James Abram Garfield citations

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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

„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. ]

„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

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„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. ]

„No duty can be more sacred than that of maintaining and perpetuating the freedom which the Proclamation of Emancipation gave to the loyal black men of the South. If they are to be disfranchised, if they are to have no voice in determining the conditions under which they are to live and labor, what hope have they for the future? It will rest with their late masters, whose treason they aided to thwart, to determine whether negroes shall be permitted to hold property, to enjoy the benefits of education, to enforce contracts, to have access to the courts of justice, in short, to enjoy any of those rights which give vitality and value to freedom. Who can fail to foresee the ruin and misery that await this race, to whom the vision of freedom has been presented only to be withdrawn, leaving them without even the aid which the master's selfish commercial interest in their life and service formerly afforded them?“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: But if we had no respect for the early practices and traditions of our fathers, we should still be compelled to meet the practical question which will very soon be forced upon us for solution. The necessity of putting down the rebellion by force of arms was no more imperative than is that of restoring law, order, and liberty in the States that rebelled. No duty can be more sacred than that of maintaining and perpetuating the freedom which the Proclamation of Emancipation gave to the loyal black men of the South. If they are to be disfranchised, if they are to have no voice in determining the conditions under which they are to live and labor, what hope have they for the future? It will rest with their late masters, whose treason they aided to thwart, to determine whether negroes shall be permitted to hold property, to enjoy the benefits of education, to enforce contracts, to have access to the courts of justice, in short, to enjoy any of those rights which give vitality and value to freedom. Who can fail to foresee the ruin and misery that await this race, to whom the vision of freedom has been presented only to be withdrawn, leaving them without even the aid which the master's selfish commercial interest in their life and service formerly afforded them? Will these negroes, remembering the battlefields on which two hundred thousand of their number bravely fought, and many thousands heroically died, submit to oppression as tamely and peaceably as in the days of slavery? Under such conditions, there could be no peace, no security, no prosperity.

„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

„This amendment supplies that defect, and allows Congress to correct the unjust legislation of the States, so far that the law which operates upon one man shall operate equally upon all. Whatever law punishes a white man for a crime shall punish the black man precisely in the same way and to the same degree. Whatever law protects the white man shall afford equal protection to the black man. Whatever means of redress is afforded to one shall be afforded to all. Whatever law allows the white man to testify in court shall allow the man of color to do the same.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: I can hardly believe that any person can be found who will not admit that every one of these provisions is just. They are all asserted, in some form or other, in our Declaration or organic law. But the Constitution limits only the action of Congress, and is not a limitation on the States. This amendment supplies that defect, and allows Congress to correct the unjust legislation of the States, so far that the law which operates upon one man shall operate equally upon all. Whatever law punishes a white man for a crime shall punish the black man precisely in the same way and to the same degree. Whatever law protects the white man shall afford equal protection to the black man. Whatever means of redress is afforded to one shall be afforded to all. Whatever law allows the white man to testify in court shall allow the man of color to do the same. These are great advantages over their present codes. Now different degrees of punishment are inflicted, not on account of the magnitude of the crime, but according to the color of the skin. Now color disqualifies a man from testifying in courts or being tried in the same way as white men.

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„Promises may not be kept, plighted faith may be broken, and vaunted virtue be only the cunning mask of vice. We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke: but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here, beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung. With words we make promises, plight faith, praise virtue. Promises may not be kept, plighted faith may be broken, and vaunted virtue be only the cunning mask of vice. We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke: but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue. Speech at Arlington Cemetery, Decoration Day (30 May 1868)

„I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here, beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung. With words we make promises, plight faith, praise virtue. Promises may not be kept, plighted faith may be broken, and vaunted virtue be only the cunning mask of vice. We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke: but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue. Speech at Arlington Cemetery, Decoration Day (30 May 1868)

„Nothing touches my heart more quickly than a tribute of honor to a great and noble character; but as I sat in my seat and witnessed this demonstration, this assemblage seemed to me a human ocean in tempest. I have seen the sea lashed into fury and tossed into spray, and its grandeur moves the soul of the dullest man; but I remember that it is not the billows, but the calm level of the sea, from which all heights and depths are measured.“

—  James A. Garfield
Context: Nothing touches my heart more quickly than a tribute of honor to a great and noble character; but as I sat in my seat and witnessed this demonstration, this assemblage seemed to me a human ocean in tempest. I have seen the sea lashed into fury and tossed into spray, and its grandeur moves the soul of the dullest man; but I remember that it is not the billows, but the calm level of the sea, from which all heights and depths are measured. When the storm has passed and the hour of calm settles on the ocean, when the sunlight bathes its peaceful surface, then the astronomer and surveyor take the level from which they measure all terrestrial heights and depths.

„In all that period of suffering and danger, no Union soldier was ever betrayed by a black man or woman“

—  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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