Lucretia Rudolph Garfield Essay Research Paper Lucretia

Lucretia Rudolph Garfield Essay, Research Paper Lucretia Rudolph Garfield 1832-1918 In the fond eyes of her husband, President James A. Garfield, Lucretia "grows up to every new emergency with fine tact

Lucretia Rudolph Garfield Essay, Research Paper

Lucretia Rudolph Garfield 1832-1918 In the fond eyes of her husband, President

James A. Garfield, Lucretia "grows up to every new emergency with fine tact

and faultless taste." She proved this in the eyes of the nation, though she

was always a reserved, self-contained woman. She flatly refused to pose for a

campaign photograph, and much preferred a literary circle or informal party to a

state reception. Her love of learning she acquired from her father, Zeb Rudolph,

a leading citizen of Hiram, Ohio, and devout member of the Disciples of Christ.

She first met "Jim" Garfield when both attended a nearby school, and

they renewed their friendship in 1851 as students at the Western Reserve

Eclectic Institute, founded by the Disciples. But "Crete" did not

attract his special attention until December 1853, when he began a rather

cautious courtship, and they did not marry until November 1858, when he was well

launched on his career as a teacher. His service in the Union Army from 1861 to

1863 kept them apart; their first child, a daughter, died in 1863. But after his

first lonely winter in Washington as a freshman Representative, the family

remained together. With a home in the capital as well as one in Ohio they

enjoyed a happy domestic life. A two-year-old son died in 1876, but five

children grew up healthy and promising; with the passage of time, Lucretia

became more and more her husband’s companion. In Washington they shared

intellectual interests with congenial friends; she went with him to meetings of

a locally celebrated literary society. They read together, made social calls

together, dined with each other and traveled in company until by 1880 they were

as nearly inseparable as his career permitted. Garfield’s election to the

Presidency brought a cheerful family to the White House in 1881. Though Mrs.

Garfield was not particularly interested in a First Lady’s social duties, she

was deeply conscientious and her genuine hospitality made her dinners and

twice-weekly receptions enjoyable. At the age of 49 she was still a slender,

graceful little woman with clear dark eyes, her brown hair beginning to show

traces of silver. In May she fell gravely ill, apparently from malaria and

nervous exhaustion, to her husband’s profound distress. "When you are

sick," he had written her seven years earlier, "I am like the

inhabitants of countries visited by earthquakes." She was still a

convalescent, at a seaside resort in New Jersey, when he was shot by a demented

assassin on July 2. She returned to Washington by special train–"frail,

fatigued, desperate," reported an eyewitness at the White House, "but

firm and quiet and full of purpose to save." During the three months her

husband fought for his life, her grief, devotion, and fortitude won the respect

and sympathy of the country. In September, after his death, the bereaved family

went home to their farm in Ohio. For another 36 years she led a strictly private

but busy and comfortable life, active in preserving the records of her husband’s

career. She died on March 14, 1918.

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