Murderpedia

 

 

Juan Ignacio Blanco  

 

home

last updates

MALE murderers

by country

by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
   

FEMALE murderers

by country

by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
   

 

 

 
 

Charles Julius GUITEAU

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Assassin - History of mental illness
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 2, 1881
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: June 8, 1841
Victim profile: James A. Garfield, 49 (Uited States of America President)
Method of murder: Shooting (.44 Webley British Bulldog revolver)
Location: Washington, Distric of Columbia, USA
Status: Executed by hanging in the District of Columbia on June 30, 1882
 
 

 

photo galleries

 

charles guiteau

james garfield

 
 

 

Supreme Court of the District of Columbia

 

The United States vs. Charles J. Guiteau

 
 

 
 

Charles Julius Guiteau (September 8, 1841 – June 30, 1882) was an American lawyer with a history of mental illness who assassinated President James Garfield on July 2, 1881 (Garfield died of complications following the shooting, on September 19).

Born in Freeport, Illinois, Guiteau was routinely beaten by his father as a child and left home at an early age. He inherited $1000 from his grandfather as a young man and went to Ann Arbor, Michigan, in order to attend the university there. Unfortunately, due to inadequate academic preparation, he failed the entrance examinations.

After some time trying to do remedial work in the necessary Latin and algebra, during which time he received numerous letters from his father haranguing him to do so, he quit and joined the controversial religious sect, the Oneida Community.

Despite the "free love" aspects of that sect, he was generally rejected during his five years there--his nickname was "Charles Gitout." He left the community twice. The first time he went to Hoboken, NJ, and attempted to start a newspaper based on Oneida religion, to be called "The Daily Theocrat."

This failed, and he returned, only to leave again and file lawsuits against the community's founder, John Humphrey Noyes. Guiteau's father, embarrassed, wrote letters in support of Noyes, and Noyes maintained that he did not hold any ill-will towards Guiteau, as "I consider him insane."

Guiteau then obtained a law license in Chicago, based on an extremely casual bar exam. Undeterred he used his money to start a law firm in Chicago based on ludicrously fraudulent recommendations from virtually every prominent American family he could think of.

He was not successful. He only argued one case in court, the bulk of his business being in bill collecting, where his annoying persistence was a useful characteristic. Most of his cases, however, resulted in enraged clients and judicial criticism.

He next turned to theology. He published a book on the subject called The Truth which was almost entirely plagiarized from the work of John Humphrey Noyes.

After that embarrassment, Guiteau took an interest in politics. He wrote a speech in support of Ulysses S. Grant called "Grant v. Hancock," which he revised to "Garfield v. Hancock" after Garfield won the Republican nomination in the 1880 presidential campaign. Alas, he changed little more than the title, hence mixing up Garfield's achievements with those of Grant.

The speech was only delivered a maximum of two times, but Guiteau believed himself to be largely responsible for Garfield's victory. He insisted he should be awarded an ambassadorship for his vital assistance, first asking for Vienna, then deciding that he would rather be posted in Paris.

His personal requests to the President and to cabinet members (as one of many job seekers who lined up every day) were continually rejected; on May 14, 1881, he was finally told personally never to return by Secretary of State James Blaine.

He then decided that God had commanded him to kill the President. Guiteau borrowed fifteen dollars and went out to purchase a revolver. He knew little about firearms, but did know that he would need a large caliber gun.

He had to choose between a .44 Webley British Bulldog revolver with a wooden handle and one with a silver handle. He chose the one with the silver inlay because he wanted it to look good as a museum exhibit after the assassination, and, as he explained at his trial, he thought it was worth the extra dollar. (The revolver has been lost).

He spent the next few weeks in target practice—the kick from the revolver almost knocked him over the first time—and in stalking the President.

On one occasion, he trailed Garfield to the railway station as he was seeing his wife off to a beach resort in New Jersey, but decided to do it later, as Mrs. Garfield was in poor health and he didn't want to upset her.

On July 2, 1881, he lay in wait for the President at the Baltimore and Potomac Railway station, getting his shoes shined, pacing, and engaging a cab to take him to the jail later.

As President Garfield entered the station, looking forward to a vacation with his wife in Long Branch, Guiteau stepped forward and shot Garfield twice from behind, the second shot lodging in the back "with the exulting words, repeated everywhere: 'I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts... Arthur is President now.'" (New York Herald, July 3, 1881)

Garfield died on September 19, eleven weeks after being shot, after a long, painful bout of blood poisoning brought on by his doctors poking the wound with unwashed hands.

Guiteau became something of a media darling during his trial for his bizarre behavior, including constantly badmouthing his defense team, formatting his testimony in epic poems which he recited at length, and soliciting legal advice from random spectators in the audience via passed notes.

He dictated an autobiography to the New York Herald, ending it with a personal ad for a nice Christian lady under thirty. He was blissfully oblivious to the American public's outrage and hatred of him, even after he was almost assassinated twice himself.

At one point, he argued that Garfield was killed not by himself but by medical malpractice, which was more than a little true. Throughout the trial and up until his execution, Guiteau was housed at St. Elizabeths Hospital in the southeastern quadrant of Washington, DC.

To the end, Guiteau was actively making plans to start a lecture tour after his perceived imminent release and to run for President in 1884, while at the same time he continued to delight in the media circus surrounding his trial, which he wanted to be remembered by all if he wasn't released.

He was dismayed when the jury was unconvinced of his divine inspiration, convicting him of the murder. He was found guilty on January 23, 1882. He appealed, but his appeal was rejected, and he was hanged on June 30, 1882 in the District of Columbia.

On the scaffold, Guiteau recited a poem he had written called "I am Going to the Lordy." He had originally requested an orchestra to play as he sung his poem, but this request was denied.

Guiteau's trial was one of the first high profile cases in the United States where the insanity defense was considered. Guiteau vehemently insisted that while he had been legally insane at the time of the shooting, he was not really medically insane, which was one of the major causes of the rift between him and his defense lawyers and probably also a reason the jury assumed Guiteau was merely trying to deny responsibility.

Miscellaneous

In the musical play Assassins by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, Guiteau (referred to as Charlie) is portrayed as a comical buffoon who sings a cakewalk as he ascends the scaffold to be executed. Some of the lyrics to the Ballad of Guiteau were written by Guiteau himself: they are the words to his "Going to the Lordy" poem mentioned above. Sondheim fleshed out Guiteau's own song and added music to it, an idea that Guiteau himself had suggested, when reciting the poem, that the lyrics "if set to music . . would be rendered very effective."

