Ave Atque Vale, James A.Garfield

November 16, 2011 at 2:01 am (Book review, books, History)

  Alas, the time has come for me to return Destiny of the Republic to the library. Fifty-six eager readers await their copies! (Happiness it is, to dwell among fellow book lovers.) An earlier post only hinted at the riches contained in its pages.

My copy of this superb biography is  festooned with post-it flags. They must now be removed. The only remedy is to read it again. This I plan to do, whether via hard copy as I’ve just done, recorded book – or on my soon-to-arrive Kindle Fire. (O brave new world, that has such devices in it!)

I would like to bid farewell to this man – this noble, courageous, compassionate man – by sharing with you Candice Millard’s description of his inauguration, which took place on March 4, 1881:

At precisely noon, a pair of massive bronze doors opened onto the eastern portico of the Capitol, and the presidential party, which had disappeared inside an hour earlier, could be seen filing out. Although nearly a dozen people stepped onto the portico, all eyes were on only three: Frederick Douglass, who led the procession; the president-elect; and his mother, Eliza. It was an extraordinary scene, a testimony to the triumph of intelligence and industry over prejudice and poverty, and it was not lost on those who witnessed it. “James A. Garfield sprung from the people, a reporter marveled. “James A. Garfield, who had known all the hardship of abject poverty, in the presence of a mother who had worked with her own hands to keep him from want – was about to assume the highest civil office this world knows. As the party so stood for a moment, cheer after cheer, loud huzzas which could not be controlled or checked, echoed and reechoed about the Capitol.”

James A. Garfield: November 19, 1831 - September 19, 1881

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