Description

    James A. Garfield Excellent Autograph Letter Signed: Invited by the Governor of Ohio to meet him at Gettysburg where he would hear President Lincoln's address, Brigadier General Garfield writes he "shall try to meet you on that occasion."

    Signed: "J. A. Garfield/Maj Gen Vols.", one page, 7.75" x 9.75". Hiram, Portage Co., Ohio, November 13, 1863. To Governor David Tod of Ohio. In full: "Dear Sir, I have the honor to acknowledge your courteous invitation to meet you at Gettysburg, Pa. on the 19th inst to celebrate the dedication of the grounds to the memory our gallant dead. I shall try to meet you on that occasion - though I fear that the pressure of other duties may prevent me. Very Respecty Your Obt Servt."

    On November 19, 1863, James A. Garfield's 32nd birthday, President Abraham Lincoln delivered perhaps the most famous speech in U.S. history at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Six sitting Governors were present including David Tod of Ohio. Others seated on the platform with Lincoln, the Governors, and other dignitaries were Ohio Governor-elect John Brough, former Ohio Governor William Dennison, and Ohio Lieutenant Governor Charles Anderson who succeeded Brough when he died in office in 1865. The letter is docketed on the verso of the integral leaf, possibly by Tod: "Declines on a/c of business" but there are no records that indicate whether or not Garfield, who had been elected an Ohio Congressman in 1862, was there. The verso of the integral leaf bears light mounting stains.

    David Tod (1805-1868) ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Ohio in 1843 and 1845. A Democrat, he was appointed U.S. Minister to Brazil by President Polk, serving from 1847-1851. In 1860, he was instrumental in securing the Democratic nomination for President for Stephen A. Douglas. Following Lincoln's election, Tod wholeheartedly supported Lincoln's policies and the war, and, in 1861, was elected Governor of Ohio as the Union party candidate, soundly defeating the Democratic candidate. Tod served as Governor from 1862-1864, losing the Union party nomination to another War Democrat, John Brough, who succeeded him. President Lincoln then offered Tod the post of Secretary of the Treasury to succeed former Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase who had resigned to become Chief Justice, but Tod declined for health reasons. Two photographs of Tod are included with this letter.

    Commissioned Lieutenant Colonel of the 42nd Ohio Volunteers in 1861, James A. Garfield was promoted by President Lincoln to Brigadier General of Volunteers in 1862. On November 4, 1862, Garfield was elected to Congress but decided to remain in the Army. He served as Chief of Staff to General W.S. Rosecrans and saw action at Chickamauga in August and September 1863. He was promoted to Major General on September 19, 1863, but resigned his commission on December 5, 1863, three weeks after this letter, to take his seat in the House of Representatives in time for the first session of the 38th Congress which began on December 7th. During a visit to Washington earlier in 1863, President Lincoln had told Garfield that he "had more commanding Generals around" but what he needed was supportive Republicans. Garfield was reelected eight times and is the only incumbent member of the House of Representatives to be elected President.

    Garfield had first met Lincoln in 1861. Before the Civil War, Garfield had taught at Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (now Hiram College). In a February 17, 1861, letter to his former pupil Burke A. Hinsdale, Garfield wrote of his first impression of Lincoln: "On the whole I am greatly pleased with the man. He clearly shows his want of culture - and the marks of western life. But there is no touch of affectation in him and he has a peculiar power of impressing you that he is frank, direct and thoroughly honest. His remarkable good sense, simple and condensed style of expression and evident marks of indomitable will, give me great hopes for the country."

    On July 2, 1881, President Garfield was shot by a disappointed office seeker, dying of his wounds on September 19, 1881. He was the second U.S. President to be assassinated; Lincoln was the first.

    A remarkable Lincoln-Garfield association letter in extra fine condition. There are mounting remnants on the verso of the integral leaf. This letter would make a magnificent addition to a presidential collection. From the Gary Grossman Collection.


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