The life of Charles Guiteau has many parallels to that of Garfield, the examination of which forms the primary narrative device of Rick Geary's comic book The Fatal Bullet: a true account of the assassination, lingering pain, death, and burial of James A. Garfield, twentieth president of the United States; also including the inglorious life and career of the despised assassin Guiteau (1999, Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine), a volume in his series, A Treasury of Victorian Murder.

The assassination of James Garfield is the topic of the song, "Mister Garfield (Has Been Shot Down)" written by J. Elliot, recorded by Johnny Cash in 1965 and released by Columbia Records; re-recorded for the 1972 album "America - A 200 Year Salute in Story And Song", The assassination is also featured in the song "Charles Giteau" by Kelly Harrell & the Virginia String Band as included in the Anthology of American Folk Music.

Guiteau's method of assassination was prominently featured in Warren Adler's mystery novel, American Quartet.


Charles Julius Guiteau (September 8, 1841 – June 30, 1882) was an American lawyer who assassinated U.S. President James A. Garfield on July 2, 1881. He was executed by hanging.

Background

Guiteau was born in Freeport, Illinois, the fourth of six children of Luther Wilson Guiteau and Jane Howe. He moved with his family to Ulao, Wisconsin, (now Grafton, Wisconsin) in 1850 and lived there until 1855, when his mother died. Soon after, Guiteau and his father moved back to Freeport.

He inherited $1,000 from his grandfather (worth over $23,000 in year-2009 dollars) as a young man and went to Ann Arbor, Michigan, in order to attend the University of Michigan. Due to inadequate academic preparation, he failed the entrance examinations. After some time trying to do remedial work in Latin and algebra at Ann Arbor High School, during which time he received numerous letters from his father haranguing him to do so, he quit and joined the controversial religious sect known as the Oneida Community, in Oneida, New York, to which Guiteau's father already had close affiliations. Despite the "group marriage" aspects of that sect, he was generally rejected during his five years there, and he was nicknamed "Charles Gitout".

He left the community twice. The first time he went to Hoboken, New Jersey, and attempted to start a newspaper based on Oneida religion, to be called "The Daily Theocrat". This failed and he returned to Oneida, only to leave again and file lawsuits against the community's founder, John Humphrey Noyes. Guiteau's father, embarrassed, wrote letters in support of Noyes, and Noyes maintained that he did not hold any ill-will towards Guiteau, saying "I consider him insane."

Guiteau then obtained a law license in Chicago, based on an extremely casual bar exam. He used his money to start a law firm in Chicago based on ludicrously fraudulent recommendations from virtually every prominent American family of the day. He was not successful. He only argued one case in court, the bulk of his business being in bill collecting in which his annoying persistence was a useful characteristic. Most of his cases, however, resulted in enraged clients and judicial criticism.

He next turned to theology. He published a book on the subject called The Truth which was almost entirely plagiarized from the work of John Humphrey Noyes.

Guiteau's interest turned to politics. He wrote a speech in support of Ulysses S. Grant called "Grant vs. Hancock", which he revised to "Garfield vs. Hancock" after Garfield won the Republican nomination in the 1880 presidential campaign. Ultimately, he changed little more than the title (hence mixing up Garfield's achievements with those of Grant). The speech was delivered at most two times (and copies were passed out to members of the Republican National Committee at their summer 1880 meeting in New York), but Guiteau believed himself to be largely responsible for Garfield's victory. He insisted he should be awarded an ambassadorship for his vital assistance, first asking for Vienna, then deciding that he would rather be posted in Paris. His personal requests to the President and to cabinet members (as one of many job seekers who lined up every day) were continually rejected; on May 14, 1881, he was finally told personally never to return by Secretary of State James G. Blaine (Guiteau is actually believed to have encountered Blaine on more than one occasion).

Assassination of Garfield

Guiteau then decided that God had commanded him to kill the ungrateful President. Borrowing fifteen dollars, he went out to purchase a revolver. He knew little about firearms, but did know that he would need a large caliber gun. He had to choose between a .442 Webley British Bulldog revolver with a wooden handle and one with an ivory handle. He wanted the one with the ivory handle because he wanted it to look good as a museum exhibit after the assassination, but he could not afford the extra dollar. (The revolver was recovered and even photographed by the Smithsonian in the early 1900s but has since been lost). He spent the next few weeks in target practice—the kick from the revolver almost knocked him over the first time- and stalking the President.

On one occasion, he trailed Garfield to the railway station as the President was seeing his wife off to a beach resort in Long Branch, New Jersey, but he decided to shoot him later, as Mrs. Garfield was in poor health and he didn't want to upset her. On July 2, 1881, he lay in wait for the President at the (since demolished) Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station, getting his shoes shined, pacing, and engaging a cab to take him to the jail later. As President Garfield entered the station, looking forward to a vacation with his wife in Long Branch, New Jersey, Guiteau stepped forward and shot Garfield twice from behind, the second shot piercing the first lumbar vertebra but missing the spinal cord. As he surrendered to authorities, Guiteau fired with the exulting words, repeated everywhere: 'I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts. .. Arthur is President now!!'" (New York Herald, July 3, 1881).

After a long, painful battle with infections brought on by his doctors poking and probing the wound with unwashed hands and non-sterilized instruments, Garfield died on September 19, eleven weeks after being shot. Most modern physicians familiar with the case state that Garfield would have easily recovered from his wounds with medical care that was available 20 years later.

Trial and execution

Once President Garfield died, the government offically charged Guiteau with murder. The trial began on November 14, 1881 in Washington D.C. The presiding judge in the case was Walter Smith Cox. Guiteau's court appointed defense lawyers were Leigh Robinson and George Scoville, although Guiteau would insist on trying to represent himself during the entire trial. Wayne MacVeagh, the U.S. Attorney, served as the chief prosecutor where he named five lawyers to the prosecution team: George Corkhill, Walter Davidge, John K. Porter, Elihu Root, and E.B. Smith.

Guiteau's trial was one of the first high profile cases in the United States where the insanity defense was considered. Guiteau vehemently insisted that while he had been legally insane at the time of the shooting, he was not really medically insane, which was one of the major causes of the rift between him and his defense lawyers and probably also a reason the jury assumed Guiteau was merely trying to deny responsibility for the murder of the President.

