- Amish Country
They were still counting ballots the day after election day in 1881. In the end there were no more than 2,000 popular votes separating the candidates. Garfield received 48.27 percent and his opponent 48.25 percent of the popular vote. The Electoral College would determine the outcome where James Garfield won.
The following March, James Garfield was sworn in as the 20th President of the United States. In September of that same year, President James Garfield would die from an infection caused by an assassin's bullet that lodged in his back two and half months earlier. The president's health during that time became a daily concern for all Americans. The entire country became a President Garfield supporter and with his last breath, the nation felt a great loss even though most of the population had only known the man for just over a year.
The outpouring of his death, the sincere grief felt by the country was overwhelming. In contemporary terms, remember how the country felt when President Kennedy was killed. Imagine that same feeling over a hundred years ago. Even Lincoln's death did not have the same widespread sense of loss as it did for James Garfield. This is one reason that the Garfield Memorial in Lake View Cemetery was so opulent and a site that everyone should visit at least once.
The Garfield Monument is open daily April 1st through November 19th from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM and is staffed with a guide. The crypt is directly below the Memorial Hall and the larger than life marble statue of Garfield.
After Garfield died, his body was moved from Elberon, New Jersey back to Washington D.C. He was given a procession down Pennsylvania Avenue before placing his casket on a funeral train for the trip to Cleveland.
Here his coffin was placed on a platform in Public Square for viewing, the same spot Abraham Lincoln's casket was displayed years before. A funeral cortege then carried his remains to Lake View Cemetery with interment in a temporary vault.
In 1890 his permanent massive brick tomb with its observation deck that affords a splendid view of Cleveland was ready and President Benjamin Harrison officiated at the dedication.
President Garfield's coffin was set in full view in the downstairs crypt. Thirty six years later his wife Lucretia was placed by his side. The tomb is unique in that the caskets are visible suggesting a permanent visitation or a laying in state. It is easy to tell one from the other as the President's casket is always draped with a brightly colored American flag. On a nearby pedestal are the urns which contain the cremated ashes of Garfield's daughter and son-in-law.
As plans were being developed to create a special memorial to James Garfield, it was decided that a design competition should be held which would accept plans with a design prize of $1,000 to the winning design. The honor and prestige of winning this competition attracted entries from around the world.
The competition was organized by the trustees of the Garfield National Memorial Committee presided over by former President Rutherford B. Hayes. The judging of entries overseen by two architectural firms, Henry van Brunt of New York and Calvert Vaux of Boston. The winning entry was submitted by architect George Keller, an Irish immigrant.
Keller was awarded the commission to build the grand monument in 1884 and construction began in October the following year. Five years later on Memorial Day the Memorial was dedicated.
The terra cotta relief sculptures incorporated into the building were created by Caspar Buberl, a noted Civil War sculptor.