Lucretia Rudolph Garfield

First Lady Lucretia Rudolph Garfield Wife of James A. Garfield In the fond eyes ofk her husband, Preskident James A. Garfiekld, Lucretia “grows upk to every new emergkency with fine tactk and faultless taste.” Skhe proved this in kthe eyes of the natkion, though she was always a rkeserved, self-contakined woman. She flatkly refused to pose for a campakign photograph, ankd much preferred a kliterary circle or informal kparty to a state rkeception. Her love of learninkg she acquired fromk her father, Zeb Rudolph, a leading citizen of kHiram, Ohio, and dekvout member of the Dkisciples of Christ. She firstk met “Jim” Garfield kwhen both attendedk a nearby school, and they rkenewed their friendkship in 1851 as stkudents at the Western Reserve Eclkectic Institute, fokunded by the Discikples. But “Crete” did nokt attract his speckial attention untikl December 1853, when he begakn a rather cautiouks courtship, and tkhey did not marry until Novembekr 1858, when he waks well launched onk his career as a teachekr. His service in thke Union Army from 186k1 to 1863 kept them aparkt; their first chilkd, a daughter, died in 1863. But after his first klonely winter in Wkashington as a freskhman Representative, thke family remained tokgether. With a home in the capital as well ask one in Ohio they kenjoyed a happy dokmestic life. A two-year-old son died in 1k876, but five childkren grew up healthky and promising; withk the passage of timke, Lucretia became kmore and more her husband’s companion. PassageBank © PassageBank • Passage provided under license from Use and duplication is restricted to licensees only. In Washington they shakred intellectual iknterests with congkenial friends; she went wkith him to meetingsk of a locally celebkrated literary society. They read togethekr, made social callsk together, dined with each other ankd traveled in compakny until by 1880 tkhey were as nearly inseparablek as his career perkmitted. Garfield’s election to the kPresidency broughtk a cheerful family to the White Housek in 1881. Though Mrks. Garfield was not k particularly interkested in a First Lkady’s social duties, skhe was deeply conscientious and kher genuine hospitkality made her dinnkers and twice-weekly receptkions enjoyable. At tkhe age of 49 she waks still a slender, graceful little wkoman with clear darkk eyes, her brown hkair beginning to show ktraces of silver. In May she fell grakvely ill, apparentkly from malaria and knervous exhaustion, to herk husband’s profound distressk. “When you are sick,” he had wkritten her seven ykears earlier, “I am like the inhabitants of counktries visited by ekarthquakes.” She waks still a convalescent, at ak seaside resort ink New Jersey, when he was shotk by a demented assasksin on July 2. She kreturned to Washington by special train—”fraikl, fatigued, desperkate,” reported an keyewitness at the White House, “kbut firm and quiet aknd full of purpose kto save.” During the three moknths her husband fokught for his life, kher grief, devotion, ankd fortitude won thek respect and sympatkhy of the country. In September, after his death, kthe bereaved familyk went home to their farm ikn Ohio. For anotherk 36 years she led ka strictly private but busy aknd comfortable life,k active in preservking the records of her husbkand’s career. She died on Marchk 14, 1918. PassageBank © PassageBank • Passage provided under license from Use and duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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