The 6-cent James A. Garfield (1833–1881) stamp honors the twentieth president of the United States. Garfield, an Ohio lawyer and legislator, fought at Shiloh and Chickamauga during the Civil War and rose to the rank of major general. Elected to Congress in 1862, he served in the House of Representatives for seventeen years. He was elected by the Ohio legislature to the U.S. Senate in 1880 and selected as a compromise presidential candidate for the Republican Party. Garfield won the Electoral College vote 214 to 155, though his plurality in the popular vote was under 7,500.
Garfield’s presidency was cut short by an assassin’s bullet on July 2, 1881, at Washington's railroad station. Garfield died eleven weeks later in Elberon, New Jersey, on Sept. 19, 1881.
The 6-cent claret stamp was issued February 20, 1903, only in sheet format printed from plates of four hundred and sold in panes of one hundred stamps with gauge 12 perforations. The stamp, designed by R. Ostrander Smith from a photograph, was engraved by George F. C. Smillie (portrait), Robert F. Ponickau (frame), and Lyman F. Ellis (lettering and numerals).
The 6-cent stamp did not pay a specific rate and was used in multiple rate formats or with other stamps to cover existing rates. Two 6-cent stamps were often used to pay the ten-cent special delivery fee plus two-cent domestic letter rate.
This stamp had the smallest sale of any of those below the ten-cent value, and like many of the Series 1902, it exists in a variety of color shades.