Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Foreign Affairs

James A. Garfield's foreign policy activities were limited to filling vacant diplomatic positions, most notably his appointments of writer James Russell Lowell as U.S. minister to England and Lew Wallace, a former Union general and popular writer, to the post in Turkey. Garfield had hoped that Wallace might write a novel equal to his best-seller Ben Hur based on his experiences in the region. During Garfield's short term in office, Secretary of State Blaine was so involved with patronage matters that he had little time to deal with Latin American affairs, the Chinese immigration issue, or fishing disputes with the British in the Pacific—all of which demanded his attention.