Volumes 19-21: 1879-1881

President James A. Garfield (1831-1881) used his diary to record the challenges he faced as a self-made man, his activities, intellectual curiosity, accomplishments and defeats, family life, travels, and comments on the people, events, and society of his time. Learn more about the rich inner life of one of America’s more remarkable, but lesser-known presidents.

This final section of Garfield’s diary follows his surprise nomination as the Republican Party’s presidential candidate in 1880, as well as his election as president on November 2, 1880. The secretarial hand of George U. Rose is still in evidence in many diary entries, as well as others that Garfield penned himself. The last diary, 1881, documents his activities as president-elect and the first months of his presidential administration, which began on March 4. The diary ends on July 1, 1881, an ordinary day on which the president eagerly anticipated a trip to New England. The following day, July 2, assassin Charles J. Guiteau shot President Garfield at a train station in Washington, D.C. Although Garfield survived until September 19, 1881, he recorded no further entries in his diary.