Presidents Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, and Harrison – History Essay

Born in 1831, James Garfield grew up on his family’s poor farm. In 1856. he then entered into politics as a Republican for the rest of his life. He served as a Union major general in the Civil War. He was elected to Congress in 1862, and served 9 consecutive terms as Representative in the 19th district of Ohio. He mostly supported a more moderate view of Reconstruction. In 1880, Garfield was elected to the Senate, and then ran as a compromise presidential candidate. He then won the election and was inaugurated in 1881. Later that year, he was shot on his way to deliver a speech to his old college. He died after serving only 200 days.

When Garfield was assassinated, his vice president, Chester Alan Arthur, became president. Known for being a pushover, Arthur was widely distrusted, both as a person and as a president. However, a few days before Garfield died, Arthur received a letter which contained very direct and sound advice. Arthur, perhaps because of this letter sent from a mysterious woman named “Julia Sand”, decided to become his own man. Lack of support in him caused many government workers to resign, so Arthur replaced them, but with one major difference: he chose the replacements based on their own merits, not based on their party. This went against the grain of politics in those times, thanks to the “Spoils System” so very prevalent then. During his service as president, he garnered respect, and left a hero. He kept up writing to Sand for several years. Very few presidents had such a sterling reputation as Arthur had.

Grover Cleveland, born in 1837, was only distantly related to General Moses Cleveland, for whom Cleveland, Ohio is named. Growing up, Grover had to leave school to take up a 2-year apprenticeship to support his family. Later on, he worked at a law firm in Buffalo, New York as a clerk. Before his election as president in 1884, he served as Sheriff of Erie County, New York, Mayor of Buffalo, New York, and as Governor of New York. As president, Cleveland was in favor of low tariffs and taxes, free market policies, and political and fiscal reform. His honesty and integrity was a source of large praise for him. He served only one term before Benjamin Harrison, the next president, was elected. Cleveland then was elected for his second term after Harrison served his term. Cleveland was the only president in history to serve two non-consecutive terms.

Born in 1833, Benjamin Harrison was a liberal president. His grandfather, William Henry Harrison, was the first president to die in office. Before being elected as president, Ben was a Union Civil War colonel and a U.S. Senator. A president, he supported high tariffs, he raised the federal spending budget, and more. His service as president lasted for only four terms and ended with the reelection of Grover Cleveland.


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