Abraham Lincoln succeeded Buchanan in the Presidency of the United States, and the Confederates withdrew from the Union, and elected a friend of the slave-owners, named Jefferson Davis, as their President. Then the first blow was struck. At Charleston was a stronghold called Fort Sumter, which commanded the bay and harbour. The fort was held by Major Andersen for the Federal Government. The garrison was small, consisting only of some seventy men, who were without provisions.
The Confederates demanded possession of the fort. Anderson held out for a day or two, until the walls were beaten down about his ears, and then surrendered the fortress to the rebels. This was the beginning of war.
The news of the victory was flashed through the land, and the nation stood aghast, to find that the Great Rebellion had begun.
DARK DAYS FOE THE UNION.
President Lincoln's Appeal to the Country—Dark Days for the Northern States—A Decisive Battle—Glorious News.
The question of slavery was the real cause of the American Civil War, though in the first instance the object of the North was solely to save the Union. Six of the slave States had withdrawn from the Union. They had appointed as their President Jefferson Davis, and had attempted to seize all the arms and forts within the border of the States.
The ease with which Fort Sumter had fallen into their hands encouraged them to believe that they could easily snap the bonds which held the Union together. In the South the white population was supposed to be far superior to their Northern neighbours in all the arts of war.
Their position as slave-masters had bred in them an arrogant temper and a reckless spirit. They were more practised at the rifle, better used to horsemanship, and more familiar with field sports, than the men of the North. And they fondly boasted that one Virginian could beat five Yankees.
Indeed, the Southern States were so confident of their strength, that they did not really believe the North would fight; they might protest, they said, but that would be all.
But men who talked like this little understood the intense love of country which burned in Northern hearts. The moment Fort Sumter fell, Lincoln appealed to the country for seventy-five thousand soldiers, and within three days nearly a hundred thousand men had volunteered.
Then the war dragged slowly on for four long, weary years.
At first the tide of battle ran full against the Federals. Their first victory had encouraged the rebels. Then a battle of very much more importance was fought close to a stream known as Bull's Run, and here again the North was defeated. Then others joined the Confederates.
Several of the most brilliant soldiers and commanders, such as Lee and Jackson, were Virginians and slave-holders, and these of course threw in their lot with the South, and for some time the North had no men of equal capacity to set against them. Thus for months and almost years it seemed as if the Confederates would succeed, and that the fetters of the slave would be fixed more firmly than ever.
But defeat and delay were in reality making leaders for the North. A young engineer officer named M'Clellan was put in command at first. His appointment appeared to be a fortunate one. He speedily organised and placed in the field a splendid army, and it was fondly expected that a few months with such troops as his would end the war. But M'Clellan, though a brave soldier and an able man, was a disappointment. Like the father of Frederick the Great, he was an ideal drill-master, but an indifferent general. He was afraid to risk his magnificent army, and while he dallied his foes snatched victory after victory.
Those were dark days for the Northern States, yet through the darkness they did not falter. They felt that their cause was just, and they were prepared to suffer and die for it. At the head of the State was the great and noble Lincoln, whose calm and indomitable spirit was unbroken under the heaviest disaster.
On the first of July 1863, General Lee, who had invaded Pennsylvania with an army of seventy thousand men, advanced upon the little town of Gettysburg. Here he met and partially defeated the Federal troops under General Meade. Meade had entrenched himself on the hill above the town; but, though defeated, he was not dislodged. The second day a further attack was made, and once more the Federals suffered heavy losses. Part of their position was carried, and Lee believed that another day would give him such a victory as would place the whole of the Northern States with all their wealth at his feet.
It was a terrible moment for the North. The fate of the Union and of the nation depended on that battle; and when, at the close of the second day's struggle, the news was flashed by telegraph through the length and breadth of the land, that Meade was again defeated, a great gloom and sorrow hung over the Northern States. At Washington, the Government sat in terror. In hundreds of churches and thousands of homes throughout the land, the wives and children of the soldiers spent the night in prayer.
