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it became evident that on the next Mr. Garfield would be nominated. Whereupon the opposition determined to “bolt” and left the hall with boisterous demonstrations of displeasure. Mr. Garfield was nominated unanimously by those who remained; and, on presentation of his name to the joint convention, he was chosen as the candidate of the district, with but little opposition. He was elected by a sweeping majority and took his seat in the State Senate of the following Legislature — its youngest member.
His acceptance of the nomination and election was regarded quite unfavorably by many members of his denomination. Those who were his political opponents were especially loud in their expressions of disapproval. To the defeated ones there seemed to be an awful inconsistency in his conduct as a "Christian minister.” How could a good man belong to any party but the one with which they affilliated ?
Even his political friends and old neighbors could not avoid saying that "it was a sad day for 'the cause' when Mr. Garsield gave up the gospel for politics.” Of course they knew nothing of his purpose to become a lawyer, and they had yet to learn, as he soon taught them, that a sincere, generous Christian may be a very successful and noble politician. Yet, there remain a few old and stubborn church members of his sect who felt his loss when he practically retired from the ministry, as they would have felt the loss of an inspired prophet, and cannot be reconciled to the idea that their great champion orator, and leader, should “descend so low," as to be a statesman.
To him the election was a piece of good fortune. It added something to the amount of his limited income, and it gave him a most valuable and agreeable acquaintance with the public men of Ohio. It gave him an opportunity to study in the law libraries of Columbus and gave him a deeper sense of the importance of legal studies. It gave him an opportunity to make practical use of the learning which had ad so assiduously accumulated. He was a decided enemy of slavery and made several most telling hits when a question of national jurisdiction over slaves, as property, incidentally arose. He was not distinguished however, so much for his speeches, as for his persevering hard work in the preparation of bills, reports and orders. “He had a genius for hard work,” and physical constitution able to support it, for which he was much indebted to his severe hardships and toil when a boy.
He did not resign his position as principal of the Hiram school, nor did they secure a permanent teacher of Latin and Greek to take his place as a professor, for, neither he nor the managers of the school expected that he would continue in public life. His wife with her natural aversion to publicity and display, was quite anxious that he should return to his teaching, to his study of languages with her, and to the holy quiet and rest of their first years of married life. No honors, nor titles, nor wealth would have induced her to give up their simple and happy domestic life in Hiram. Nothing but some great duty, some imperative call to help the weak or free the enslaved was worth considering in the question of exchanging their simple life for one of excitement or parade.
But the home life so sweet and dear to them both was broken then, never again to be renewed in its holy retirement. A great duty called him; the weak and enslaved asked for help, and he promptly and cheerfully responded.
THE EVENTFUL YEAR OF 1861.
ADMISSION TO THE BAR. — WITHDRAWS FROM MINISTERIAL WORK.
OPPOSITION TO SLAVERY. — LEADERSHIP IN THE STATE SENATE. — THE GOVERNOR'S ASSISTANT. — PROVIDING FOR THE TROOPS. — THE REGIMENT OF HIRAM STUDENTS. — DEPLETION OF THE CLASSES. — APPOINTMENT AS LIEUTENANT-COLONEL, — PROMOTION. — DEPARTURE FOR THE FIELD. - CONSULTATION WITH GENERAL BUEL. — PLAN OF A CAMPAIGN. - MARCH AGAINST MARSHALL. - BATTLE OF PRESTONBURG. – THE ACCOUNT OF F. H. MASON. – PROMOTION.
The eventful year of 1861 found Mr. Garfield, at its opening, ready to enter upon the practice of law, so far as a knowledge of its principles was concerned. But the announcement of his admission to the bar, at Cleveland, was a surprise to nearly all his acquaintances, and completely dashed the hopes of the anxious members of his denomination, who were hoping and praying for his active entry into the profession of the ministry. Occasionally he took a part in the services, on special occasions, such as Sabbath-school conventions, yearly meetings of the churches, or at dedications; but thinking that the belief, so prevalent then, that politics and religion were at variance, would injure his influence for good, he wisely withdrew from any active participation as a preacher or teacher in church services. He did not enter the practice of law at once aster his admission to the bar, as he was actively engaged in the State Senate; and it appears that he was hesitating between opening an office in Cleveland and remaining as a teacher at Hiram, when the war broke out.
His studies and public duties had called his attention so much to the institutions of the nation, and his natural disposition was so inclined toward a sym
pathy with the oppressed, that his heart was fired with an almost uncontrollable patriotic fervor, at the first news of the purposed rebellion.
As early as January, 1861, he stood up in his place in the Ohio Senate and declared it to be his unalterable determination to oppose the institution of slavery, or any compromise with it. It was a heinous national sin, and he would not condescend to negoti.