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Taking Stock and Then Taking Action

December 31, 2013

It had been exactly six weeks since his 18th birthday, and the heartsick James Garfield composed a four-stanza poem which concluded the coming year would just bring more of the same.  After the clock struck midnight he composed another poem of equal length and pessimism.  In the second stanza Garfield noted: “How happy and gay will be this day To hopeful happy youth,” but he did not include himself in that category.

He concluded by writing: “I think and mournfully I think That I this year must try, Perchance while standing on the brink Of endless misery.”

Almost nine weeks later, on March 3, 1850, the future President made a decision which changed his entire life.

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