At length the fateful day dawned, and the two armies met once more. Under cover of the darkness, Meade had been quietly strengthening his position, and when the sun rose over the camp, it was seen that once more he was ready to face his hitherto victorious enemy.
The battle began at noon. For some time the result was uncertain. Then for a third time the Confederates began to make headway, and it is said that some of Lee's generals actually congratulated him upon a final victory. But the battle was not ended.
The Federals had their backs to the wall, and the dogged determination which is the strength and glory of the Yankee character showed itself at last.
Again and again the best troops of the Confederate army dashed up the slope of the low hill, only to break against the stubborn bands of men who could die but would not be defeated. And when at length the rebels made one more terrible rush, they were met, hurled back, broken, beaten, and scattered, and the battle was over.
That night, the Fourth of July, the anniversary of the Declaration of American Independence, there went up a shout through the North and East that must have reached to heaven. Just outside the town of Richmond, in Virginia, was a huge prison. Here some hundreds of Northern officers, prisoners of war, were held in captivity. They had heard of the struggle going on at Gettysburg, and they knew how much depended on that battle.
When, after the first and second days' fighting, the news of the Federal repulses reached them, their hearts sank. Eagerly yet anxiously they waited for the morrow. No eye in that dreary building was closed that night in sleep. The morning of the fourth day rose. They waited in fear, and strange rumours reached them. Some one brought word that their brethren were again defeated, and tears of shame and sorrow ran down many a worn face.
Then an aged negro approached the prison. He brought wonderful news, and through the bars he conveyed tidings of the Federal victory. For a moment the good news was scarcely believed. Next loud sobs were heard, mingled with murmured praises; then suddenly from hundreds of lips there rose this glorious battle-song of the North, for they felt, though many a battle was to follow, that the Union was saved:—
BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC.
"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword: His Truth is marching on.
"I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps; They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps; I have read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps: His day is marching on.
"I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel, 'As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal;' Let the Hero born of woman crush the serpent with His heel Since God is marching on.
"In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me; As He died to make man holy, let us die to make men free, While God is marching on."
FOR FLAG AND COUNTRY.
Ulysses S. Grant—Recruits from all Classes—Senator Garfield appointed Colonel Of a Regiment—Asking for Guidance.
The Union was saved, but the struggle was not over. During the earlier years of the war the strong men of the North had been slowly coming to the front. One of these was a stubborn, silent soldier named Grant, who, after an early training as a military cadet, and some experience in the Mexican war, had settled down to a clerkship in a leather shop in Illinois.
When war broke out, Ulysses S. Grant recruited a regiment of Illinois men, of which he was made commander, and then entered upon that military career which at length ranked him among the two or three greatest soldiers of the age, and finally placed him in the presidential chair.
To General Grant more than to any man belongs the honour of the triumph of the Federal armies. But Grant was strong because of the innate nobleness of the men he commanded, and the magnificent steadfastness of the people who supported him. That support was given with a liberal hand. Probably never since the days when the people of Israel stripped themselves of their jewels to build the tabernacle, did a nation contribute of their treasures so eagerly and whole-heartedly as the American nation at this crisis.
Private individuals subscribed vast sums of money, teachers of schools voluntarily gave up a fixed proportion of their salary, churches and societies made regular collections, farmers carried their produce into the camps, and women devoted their skill to nursing the sick and wounded.
The highest honour that men could claim was to serve in the ranks of the army; and rich and poor alike shouldered the musket and slept side by side upon the field of battle.
On one occasion the money which was needed for the pay of a New England regiment was delayed, and it was feared that the families of the soldiers, as well as the soldiers themselves, might in consequence be placed in distress. Elias Howe, the inventor of the sewing-machine, who was serving as a private in the ranks, stepped forward, pulled out his cheque-book, and wrote on the spot a cheque for 20,000 pounds, which he handed to his colonel for the use of his comrades.
