JAMES GARFIELD, 1881
Garfield was hounded through his short presidency by an endless stream of government job seekers. He was also one of a handful of presidents to be born into real poverty. As a boy he was a canal boat driver, as a young man he was a traveling preacher.
He was elected at a time of deep, deep division within his Republican party, between the moderate “Stalwarts,” and the conservative “Half-Breeds.” As the party was being ripped apart, Garfield emerged at the Republican National Convention as a dark horse candidate. He narrowly won by courting support from both factions.
But in office, he was tormented by choices on who to appoint to coveted government jobs, when countless whose help had won him the election came expecting favors in return.
He was shot and killed by deranged job seeker Charles J. Guiteau in a railroad station, barely six months after assuming office.
His successor Chester A. Arthur would pass civil service reform in an effort to rid government employment of corruption.
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