General Correspondence, Vols. 14-28, 1870-1872

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As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, James A. Garfield advocated for reform in an era when party machines and patronage power ruled politics. At the same time, he struggled to respond adequately to the rise of racial violence against African Americans in the South and chose white settlement over the rights of Native Americans in the West. He achieved political influence in Congress as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and conducted research at the Library of Congress to understand the issues brought before the committee. His reputation suffered a blow in September 1872, however, when he was implicated in the Credit Mobilier railroad bribery scandal that engulfed other government figures.

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