The army was composed not only of the strongest, but also of the noblest men of the nation. Ministers led their congregations into battle. Teachers gathered their young men together, and went with them to fight for the country; and among the first of these, James Garfield, the young principal of the Hiram Institute, marched at the head of a hundred students of his college, and with their help gained the earliest victory of the Federal army.
When Fort Sumter fell, Lincoln, as we have seen, appealed at once for 75,000 volunteers. The call, which was read in the various States, was heard in the Senate of Ohio, of which Garfield was a member. The moment that the President's message had been read, Garfield rose to his feet, and moved that Ohio should contribute 20,000 men and about a million of money to the war. The motion was received and passed with the heartiest approval, and the young Senator was at once appointed to serve in the new army.
He raised two regiments, of one of which he was made colonel. This was work in which he had had no previous experience; yet he soon proved himself a master of the business. Commander, officers, and privates were all alike, raw recruits; but Garfield soon drilled both himself and his men into shape.
As a skilled carpenter, he could handle a workman's tools. He made a number of models and blocks, and with these he studied the art of war. Then he taught his officers as he used to teach his classes; and so, by sticking to his old principles of "thorough," he soon produced a regiment second to none in the Northern army. Garfield's duty in the first place was to help to keep the State of Kentucky out of the hands of the Confederates. At Middle Creek on January 10th, and again on the 17th at Prestonburg, he defeated General Marshall. In his regiment he had a number of his own Hiram boys, over whom he watched as an elder brother. The affection of the young men for their friend and teacher was unbounded, and with him to lead them there were few perils from which they shrank.
Garfield had not taken up the trade of a soldier for pleasure or for personal ambition, but out of a stern sense of duty. Brave and resolute as he was, he was still more remarkable for the genuine kindness and even tenderness of his nature. Before going into the war, he was deeply concerned for his mother and for his wife and child. If his life were taken, there was no provision for these dear ones. The night, therefore, he volunteered, he took his mother's Bible and sat down to read, determined to let the voice of God speak to him on this momentous matter.
He had not long to wait. As he read and meditated, he could hear one solemn voice speaking all the time in his heart, like the voice which fell upon the ear of the Hebrew captain, bidding him go forward to fight, as he said, for his country and for human right.
WINNING HIS SPURS.
The Hiram Boys in Action—Terrible Odds—A Daring Deed—A Ride for Life—Major-General Garfield.
The period of Garfield's active service in the army was a little over two years; yet in that short time he rose from lieutenant-colonel to major-general, and performed some deeds of valour that will never be forgotten. Within three months of raising his regiment, he was prepared to take the field, and the sphere of his operations was the State of Kentucky.
This large and important State, which lay on the borders of the slave-holding districts, was by no means unanimous in favour of the Union. General Marshall, with an army of 5000 Confederates, had taken up a position in Eastern Kentucky; and Garfield, having reported himself to General Buell at Louisville, was ordered to march against the invaders. It was at Middle Creek where the two small opposing armies met Garfield's forces numbered, all told, about 2600; the Confederates were nearly double. Garfield found the enemy posted on the double crest of a low hill, and he at once commenced his attack.
The charge was led by the hundred Hiram students, who were ordered to cross the stream and climb the opposite ridge, the intention being to draw the enemy out of their ambuscade. But the slope of the hill was swept with rebel bullets, and the Hiram boys had to seek shelter among the trees.
While the young men held their position in the timber, a support of 500 men came up, and the little brigade faced nearly 4000 muskets. Then Colonel Moore and his loyal Kentuckians volunteered to carry the hill. Standing on a rock in full sight of his men, and a conspicuous mark for the Confederates' rifles, Garfield directed the fight. For a while it seemed doubtful on which side victory should fall, until through the trees the commander caught sight of a glancing banner, and with a shout he announced that reinforcements had arrived. The enemy had seen it also, and at once began a retreat, which soon became a scamper.
For this brilliant little victory, the first that had fallen to the Federal arms, Garfield was made a brigadier-general. He was now thirty-one years of age, and had served in the army about four months.
