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Garfield (James A.) Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Processing Information
  • General
  • Related Materials
  • Arrangement

  • Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    Title: James A. Garfield papers
    Creator: Garfield, James A. (James Abram), 1831-1881
    Identifier/Call Number: mssGarfield
    Physical Description: 1.2 Linear Feet (1 flat box)
    Date (inclusive): 1856-1881
    Abstract: This collection consists primarily of letters written by James A. Garfield, from 1856 to 1881, mostly written while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.
    Language of Material: Materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. James A. Garfield papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Elizabeth and Milan Wakefield, November 1939.

    Biographical / Historical

    James A. Garfield (November 19, 1831-September 19, 1881), the twentieth president of the United States, was born in Orange (now Moreland Hills), Ohio. In 1858, he married Lucretia Rudolph (1832-1918). During the Civil War, Garfield served in the 42nd Ohio infantry as a colonel; he was promoted to brigadier general in 1862 and fought in the battle of Shiloh. Later that year, he was elected to the U.S. Congress, representing Ohio as a Republican; he continued to serve in the Union Army until December 1863. During Garfield's lengthy tenure in the House of Representatives, he focused on financial policy and was Chair of the House Appropriations Committee from 1871 to 1875. In 1873, he was accused of accepting stock during the Crédit Mobilier scandal, which involved the corrupt financing of the Union Pacific Railroad. That same year he was caught up in another scandal over the increase in congressional salaries. Garfield was elected U.S. Senator in 1880, but at the Republican National Convention that year a divided party elected him their presidential candidate; he defeated the Democratic candidate Winfield Scott Hancock in November. His brief tenure in office was marked primarily by political infighting over cabinet and other presidential nominations. On July 2, 1881, Garfield was shot in Washington, D.C., by the assassin Charles J. Guiteau; he died of his wounds in New Jersey on September 19, 1881, at age 49.

    Scope and Contents

    This collection consists primarily of letters written by James A. Garfield, from 1856 to 1881, mostly written while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. Letters to Tracy W. Scott discuss congressional business, appointments, land, and the postal service, especially the post office at Chester Cross Roads, Ohio. Letters to Edmund Burritt Wakefield pertain to congressional committees and elections, appointments, politics, and the Crédit Mobilier scandal; they also discuss education, reading and literature, writing, and health. The collection contains two personal letters to Garfield's cousin, Henry B. Boynton, and two items relating to the Garfield Fund, established to benefit Lucretia Garfield following the shooting of James A. Garfield.

    Processing Information

    This collection was processed in 2021 by Melissa Haley as part of the American Presidential Papers Project. The items had been arranged as the Garfield File by Huntington Library staff in early- or mid-20th century; material was rehoused during reprocessing. Previously assigned item-level call numbers have been retained. The number of pages for each item is noted in parentheses in item-level Scope and Contents notes. Page count for letters does not include envelopes. Previously assigned legacy terminology regarding autograph status was retained; items marked autograph indicate the item is in the handwriting of the author of the letter.


    Individual call numbers included in the collection: mssHM 16084-16107.

    Related Materials

    The Huntington Library also holds two letters from Garfield to Richard Hawley, 1868, 1880 (mssHM 30484, mssHM 30485); see library catalog for details.


    Collection is arranged chronologically.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Presidents -- United States -- Correspondence
    Ohio -- Politics and Government -- 1865-1950
    United States -- Politics and Government -- 1865-1900
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century
    Credit Mobilier of America
    Garfield, Lucretia Rudolph, 1832-1918
    United States. Congress. House
    Wakefield, E. B. (Edmund Burritt), 1846-1921