George Corkhill, who was the District of Columbia's district attorney and on the prosecuting team, summed up the prosecution's opinion of Guiteau's insanity defense in a pre-trial press statement that also mirrored public opinion on the issue. Corkhill stated; "He's no more insane than I am. There's nothing of the mad about Guiteau: he's a cool, calculating blackguard, a polished ruffian, who has gradually prepared himself to pose in this way before the world. He was a deadbeat, pure and simple. Finally, he got tired of the monotony of deadbeating. He wanted excitement of some other kind and notoriety, and he got it."

Guiteau became something of a media darling during his entire trial for his bizarre behavior, including constantly cursing and badmouthing the judge, witnesses, and even his defense team, formatting his testimony in epic poems which he recited at length, and soliciting legal advice from random spectators in the audience via passed notes. He dictated an autobiography to the New York Herald, ending it with a personal ad for a nice Christian lady under thirty. He was blissfully oblivious to the American public's outrage and hatred of him, even after he was almost assassinated twice himself. At one point, he argued before Judge Cox that Garfield was killed not by himself but by medical malpractice, which was more than a little true ("The doctors killed Garfield, I just shot him"). But Guiteau's argument had no legal support. Throughout the trial and up until his execution, Guiteau was housed at St. Elizabeths Hospital in the southeastern quadrant of Washington, D.C.

There is still some debate over what constitutes legal insanity, but most authorities generally agree that the basic test is whether the defendant knew what he was doing and that his actions were wrong. At the time of the Guiteau trial, however, the prevailing test of legal insanity was whether the defendant knew his actions were criminal. Therefore, even though someone like Guiteau might be considered insane because he didn't think it was wrong to shoot President Garfield, he could be convicted if the judge determined that he understood that the law made it illegal to shoot people. By the 1880s, courts were beginning to apply the less harsh "was it wrong" test, which also gave the jury rather than the judge the task to determining insanity. In delivering the closing argument to the jury, prosecutor Davidge asserted that Guiteau's erratic behavior throughout the trial stemmed not from insanity, but from his overwhelming ego.

To the end, Guiteau was actively making plans to start a lecture tour after his perceived imminent release and to run for President himself in 1884, while at the same time continuing to delight in the media circus surrounding his trial. He was dismayed when the jury was unconvinced of his divine inspiration, convicting him of the murder. He was found guilty on January 25, 1882.

After the guilty verdict was read, Guiteau stood up, despite his lawyers efforts to tell him to be quiet, and yelled at the jury saying: "you are all low, consummate jackasses", plus a further stream of curses and obscenities before he was taken away by guards to his cell to await execution. He appealed, but his appeal was rejected, and he was hanged on June 30, 1882 in the District of Columbia. Of the four presidential assassins, Guiteau lived longer than any after his victim's death (nine months). On the scaffold, Guiteau recited a poem he had written called "I am Going to the Lordy". He had originally requested an orchestra to play as he sang his poem, but this request was denied.

Part of Guiteau's brain remains on display at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.

Wikipedia.org


The Trial of Charles Guiteau: An Account

by Douglas O. Linder (2007)

Law.umkc.edu

A sense of having been wronged, together with a warped idea of political duty, brought Charles Julius Guiteau to the Baltimore and Potomac Station in Washington on July 2, 1881.  On that same Saturday morning, President James Abram Garfield strode into the station to catch the 9:30 A.M. limited express, which was to take him to the commencement ceremonies of his alma mater, Williams College--and from there, Garfield planned to head off on a much-awaited vacation.  He never made the 9:30.  Within seconds of entering the station, Garfield was felled by two of Guiteau's bullets, the opening act in what be a drama that included rising and then  falling hopes for the President's recovery, the most celebrated insanity trial of the century, and finally civil service reform that backers hoped might discourage future disappointed patronage seekers from taking revengeful actions.

Charles Guiteau's unhappy childhood began in Freeport, Illinois in September 1841.  His mother, who suffered from psychosis, died shortly after Charles's seventh birthday.  He was raised, for the most part, by his older sister, "Franky"--with some help from his stepmother following the remarriage of his father when Charles was twelve.  He had speech difficulties and probably also suffered from what today would be called "attention deficit disorder."  His brother recalled his father offering Charles a dime if he could keep his hands and feet still for five minutes; Charles was unable to collect on the offer. 

Despite the personal obstacles Guiteau faced, he is described by Charles Rosenberg, author of The Trial of the Assassin Guiteau, as becoming "a moral and enterprising young man."  At age 18, he would tell his sister in a letter that his goal was to work hard and educate himself "physically, intellectually, and morally."  During a lonely year in college in Ann Arbor, Guiteau took comfort in the theological writings of John Noyes, founder of the utopian Oneida Community in upstate New York which practiced what Noyes called "Bible Communism."  Charles left Ann Arbor in 1860 and headed east to Oneida.

After five years, Guiteau left the Community briefly to make a failed attempt at establishing the nation's first theocratic newspaper, the Daily Theocrat.  He returned to Oneida for a year, spent twelve months back with family in Illinois, and then moved to New York City where a growing resentment of the Oneida Community would overtake him. Guiteau brought what can fairly be described as "a frivolous lawsuit" against the Community, demanding $9000 for his six years worth of work at Oneida.  Noyes responded in affidavit by describing Guiteau in Oneida as "moody, self-conceited, unmanageable" and addicted to masturbation. Guiteau's attorney, soon realizing the case was a loser, dropped the cause, but Guiteau persisted in writing angry and threatening letters to the Community, blaming it for all of his personal problems, which included no family and no gainful employment.  He sent letters to newspapers, the Attorney General in Washington, ministers, state officials, and everyone else he thought might aid in his professed goal of "wiping out" Oneida.  In a letter to Charles's father, Luther Guiteau, John Noyes described Charles as "insane" and wrote that "I prayed for him last night as sincerely as I ever prayed for my own son, that is now in a Lunatic Asylum."

Charles withdrew again to Illinois, where for a few years he eked out an existence as a debt collection attorney and managed to find a wife, Annie Bunn, a local librarian.  He proved soon to be an abusive husband, locking Annie in a closet for hours, hitting and kicking her, and dragging her around the house by her hair.  "I am your master," Guiteau would yell, "submit yourself to me."  The marriage ended after five years.

