By the time James Garfield and Lucretia entered the White House, they had a strong, committed marriage, soon to be cut short by President Garfield’s assassination. During their courtship, they both expressed doubts about their relationship; Lucretia warned James before the wedding that her “heart is not yet schooled to an entire submission to that destiny which will make me the wife of one who marries me.” They spent most of the first few years of their marriage apart, with Lucretia continuing to teach and Garfield enlisting during the Civil War and devoting his attentions to a New York widow. James made it clear that he did not wish to have “any[thing] other than a business correspondence” with his wife. Following the death of two young children, the couple became much closer. She kept vigil next to his bedside during the three months he languished following the assassination attempt, and she later supervised the preservation of his extensive papers. Although she had time to destroy the letters that showed the problems in their relationship, she never did so. Betty Boyd Caroli finds that the correspondence shows “an intelligent, capable woman who reluctantly relinquished her own autonomy in favor of her husband’s career.” 
Facts and quotations from First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama by Betty Boyd Caroli. C-SPAN is exploring the influence of First Ladies in its new series.
Image: Mrs. James Garfield, photographed between 1860 and 1870, printed later. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. 

By the time James Garfield and Lucretia entered the White House, they had a strong, committed marriage, soon to be cut short by President Garfield’s assassination. During their courtship, they both expressed doubts about their relationship; Lucretia warned James before the wedding that her “heart is not yet schooled to an entire submission to that destiny which will make me the wife of one who marries me.” They spent most of the first few years of their marriage apart, with Lucretia continuing to teach and Garfield enlisting during the Civil War and devoting his attentions to a New York widow. James made it clear that he did not wish to have “any[thing] other than a business correspondence” with his wife. Following the death of two young children, the couple became much closer. She kept vigil next to his bedside during the three months he languished following the assassination attempt, and she later supervised the preservation of his extensive papers. Although she had time to destroy the letters that showed the problems in their relationship, she never did so. Betty Boyd Caroli finds that the correspondence shows “an intelligent, capable woman who reluctantly relinquished her own autonomy in favor of her husband’s career.” 

Facts and quotations from First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama by Betty Boyd Caroli. C-SPAN is exploring the influence of First Ladies in its new series.

Image: Mrs. James Garfield, photographed between 1860 and 1870, printed later. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.