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James Abram Garfield

Date de naissance: 19. novembre 1831
Date de décès: 19. septembre 1881

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James Abram Garfield, né le 19 novembre 1831 à Orange et mort assassiné le 19 septembre 1881 à Elberon , est un homme d'État américain, 20e président des États-Unis. Après neuf élections consécutives à la Chambre des représentants des États-Unis dans l'Ohio entre 1863 et 1881, Garfield accède à la présidence sous l'étiquette du Parti républicain. Son mandat, fortement écourté par son assassinat, est marqué par une résurgence controversée de l'autorité présidentielle sur la préséance du Sénat concernant les nominations fédérales, une relance de la puissance navale américaine, l'élimination de la corruption au sein du service postal et la nomination de plusieurs Afro-Américains à de hautes fonctions fédérales.

Garfield grandit dans le milieu modeste d'une ferme de l'Ohio où il est élevé par sa mère veuve et son frère aîné. Pour financer ses études, Garfield exerce de nombreux métiers avant d'être diplômé en 1856 du Williams College dans le Massachusetts. Un an plus tard, il entre en politique au sein du Parti républicain et fait campagne contre l'esclavage dans l'Ohio. Il épouse Lucretia Rudolph en 1858 et est admis deux ans plus tard au barreau tout en étant élu au Sénat de l'Ohio, entre 1859 et 1861. Garfield s'oppose à la sécession des États du Sud et devient major-général dans l'armée de l'Union, avec laquelle il participe aux batailles de Shiloh et de Chickamauga. Il est élu au Congrès en 1862 en tant que représentant du 19e district de l'Ohio.

Tout au long de sa longue carrière au Congrès après la guerre de Sécession, il s'oppose avec véhémence aux greenbacks et gagne une réputation d'orateur talentueux. Il est président du comité sur les affaires militaires et de celui sur les affectations du budget ainsi que membre du comité des affaires fiscales. Garfield est initialement proche des vues des républicains-radicaux concernant la Reconstruction puis favorise une approche plus souple sur l'application des droits civiques des esclaves affranchis. En 1880, la législature de l'Ohio l'élit au Sénat des États-Unis ; la même année, les principaux prétendants républicains à l'élection présidentielle, Ulysses S. Grant, James Blaine et John Sherman, ne parviennent pas à rassembler un soutien suffisant lors de la convention. Garfield devient le candidat du compromis pour l'élection présidentielle de 1880 et décline alors la nomination au Sénat fédéral pour entrer dans la course à la présidence dans laquelle il bat le candidat démocrate Winfield Hancock.

La présidence de Garfield dure seulement 200 jours, du 4 mars 1881 jusqu'à sa mort le 19 septembre 1881, car il est abattu par Charles J. Guiteau le 2 juillet 1881. Seule la présidence de William Henry Harrison de 31 jours est plus courte et il est le deuxième des quatre présidents américains à être assassiné. Il propose une profonde réforme de la fonction publique qui est finalement promulguée en 1883 par son vice-président et successeur Chester A. Arthur sous la forme du Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act .

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Citations James Abram Garfield

„And now that we have made them free, so long as we live we will stand by these black allies“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: And it did gentle the condition and elevate the heart of every worthy soldier who fought for the Union, [applause, ] and he shall be our brother forevermore. Another thing we will remember: we will remember our allies who fought with us. Soon after the great struggle began, we looked behind the army of white rebels, and saw 4,000,000 of black people condemned to toil as slaves for our enemies; and we found that the hearts of these 4,000,000 were God-inspired with the spirit of Liberty, and that they were all our friends. [Applause. ] We have seen the white men betray the flag and fight to kill the Union; but in all that long, dreary war we never saw a traitor in a black skin. [Great cheers. ] Our comrades escaping from the starvation of prison, fleeing to our lines by the light of the North star, never feared to enter the black man's cabin and ask for bread. ["Good, good," "That's so," and loud cheers. ] In all that period of suffering and danger, no Union soldier was ever betrayed by a black man or woman. [Applause. ] And now that we have made them free, so long as we live we will stand by these black allies. [Renewed applause. ] We will stand by them until the sun of liberty, fixed in the firmament of our Constitution, shall shine with equal ray upon every man, black or white, throughout the Union. [Cheers. ] Fellow-citizens, fellow-soldiers, in this there is the beneficence of eternal justice, and by it we will stand forever. [Great applause. ] A poet has said that in individual life we rise, "On stepping-stones of our dead selves to higher things," and the Republic rises on the glorious achievements of its dead and living heroes to a higher and nobler national life. [Applause. ] We must stand guard over our past as soldiers, and over our country as the common heritage of all. [Applause. ]