In the 1870s, Guiteau moved from place to place, from passion to passion.  In 1872, while in New York collecting a bills from a few deadbeats to pay his own, he began to take an active interest in  politics.  His shady collection practices--including pocketing his commission without paying his client--landed him a short stay in a New York City jail.  In 1875, he followed--until it died--a far-fetched dream of buying a small Chicago newspaper and turning it into an influential one by reprinting news from the New York Tribune, transmitted telegraphically to Chicago each day.  When Charles's grand scheme collapsed, his father wrote of his son: "To my mind he is a fit subject for a lunatic asylum."

By the late 1870s, Guiteau's obsession had become theology and he became an itinerant lecturer, billing himself as "a lawyer and theologian" (and, on one handbill, as "The Little Giant of the West").  His lectures--composed naked, according to his own account--were incoherent ramblings on the imminent end of the world and Christ's reappearance in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

In 1880, Guiteau adopted his final passion: politics.  His cause became promoting the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party.  In 1880, Republicans were split between the Stalwarts, who preferred to nominate Ulysses Grant for a third presidential term, and the Half-Breeds, reformers who favored the nomination of Maine Senator James G. Blaine.  After delegates to the Republican convention in Chicago had cast 33 ballots, Grant led, but continued to fall just short of the majority needed for the nomination.  On the 34th ballot, a move began for a darkhorse compromise candidate: James Garfield.  By the 36th ballot, Garfield was the nominee.  Having gotten most of his support from Half-Breeds, Garfield chose a Stalwart, Chester A. Arthur, as his running mate.  Although Guiteau had written speeches in support of Grant, when Garfield became the nominee, Guiteau simply scratched Grant's name from his speech and substituted Garfield's.

Garfield became a frequent visitor to the Republican Party's campaign headquarters in New York City.  He sought speaking roles, but was rebuffed by campaign officials--except for one engagement in New York where he was authorized to speak to a small number of black voters. He reprinted his speech entitled "Garfield vs. Hancock" (Hancock was the Democratic nominee for president), a cliche-filled stream of over-the-top arguments, including his suggestion that the election of Hancock was likely to produce a second civil war.  In November, Garfield narrowly defeated Hancock, and Guiteau concluded that the ideas presented in his speech secured the Republican victory.  On New Year's Eve 1880, Guiteau wrote Garfield asking for a diplomatic appointment and wishing the President-Elect a happy new year.

After Garfield's inauguration in March 1881, Guiteau stepped up his campaign for a diplomatic post.  He applied for posts as minister in Austria and consul general to Paris, and made the rounds between the White House and the State Department promoting his case.  He bombarded Secretary of State James Blaine with letters, arguing it was his "rebel war claim idea" that "elected President Garfield" and that he deserved appointment as "a personal tribute" to his critical role in the recent campaign.  He also wrote to Garfield, indicating in a May 10 letter: "I will see you about the Paris consulship tomorrow unless you happen to send in my name today."  The Administration, unsurprising, grew tired of Guiteau's persistence.  Secretary Blaine bluntly told Guiteau at the State Department on May 14: "Never bother me again about the Paris consulship so long as you live."

Guiteau, without family and nearly penniless, grew increasing isolated and depressed.  Shortly after his confrontation with Blaine, Guiteau decided that Garfield needed to be "removed."  In June, Guiteau concluded the mission to remove Garfield fell to him and was in fact a "divine pressure."  On June 15, using fifteen borrowed dollars, he purchased a snub-nosed, forty-five caliber revolver.  The next day he wrote an "Address to the American People," making the case for Garfield's assassination.  In his address, Guiteau accused Garfield of "the basest ingratitude to the Stalwarts" and said the president was on a course to "wreck the once grand old Republican party."  Assassination, Guiteau wrote, was "not murder; it is a political necessity."  He concluded, "I leave my justification to God and the American people."

The Assassination

Guiteau learned from newspaper reports on June 30 that President Garfield would be catching a 9:30 A.M. train at the Baltimore and Potomac Station the following morning.  He wrote a second justification for his planned assassination or, as he called it, "the President's tragic death."  Guiteau, claiming himself to be "a Stalwart of the Stalwarts," wrote that "the President...will be happier in Paradise than here."  He ended his note with the words "I am going to jail."

Guiteau arrived at the station about 8:30.  He felt ready for the job, having practiced his marksmanship on a river bank on the way to his destination.  Garfield entered the nearly empty station at 8:25 with Secretary Blaine and a bag-carrying servant.  They had walked several steps into the carpeted "ladies' waiting room" when Guiteau fired his first shot.  It grazed Garfield's arm.  Guiteau moved two steps and fired a second shot.  The bullet entered Garfield's back just above the waist.  The president fell as the back of his gray summer suit filled with blood.

As confusion erupted in the station, Guiteau tried to reassure onlookers: "It is all right, it is all right."  The police officer on duty grabbed Guiteau. 

A city health officer was the first doctor on the scene.  Although he tried to reassure the president, Garfield said, "Doctor, I am a dead man."  Garfield had been moved to the station's second floor when Dr. D. W. Bliss, who would be Garfield's head physician for the next eighty days, arrived.  As Bliss and ten other doctors debated what to do next, a police ambulance arrived and--following Garfield's orders--transported the gravely wounded president to the White House and up to his bedroom.

In the hours after his arrest, Guiteau acted strangely.  On the way to city jail with a police detective, Guiteau asked the officer if he was a Stalwart.  When the detective replied that he was, Guiteau promised to make him chief of police.  In jail, he balked at removing his shoes, complaining that if he walked barefoot over the jail's stone floors  "I'll catch my death of cold."  When a photographer snapped his photo he demanded a royalty payment of $25.

Although doctors initially assessed Garfield's chances as bleak--they expected him to die the evening of the shooting--after he survived the first forty-eight hours, they became more optimistic.  By July 16, one of Garfield's doctors was quoted as saying the president's "ultimate recovery is beyond all reasonable doubt."  A week later, however, Garfield's condition worsened.  His conditioned then steadied, but he suffered from a severe cough, a low-grade fever, and was losing weight through much of August.  On September 6, Garfield was taken by a special train almost to the door of his summer seaside cottage in New Jersey where, it was hoped, the ocean breezes might help his deteriorating condition.  They didn't.  On September 19, at 10:35 P.M., the president died.  An autopsy identified the cause of death as a rupturing of an aneurysm in the splenic artery.

Events Leading to the Trial

In the weeks following Garfield's shooting, Guiteau seemed to enjoy his new found notoriety.  He sent a letter to "the Chicago Press" announcing his intention to write and publish and autobiography entitled "The Life and Theology of Charles Guiteau."  He expected to make bail and head out on the lecture circuit to speak on matters ranging from religion and politics--and he expected the fees for his lectures to pay for the first-rate lawyers that would surely win his acquittal.

