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Diane L. Barnes

James Abram Garfield was born in a log cabin in Orange Township in northern Ohio's Western Reserve to the farmers Abram Garfield and Eliza Ballou. Following Abram Garfield's death in 1833 the family struggled in poverty, but James managed to gain an education, eventually succeeding as an educator and in politics.

At eighteen Garfield converted and began a lifelong following of the Disciples of Christ. He attended the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (Hiram College), then Williams College in Massachusetts, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1856. Garfield returned to Hiram as an educator, teaching ancient languages and serving as a lay minister, then in 1857 was appointed as president of the college. In 1858 he married Lucretia Rudolph with whom he had five sons and two daughters A strong personality and a clear oratory style led Garfield into politics beginning with his election to the Ohio senate ...