James A. Garfield

Early Career

What occupation was Garfield attracted to as a youth?

Garfield wanted to become a sailor when he was a boy. He read stories about adventures at sea and thought that would be better than his poverty-stricken life. At age sixteen, he left home for the Cleveland docks. Rejected for a job because of his age, he worked on a canal boat called the Evening Star that was owned by his cousin Amos Letcher. He fell overboard numerous times. After one fall, he caught a fever and went home. His mother convinced him to resume his studies and further his education.


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