As the summer progressed, Guiteau became more agitated.  He was upset with prison officials for denying him access to newspapers and keeping him in near isolation.  When word came in September that the president had died, Guiteau fell to his knees. 

Guiteau rebounded quickly, however.  The day after Garfield died, he penned a letter to the new president, Chester Arthur.  "I presume you appreciate [my act]," Guiteau wrote, noting that "It raises you from $8,000 to $50,000 a year" and from "a political cypher to President of the United States with all its powers and honors."  He described his victim as "a good man but a weak politician."  Guiteau's spirits seem to rise further with the publication of the autobiography he had written in prison.  The autobiography, published in the New York Herald, included his personal note that he was "looking for a wife" and his hope that applicants for the job might include "an elegant Christian lady of wealth, under thirty, belonging to a first-class family."

Needless to say, the public included far more Guiteau haters that Guiteau fans.  Concern about lynching led officials to move Guiteau to a brick cell with only a small opening at the top of a bulletproof oaken door.  His biggest threat, it turned out, was not from the public, but from prison guards.  On September 11, 1881, a guard named William Mason fired at Guiteau, but missed.  (The public responded with donations to Mason and his family, but the trigger-happy guard still was court-martialed and received an eight-year term.)

George Corkhill, the district attorney for Washington, understood that Guiteau was likely to raise an insanity defense.  Guiteau's speeches, statements, and letters were more than passing strange--and assassination almost seems by its very nature to be the product of a diseased mind.  Corkhill's early statements on the issue were dismissive of Guiteau's potential insanity claim.  "He's no more insane than I am," Corkhill told a reporter on July 9.  In Corkhill's view, Guiteau was a "deadbeat" who "wanted excitement" and now "he's got it."

Formal proceedings against Guiteau began in October.  On October 8, Corkhill filed the presentment and indictment against the prisoner for the murder of James Garfield.  Six days later, Guiteau was arraigned.  George Scoville, Guiteau's brother-in-law, appeared and asked the court for a continuance to gather witnesses for the defense.  He told Judge Walter Cox that the defense intended to make two primary arguments: that Guiteau was legally insane and that the president's death resulted from medical malpractice, not Guiteau's shooting.  Judge Cox granted the defense motion and set the trial for November.

Guiteau, unsurprisingly, considered himself supremely qualified to head his own defense.  He drew a sharp distinction between "legal insanity," which he was willing to claim, and "actual insanity," which he thought a detestable insult.  He was sharply critical, for example, of Scoville's questions concerning whether any of his relatives had spent time in lunatic asylums: "If you waste time on such things, you will never clear me."  Instead, in Guiteau's view, he was legally insane because the Lord had temporarily removed his free will and assigned him the task he could not refuse.  In addition to insanity, Guiteau proposed to argue that the doctor's clumsy treatment attempts were the true cause of Garfield's death and, moreover, the court in Washington lacked jurisdiction to try him for murder because Garfield died at his seaside New Jersey home.

Scolville's legal conclusions differed from those of his client on both the issue of causation and jurisdiction.  He decided to drop both arguments and concentrate on insanity.  Both Scoville and attorneys for the government began scouring the country for medical witnesses best able to address the issue of the assassin's mental state.  Corkhill landed Dr. John Gray, the superintendent of New York's Utica Asylum, as the prosecution's chief adviser on insanity issues.  After interviewing Guiteau, Gray wrote in a memo to Corkhill that Guiteau acted out of "wounded vanity and disappointment," not insanity. 

Gaining an acquittal by reason of insanity in 1881 was no easy task.  Under the prevailing test, the so-called M'Naghten rule, the government need only show that the defendant understood the consequences and the unlawfulness of his conduct.  This test, for Guiteau, posed nearly insurmountable obstacles.  Guiteau knew that it was illegal to shoot the president.  He knew that if he pulled out his revolver and shot and hit the president, that the president might die.  Moreover, Guiteau did not act impulsively, but planned the assassination and waited for a good opportunity.  Under the conventional interpretation of M'Naghten, Guiteau was a dead man.

The Trial

The trial of Charles Guiteau opened on November 14, 1881 in a packed courtroom in Washington's old criminal court building.  Guiteau, dressed in a black suit and white shirt, asked the proceedings be deliberate so not to offend "the Deity whose servant I was when I sought to remove the late President."  Jury selection proved difficult.  Many potential jurors claimed that their opinions as to Guiteau's guilt were fixed.  "He ought to be hung or burnt," one panel member said, adding, "I don't think there is any evidence in the United States to convince me any other way."  It took three days, and the questioning of 175 potential jurors, to finally settle on a jury of twelve men--including, against the wishes of Guiteau, one African-American.

As the prosecution was set to begin its case, Guiteau jumped up to announce that he was none too happy about his team of "blunderbuss lawyers" and that he planned to handle much of the defense himself.  "I came in here in the capacity as an agent of the Deity in this matter, and I am going to assert my right in this case," he said.

The prosecution focused its early efforts in the trial on detailing the events surrounding Garfield's assassination.  Witnesses included Secretary of State Blaine, Patrick Kearney (the arresting officer), and Dr. D. W. Bliss, who performed the autopsy.  Letters written by Garfield shortly before the assassination were introduced as exhibits, as were several of the vertebrae shattered by Guiteau's bullet.

The most important testimony came from Dr. Bliss.  Spectators cried and cringed as Bliss made his point, using Garfield's actual spine, that the shot fired by Guiteau directly caused the President's death, however long it took to do so.  As Guiteau was driven away from the courtroom after Bliss's testimony, a horse pulled alongside his van and the horse's drunk rider--a farmer named Bill Jones--fired a pistol through the bars of the van.  The bullet struck Guiteau's coat, but left the prisoner uninjured.

In his opening statement for the defense, George Scoville told jurors that as society has gained more knowledge of insanity it has come to recognize that persons so afflicted deserve sympathy and treatment, not punishment.  This trend, he said, is part of becoming a civilized people: "It is a change all the while progressing to a better state of things, to higher intelligence, to better judgment."  He argued that the jury should try to determine, based on expert testimony, whether Guiteau's actions were the product of a deranged mind.  Guiteau, meanwhile, offered untimely interjections.  When Scoville said Guiteau's "want of mental capacity is manifest" in his business dealings, the prisoner rose to his feet and insisted, "I had brains enough but I had theology on my mind."  At times, according to newspaper accounts, Guiteau was "foaming at the mouth" as he shouted his objections to Scoville's characterizations of his odd legal practice.

