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James Garfield, 1831–1881

Twentieth president, 1881

James Garfield became president during a period when the Republican Party was split between two rival wings: the Stalwarts, who supported a system of nepotistic patronage, and the Half-Breeds, who opposed such a system. He tried to unite the party by appointing members of both factions to important positions within his administration while staying true to his own reformist sympathies. Like Rutherford B. Hayes before him, Garfield started to implement some modest changes aimed at curbing corruption and nepotism in the civil service, focusing mainly on the postal system and the New York Customs House. While these policies had little immediate effect, they served to set ...
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Oil on canvas
78.1 x 67.9 x 6.4 cm
Image and text © National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2023

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