Garfield's force in Eastern Kentucky held the field, but they held it starving. Their provisions were done, the roads were impassable, the people unfriendly, and the river swollen and dangerous. But Garfield's early experience as a canal boy now stood him in good stead. Among his troops was his old companion and humble friend of the towpath, Harry S. Brown, the poor fellow who, in spite of a good heart and shrewd sense, had been so long the unhappy victim of intemperance. But the man adored his young officer, and now, at a critical moment in Garfield's career, Brown was able to render him and the good cause an important service.
The army was encamped near the scene of its victory. Close by was the Big Sandy river, a deep and rapid and swollen stream. No local boatman would venture down the torrent at such a time. And yet that was the sole direction from which the little army might expect supplies.
Garfield sent for Harry Brown, who had been acting as scout. The two sprang into a skiff, and succeeded in descending the river. At Catletsburg, on the mouth of the Big Sandy, they found a little old-fashioned steamer belonging to a Confederate, and of this vessel they took possession. The steamer was loaded with provisions, and Garfield assumed command. It was in vain that the rebel captain protested, and explained the terrors of the passage. He had to do with a man whose spirit of duty completely lifted him above the sense of fear.
For two days and nights Garfield stood at the helm of the vessel, and battled with the swollen torrent. More than once they were aground, but the resolute management of Garfield and the unflinching obedience of Harry the scout surmounted every difficulty, and at length the little steamer came puffing in sight of the almost despairing camp.
The men were beside themselves with joy; they shouted and sang and danced, and declared that with such a leader there was no danger they would not face.
But it was at the battle of Chickamauga that Garfield's most daring feat was performed. In the early part of 1863 he was made chief of the staff to General Rosecrans, and in this capacity organised his famous corps of scouts. The summer and autumn were spent in opposing General Bragg, one of the ablest of the Southern commanders. On the 19th and 20th of September the battle of Chickamauga was fought. The right division of the army, under the immediate direction of Rosecrans, was cut in two by Bragg. As the Federals began their retreat, Garfield, who chafed bitterly under this repulse, begged permission to ride back to the second column of the army, which was under the command of General Thomas. He hoped to reach this division, and encourage the general to continue the battle until Rosecrans could collect his broken forces and entrench himself in Chattanooga.
Great as was the need, Rosecrans hesitated before allowing Garfield to run the risk of such a ride. At length he reluctantly consented. Grasping Garfield's hand, his chief said, "We may not meet again. Good-bye; God bless you." And, with this kindly farewell in his ears, the young brigadier-general rode away.
With three companions for guides, he made for the tangled forest. Then they trotted past Rossville. Here, as they swept along the narrow road, a thousand rifles opened fire upon them, and two of the little party fell. They had ridden into a body of Confederate skirmishers who were hanging upon the flank of Thomas's army.
Garfield put his horse to the fence and leaped into a cottonfield. The hedge on the other side of the field was lined with muskets. Garfield rode a zig-zag course across the field, and so prevented the enemy from taking aim. His course slanted upwards, and he knew that if he could but gain the top of the hill, he would be out of range of the rebel rifles. Twice a volley was fired, and the second time his horse received a nasty flesh wound; but still Garfield was uninjured. His good horse, though losing blood fast, kept on. He had reached the crest of the hill just as the second volley of bullets whizzed past him, and the next moment he was safe. A party of Thomas's troops rode out to meet him, they dashed down the hill together, and in a few more minutes Garfield's horse dropped dead at the feet of General Thomas.
But the object of his ride was accomplished. Thomas held out long enough to enable Rosecrans to strengthen himself and occupy Chattanooga, and the army was saved. The stand which General Thomas made at Chickamauga was said to be the most brilliant defence of the whole war, and the ride of Garfield the most heroic deed. For this exploit he was raised to the rank of major-general.
FILLING THE GAP.
Called to Washington—Elected to the Congress—His Plan for increasing the Army—The Slaves' Friend—Abraham Lincoln shot—Stilling the Tumult.