Defense witnesses painted the picture of a strange and disturbed man.  A physician summoned to Guiteau's home after he threatened his wife was an ask testified that he had told Guiteau's sister at the time that his brother was insane and should be committed.  He concluded Guiteau had been captured by "an intense pseudo-religious feeling."  A Chicago attorney who visited Guiteau shortly after the assassination told how Guiteau, in a voice that veered from a whisper to a shout, claimed that the shooting of Garfield was the Lord's work and he merely carried it out.  Other witnesses pointed to the strange behavior of Guiteau's father as evidence that the defendant's insanity might be a hereditary condition.  They told of Luther Guiteau's attempts at faith healing and his belief that some men could live forever.

Charles Guiteau took the stand on November 28.  Responding to his attorney's questions in a hurried and nervous style, Guiteau traced for jurors the story of his life.  Much of the testimony focused on his years at the Oneida Community--the community Guiteau grew to hate and sought to destroy.  He also described in great detail his political activities and inclinations during the spring of 1881, finally turning to the prayerful period of June when he awaited word from God as to whether his inspiration to kill Garfield was divine.  He took some of his own narrow escapes from death (a ship collision at sea, a jump from a speeding train, three attempted shootings) as evidence that God had an important plan for him.  He insisted that he had performed a valuable service in killing Garfield: "Some of these days instead of saying 'Guiteau the assassin', they will say 'Guiteau the patriot'."

On cross-examination, prosecutor John K. Porter tried to suggest to jurors that what the defense claimed was evidence of insanity was instead only evidence of sin.  He forced Guiteau to concede that he thought the assassination would increase sales of his autobiography.  He demanded to know whether Guiteau was familiar with the Biblical commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."  Guiteau responded that in this case "the divine authority overcame the written law."  He insisted, "I am a man of destiny as much as the Savior, or Paul, or Martin Luther."

The heart of the defense case was built by medical experts.  Dr. James Kienarn, a Chicago neurologist, testified that a man could be insane without suffering from delusions or hallucinations.  He offered his expert opinion--accepting as true a long list of assertions about Guiteau and his state of mind--that the defendant was doubtless insane.  (Kiernan's credibility, however, was badly damaged in cross-examination when he guessed one out of every five adults was--or would become--insane.)  Seven additional medical experts for the defense followed Kiernan to the stand, but seemed--to most observers--to add little new support for the insanity claim.

Few experts had been as adamant about Guiteau's insanity as New York neurologist Dr. Edward C. Spitzka.  He had written that it was as plain as day that "Guiteau is not only now insane, but that he was never anything else."  It is no wonder that Scoville depended heavily on Spitzka's testimony.  On the stand, Spitzka told jurors that he had "no doubt" that Guiteau was both insane and "a moral monstrosity."  The doctor drew his conclusions as much from his looks (including his lopsided smile) as his statements, concluding that the defendant had "the insane manner" he had so often observed in asylums.  He added, based on his interview with the prisoner, that Guiteau was a "morbid egotist" who misinterpreted and overly personalized the real events of life.  He thought the condition to be the result of "a congenital malformation of the brain." On cross-examination, prosecutor Walter Davidge forced Spitzka to admit that his training was as a veterinary surgeon, not a neurologist.  Conceding the point, Spitzka said sarcastically: "In the sense that I treat asses who ask me stupid questions, I am."

The prosecution countered with its own medical experts.  Dr. Fordyce Barker testified that "there was no such disease in science as hereditary insanity."  Irresistible impulses, the doctor testified, were not a manifestation of insanity, but rather "a vice."  Prison physician Dr. Noble Young testified that Guiteau was "perfectly sane" and "as bright and intelligent a man as you will ever see in a summer's day."  Psychiatrist (called an "alienist" at the time) Allen Hamilton told jurors that the defendant was "sane, though eccentric" and "knew the difference between right and wrong."

Dr. John Gray, superintendent of New York's Utica Asylum and editor of the American Journal of Insanity, took the stand as the prosecution's final--and star--witness.  Gray, based on two full days of interviews with Guiteau, testified that the defendant was seriously "depraved," but not insane.  Insanity, he said, is a "disease" (typically associated with cerebral lesions, in his opinion) that shows itself in more than bad acts.  Guiteau displayed far too much rationality and planning to be truly insane, Gray concluded.

Closing arguments began on January 12, 1882.  Prosecutor Davidge emphasized the legal test for insanity, which he claimed Guiteau failed to meet.  Guiteau, Davidge argued, knew that it was wrong to shoot the President--and yet he did.  He warned the jury not to reach a result that would be "tantamount to inviting every crack-brained, ill-balanced man, with or without a motive, to resort to the knife or to the pistol." Judge Porter, in the government's final argument, predicted that Guiteau will soon feel for the first time real "divine pressure, and in the form of the hangman's rope." For the defense, Charles Reed argued that common sense alone--the facts of his life, his vacant glance--should persuade jurors of Guiteau's insanity.  He told jurors that if it were up to Christ, he would heal and not punish such an obviously disturbed man as his client.  Scoville, in a closing argument that lasted five days, suggested that Guiteau's writings could not be the product of a sane mind and that the defendant was owed the benefit of doubt.  He scoffed at the prosecution's suggestion that only a cerebral lesion could prove a man insane:  "Those experts hang a man and examine his brain afterward."

Guiteau offered his own closing.  At first, Judge Cox denied his request.  Disappointed, Guiteau said that the judge had denied the jurors "an oration like Cicero's" that would have gone "thundering down the ages."  Later, when the prosecution (fearing adding a possible point of error to the record) withdrew its objection to Guiteau's request, Judge Cox reversed his decision.  Guiteau looked skyward and swayed periodically during his address, which included the singing of "John Brown's Body" and featured comparison's between his own life as "a patriot" and other patriots such as George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant.  He insisted that the shooting of Garfield was divinely inspired and that "the Deity allowed the doctors to finish my work gradually, because He wanted to prepare the people for the change."  He warned the jury that if they convicted him, "the nation will pay for it as sure as you are alive."

The jury deliberated for only an hour.  In a candlelit courtroom, jury foreman John P. Hamlin announced the verdict: "Guilty as indicted, sir."  Applause filled the room.  Guiteau remained oddly silent.

