Talk:James A. Garfield/GA1

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GA Review[edit]

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Reviewer:Charles Edward (Talk | Contribs) 16:59, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

Hello, upon my first reading of this article, its clear to me it already meets GA standards without any need for much improvement. However, I suspect this your first step towards FA, so I thought I would at least offer some advice for improvement.

This is needed GA status:

  • "Confederate General Johnston[disambiguation needed]", please fix that up or remove the tag. I know which Johnston you were referring to, but apparently someone else doesn't. Fixed
  • citation needed - "Garfield took his seat in Congress upon resigning his military commission in December 1863. His first-born three-year-old child Eliza died that same month." Fixed
  • "On September 6 the ailing President was moved to the Jersey Shore in the vain hope that the fresh air and quiet there might aid his recovery. In a matter of hours, local residents put down a special rail spur for Garfield's train; some of the ties are now part of the Garfield Tea House. The beach cottage Garfield was taken to has been demolished." - citation needed Fixed
  • "Guiteau was found guilty of assassinating Garfield, despite his lawyers' raising an insanity defense. They also claimed unsuccessfully that incompetent medical care had caused the President's death. Guiteau was sentenced to death, and was executed by hanging on June 30, 1882, in Washington." - citaion needed Fixed
    • "The monument is decorated with five terracotta bas relief panels by sculptor Caspar Buberl, depicting various stages in Garfield's life. Originally the body was interred in a temporary brick vault in the same cemetery. In 1887 the James A. Garfield Monument was dedicated in Washington. A cenotaph to him is located in Miners Union Cemetery in Bodie, California. On the grounds of the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers stands a monument to the fallen president completed in 1884; it was designed by sculptor Frank Happersberger." - citation needed Fixed
    • "Garfield is one of only three presidents to have predeceased their mothers. The other two presidents were James K. Polk and John F. Kennedy." - citation needed Fixed Removed to talk page.
    • "The U.S. has twice had three presidents in the same year. The first such year was 1841. Martin Van Buren ended his single term, William Henry Harrison was inaugurated and died a month later, then Vice President John Tyler stepped into the vacant office. The second occurrence was in 1881. Rutherford B. Hayes relinquished the office to James A. Garfield. Upon Garfield's death, Chester A. Arthur became president." - citation needed Fixed
    • "Garfield, NJ was created from the former East Passaic." - citation needed Fixed Removed to talk page.
    • "Garfield Avenue in the suburb of Five Dock, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia is named after James A. Garfield, as is Garfield Street in Phoenix, Arizona, Chelsea, Michigan, and the suburb of Brooklyn, Wellington, New Zealand." - citation needed Fixed Removed to talk page.
    • "Garfield County in Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Washington are named after James A. Garfield. Garfield City is now known as Garfield, Kansas and had a population of under two hundred people at the 2000 census." - citation needed Fixed Removed to talk page.
    • "In contrast, the first Lincoln stamp was issued in 1866, a year after his death, while Grant would not receive posthumous honors from the Post Office until 1890, five years after his death." - citation needed Fixed Removed to talk page.

Here begin my other observations:

This article is by far, much to long. I would propose, at the least, separating the congressional sections into a new article, and possibly the presidential section into its own article. Then just include fair summaries in this article. So then you could have three articles James A. Garfield, The Congressional Career of James A. Garfield and Presidency of James A. Garfield. Other presidents are split in a similar way, and it would be entirely appropriate to do so here.

If you compare the length to other presidents, it's not that long. Also, one of Garfield's claims to fame is being the only sitting Representative to become pres. so I personally think he should stay intact. (I thought this was in the lede.) Just my (inexperienced) opinion. BTW, thanks for your time on this article! Carmarg4 (talk) 20:13, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

The second significant problem is the prose of the article. I will go on to point out some of the obvious issues. While the prose is good, its not excellent, and terms and phrases in places are amero-centric. I would suggest a good copy edit before moving to FAC.

The third significant issue is the heavy reliance on Peskin. It would be good if you could use another source or two confirm or balance his views.

