James A. Garfield National Historic Site, Ohio

Although the Republican victor in the 1880 election, former Major General James Garfield, had a reputation as a moderate reformer, he was opposed to civil service reforms like appointment on the basis of merit examinations rather than political connections. Ironically, his assassination by an office-seeker spurred passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883, which curtailed the “spoils system.” Even more ironically, the Pendleton Act was signed by his successor, Chester A. Arthur, whose only political offices prior to the Vice Presidency had been appointments that he owed to the corrupt New York Republican political machine of Senator Roscoe Conkling. The James A. Garfield National Historic Site preserves the home Garfield acquired in 1876 to accommodate his large family. The home, named Lawnfield by reporters, was the site of Garfield’s front porch campaign for the presidency in 1880. James A. Garfield is National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service and the Western Reserve Historical Society.

From I-90 take the SR 306 Mentor – Kirtland exit. Travel north on SR 306 for two miles to Mentor Avenue (US 20). Turn right and travel east for two miles. James A. Garfield NHS is located at 8095 Mentor Avenue, on the north side of the road.

Rankin House, Ohio

John Rankin was a Presbyterian minister and educator who devoted much of his life to the antislavery movement. In 1826 he published an antislavery book, “Letters on American Slavery,” and in 1834 he founded the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society. From 1825 to 1865 Rankin and his wife Jean sheltered more than 2,000 escaping slaves in Brown County, Ohio. The house sat on a high hill over the Ohio River, the border between the free state of Ohio and the slave state of Kentucky. A beacon in the attic window supposedly guided fleeing slaves across the river. Harriet Beecher Stowe visited the house in 1834, and John Rankin’s stories of escaping slaves influenced “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” The Rankin house is a National Historic Landmark, and is now maintained by the Ohio Historical Society. Outside is a reconstruction of the stairway used by the fugitives to climb up to the house from the banks of the Ohio River.

Location Map and Directions Click Here

Links: Rankin House State Historic Site