„It is the high privilege and sacred duty of those now living to educate their successors and fit them, by intelligence and virtue, for the inheritance which awaits them. In this beneficent work, sections and races should be forgotten and partisanship should be unknown.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: It is the high privilege and sacred duty of those now living to educate their successors and fit them, by intelligence and virtue, for the inheritance which awaits them. In this beneficent work, sections and races should be forgotten and partisanship should be unknown. Let our people find a new meaning in the divine oracle which declares that "a little child shall lead them," for our own little children will soon control the destinies of the Republic.

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„Fellow-citizens! God reigns and the Government at Washington still lives!“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: Fellow-citizens! Clouds and darkness are round about Him! His pavilion is dark waters and thick clouds of the skies! Justice and judgment are the establishment of His throne! Mercy and truth shall go before His face! Fellow-citizens! God reigns and the Government at Washington still lives! A declaration reportedly made April 15, 1865, to calm a mob on Wall Street in New York after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, according to a reminiscence of "a distinguished gentleman who was present," published in the Cincinnati Gazette in 1880 and circulated during Garfield's presidential campaign, as recorded in The Republican Manual : History, Principles, Early Leaders, Achievements of the Republican Party with Biographical Sketches of James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur http://books.google.com/books?id=enw_AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA241 (1880) Eugene Virgil Smiley, p. 241; after Garfield's assassination, the anecdote was widely reprinted. However, contemporary accounts give a completely different speech by Garfield and no mention of Garfield calming a mob. See The National Calamity in The New York Times (16 April 1865) http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9806EFD91F30EE34BC4E52DFB266838E679FDE and Garfield : A Biography (1978) by Allan Peskin, p. 250 http://books.google.com/books?id=SRmY164czTQC&pg=PA250. Reported as a misattribution in Paul F. Boller, John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions (1990), p. 32

„However, to grant suffrage to the black man in this country is not innovation, but restoration. It is a return to the ancient principles and practices of the fathers.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: But it will be asked, Is it safe to admit to the elective franchise the great mass of ignorant and degraded blacks, so lately slaves? Here indeed is the great practical question, to the solution of which should be brought all the wisdom and enlightenment of our people. I am fully persuaded that some degree of intelligence and culture should be required as a qualification for the right of suffrage. I have no doubt that it would be better if no man were allowed to vote who cannot read his ballot or the Constitution of the United States, and write his name or copy in a legible hand a sentence from the Declaration of Independence. Make any such wise restriction of suffrage, but let it apply to all alike. Let us not commit ourselves to the absurd and senseless dogma that the color of the skin shall be the basis of suffrage, the talisman of liberty. I admit that it is perilous to confer the franchise upon the ignorant and degraded; but if an educational test cannot be established, let suffrage be extended to all men of proper age, regardless of color. It may well be questioned whether the negro does not understand the nature of our institutions better than the equally ignorant foreigner. He was intelligent enough to understand from the beginning of the war that the destiny of his race was involved in it. He was intelligent enough to be true to that Union which his educated and traitorous master was endeavoring to destroy. He came to us in the hour of our sorest need, and by his aid, under God, the Republic was saved. Shall we now be guilty of the unutterable meanness, not only of thrusting him beyond the pale of its blessings, but of committing his destiny to the tender mercies of those pardoned rebels who have been so reluctantly compelled to take their feet from his neck and their hands from his throat? But someone says it is dangerous at this time to make new experiments. I answer, it is always safe to do justice. However, to grant suffrage to the black man in this country is not innovation, but restoration. It is a return to the ancient principles and practices of the fathers. Let me refer you to a few facts in our history which have been but little studied by' the people and politicians of this generation.

