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Travel - April 9, 2021

The Assassination of James A. Garfield

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At 9:30 am on July 2, 1881, on the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C., James Garfield, President of the United States was fatally shot. 

It’s an occasion that, fairly frankly, doesn’t actually get the eye that different political assassinations have acquired. The story behind how and why it occurred is as fascinating as any in American Historical past.

Study extra concerning the Assassination of President Garfield and his murderer, Charles Giteau, on this episode of The whole lot In all places Day by day.


James Garfield doesn’t rank very excessive on the checklist of biggest presidents, if for no different purpose than he wasn’t president for very lengthy. He was shot solely 4 months after taking workplace and died about 2 months after that. 

There was little or no in the way in which of coverage that may be attributed to him as president due to his quick tenure. Throughout his administration, he largely appointed cupboard officers and managed to reappoint a supreme courtroom justice who the Senate didn’t act upon within the earlier Rutherford B. Hayes administration. 

Garfield was born in Ohio and raised on a farm. His father died when he was solely two, and he was raised by his mom. He grew up in poverty, was a voracious reader, and finally labored his method via faculty and graduated from Williams Faculty in Massachusetts. 

He was most likely one of the clever males to ever turn out to be president. He was fluent in each historical Latin and historical Greek, and it was mentioned he was ambidextrous and will write in each languages concurrently with each arms. 

He studied regulation, handed the bar in Ohio, and was elected to the Ohio state senate. 

He joined the Union military within the civil warfare, and in 1862, on the age of 31, he was promoted to Brigadier Basic. The identical yr, whereas nonetheless serving within the army, he ran for Congress in a secure Ohio Republican seat. Whereas accepting the nomination, he refused to marketing campaign, so he may spend extra time serving within the warfare. 

He was a radical abolitionist. He wasn’t preventing to protect the union, he was preventing to finish slavery. He felt that Lincoln was too lenient on the insurgent leaders. 

He stayed within the Home of Representatives after the warfare and remained a staunch Republican. 

When he was nominated for president in 1880 he wasn’t searching for the job. He was a compromise candidate chosen on the thirty sixth poll. He defeated former Union Basic Winfield Scott in an in depth election the place he gained the favored vote by only one,898 votes. 

The way more fascinating a part of this story is his murderer, Charles Guiteau.

Of the 4 males who’ve killed US presidents, three of them, it might be argued, did so for political causes. 

Guiteau did so as a result of he was insane, or a minimum of I don’t see how one can hear his story and never come to the conclusion that he was insane. 

Guiteau was born in Illinois in 1841. His mom died when he was younger from what was identified as postpartum psychosis, which is a kind of Nineteenth-century illnesses which doesn’t actually exist anymore.

He moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to attend the College of Michigan, however failed the doorway examination. 

From there he moved to New York State the place he joined a spiritual group generally known as the Oneida Group. 

The Oneida Group was one in every of many Nineteenth century utopian Christian communities which had taken root in the US.

The Oneida Group was……totally different.  That they had a set of beliefs that positioned them effectively exterior of mainstream Christianity, particularly within the Nineteenth century. In the event that they existed as we speak, we’d most likely name them a cult.

For starters the Oneida Group have been perfectionists. They believed that Jesus already returned within the yr 70, and so they have been capable of create an ideal world right here on Earth, now. 

A technique they practiced this was via a technique of mutual criticism. They might have group conferences the place everybody may criticize everybody else. 

They have been additionally extraordinarily bureaucratic. For a neighborhood between 100-300 individuals, they’d 27 standing committees and 48 administrative sections.

Probably the most controversial a part of the Oneida Group was their observe of Advanced marriage. Of their eyes, everybody was married to everybody else. They rejected monogamy and practiced, and coined the time period, free love. 

All child-raising was executed communally and never by the mother and father, and any kids which have been born have been executed so by a committee the place the mom and father have been chosen.

There’s a entire lot extra to be mentioned on this topic, however I attempt to preserve the podcast clear, and it isn’t actually related to the topic at hand. 

Charles Guiteau didn’t match into this neighborhood in any respect. He was there for about 5 years, and through that point he was rejected by many of the neighborhood. He was typically known as Charles Gitout, which he finally did.

He finally filed a lawsuit towards the Onedia Group for cost for companies rendered, and his personal father testified towards him saying he was “irresponsible and insane”.  

From there he went to Chicago and acquired a job as a clerk in a regulation workplace. He was largely answerable for amassing money owed, however he would often accumulate cash, however then not pay the purchasers the total quantity he collected. 

He acquired married to a librarian named Annie Bunn round this time, and he or she later testified to how dishonest he was. 

He and his spouse fled to New York to remain forward of collectors and the police who have been chasing him from all his schemes. 

There his spouse divorced him. Guiteau had visited a prostitute and contracted syphilis. His spouse tracked down the prostitute and had her testify in courtroom towards him. 

In 1872 he acquired into politics and supported Horace Greely within the presidential election. He delivered one speech in assist of Greely, and by some means he was satisfied that if Greely gained he could be awarded the ambassador to Chile. There isn’t a proof he ever even met Greely, however he satisfied himself of the significance to his marketing campaign. 

Make be aware of this as it’s going to turn out to be essential in a while.

