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James Abram Garfield was an American military and political leader during the 19th century. Rising from humble beginnings, Garfield rose to the rank of major general for the Union army during the American Civil War. In 1880 he won a close election against fellow Union general Winfield Hancock to become the 20th President of the United States. Garfield served only six months in office before dying from an assassin's bullet on September 19, 1881.