The U.S. President Who Preached Christ

Posted on February 25, 2019


By David Ettinger

Hard to Believe
In a time long, long ago, there lived a president of the United States who loved Jesus Christ with all of his heart, so much so, that as a young man he considered devoting his entire life to being a preacher.

Looking at our present spiritual environment and the expanding godlessness emanating from every aspect of U.S. society – politics included – it is hard to believe that such a lover of our Savior held the highest office in the land.

Who was this special individual who came upon the pages of history and strove to honor the Lord in challenging circumstances? Tragically, his term of national leadership was painfully brief, but nonetheless deserves the admiration of believers today.

The Short-Live President
The honorable man is James A. Garfield, who served but 199 days as president, March 4, 1881-September 18, 1881; his righteous life cut short at age 49 by an assassin’s bullet. Only one president served a shorter term: William Henry Harrison who was president for by 31 days in 1841. He died of pneumonia.

President Garfield’s Background
Born November 19, 1831, in Moreland Hills, Ohio, Mr. Garfield gave his life to Christ at age 19. A year later he entered the Eclectic Institute at Hiram, Ohio, August 25, 1851, where he was a student and then a teacher. He began to preach while a student at Hiram, and continued to preach until he entered Congress, in 1863.[1]

Mr. Garfield was elected to the Ohio Senate in 1859; entered the Union army in 1861; commissioned Brigadier General in 1862; elected to Congress in October, 1862; and served continuously from December, 1863 until 1880.

President Garfield

He was elected U.S. Senator from Ohio in January, 1880; nominated for President June 8, 1880, and was elected President November 2, 1880. President Garfield was inaugurated March 4, 1881; shot by an assassin, July 2, 1881; and died at Elberon, New Jersey, September 19, 1881.

How devoted to the Lord was President Garfield? This quote says it all. Upon being elected President and referring to his ministry as an elder and preacher, he said: “I resign the highest office in the land to become president of the United States.”

Preaching Career
The sermons of Mr. Garfield were distinguished by intellect and a firm grasp of the Gospel. As a preacher, he was “a man of gentle, Christ-like spirit, and from the time he entered the church until he died, his heart was faithful to his early [Church] vows.”

Mr. Garfield held a number of revival meetings, which all led to a number of those in attendance giving their lives to Christ. Mr. Garfield truly loved sharing the Gospel:

The pulpit took a strong hold on his mind, and in some of his early letters written to intimate friends, the foundation is laid for the belief that he would make preaching his chief work in life. No doubt he would have achieved high distinction as a preacher, but his genius drew him to the state by its very bent, as any one can see. His life was full of interest and a sketch can hardly touch its rim. His religious life is of most interest in this place, and his affection for the great disciple brotherhood remained unshaken to the last.

A Sad Reminder
President Garfield’s fierce love for the Savior is a sad reminder to us today of our leaders in the the U.S. Many have no interest in the things of God, and are often outright antagonistic to Him. When men of God do arise, they are mocked, ridiculed, and resented. Evangelicals seeking office today in the U.S. are marked men and women, and they know they must have a firm faith in order to endure the rigors awaiting them.

Oh that the Lord would raise up more President Garfields, those who love Him with an unflinching heart and who seek to serve Him for His glory and honor, and not their own!     

[1] All information from F.M. Green, James A. Garfield, Churches of Christ, edited by John T. Brown, 1904, pages 412-414; web: