But looking after mules seems not to have agreed with the young Garfield, and he left this job after only six weeks. Returning home, he was persuaded to continue his education at Geauga Seminary in Chester, Ohio. The mules’ loss, it seems, was education’s gain as Garfield turned out to be an outstanding student.
It was while Garfield was at Geauga that he met Lucretia Garfield, the woman who was to become his wife in 1858, with the two having five children. By now, Garfield had graduated from prestigious Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and he entered politics as a Republican in 1857, before taking up his seat in the Ohio Senate in 1859.
By 1861, after the election of Abraham Lincoln as president, 11 states had seceded from the United States to form the Confederacy, which was dedicated to preserving slavery. Garfield was in no doubt where he stood on slavery – he was completely opposed to it. War broke out after the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina in April 1861.