The Sentence and Aftermath

Judge Cox sentenced Guiteau "to be hanged by the neck until you are dead" on June 30, 1882.  Guiteau shouted at the judge, "I had rather stand where I am that where the jury does or where your Honor does."

On May 22, Guiteau's appeals were rejected.  Guiteau still held out the hope that President Arthur, the benefactor--as he saw it--of his act, would grant a pardon.  Arthur listened to arguments by defense experts for twenty minutes on June 22.  Five days later, the President granted an interview with another defense partisan, John Wilson.  Guiteau wrote a letter to Garfield asking that he at least stay the execution until the following January so that his case might "be heard by the Supreme Court in full bench."  On June 24, President Arthur announced that he would not intervene.  Hearing the news, an angry Guiteau shouted, "Arthur has sealed his own doom and the doom of this nation."

Guiteau approached his hanging with a sense of opportunity.  He abandoned his plan to appear for the event dressed only in underwear (so as to remind spectators of Christ's execution) after being persuaded that the immodest garb might be seen as further evidence of his insanity.  In the prison courtyard on June 30, 1882, Guiteau read fourteen verses of Matthew and a poem of his own that ended with the words, "Glory hallelujah! Glory hallelujah! I am with the Lord!"  The trapdoor opened and Guiteau fell to his death.  Outside the jail,  a thousand spectators cheered the announcement of the assassin's demise.

In the years following Guiteau's execution, public opinion on the issue of his insanity shifted.  More people--and almost all neurologists--came to the view that he was indeed suffering from a serious mental illness.  Guiteau's case was seen in medical circles as supporting the theory that criminal tendencies were often the result of hereditary disease.


Assassination of James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield was shot in Washington, D.C. on July 2, 1881 by Charles J. Guiteau at 9:30 a.m., less than four months after taking office as the twentieth President of the United States. Garfield died eleven weeks later on September 19, 1881, the second of four Presidents to be assassinated, following Abraham Lincoln and preceding William McKinley and John F. Kennedy. His Vice President, Chester Arthur, succeeded Garfield as President.

Stalking the President

After failing in several ventures—theology, a law practice, bill collecting, time in the Oneida Community—Charles Guiteau's interest turned to politics. He wrote a speech in support of Ulysses S. Grant called "Grant vs. Hancock", which he subsequently revised to "Garfield vs. Hancock" after Garfield won the Republican nomination in the 1880 presidential campaign. Guiteau never even delivered the speech in a public setting, instead printing up several hundred copies, but he believed that this speech along with his other efforts were largely responsible for Garfield's narrow victory over Winfield S. Hancock in the election of 1880. Guiteau believed he should be awarded a diplomatic post for his vital assistance, first asking for Vienna, then settling for Paris.

He loitered around Republican headquarters in New York City during the 1880 campaign, expecting rewards for his effort, to no avail. Still believing he would be rewarded, Guiteau arrived in Washington on March 5, the day after Garfield's inauguration, and actually obtained entrance to the White House and saw the President on March 8, dropping off a copy of his speech.

He proceeded to spend the next two months roaming around Washington, shuffling back and forth between the State Department and the White House, approaching various Cabinet members and other prominent Republicans and seeking support, to no avail.

Guiteau was destitute and increasingly slovenly due to wearing the same clothes every day, the only clothes he owned, but he did not give up. On May 13, 1881, he was banned from the White House waiting room. On May 14, 1881, he was finally told personally never to return by Secretary of State James G. Blaine: "Never speak to me again of the Paris consulship as long as you live."

After this encounter, Guiteau decided that he had been commanded to kill the ungrateful President. Guiteau borrowed $15 and went out to purchase a revolver. He knew little about firearms, but did know that he would need a large caliber gun. He had to choose between a .44 Webley British Bulldog revolver with a wooden handle and one with an ivory handle. He chose to buy the one with the ivory handle because he thought it would look good as a museum exhibit after the assassination. (The revolver was recovered and even displayed by the Smithsonian in the early 1900s but has since been lost.)

He spent the next few weeks in target practice—the kick from the revolver almost knocked him over the first time—and stalking the President. He wrote a letter to Garfield, saying that he should fire Blaine, or "you and the Republican party will come to grief." It was ignored, as was all the correspondence Guiteau sent to the White House.

Guiteau continued to prepare carefully, writing a letter in advance to Commanding General of the United States Army William Sherman asking for protection from the mob, and writing other letters justifying his action as necessary to heal dissension between factions of the Republican Party. He even went to the District of Columbia jail, asking for a tour of the facility to see where he'd be incarcerated. (He was told to come back later.)

Guiteau spent the whole month of June following Garfield around Washington. On one occasion, he trailed Garfield to the railway station as the President was seeing his wife off to a beach resort in Long Branch, New Jersey, but he decided to shoot him later, as Mrs. Garfield was in poor health and he didn't want to upset her.

Assassination

Garfield was scheduled to leave Washington on July 2 for his summer vacation. On that day, Guiteau lay in wait for the President at the (since demolished) Baltimore and Potomac Railroad station, on the southwest corner of present day Sixth Street Northwest
and Constitution Avenue, Washington, D.C.

President Garfield had come to the Sixth Street Station on his way to his alma mater, Williams College, where he was scheduled to deliver a speech. Garfield was accompanied by two of his sons, James and Harry, and Secretary of State James G. Blaine. Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln waited at the station to see the President off. Garfield had no bodyguard or security detail; with the exception of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, U.S. presidents never used any guards.

As President Garfield entered the waiting room of the station Guiteau stepped forward and pulled the trigger from behind at point-blank range. "My God, what is that?" Garfield cried out, flinging up his arms. Guiteau fired again and Garfield collapsed. One bullet grazed Garfield's shoulder; the other lodged in his spine in the first lumbar vertebra but missing the spinal cord.

Guiteau put his pistol back in his pocket and turned to leave the station for the cab he still had waiting outside, but he was apprehended before he could leave by policeman Patrick Kearney, who was so excited at having arrested the man who shot the president that he neglected to take Guiteau's gun from him until after their arrival at the police station. The rapidly gathering crowd screamed "Lynch him!" but Kearney took Guiteau to the police station a few blocks away. As he surrendered to authorities, Guiteau uttered the exulting words, repeated everywhere: "'I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts! I did it and I want to be arrested! Arthur is President now!'"

