Hiram College
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The Garfield Presidency Scholars at the birthplace of James A. Garfield in Moreland Hills, Ohio. Photo by Bishop Sanders.

Hiram College students in the Garfield Presidency Scholars Program recently visited U.S. President James A. Garfield’s Moreland Hills, Ohio, birthplace and Mentor, Ohio mansion and estate.

The 20th President of the United States, Garfield was a student at Hiram College, then called the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute He served as the institution’s highest leader before going on to become a member of the U.S. Congress, a Civil War general and a military hero on his way to the White House.

Adjacent to the marker that denotes Garfield’s birthplace sits an exact replica of the humble log cabin where he spent his youth.

“We learned a lot about Garfield’s early life and how he was raised by his strong mother after his father died,” says Alaina Seguin, a senior Garfield Scholar with the College’s Garfield Center for the Study of the American Presidency program.

The James A. Garfield National Historic Site, operated by the National Park Service, showcases a much grander home where Garfield and his family lived starting in 1876.

“We also learned about how, after his assassination, his family received money from people across the country. The outpouring of national sympathy was remarkable,” notes Seguin. “My favorite part of the tour was seeing the beautiful library in Garfield’s house, which communicated how dedicated his family members were to his memory and legacy.”

The newest center of distinction at Hiram, the Garfield Center for the Study of the American Presidency ,honors the College’s connection to James A. Garfield.  Each year, the Center chooses a different American president to study, with students examining issues at the core of presidential leadership.  After examining Abraham Lincoln (2014-2015) and Theodore Roosevelt (2015-2016), the Garfield Presidency Scholars will examine Thomas Jefferson for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Through presentations, study trips, reflective assignments and outreach activities, Garfield Presidency Scholars gain profound appreciation for the president as person, a historical figure and a leader within the broader and complex governmental system.

“Being a Presidency Scholar wouldn’t be complete without trips like these. They’re beneficial because they teach us about our country’s past – and with Garfield, Hiram’s formative years,” says Seguin.