  • Lead
    • It is odd for there to be citations in the lead. Generally, if a fact is cited in the body there is no need to cite it in the lead unless it is something that is of great controversy. Fixed
    • This statement seems a bit trivial for the lead: "he is the only incumbent Representative in Congress to be elected President". Every president has some unique tidbit, unless it is really important, its probably better left in the body. Fixed
    • "...Ohio farm by his mother and brothers" maybe say "..Ohio farm by his widowed mother and brothers". That brings more clarity to the family situation Fixed
    • It would probably be best to move the paragraph about Garfield's presidency and make it first in the lead. While chronology is important, in a article like this the presidency is the most notable thing he did by far and should be at the top. Fixed
    • This seems unnecessarily detailed for the lead: "Garfield was the second of four United States Presidents who were assassinated, the others being Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy". You could probably cut it off at the comma. Fixed
  • Prose
    • "locally known as a wrestler" better as "known locally as a wrestler" Fixed
    • "he accepted an unsought teaching position" better as "he accepted an unsought position as a teacher". Try not to "ing" before a noun when possible, I see several more of those, but this a good example. It helps avoid ambiguity. (Did the "position" conduct "teaching"?) Fixed
    • "retreating Confederates" better as "Confederates in retreat" (A Confederacy of reteaters?) Fixed
    • "It was at this time, during the idleness in Washington waiting for an assignment, that Garfield had an affair with Lucia Calhoun, which he later admitted to his wife, who forgave him." - This would be better broken into two sentences. "It was at this time, during the idleness in Washington waiting for an assignment, that Garfield had an affair with Lucia Calhoun. He later admitted the affair to his wife, who forgave him." Fixed
    • "...he was sure that he could be of more valuable service in Congress than in camp..." maybe better as "...he was sure that he could better serve in Congress than in camp...". "could be of more valuable service" doesn't sound grammatically correct to me. Fixed
    • All instances of "congress" should be capitalized
    • "Garfield partnered with Ralph Plumb in land speculation of a get-rich-quick nature, but this met with limited success." maybe better as "Garfield partnered with Ralph Plumb in land speculation hoping to become wealthy, but this met with limited success." Fixed
    • "When Johnson's veto terminated the Freedman's Bureau, he had effectively declared war with Congress, and Garfield rejoined the Radical camp." - "declared war" is a little strong, suggest a rephrase. Fixed
    • "For a time, he was the only Ohio politician to take this stand." better as "For a time, he was the only Ohio politician to hold this position." - This also seems alittle unlikely to me. Perhaps you mean the only member of Congress from Ohio? Surely in a state of two million, at least one other politician shared his view.. Fixed added "appeared to be"
  • MOS
    • Link "Wall Street", "Philadelphia", "laissez-faire" (I did not notice these to be linked. If they are please ignore my comment)
    • "This was, astonishingly, Garfield's first court appearance." - remove astonishingly unless we can attribute it to a person. Who was astonished? Maybe better to rephrase it to something like "This was, despite many years of practicing law, Garfield's first court appearance." Fixed
    • "The proposal was thought to be ill-conceived from the outset, but Garfield failed to pick up on this" - I notice a few phrases like this one in the article "pick up on", these type of phrases of speech should be avoided, and instead use a explanation that someone not familiar with American phrases could understand. This one for example might be better as "The proposal was thought to be ill-conceived from the outset, but Garfield failed to perceive popular opinion." Fixed
    • "Garfield's outlook for the Republican Party, and the Democrats as well, was very negative at this point, which he explained as follows: "The death of both parties is all but certain; the Democrats, because every idea they have brought forward in the past 12 years is dead; and the Republicans, because its ideas have been realized." - this is a bit unwieldy, maybe this instead - "Garfield's outlook for the Republican Party, and the Democrats as well, was very negative at this point. He explained, "the death of both parties is all but certain; the Democrats, because every idea they have brought forward in the past 12 years is dead; and the Republicans, because its ideas have been realized." Fixed


  • Queries
    • "That summer his health suddenly deteriorated and he was forced to return home, where his wife nursed him back to health and their marriage was reinvigorated." - did the illness have a name?
      • Fixed. Symptoms added plus Peskin's speculation re hepatits. Carmarg4 (talk) 18:12, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
    • "In the spring of 1863 Garfield returned to the field as Chief of Staff for William S. Rosecrans, commander of the Army of the Cumberland; his influence in this position was greater than usual, with Rosecrans' consent." - its not really clear what this means. In what way was his influence greater than usual, and how did Rosecrans consent to it? I presume its because they became good friends, and Garfield was able to more openly question and challenge his superior that would be allowed a typical officer in that position. Did this influence extend beyond Rosecrans though? Whatever the is the intended meaning, it would be best to state it directly.
    • "Garfield's opponents later used this letter, which Chase never personally disclosed" - if Chase never disclosed the letter, how did Garfields' opponents get it?
      • Fixed. Disclosed after Chase's death - added to footnote. Carmarg4 (talk) 19:02, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
    • In Ex Parte Milligan, you should probably mention that Garfield was arguing against the government, and his victory resulted in the release known confederate saboteurs.
      • Please reconsider. It seems clear to me who he represents - and the suggested addition has an implication that bothers me a little. Carmarg4 (talk) 19:12, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
    • "The only answer was some type of civil service reform." - according to who?
    • "At the time of Garfield's residence in the office, the President's annual salary was $50,000; and, despite rumors of ill-gotten wealth, Garfield brought no horse and buggy to park in the White House stable, but accepted Hayes' offer of his own quite used-up rig." - this is insinuating something without coming out and saying it, you should probably make the point of this sentence more clear (The prose could be better too).
    • "The year 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and 130th anniversary of President Garfield's assassination and death." - does this matter?
    • "and even was said to have spies posted there in his absence." - said by who?

Thanks Charles Edward. I am going through the list of things that you mentioned in the article.Cmguy777 (talk) 23:36, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

Comment: Garfield the mathematician[edit]

The article documented Garfield's public service in the American government and military service during the American civil war very well. However, I believe an important aspect is missing from the article. Outside the United States of America, James Garfield is best remembered for inventing the trapezoid proof of Pythagoras' theorem.

I understand that from an American perspective, which this article should rightly be in, Garfield's work as a mathematician is insignificant compared to his work as general and president; however, I believe that for this article to be comprehensive enough, the two following aspects must be covered, even if not in detail:

  1. That Garfield was the first to publish the trapezoid proof of Pythagoras' theorem;
  2. That Garfield trained as a mathematician in college, and is to date the only mathematician-turned USA president.

Possibly useful external links: [1] [2] --Deryck C. 19:14, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

Thanks Deryck C.
Garfield was good at mathematics. From what I know at the time metaphysics and mathematics may have overlapped in the 1850's while he attended Williams College. Garfield had a 3,000 book library and unknown, so far, if any, how many books he had concerning mathematics. However, he was very analytical. A section could be devoted to his trapezoid proof contribution. Cmguy777 (talk) 23:36, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes that'll be very useful, thanks. --Deryck C. 21:48, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

See section for 1862 election...re passion for monetary/economic matters...clearly the math connection. At lease some ref. could be made there. Strange that Peskin made no reference to this...I guess HE was not into math! Carmarg4 (talk) 20:21, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

Added paragraph in the legacy section on Garfield's trapezoid proof of the Pythagorean principle. Cmguy777 (talk) 20:55, 20 May 2011 (UTC)