GARFIELD, James A. Autograph letter signed ("J.A. Garfield") AS PRESIDENT-ELECT, TO BENJAMIN HARRISON, Mentor, Ohio, 15 February 1881. 3 pages, 8vo (4¾ x 7 15/16 in.), a few letters on page 1 slightly smudged by the writer, page 1 headed in Garfield's hand "Confidential."
PRESIDENT-ELECT GARFIELD TO FUTURE PRESIDENT BENJAMIN HARRISON, CONCERNING A DECLINED CABINET POST
A very unusual letter between President-elect and future President regarding a cabinet post, written less than three weeks before Garfield's inauguration as President. Harrison, who had joined the Republican Party as early as 1856, had himself been put forward as a candidate for the chief-executive's post in his home state of Indiana in 1876, and that same year lost in his bid to become Governor. In the election of 1880, he had been chairman of the Indiana delegation to the national convention, which played a key role in the last-minute balloting that secured the nomination for Garfield, a dark-horse candidate, in the sharply divided Republican convention. Afterwards he had campaigned actively on Garfield's behalf. Garfield, who took great care to acheive regional and factional representation in his cabinet, had offered Harrison a post in his cabinet, which he declined, since he had just been elected Senator of Indiana.
Garfield writes: "My dear General, Yours of the 14th inst. is at hand. and another which came soon after you were here. After the best reflection I have been able to give to the case I do not see that I can make a selection from Indiana, for the Cabinet, unless it will be agreeable to you, and consistent with your views of duty to take a place. I have long hoped we could be thus associated; but I will not press you beyond your wishes or views of duty. Please write me your latest thoughts on the subject, before you leave for Washington. In case Indiana does not go into the cabinet, I shall cheerfully do what I can to give her fitting recognition, in some other way..."
Harrison's supporters, even at this early date, were grooming their candidate for the 1888 Presidential contest.