Sunday, September 07, 2014

First Lady Profile #5--Lucretia Garfield!

Lucretia enrolled in the Eclectic's first term in 1850.  She planned to become a teacher.  Lucretia sang in the glee club and helped start a group called the Ladies' Literary Society.

For their graduation program in June, the students put on a play.  It was about the Bible characters King Ahasuerus and Queen Esther.  James and Lucretia played the starring roles.--Ann Heinrichs
--I knew very little of either James or Lucretia Garfield before reading Heinrichs' book.

A class picture where Lucretia and James are at the far right next to each other.
Photo Credit:

--Lucretia was the 1st child born to Zebulon & Arabella Rudolph on April 19, 1832.  Two brothers and a sister were born after her.
--Her family belonged to the Disciples of Christ Church
--Zeb Rudolph and other elders of the DOC Church built a college in Hiram, Ohio.  They named it Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, it is now just called Hiram College.   It was one of the first colleges to accept both men and women.
--Lucretia started attending the school in 1850.
--She was the only woman to give a speech at her graduation in June of 1854.

--She became a teacher at a school in Ravenna, Ohio and then later in Cleveland.
--In April of 1858, James proposed to Lucretia and they were married on November 11, 1858.  Initially, their marriage seemed more out of duty than love, and early on James told Lucretia that their marriage was probably a big mistake.
--Things got better though and in July of 1860 Lucretia gave birth to their first child, Eliza.
--James joined the Union Army and led the 42nd Ohio Regiment during the Civil War.
--In October of 1862, James was elected to the House of Representatives.
--In October of 1863, Lucretia had a boy and they named him Harry.
--On December 2, Eliza died from diphtheria.
--Lucretia gave birth to 5 more babies, James in 1865, Mollie in 1867, Irvin in 1870, Abram in 1872, and Edward in 1874.

--While in Congress:
James and Lucretia kept in touch constantly.  He discussed government business with her, shared his problems, and asked her advice.  Both were broken hearted when little Edward died of whooping cough at the age of two.
--After spending 17 years in the House of Representatives, James was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1880.
--The Republican National Convention was held in Chicago in June of 1880.  Because the Republicans couldn't decide, they eventually nominated Garfield on the 36th ballot.
--James Garfield became the 20th President in 1881.
--Lucretia contracted malaria in May and was very ill.  James spent a lot of time caring for her and eventually she recovered.
--At that time, the Republicans were split between stalwarts and Half-Breeds (anti-stalwarts).  Stalwarts believed in the "spoils system", where you give government jobs to friends instead of people who earn them.  Garfield was an anti-stalwart, so his Vice-President was Chester A. Arthur who was a stalwart.
--On July 2nd, 1881 Garfield was shot while on his way to a College reunion by a stalwart supporter named Charles J. Guiteau.  Garfield was very weak, but lived for 2 more month, when eventually he died from his injuries on September 19th.
--After her husband's death, Lucretia settled with her children in Cleveland.  She never remarried, but was taken care of through private donations. Also, a former first lady, who had also been widowed, Julia Tyler, finally convinced the government to grant a pension to presidents' widows.

My Lucretia Garfield books:
-Lucretia Rudolph Garfield--Ann Heinrichs
-America's First Ladies--Diana Dixon Healy
-First Ladies--Betty Boyd Caroli
-First Ladies of the White House--Nancy J. Skarmeas

Previous Profiles:
-Eleanor Roosevelt
-Julia Grant
-Louisa Adams
-Frances Cleveland

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