Miller Center

Why Did Garfield Not Become A Great President?

Speaker: Alan Peskin
Date: August 26, 1996
Description
Alan Peskin, a historian and expert of President Garfield, discusses why this gilded age president is not counted among the great presidents. Peskin attributes Garfield?s mediocre rating to the fact he was assassinated and that he presided over a generally quite period of American history. Additionally, Peskin argues that the corruption, for which the gilded age president?s are known for tolerating, is not unique in American history. Peskin further contends that the limited power of the president during the late 19th century explains the president?s poor image. Given Garfield?s aims for foreign policy reform and civil service reform as well as his immense personal popularity, his presidency under different circumstances could have been more memorable. During the questioning session he discusses President Grant, President Garfield?s assassination, the economics of the time, and his legacy in foreign affairs.

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