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James Garfield is the Chuck Norris of presidents

I'm about halfway through Candice Millard's Destiny Of The Republic, a book about the assassination of President James Garfield. The early chapters have a lot of biographical information about James Garfield. He was quite an impressive guy, even if he wasn't in office long enough to leave much of a legacy as a president.

Here are some of the things I learned:

  • He once wrote an original proof of the Pythagorean theorem
  • He worked his way up from janitor to professor at Western Reserve Eclectic Institute
  • At the age of 26, he became president of Eclectic
  • As a Lieutenant Colonel in the union army, Garfield led his outnumbered  troops to victory in the Battle Of Middle Creek, which was key to the union holding Kentucky.
  • He eventually became a General in the Union army
  • He won the Republican nomination for President at the convention without seeking it or even wanting it.

And here's an  anecdote from his later life:

[Garfield's son] Jim turned a flip over the end of his bed and said triumphantly to his father, "You are the President of the United States but you can't do that". To his son's astonishment and delight, Garfield, six feet tall and just a few months shy of his 50th birthday, not only did the flip but then hopped across the room balanced only on his fingers and toes

I couldn't do that when I was 50. Hell, I couldn't do that when I was 30. If it was in my power to referee the course of past history, I would have invoked the mercy rule on that one.