After the battle of Chickamauga, General Garfield retired from the army. His help was greatly needed in a sphere where the same courage would find scope, but where other gifts besides decision and dash were required.
He had been a State Senator for Ohio for several years. Now he was to become a Member of Congress, the national Parliament of the United States.
He was elected a representative of Congress in 1862, but did not immediately take his seat. So far, his place seemed with the army; but when, in 1863, immediately after the battle of Chickamauga, he went with despatches to Washington, President Lincoln expressed a strong desire that he should remain, and help to guide the affairs of the war in the national Parliament. Such help as his was needed. Lincoln was beset by timid and divided, and in some cases interested, advisers, and the presence of a strong, fearless counsellor, as wise and experienced as Garfield, was a great accession of strength.
Here his moral courage was soon put to the test. More soldiers were urgently required, and two plans were laid before the country. One was to offer a bounty to volunteers; the other plan was to pass a law requiring every able-bodied man between the ages of eighteen and forty-five to be enrolled.
Garfield's party favoured the former plan. Garfield himself approved the latter. He said that, in such times as these, only the most worthless men would want to be bought, the best would feel it a duty to serve their country, and his vote was given in favour of compulsory enlistment. It was a step that required courage, for it placed him in opposition to the whole of his friends and supporters. But he said, "I must vote according to conscience. My constituents may refuse to elect me again, but for fear of that, I cannot trample on my convictions." By his eloquence he was able to carry the law calling out half a million of men, and it was not long before he convinced the whole country, as he had convinced Congress, of the wisdom of his advice.
Garfield had long ago discovered that it was almost as dangerous to refuse his friends as to oppose his foes. But the straight and simple line he had marked out for himself was his sufficient guide. There was one man, he used to say, from whose company he could never escape. He must eat, walk, work, and sleep with him; and no matter whom he disappointed besides, he was bound to gain and keep the respect of that one individual, who was himself. It was a wholesome saying, and it expressed the principles which guided all his public life.
While the war lasted, no man more resolutely opposed any kind of concession to the rebels; but when it was ended, he was foremost in his attempts to soothe the passions which the war had enkindled.
From one point, however, he never flinched; that was in the treatment of the negroes. He had begun his career as their advocate, he continued it as their protector and friend. When an officer on service, he had risked his position, and even his life, by refusing to surrender a poor fugitive slave who had sought shelter in his camp, although ordered to do so by his superior officer. And when, at the close of the war, a bill was brought before Congress to limit the rights of the freed slaves, Garfield indignantly and successfully opposed it.
On the 14th of April 1865, just after being elected to the Presidency for the second time, Abraham Lincoln was shot by a rebel sympathiser, named Booth. And the same night the life of the Secretary of State, Seward, was also attempted. These crimes roused the people of the North to madness. In every city the men assembled with ominous cries for vengeance.
In New York, a foolish man called out that Lincoln ought to have been shot long ago. That cruel speech cost the speaker his life. He was struck down by a hundred hands. Then a vast crowd gathered in front of the World newspaper office, which was a supporter of the rebels. It was a crisis when a single spark might kindle a fire that only could be put out by bloodshed. At that moment a man stepped out upon the balcony of the City Hall,—a tall, portly man, whose mighty voice was heard above the tumult of the crowd of angry men. There was stillness, and then, solemnly and slowly, the voice cried, "Fellow-citizens,—Clouds and darkness are round Him! His pavilion is on the dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies! Justice and judgment are the habitation of His throne! Mercy and truth shall go before His face! Fellow-citizens, God reigns, and the Government at Washington still lives!" As the angry waves of Galilee were hushed at the sound of the voice of Christ, so did the surging passion of that great multitude grow still at the words of His servant that day. Men ceased from cries of vengeance, and turned to Him who "had made His throne in the heavens," and bowed their hearts before Him.
The voice which swayed and stilled the crowd that day was the voice of Garfield; he it was who, in that dreadful moment, stood in the gap between the living and the dead.
