Garfield Presidential $1 Coin
James Garfield became President sort of by accident. It's not that he wasn't qualified; it's just that he wasn't running!
In fact, when Garfield attended the meeting at which the Republican Party planned to select the next presidential candidate, he had just been elected to the Senate after serving in the House of Representatives for 18 years.
The main reason he was at the convention was to support the man of his choice, John Sherman. Sherman was Secretary of the Treasury under then-president Hayes and, like Garfield, was from Ohio. Garfield spoke to many of the members personally and also gave a speech at the convention urging support for John Sherman.
Sherman's main rivals for the candidacy were James G. Blaine and former president Ulysses S. Grant. (If Grant had been nominated and elected, he would have been the first president to serve non-consecutive terms. But that distinction was left to a later president.)
I say "main" rivals because there were actually quite a few names being considered. When the first vote was taken, neither Sherman nor Grant received enough votes to declare a candidate. The same happened on the second vote, the third vote, and on and on. Even Blaine, considered the compromise candidate, could not muster enough support to render a decision.
In fact, there was still no majority candidate after 35 ballots! But during the last few of those ballots, Garfield's name began gathering more and more votes in order to break the deadlock. On the 36th vote, Garfield found himself the new Republican candidate for President of the United States!
Although John Sherman missed out on the presidency, you'll be glad to know that he wasn't left out in the cold. Sherman got to take the seat in the Senate that Garfield left open so he could serve as President!
Find out more about James Garfield on the James Garfield Presidential $1 Coin page.