„Tell her I am seriously hurt; how seriously I cannot yet say.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: Tell her I am seriously hurt; how seriously I cannot yet say. I am myself, and hope she will come to me soon. I send my love to her. Message to his wife on being shot (2 July 1881), in The Life and Public Services of James A. Garfield (1881) by E. E. Brown, p. 217 http://books.google.com/books?id=vCAFAAAAYAAJ

„Let us not commit ourselves to the absurd and senseless dogma that the color of the skin shall be the basis of suffrage, the talisman of liberty.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: But it will be asked, Is it safe to admit to the elective franchise the great mass of ignorant and degraded blacks, so lately slaves? Here indeed is the great practical question, to the solution of which should be brought all the wisdom and enlightenment of our people. I am fully persuaded that some degree of intelligence and culture should be required as a qualification for the right of suffrage. I have no doubt that it would be better if no man were allowed to vote who cannot read his ballot or the Constitution of the United States, and write his name or copy in a legible hand a sentence from the Declaration of Independence. Make any such wise restriction of suffrage, but let it apply to all alike. Let us not commit ourselves to the absurd and senseless dogma that the color of the skin shall be the basis of suffrage, the talisman of liberty. I admit that it is perilous to confer the franchise upon the ignorant and degraded; but if an educational test cannot be established, let suffrage be extended to all men of proper age, regardless of color. It may well be questioned whether the negro does not understand the nature of our institutions better than the equally ignorant foreigner. He was intelligent enough to understand from the beginning of the war that the destiny of his race was involved in it. He was intelligent enough to be true to that Union which his educated and traitorous master was endeavoring to destroy. He came to us in the hour of our sorest need, and by his aid, under God, the Republic was saved. Shall we now be guilty of the unutterable meanness, not only of thrusting him beyond the pale of its blessings, but of committing his destiny to the tender mercies of those pardoned rebels who have been so reluctantly compelled to take their feet from his neck and their hands from his throat? But someone says it is dangerous at this time to make new experiments. I answer, it is always safe to do justice. However, to grant suffrage to the black man in this country is not innovation, but restoration. It is a return to the ancient principles and practices of the fathers. Let me refer you to a few facts in our history which have been but little studied by' the people and politicians of this generation.

„Oh Swaim, there is a pain here. Swaim, can't you stop this? Oh, oh, Swaim!“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: [To his chief of staff, David G. Swaim] Oh Swaim, there is a pain here. Swaim, can't you stop this? Oh, oh, Swaim! Reportedly his last words. As quoted in "The Last Hours" https://books.google.com/books?id=UzEYAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA573&dq=%22swaim+there+is+a+pain%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Kb4GVcaIAcjDggSYiYOoCQ&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22swaim%20there%20is%20a%20pain%22&f=false, Life of President Garfield: The Complete Record of a Wonderful Career (1881), by William Ralston Balch, p. 573

„I must do something to keep my thoughts fresh and growing.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: I must do something to keep my thoughts fresh and growing. I dread nothing so much as falling into a rut and feeling myself becoming a fossil.

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„The civil service can never be placed on a satisfactory basis until it is regulated by law.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: The civil service can never be placed on a satisfactory basis until it is regulated by law. For the good of the service itself, for the protection of those who are intrusted with the appointing power against the waste of time and obstruction to the public business caused by the inordinate pressure for place, and for the protection of incumbents against intrigue and wrong, I shall at the proper time ask Congress to fix the tenure of the minor offices of the several Executive Departments and prescribe the grounds upon which removals shall be made during the terms for which incumbents have been appointed.

„There can be no permanent disfranchised peasantry in the United States. Freedom can never yield its fullness of blessings so long as the law or its administration places the smallest obstacle in the pathway of any virtuous citizen.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: No doubt this great change has caused serious disturbance to our Southern communities. This is to be deplored, though it was perhaps unavoidable. But those who resisted the change should remember that under our institutions there was no middle ground for the negro race between slavery and equal citizenship. There can be no permanent disfranchised peasantry in the United States. Freedom can never yield its fullness of blessings so long as the law or its administration places the smallest obstacle in the pathway of any virtuous citizen.

„It has been said that unsettled questions have no pity for the repose of nations.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: It has been said that unsettled questions have no pity for the repose of nations. It should be said with the utmost emphasis that this question of the suffrage will never give repose or safety to the States or to the nation until each, within its own jurisdiction, makes and keeps the ballot free and pure by the strong sanctions of the law.

