presidents, his life, and his impact on American politics.
What the Critics Are Saying
“The authoritative biography chronicles the life of a man who, in many ways, was one of the most well-spoken and intellectual men to hold the title of commander-in-chief … But Goodyear makes the case that Garfield’s strength didn’t come from showmanship or his speeches—though some of them resonate just as much as Abraham Lincoln’s. With much of the book understandably focusing on Garfield’s time in Congress, Goodyear portrays him as someone who ‘embraced undramatic efficiency in the driest fields of lawmaking imaginable’ in a town that attracts its fair share of show horses,” says The Associated Press.
“The author displays a smooth aptitude for the complex postwar political workings of 19th-century machine politics and internecine Republican Party patronage squabbles … Goodyear’s invaluable biography breaks Garfield free from the group of late-19th-century presidents seemingly crystallized as interchangeable, bearded figures occupying the first chair of a weakened executive branch and offers a compelling profile of one of the ablest men to serve as president. A masterful portrait of a man of great intellect, patience, and ability who should not be overlooked by history,” says Kirkus Reviews.