Historical Highlights

The Unveiling of the President James A. Garfield Statue

May 12, 1887
The Unveiling of the President James A. Garfield Statue Bronze, John Quincy Adams Ward, 1887, Architect of the Capitol James Garfield of Ohio served nine terms in the House before his election to the Presidency.
On this date, Congress unveiled a monument to assassinated President James A. Garfield, a former longtime House Member from Ohio, on the Capitol grounds. John Quincy Adams Ward, a leading American sculptor during the late 19th century, made the large bronze sculpture and stone base with pendant figures. Paid for with private funds, the monument was placed at the foot of the Capitol at First Street SW and Maryland Avenue. President Garfield came to office in 1881 after a contentious Republican nomination process. The 1880 Republican National Convention had been deadlocked in naming the party’s presidential nominee: delegates reached a compromise on the 36th ballot to bypass the front runner, former President Ulysses S. Grant. The convention nominated Representative Garfield, who initially had aspired to a U.S. Senate seat. The factionalism and patronage-driven difficulties that led to Garfield’s nomination did not dissolve upon his successful election against Democratic nominee Winfield Hancock. After only four months as President, Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau as he waited to board a train at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C. The assassin was an unsuccessful lawyer, evangelist, and debt collector, who thought that the President owed him a position in the diplomatic corps. Garfield died from his wounds nearly 11 weeks later.

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