James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831 – September 19, 1881) was the 20th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1881 until his death on September 19, 1881, a brief 200 days in office. He had the second shortest presidential tenure after William Henry Harrison. He was also the only incumbent of the U.S. House of Representatives to be elected President.
Garfield was born in Moreland Hills, Ohio and graduated from Williams College, Massachusetts in 1856. He married Lucretia Rudolph in 1858. In 1860, he was admitted to the Bar whilst serving as an Ohio State Senator (1859–1861). Garfield served as a major general in the United States Army during the American Civil War and fought at the Battle of Shiloh. He entered congress as a Republican in 1863, opposing slavery and secession. Following compromises with Ulysses S. Grant, James G. Blaine and John Sherman, Garfield became the Republican party nominee for the 1880 Presidential Election and successfully defeated Democrat Winfield Hancock.
Because he spent so little time as President, Garfield accomplished very little. In his inaugural address, Garfield outlined a desire for Civil Service Reform which was eventually passed by his successor Chester A. Arthur in 1883 as the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. His presidency was cut short after he was shot by Charles J. Guiteau while entering a railroad station in Washington D.C. on July 2, 1881. He was the second United States President to be assassinated. Following his death, Garfield was succeeded by Vice-President Chester A. Arthur.