Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

James R. Garfield (1907–1909): Secretary of the Interior

James Randolph Garfield, the son of President James Abram Garfield, was born in Hiram, Ohio, on October 17, 1865, before moving to the White House.

He attended local schools in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Williams College in 1885. Garfield studied law at Columbia University while practicing in the New York City law office of Bangs and Stetson. He earned admission to the Ohio bar in 1888 and went into practice with his elder brother. Garfield then entered politics, serving in the Ohio State Senate between 1896 and 1899.

He was appointed to sit on the U.S. Civil Service Commission from 1902 to 1903 before becoming commissioner of corporations in the Department of Commerce & Labor in February 1903. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Garfield secretary of the interior in March 1907, a cabinet post he would hold until the end of the Roosevelt administration. Garfield died at the age of 84 on March 25, 1950.