From right here he determined to get into theology and preaching. He wrote a e book known as The Reality, which was completely plagiarized from the chief of the Oneida Group. 

His collectors saved attempting to chase him down and so they finally contacted his brother. His brother wrote him asking him to repay his money owed and Guiteau despatched him this letter in reply:

Discover $7 enclosed. Stick it up your bunghole and wipe your nostril on it, and that can remind you of the estimation through which you might be held by Charles J. Guiteau. Signal and return the enclosed receipt and I’ll ship you (the cash), however not earlier than. And that, I hope, will finish our acquaintance.

A lot for that member of the household. 

He then went to stay along with his sister for just a few months, and whereas he was staying along with her, he attacked her with an ax. 

In 1880 he was again into politics, and this time he supported the Republican candidate, James Garfield. Properly, truly he supported Grant who was contemplating operating for a 3rd time period however then shifted his assist to Garfield. Grant was the candidate of the Stalwart faction of the Republican occasion, of which Guiteau thought of himself.

As along with his episode eight years earlier with Horace Greely, Guiteau wrote a speech for Garfield after which developed a extremely inflated sense of his significance. 

The distinction was, this time Garfield gained, and Guiteau thought he was liable for the victory. 

This time, Guiteau anticipated to be assigned to the consulate in Vienna…..or Paris….he wasn’t choosy.

He started sending letters to Garfield concerning the job that he assumed was his. As soon as such letter mentioned:

I known as to see you this morning, however you have been engaged. I despatched you a be aware bearing on the Austrian mission. The present Austrian Consul, I perceive, needs to stay at Vienna until fall. He is an efficient fellow (and) I don’t want to disturb him in any occasion.

What do you consider me for Consul-Basic at Paris? I feel I choose Paris to Vienna… and I presume my appointment will likely be promptly confirmed.

He by no means acquired a response from Garfield and there’s no indication that he ever even seen them.  He started sending letters to his Secretary of State James Blaine. 

Guiteau moved to Washington and started transferring from guesthouse to guesthouse when he couldn’t pay his payments. He would go to accommodations to seek out used newspapers to find out Garfield’s schedule. He additionally began stalking Secretary Blaine till finally, Blaine shouted at him, “By no means converse to me once more on the Paris consulship so long as you reside!”

Guiteau felt betrayed. In spite of everything, in his thoughts, he was liable for the election of Garfield, and he was being completely ignored. So, he satisfied himself that God needed him to kill the president.

He borrowed $15 from one in every of his in-laws, one of many few relations who he hadn’t alienated, to purchase a gun. When he bought the gun which was a .442 Webley  British Bulldog revolver, he had to decide on between one with a picket grip and one with an ivory grip. 

He chosen the ivory grip as a result of he felt it could look higher in a museum in a future exhibit concerning the assassination. 

On July 2, 1881, he waited for Garfield on the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington. Garfield was about to board a prepare to fulfill his household for a trip. 

When Garfield arrived, Guiteau stepped ahead and shot him twice within the again. 

As quickly as he fired, he surrendered and shouted, “I’m a Stalwart of the Stalwarts. … [Chester A.] Arthur is president now!”

Garfield’s medical care wasn’t nice. His medical doctors saved poking across the wounds with unsterilized fingers and devices. He developed an an infection and on September 19, he died 11 weeks after the capturing. 

Many individuals consider that Garfield would have lived if the medical doctors had simply left him alone. 

With the dying of Garfield, Guiteau was now charged with homicide. 

Guiteau submitted a plea of not responsible and needed to signify himself. The federal government insisted on an lawyer for Guiteau, however he stop inside every week. 

It was one of many first high-profile trials the place an madness protection was used. One psychiatrist who testified mentioned “Guiteau just isn’t solely now insane, however that he was by no means anything.”

Throughout the path Guiteau’s conduct was weird to say the least. He would typically swear on the decide. He would learn lengthy, rambling, epic poems through the trial. 

He even despatched a letter to the brand new president Chester Arthur saying he ought to set him free as a result of he made him the president. 

Guiteau was oblivious to how the general public perceived him. He thought he was extremely fashionable and would typically wave the crowds exterior the courthouse. He even deliberate to go on a lecture tour after the trial and operating for president in 1884.

In actuality, he was essentially the most hated particular person within the nation. 

Not surprisingly, he was discovered responsible of homicide and sentenced to dying. He was hanged on June 30, 1882. On his technique to the gallows, he was smiling and waving to the individuals in attendance. He shook the hand of the executioner and browse a poem. He requested an orchestra to carry out, however that was denied.

Each Garfield and Guiteau have largely been forgotten as we speak. 

There’s a monument to President Garfield exterior the US Capital and there’s one other monument within the West Constructing of the Nationwide Gallery of Artwork, which is the constructing the previous prepare station was positioned the place Garfield was shot. 

Guiteau’s physique was exhumed for an post-mortem. His skeleton is in storage on the Nationwide Museum of Well being and Drugs and his mind is presently on show in a jar on the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.

Garfield is buried in Cleveland, Ohio in one of many largest tombs of any American President. You may go to the tomb nearly any day, however I wouldn’t suggest visiting on Monday…..as a result of everybody is aware of Garfield hates Mondays.

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