„Fellow-citizens, fellow-soldiers, in this there is the beneficence of eternal justice, and by it we will stand forever“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: And it did gentle the condition and elevate the heart of every worthy soldier who fought for the Union, [applause, ] and he shall be our brother forevermore. Another thing we will remember: we will remember our allies who fought with us. Soon after the great struggle began, we looked behind the army of white rebels, and saw 4,000,000 of black people condemned to toil as slaves for our enemies; and we found that the hearts of these 4,000,000 were God-inspired with the spirit of Liberty, and that they were all our friends. [Applause. ] We have seen the white men betray the flag and fight to kill the Union; but in all that long, dreary war we never saw a traitor in a black skin. [Great cheers. ] Our comrades escaping from the starvation of prison, fleeing to our lines by the light of the North star, never feared to enter the black man's cabin and ask for bread. ["Good, good," "That's so," and loud cheers. ] In all that period of suffering and danger, no Union soldier was ever betrayed by a black man or woman. [Applause. ] And now that we have made them free, so long as we live we will stand by these black allies. [Renewed applause. ] We will stand by them until the sun of liberty, fixed in the firmament of our Constitution, shall shine with equal ray upon every man, black or white, throughout the Union. [Cheers. ] Fellow-citizens, fellow-soldiers, in this there is the beneficence of eternal justice, and by it we will stand forever. [Great applause. ] A poet has said that in individual life we rise, "On stepping-stones of our dead selves to higher things," and the Republic rises on the glorious achievements of its dead and living heroes to a higher and nobler national life. [Applause. ] We must stand guard over our past as soldiers, and over our country as the common heritage of all. [Applause. ]

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„For mere vengeance I would do nothing. This nation is too great to look for mere revenge.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: For mere vengeance I would do nothing. This nation is too great to look for mere revenge. But for security of the future I would do every thing. Speech in New York City (15 April 1865) on the occasion of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, as reported in John Clark Ridpath, The Life and Work of James A. Garfield (1882 memorial edition), p. 194. Several biographers include this speech, but accounts of his remarks that day vary

„Nobody but radicals have ever accomplished anything in a great crisis.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: Nobody but radicals have ever accomplished anything in a great crisis. Conservatives have their place in the piping times of peace; but in emergencies only rugged issue men amount to much. Statement of 1876, in The Diary of James A. Garfield: 1875-1877 (1983), edited by Harry James Brown and Frederick D. Williams. p. 396

„It is hardly possible God will let us succeed while such enormities are practiced.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: We do not even inquire whether a black man is a rebel in arms, or not, if he is black, be he friend or foe, he is thought best kept at a distance. It is hardly possible God will let us succeed while such enormities are practiced. Regarding slavery (1862), as quoted in Garfield: A Biography (1978), by Allan Peskin, p. 145

„We have seen the white men betray the flag and fight to kill the Union; but in all that long, dreary war we never saw a traitor in a black skin“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: And it did gentle the condition and elevate the heart of every worthy soldier who fought for the Union, [applause, ] and he shall be our brother forevermore. Another thing we will remember: we will remember our allies who fought with us. Soon after the great struggle began, we looked behind the army of white rebels, and saw 4,000,000 of black people condemned to toil as slaves for our enemies; and we found that the hearts of these 4,000,000 were God-inspired with the spirit of Liberty, and that they were all our friends. [Applause. ] We have seen the white men betray the flag and fight to kill the Union; but in all that long, dreary war we never saw a traitor in a black skin. [Great cheers. ] Our comrades escaping from the starvation of prison, fleeing to our lines by the light of the North star, never feared to enter the black man's cabin and ask for bread. ["Good, good," "That's so," and loud cheers. ] In all that period of suffering and danger, no Union soldier was ever betrayed by a black man or woman. [Applause. ] And now that we have made them free, so long as we live we will stand by these black allies. [Renewed applause. ] We will stand by them until the sun of liberty, fixed in the firmament of our Constitution, shall shine with equal ray upon every man, black or white, throughout the Union. [Cheers. ] Fellow-citizens, fellow-soldiers, in this there is the beneficence of eternal justice, and by it we will stand forever. [Great applause. ] A poet has said that in individual life we rise, "On stepping-stones of our dead selves to higher things," and the Republic rises on the glorious achievements of its dead and living heroes to a higher and nobler national life. [Applause. ] We must stand guard over our past as soldiers, and over our country as the common heritage of all. [Applause. ]

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