|~~ Near the base of Mt. Wilson ~~|
Happy Presidents' Day! When I was young, Washington and Lincoln each got their own birthday. However, since 1971, George and Abe have been made to share their special day with the other Commanders in Chief. They don't mind, though. I'm pretty sure that they each got good marks for "Shares with the other children" on their early report cards.
In 1881, when Nathaniel C. Carter purchased much of the land that was to one day become the City of Sierra Madre, our nation's leader was President James A. Garfield Since my history marks were not as good as George Washington's "sharing" marks, I didn't remember much about President Garfield. So, I read up on him a bit, and thought I'd share with you.
President Garfield was our 20th president. Born in Ohio in 1831, he was a college president, a Union brigadier general in the Civil War, and then an 18-year member of the House of Representatives. He became the President of the United States in 1881. On July 2 of that year, President Garfield was in a train station, accompanied by, among others, Robert Todd Lincoln. As the men walked through the station, Garfield was shot twice in the back by an attorney who was enraged after not receiving a Federal office (for which he was not qualified).
Garfield lay ill in the White House for weeks, as doctors tried to heal him. Alexander Graham Bell even tried (unsuccessfully) to assist in finding the bullets, using a device that he had developed. Two months later, the President was taken to the Jersey seaside and, for a brief while, appeared to be recovering. However, he died on September 19, from infection, internal hemorrhage, and a massive heart attack. He was 49 years old, and had been president for only six months, giving him the distinction of having the second-shortest presidency in our history (second only to William Henry Harrison who died of pneumonia after only one month in office).
The President's devoted wife and mother to their five children, Lucretia Rudolph Garfield, from whom he was rarely separated, returned to their farm in Ohio. She spent much of the rest of her life in private, but busy and comfortable.
In May of 1887, the James A. Garfield Monument (image) was dedicated on the grounds of the Capitol. On the monument's sixteen-foot base are three male figures, each five feet tall. These figures represent the stages of President Garfield's life, as a scholar, a soldier, and a statesman.