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James A. Garfield: ‘York was the capital of the United States when congress was on wheels’

It’s not clear about the date and which York newspaper this story ran in, but it provides an account of James Garfield’s visit to York before his presidency. The full article is available at the York County Heritage Trust archives. (To see a list of other presidential visits, click here.) Background posts: Piece of John Wilkes Booth’s body to be shown in Philly and Presidents visit York, alive and via funeral trains and A Civil War Black Republican: ‘He robs birds’ nests … sucks hens’ eggs’.

A large crowd observed the funeral train of assassinated president James A. Garfield pass through York on Sept. 23, 1881.
“Lest the gesture of standing in silence with bared heads should seem too meagre in its expression of bereavement such as this, billows of flowers had been strewn between the tracks and floral wreaths were brought to be tossed aboard the coaches,” a newspaper reported.
Before his presidency, Garfield visited his friend, former James Buchanan cabinet member Jeremiah S. Black, in York… .


James Garfield, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The pair climbed Webb’s Hill to observe the scenery around York.
A clerk accompanying the pair recorded the following conversation, according to an undated newspaper article:
“I am just now thinking that York was the capital of the United States when congress was on wheels,” Garfield observed.
“Well,” Black replied, “our other companions and I have been looking over the journals of congress recently, and we have discovered that congress didn’t come to York on wheels, but members on horseback.”
For additional posts of presidential visits to York County, click here.

Also of interest:

James Garfield’s funeral train stopped in York in 1881. For details, see Presidential Visits.