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Garfield's Early Aspirations

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The following sketch of Gen. GarGcld's early history has been furnished by one of h3 constituents : My first recollection of General Janies A. Garfield dates back to 185'J, when, as a student of one of the public schools in Portage county, Oliio, a gentleman, by Dame Mr. Patrick, was introduced to address tbe school. "Boys," he said "I ain going to teil you a story - a true story- which will show you what one boy has done and what other boys may do. One fa.1l, about eight ycars ago, when tbe canal froze up, a big, overgrowo, tow-headed canal boit driver came to iny farm house and said ho would likc to do ' chores ' for his board during the winter. Well, I took him, and he was very faithful about his work, hut 1 observed that he seeined somewhat nioudy and depressed. When I questioned him about it, he said : ' I have great reason tu be sad. Here are your children, much younger than myself, who are well along in their books, but I am too oíd for these tliinifs. things. I barely know how to read. 1 have had great aspirations, but it's ofno use; Iamtooold.' 'Jamo,' said I, 'yott are not too oíd ; there is hope for you yet. If'you really desire to learn I will sec that you have the means to do so.' Upon this James brightened up very much and grasped my hand, but could not say a word." Mr. Patrick then gave us an account of the nianncr in which James mastered all the elementry studies and was fitted to teach school in an almost inoredibly short space of time. Iti a very few inonths he went to Iliram institutc and swept the halls and made fires to pay for his board and tuition. When he began there he was larger in size than most of the students, but in less than two years' time he was prepared to enter college, and so great was his mental power and energy that he mastered the whole curriculum in two years. He was such a brilliant student withal that he was invited a year after his graduation to make the customary address before the alumni. He then returned to Uiiam institutc and was invitod to take the position of principal, which he accepted and Ulied very acceptably until the institute became a college, when he continued as its president. It was while occupying this position that public attention was called to bim as a rising man and people began to predict for him a brilliant political career. He seemed to "inform" the collego with his immense popularity, and his popularity with the students knew no bounds. There is a tradition among the students of that institution that soon after his incumbency began some one was complimenting him upon the admirable manner in which everything he undertook was accomplished. " W uil, " he replied, " that is a principie with me and ought to be with everyone. Moreover, I believe in aiming hieh. 1 am now 28 and have achieved thus much ; 1 mean to go on and be made the President of the United States if I can." He might have made this latter assertion idly, or he luidla have meant what he said. But, in any event, tbc remark was treasured up by his inherents, who believed then, as now, that he can anything he chooses, and it was freely predioted by many at the timo ihat he would be President some day. This political phase of our subject occurring at a time wben Gen. Garfield had, as yet, held no political office whatever, requireselucidation. The college of wliieh he was then president was of the " Campbellite" or "Disciple" persuasión, aixl Garfield was acoustomed to preach occasionally, although bis sermona were ratlicr of the nature of geological lectures as applied to theology than any thing cL-c. Ile was always primed for a lecture at any time on any subject, but it was in political speeches tbat he delightcd most, and so great euthusiasm did he créate among the people of his section that local poliucians who had been patiently waitiug for Eiilia Whittlesey'sold shoes, began to fVar, bate, and slander him, until he achieved a victory over thfin all and attuincd the successiou. Since then they have been stcadily boosting him to get him out of their way. The tradition of his home is full of itUtaooM of his immense phymoiü power. It has beet) charged tlmt in bil youthful days this "towheadod, one gallused, baref'ooted canal boy" was something of a shoulder bitter, but he never pieked a quarrel. It was his uniform custom wheu assaiUd on the towpath to knock his isaüant down by way of preliminary and then tbrow him iuto the canal. These things may he somewhat fabulous ; but thi no doubt that on the commenecment occasion at Iliram he alone "draggcd out" two immense bullies who had intrudcd themselves with the avowed purpose of' raising a row. Chronic office seekers will do well to make a note of these diosynrnicies of the next President O, Christian people, who di.-agree and wrangle, and meanly suspect each othcr and encroaoh upon eaeh other, or who try sharp prácticos against eaeh othcr in tlm stock exchange or ut the broker's. board, and who being once engaged refuse to settle it, and stir up the churches and makes ccclesiastical confusión worse confounded ; why eannot ye hear out of' the far past this great, good voice of Abram, and live at least up to his light? " Let thore be no trife, for we be brethren."


Ann Arbor Courier
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