“If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should not grow old.”
— James Garfield, 20th U.S. president
This dear man started out with humble beginnings: No money, no father. His mother raised our future president singlehandedly in the early 1800s. And yet he rose to greatness, not letting the early ‘wrinkles’ of life dampen his spirit.
As a leader, he made revolutionary changes, at times forgotten. He championed anti-slavery in an unwelcome climate, by promoting slaves’ rights. He sensed that a 70% illiteracy rate of blacks could lead to disaster on so many levels, damaging to community and person. Bestowing these rights was the right thing to do. Through much promulgation, he was able to achieve a federal universal education policy.
Yet this educational policy occurred decades later in the late 1880s.
He didn’t let wrinkles hold him back.
Garfield was on to the next challenge. He installed African Americans in leadership positions. Frederick Douglass, John M. Langston, Robert Eliot and Blanche K. Bruce were placed in the federal government in senior positions. Keep in mind, Garfield is right in the midst of the Reconstruction… not a popular time for his initiatives.
But it was the right thing to do, and his policies for increased rights for people prevailed. Step over, ignore or smooth over the wrinkles. Keep moving forward.
If you have a wrinkle in your life, don’t let it get you jaded. Don’t furrow your spiritual brow. Take a kind, firm, gentle stance for progress to be manifested in your life. Do so on behalf of yourself, of others and what is right in the world, and it will come.
James Garfield (1831-1881) was the 20th president of the United States, following nine terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was raised on an Ohio farm by his widowed mother and older brother. He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts and became an Ohio state senator, campaigning on an anti-slavery platform. He served as a Major General in the Union army during the Civil War, then became a congressman for the next 18 years. When he became president, Garfield’s inaugural address emphasized civil rights and civil service reform. He was president for only six months, and was assassinated in office. Garfield was married to Lucretia Rudolph and they had seven children, including James R. Garfield who followed his father into politics.