THE HOUR AND THE MAN.
Statesman and Citizen—Leader of the House of Representatives—Elected President—The Secret of Success—Struck down by an Assassin—Hovering between Life and Death—Death and Burial.
Garfield's life, above that of most men, was given to the world as a splendid example of perfect integrity and manly independence. All through that romantic career this had been its most remarkable feature. His talents were great, his powers of endurance were great, his energy and courage were great; but his love of right was greater and grander than all.
From that moment when he awoke to a true sense of his responsibilities as a servant of God, he began to fit himself for all the duties of man. For whatever duty claimed his service he was found prepared; and when the call came suddenly to the kingly seat, and then yet more swiftly to the martyr's crown, he was still found ready. Dividing his time between Congress at Washington and his little home farm at Mentor, he served his nation as a statesman, and ruled his happy household as a citizen.
His noble mother, by whose godly counsel he had walked, spent some happy years in his home; while his brave and loving wife cheered and helped and inspired him in those days of patient service.
Gradually he gained the position of Leader of the House of Representatives. In 1879 he was elected Senator of the United States; and then, quite unexpectedly, in the following year he was lifted into the highest place of all.
The President of the United States is elected every four years. In each State a number of persons known as "electors" are chosen by the votes of the people. The number of these electors is exactly the same as the number of the Representatives of each State. These persons then meet and elect the President and Vice-President for the ensuing four years. The great and dignified office of President is the summit of an American's ambition; and it is only in the United States that a poor lad may hope and believe it possible for him to climb from the humblest position to a rank which places him on an equality with kings.
Long before the time for election, the great parties in the State select their candidates for this high office. Garfield belonged to the Republican party, and the people chiefly opposed to him were called Democrats. Previous to the Presidential election, the leading men of the party met in a vast hall at Chicago to decide upon a candidate. Several names were proposed, but it was found at first impossible to select one man upon whom all the delegates of the Republican party could agree.
Thirty-five times a ballot had been taken, and they seemed no nearer than before. But at the thirty-fifth it was found that one name had received about fifty votes. When that name was read, it was greeted with a mighty cheer, which grew louder and louder, until the whole of the vast building resounded with the name of James A. Garfield. Another ballot was taken, and Garfield was found to be the chosen of his party.
He was nominated as the Republican candidate; and on November 2, 1880, the "little sapling" of the Western Reserve became the President of the United States, the uncrowned monarch of one of the greatest nations of the world. Thus had he marched along. At fourteen he was working at the carpenter's bench; at sixteen he was a canal boatman; two years later he entered the Chester school; at twenty-one he was a common school teacher.
Then in his twenty-third year he entered the university, graduating three years afterwards. At twenty-seven he became principal of the Hiram Institute. The next year he was a Member of the Ohio Senate. At thirty-one he was at the head of a regiment; at thirty-two, a major-general; at thirty-three, a Member of Congress; at forty-eight he was made a Member of the National Senate; and at fifty he became President of the United States.
We have said that the secret of Garfield's success was his integrity. To this he owed the respect which advanced him to each position of trust until it made him head of the Government. And it was to this noble quality of his character that he owed his death. Corruption had grown up in connection with the offices of State, and Garfield's last mission was to purge the Government of this taint. He was resolved to set his face against "the waste of time and the obstruction to public business caused by the greedy crowd of office-seekers." And he also announced that "rigid honesty and faithful service would be required from every officer of the State."
This conduct bitterly annoyed some of his own party, who had expected that Garfield would follow the example of other Presidents, and turn out all the civic officers, to make room for his own friends. This annoyance at length found expression in the wicked act of a wretched creature, a disappointed office-seeker, named Guiteau.
The new President had been but a few months in office, when Guiteau followed him into the railway station at Washington, and, as he entered the waiting-room, shot him in the back. The President fell wounded, but not unconscious. In great pain, he still remembered his loved ones, and moaned, "My poor wife and children." Then he dictated a message to his wife.
