A visit to the monument of the 20th President of the US

This past week my boyfriend and I went to his home town of Cleveland. Among the several places we visited, we went to Lake View Cemetery, where the monument of James A. Garfield is located. Thought I’d share some of his history and pictures of the monument with you.


James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831 – September 19, 1881) served as the 2oth President of the United States, after completing nine consecutive terms in Congress.


View of the monument from the front.

Garfield’s presidency lasted just 200 days—from March 4, 1881, until his death on September 19, 1881, as a result of being shot by assassin Charles J. Guiteau on July 2, 1881.


A statue of Garfield stands in the rotunda of the monument.

The plight of African-American civil rights weighed heavily on Garfield’s presidency. During Reconstruction, freedmen had gained citizenship and suffrage that enabled them to participate in state and federal offices. Garfield believed that their rights were being eroded by southern white resistance and illiteracy, and was vitally concerned that blacks would become America’s permanent “peasantry”. The President’s answer was to have a “universal” education system funded by the federal government. Garfield’s concern over education was not exaggerated; there was a 70% illiteracy rate among southern blacks. Congress and the northern white public, however, had lost interest in African-American rights. Federal funding for universal education did not pass Congress during the 1880s.


View of the rotunda above the statue of Garfield.

On the morning of July 2, 1881, President Garfield was assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau, a rejected and disillusioned Federal office seeker. Guiteau believed he, the Republican Party, and the country had been betrayed and that God repeatedly told him (Guiteau) that he could save the party and the nation if President Garfield was “removed.” Guiteau stalked Garfield for weeks, armed with a .44 caliber Webley Bulldog revolver.


Close-up view of the rotunda ceiling.

One bullet grazed Garfield’s arm; the second bullet was thought later to have possibly lodged near his liver but could not be found; and upon autopsy was located behind the pancreas. Though a metal detector has been devised to find the bullet, the device’s signal was thought to be distorted by the metal bed springs. Later the detector was proved to work perfectly and would have found the bullet had the device been allowed to use on Garfield.

Historians agree that massive infection was a significant factor in President Garfield’s demise.


President Garfield’s casket, draped with an American Flag, is the only Presidential casket on full display.  Mrs. Garfield’s casket is also located in the crypt. The remains of their daughter Mary (Molly), and her husband, Joseph Stanley Brown, are in the two urns located in front of the Garfields’ caskets.

You can read more about Garfield here.


3 responses to “A visit to the monument of the 20th President of the US

  1. Little known and appreciated president. Fascinating life & rise to the office. I bought Candace Millard’s best-seller (New York Times list) book last summer in an airport and read it nearly through without putting it down: “Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President.” Give it a try…a most wonderfully written and researched work…..contextualized in it’s era beyond anything I’ve ever read in this vein…..


  2. This is interesting and informative. Thanks a lot.


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