President James A. Garfield Favorite Book

by | Jul 11, 2011 | 2011, Musings | 0 comments

A while back, I watched a video done by the ministries of “WallBuilders” (an organization dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten spiritual heritage). That video highlighted the life and ministry of the 20th President of the United States, James A. Garfield. The speaker was making references to the great rotunda in the U.S. Capital. He was pointing out the specific spiritual influences that were depicted in that hall. The “Baptism of Pocahontas” is one of the eight framed historical paintings. In addition to the 19 scenes carved into the famous frieze, there are six permanent statues of U.S. Presidents. They include Washington, Lincoln, Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan and Garfield. (Interestingly, Reagan is the only one smiling).

I got curious as to why Garfield was included. Generally, he isn’t very well known. Before I started researching him, the only thing I knew was that he was one of the four presidents that were assassinated. But, I found out that he was a very intelligent man who taught school as a classics professor. It is said that he could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other.

After his teaching career, he joined the Union army and eventually distinguished himself as a brigadier general. He served in the Ohio State Senate for two years, was as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 17 years and served in the Senate for one year.

The last of seven presidents born in a log cabin, Garfield was the first president to campaign in two languages, he spoke English and German. He was elected on November 2, 1880 and died less than a year later of blood poisoning from a bullet wound at the hand of Charles Guiteau.

Garfield was a skilled orator, an effective military leader, a bright lawyer, and a highly regarded statesman. But did you know that he was an amazing Christian leader?

Garfield came to Christ as an 18 year old while working on the Ohio canal. He was later licensed as a minister in the Christian Church, known today as the Disciples of Christ. He performed all of the usual duties of a preacher, marrying folks and serving at funerals.

History tells us that he was also a terrific preacher of the gospel. Garfield held revivals or protracted meetings where he would preach for many days. At one such meeting, he preached 19 times and 34 people came to Christ.

In 1857, Garfield preached a message entitled, “The Material and the Spiritual.” As part of his conclusion, he said, “Men are tending to materialism. Houses, lands, and worldly goods attract their attention, and as a mirage lure them on to death.” His words are so applicable even today!

His massive statue stands among the great leaders of our country. And, I think I know why he is included in that great hall. His life is a testimony to the message that leaders, political or otherwise must derive their personal strength from their spiritual roots.

When they do, our people are blessed. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Prov. 14:34)

By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel


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