10. Garfield was a southpaw
Garfield was the first left handed president. He was also the first ambidextrous president. It is said you could ask him a question in English and he could simultaneously write the answer in Greek with one hand and in Latin with the other.
9. Garfield was the last of the log cabin presidents
Garfield was the last of seven presidents who were born in a log cabin.
8. Garfield’s mother was a first
President Garfield’s mother was the first president’s mother to attend her son’s inauguration.
7. One of three presidents in 1881
Only two times in American history have there been three presidents in the same year. The first time was in 1841. The second was in 1881 when Rutherford Hayes relinquished the office to Garfield. When Garfield died later that year, Chester Arthur became president.
6. Garfield was a preacher
James Garfield is the only president to ever have been a preacher. He was a minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
5. Garfield campaigned in German
Garfield was the first president to campaign in multiple languages. He often spoke in German with German-Americans he encountered along the campaign trail.
4. Garfield liked triangles
A book was published in 1940 containing 370 proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem. One of these came from Garfield who discovered a unique proof of the theorem using a trapezoid.
3. Garfield juggled Indian clubs
To stay in shape and build muscles, James Garfield liked to juggle Indian clubs, a popular exercise device during the late 19th and early 20th century. The clubs were shaped like bowling pins and were swung in patterns as part of an exercise routine.
2. Uniquely elected
Garfield is the only person in American history to be a U.S. Representative, a Senate-elect and a President-elect all at the same time. In 1880, while serving as a U.S. Representative, he was elected to be Ohio’s next Senator. At the 1880 Republican Convention, he campaigned for John Sherman (brother of General William Sherman) to win the nomination. However, after 36 votes Garfield himself unexpectedly became the nominee and went on to win the Presidency by a margin of only 10,000 popular votes. To date, he is the only sitting member of the House of Representatives to be elected President of the United States.
1. Garfield was the second president to be assassinated
On July 2, 1881, President Garfield was shot by Charles J. Guiteau who was disgruntled because of his unsuccessful attempts at securing a federal post. The bullet lodged near his spine and could not be found by doctors. Alexander Graham Bell invented a metal detector to try to find the location of the bullet but the machine kept malfunctioning, apparently due to the metal framework of the bed Garfield lay in. Because of the rarity of metal bed frames at the time, the cause of the malfunction was not discovered. It is believed that the constant probing of the bullet wound with unsterile instruments led to blood poisoning and eventually death. Garfiled died on September 19,1881, becoming the nation’s second president to be assassinated. In the eighty days between the shooting and his death, he performed only one official act, the signing of an extradition paper.