Hiram College Garfield Presidency Scholars Danni Lynn McDonald ’19, Matthew Mitchell ’20, and Hannah Waldman ’20 presented talks on the public service roles of two generations of the President James A. Garfield family at the fourth annual Garfield Symposium at the Chagrin Falls Public Library on November 4.
Hosted by the James A. Garfield Civil War Round Table (CWRT), the symposium, “The Garfields of Northeast Ohio,” highlighted the lasting impact of Garfield’s legacy, as carried out by his descendants in Northeast Ohio. Benjamin Frayser, commander, James A. Garfield CWRT, delivered the keynote address. For the panel featuring the three Garfield Presidency Scholars, McDonald presented on Eleanor B. Garfield, the president’s granddaughter-in-law; Mitchell examined the life and career of Garfield’s second son, James R. Garfield; and Waldman focused on Garfield’s oldest son, Harry A. Garfield.
Though the 20th president’s time in the executive office was brief, most Hiram College students are familiar with the Garfield name and legacy. The president served as the second principal of the college, when it was known as the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute. Garfield’s philosophies on liberal arts education have made a lasting impact on the college as it exists today.
“The presentations truly highlighted what a remarkable family the Garfields were and still are, spanning several generations. It was fascinating hearing from people who are passionate about the history of the family, and they were extremely excited to have us at the symposium,” Waldman said. “I learned so much about the man that President Garfield was by learning about the men his sons were.”
In preparation for the conference, Waldman and her peers conducted research with assistance from Douglas Brattebo, Ph.D., associate professor of political science and director of the James A. Garfield Center for the Study of the American Presidency.
Dr. Brattebo accompanied the students at the symposium, introducing their presentations and moderating discussion.
“It is always wonderful to see the Garfield Presidency Scholars represent the college so capably at the symposium,” Dr. Brattebo commented. “I am proud of their competence and maturity, and I am delighted that they have gained valuable experience in making presentations in a formal conference setting.”