James Rudolph Garfield, 23rd U.S. Secretary of the Interior

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James Rudolph Garfield

Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Hiram, Portage, Ohio, United States
Death: March 24, 1950 (84)
Washington, D.C., United States
Immediate Family:

Son of James A. Garfield, 20th President of the USA and Lucretia Rudolph Garfield, First Lady
Husband of Helen Newell Newell
Father of Newell Garfield; Rudolph Hills Garfield; John Newell Garfield and James Abram Garfield
Brother of Eliza Arabella Garfield; Harry "Hal" Augustus Garfield; Mary "Molly" Stanley-Brown; Irvin McDowell Garfield; Edward Garfield and 3 others

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About James Rudolph Garfield, 23rd U.S. Secretary of the Interior


James Rudolph Garfield 1865-1950, U.S. Secretary of the Interior (1907-9), b. Hiram, Ohio; son of President James A. Garfield. After being admitted to the Ohio bar in 1888, he became a lawyer in Cleveland. He was a member of the U.S. Civil Service Commission (1902-3) and commissioner of corporations in the Dept. of Commerce and Labor (1903-7) before being given a cabinet post under President Theodore Roosevelt. Garfield was a noted advocate of the conservation of natural resources. In the 1912 election he aided Roosevelt and the Progressive party in their unsuccessful bid for power.

Author not available, GARFIELD, JAMES RUDOLPH., The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition 2008


James Rudolph Garfield (October 17, 1865 – March 24, 1950) was an American politician, lawyer and son of President James Abram Garfield and First Lady Lucretia Garfield.

Garfield was born in Hiram, Ohio, the third of seven children born to James Abram and Lucretia Rudolph Garfield. For a year prior to his father's presidency, he studied at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. On July 2, 1881, at the age of 15, he witnessed the shooting of his father by disgruntled office-seeker Charles J. Guiteau at the Baltimore and Potomac railroad station in Washington. The President and his son were waiting for a train en route to Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where young James had been recently accepted, when the shooting took place.

College and early career

Following his father's death on September 19, 1881, he studied at Williams College, graduating in 1885, before moving on to Columbia University where he studied law and earned his J.D. in 1888. That same year, he was admitted to the Ohio bar and established the Cleveland, Ohio-based law firm of Garfield and Garfield, with his brother Harry Augustus Garfield. From 1890 until her death in 1930, he was married to Helen Newell. Their grandson, Newell Garfield, later married Jane Harrison Walker, a granddaughter of President Benjamin Harrison and Harrison's second wife Mary Dimmick Harrison as well as the great-grandniece of James G. Blaine.

Political career

From 1896 to 1899, he served in the Ohio State Senate. He was an influential advisor to President Theodore Roosevelt, serving as a Member of the United States Civil Service Commission from 1902 to 1903. From 1903 to 1907, he served as Commissioner of Corporations at the Department of Commerce and Labor, where he conducted investigations of the meat-packing, petroleum, steel, and railroad industries. From 1907 to 1909, he served in Roosevelt's Cabinet as Secretary of the Interior, where he advocated for the conservation of natural resources. During the 1912 presidential election, he was a key supporter of Roosevelt's bid for a third term. In 1914, he made an unsuccessful bid for Lieutenant Governor of Ohio on the Progressive Party ticket.

World War I

Roosevelt selected Garfield as one of eighteen officers (others included: Seth Bullock, Frederick Russell Burnham, and John M. Parker) to raise a volunteer infantry division, Roosevelt's World War I volunteers, for service in France in 1917. The U.S. Congress gave Roosevelt the authority to raise up to four divisions similar to the Rough Riders of 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry Regiment and to the British Army 25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers; however, as Commander-in-chief, President Woodrow Wilson refused to make use of the volunteers and the unit disbanded.

Garfield died in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 1950, the last surviving member of Theodore Roosevelt's administration. He was interred in Mentor Municipal Cemetery in Mentor, Ohio beside his wife Helen.

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James Rudolph Garfield, 23rd U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Timeline

October 17, 1865
Hiram, Portage, Ohio, United States
February 3, 1892
Age 26
Chicago, Cook Co., IL
April 18, 1894
Age 28
August 1, 1895
Age 29
Age 33
March 24, 1950
Age 84
Washington, D.C., United States
Age 84