A struggle with death ensued, on which the whole world looked with awe.
For weeks the President hovered between life and death, showing ever the same sublime spirit of cheerful patience and Christian resignation which had adorned his life. At length the end came, and on the 19th of September 1881 he fell asleep. His body was removed to Washington, where he was laid in state. On the bier a wreath of white roses rested, bearing the simple inscription—"From Queen Victoria to the memory of the late President Garfield, an expression of her sorrow, and her sympathy with Mrs. Garfield and the American nation."
Through that room passed a hundred and thirty thousand persons of all ranks, to take one last look at the man whose life had been so great, and whose dying had been so glorious. Then in the cemetery of his native Cleveland, James A. Garfield was laid to rest.
The spontaneous affection of his countrymen amply provided for his beloved family; and his martyrdom, it was said, did more than any other event could have done to draw the North and South together. His death was mourned, and the manner of it hated by every section and party alike, and the whole nation, united now in sorrow, bowed in loving tenderness over the grave of one of its greatest children.
One of the pleasantest things in the story of Garfield is the devotion of friends and companions, which followed and helped him all his life. To an orphan lad, the son of a poor widow in the backwoods of the State of Ohio, there seemed little chance of greatness; and yet out of that poor cabin in the woods, in which sat the weeping mother and her four fatherless children, came one who was destined to stand among princes.
It was the self-denial of his mother, elder brother, and sister which made it possible for James Garfield to rise. When the father died suddenly, leaving his family on the comparatively new clearing, Thomas, the eldest son, became the manager of the farm. "I can plough and plant, mother. I can sow the wheat too, and cut the wood, milk the cows, and do heaps of things for you."
This was the elder lad's answer to his mother's question, "Should they sell the farm now that her husband was dead?" and it decided her. And so the boy-farmer commenced his labours, and mother and children toiled together in humble and happy love.
But though Thomas was compelled to work, he was determined that his baby brother should have an education. And when a school was opened some distance off, he resolved that "Jimmy" must be one of the scholars. But how was a lad of four to get to school nearly two miles away. The answer came from a devoted sister, who said, "I'll carry him"; and the good, brave girl, with a homely name and a noble heart, trudged the long distance day by day, with a little sister at her side, and a little brother on her back. And that was how, aided by loving hands and loyal hearts, little James Garfield, the future professor, and general, and President of the United States, began his career.
You remember how Thomas, with all his duties and responsibilities about the farm, yet found a little time on his hands to do odd jobs for a neighbour, and so obtain a little money.
When he came home with his first earnings, he walked straight up to his mother, laid it down in her lap, and said, "Now the shoemaker can come and make Jimmy a pair of shoes." What a splendid fellow Thomas was! He seemed to have no thought for himself, but only to be wearing out his young life for others. Surely in the long hereafter, when they reckon up the good deeds in each life, the reaping of this little backwoods' farmer will be a glorious one, for he sowed a mighty harvest of love.
One story of this dear brother should never be forgotten. His brother James slept on the floor of the loft beside him, and the restless little fellow would kick off the blankets a dozen times in a night. Then, half awake, he would say, "Tom, cover me up"; and the patient hand, that never tired of helping others, would replace the clothing, and the little head would sink down again on its hard pillow.
Five-and-twenty years afterwards, when at the head of an army, and after a great battle, he lay down on the battlefield to sleep. An officer heard him say, "Tom, cover me up." A friendly hand drew the blanket over his shoulder, and awoke him by the act. On being told of his saying, General Garfield sat a moment silent, then he told his comrades how he had been helped at home, and all through life; and as he spoke of this brother's love, his heart grew too full, and he turned aside and wept.
Surely if there is one lesson more than another to learn from the story of this splendid life, it is to be found in the sacrifice of this elder brother, who, like Jonathan of old, stepped aside and lent a hand that another should climb over his head.
Garfield was like David. His was the magnetic soul that drew all men to him, and then drew forth the best and brightest impulses of their natures.