This statement briefly led to unfounded suspicions that Arthur or his supporters had put Guiteau up to the crime. The Stalwarts were a Republican faction loyal to ex-President Grant; they strongly opposed Garfield's Half-Breeds. Like many Vice Presidents, Arthur was chosen for political advantage, to placate his faction, rather than for skills or loyalty to his running-mate. Guiteau, in his delusion, had convinced himself that he was striking a blow to unite the two factions of the Republican Party.

Garfield's suffering and death

Garfield, conscious but in shock, was carried to an upstairs floor of the train station. One bullet remained lodged in his body, but doctors could not find it. Young Jim Garfield and James Blaine both broke down and wept. Robert Todd Lincoln, deeply upset and thinking back to the death of his father, said "How many hours of sorrow I have passed in this town."

Garfield was carried back to the White House. Doctors told him that he would not survive the night, but the President did not die. He remained conscious and alert. The next morning his vital signs were good and doctors began to hope for recovery. A long vigil began, with Garfield's doctors issuing regular bulletins that the American public followed closely throughout the summer of 1881. His condition fluctuated. Fevers came and went. Garfield struggled to keep down solid food and spent most of the summer eating little, and that only liquids.

In an effort to relieve the sick man from the heat of a Washington summer, Navy engineers rigged up an early version of the modern air conditioner. Fans blew air over a large box of ice and into the President's sickroom; the device worked well enough to lower the temperature twenty degrees.

Doctors continued to probe Garfield's wound with dirty, unsterilized fingers and instruments, attempting for no particular reason to find the location of the bullet. Alexander Graham Bell devised a metal detector specifically for the purpose of finding the bullet lodged inside Garfield, but the metal bed frame Garfield was lying on made the instrument malfunction.

Because metal bed frames were relatively rare, the cause of the instrument's deviation was unknown at the time. On July 29 Garfield met with his Cabinet for the only time during his illness; the members were under strict instruction from the doctors not to discuss anything upsetting.

Garfield became increasingly ill over a period of several weeks due to infection, which caused his heart to weaken. He remained bedridden in the White House with fevers and extreme pains. Garfield's weight dropped from over two hundred pounds to 135 pounds as his inability to keep down and digest food took its toll. Blood poisoning and infection set in and for a brief period the President suffered from hallucinations.

On September 6, Garfield was taken to the Jersey Shore to escape the Washington heat, in the vain hope that the fresh air and quiet there might aid his recovery. Garfield was propped up in bed before a window with a view of the beach and ocean. New infections set in, as well as spasms of angina. He died of a massive heart attack or a ruptured splenic artery aneurysm, following blood poisoning and bronchial pneumonia, at 10:35 p.m. on Monday, September 19, 1881, in Long Branch, New Jersey. The wounded president died exactly two months before his 50th birthday. During the eighty days between his shooting and death, his only official act was to sign an extradition paper.

Most historians and medical experts now believe that Garfield probably would have survived his wound had the doctors attending him been more capable. Several inserted their unsterilized fingers into the wound to probe for the bullet, and one doctor punctured Garfield's liver in doing so. This alone would not have brought about death as the liver is one of the few organs in the human body that can regenerate itself. However, this physician probably introduced Streptococcus bacteria into the President's body and that caused blood poisoning for which at that time there were no antibiotics.

Chester Arthur was at his home in New York City when word came the night of September 19 that Garfield had died. After first getting the news, Arthur said "I hope—my God, I do hope it is a mistake." But confirmation by telegram came soon after. Arthur took the oath of office, administered by a New York Supreme Court judge, then left for Long Branch to pay his respects before going on to Washington.

Garfield's body was taken to Washington, where it lay in state for two days in the Capitol Rotunda before being taken to Cleveland, where the funeral was held on Sept. 26.

Guiteau's trial and execution

Represented by his brother-in-law, George Scolville, Guiteau became something of a media darling during his trial for his bizarre behavior, including constantly badmouthing his defense team, formatting his testimony in epic poems which he recited at length, and soliciting legal advice from random spectators in the audience via passed notes. He claimed that he was not guilty because Garfield's murder was the will of God and he was only an instrument of God's will. He sang "John Brown's Body" to the court.

He dictated an autobiography to the New York Herald, ending it with a personal ad for a nice Christian lady under thirty. He was blissfully oblivious to the American public's outrage and hatred of him, even after he was almost assassinated twice himself. At one point, he argued that Garfield was killed not by him but by medical malpractice ("The doctors killed Garfield, I just shot him"). Throughout the trial and up until his execution, Guiteau was housed at St. Elizabeths Hospital in the southeastern quadrant of Washington, D.C.

Guiteau's trial was one of the first high profile cases in the United States where the insanity defense was considered. Guiteau vehemently insisted that while he had been legally insane at the time of the shooting, he was not really medically insane, which was one of the major causes of the rift between him and his defense lawyers and probably also a reason the jury assumed Guiteau was merely trying to deny responsibility.

To the end, Guiteau was actively making plans to start a lecture tour after his perceived imminent release and to run for President himself in 1884, while at the same time continuing to delight in the media circus surrounding his trial. He was dismayed when the jury was unconvinced of his divine inspiration, convicting him of the murder. He was found guilty on January 25, 1882.

He appealed, but his appeal was rejected, and he was hanged on June 30, 1882 in the District of Columbia. On the scaffold, Guiteau recited a poem he had written called "I am Going to the Lordy". He had requested an orchestra to play as he sang his poem, but this request was denied.

Aftermath

Part of Charles Guiteau's preserved brain is on display at the Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Guiteau's bones and more of his brain, along with Garfield's backbone and a couple of ribs, are kept at the National Museum of Health and
Medicine in Washington, D.C. on the grounds of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Garfield's assassination was instrumental to the passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act on January 16, 1883. Garfield himself had called for civil service reform in his inaugural address and supported it as President in the belief that it would make government more efficient. It was passed as something of a memorial to the fallen President. Arthur lost the Republican Party nomination in 1884 to Blaine, who went on to lose a razor-close election to Democrat Grover Cleveland.

The Sixth Street rail station was later demolished. The site is now occupied by the West Building of the National Gallery of Art. No plaque or memorial marks the spot where Garfield was shot, but a few blocks away, a Garfield memorial statue stands on the southwest corner of the Capitol grounds.

As of 1896, the "Great Tom" bell at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, England had only ever rung upon the deaths or funerals of members of the British royal family, the Bishop of London, or the London mayor; a sole exception was made when the bell was rung upon Garfield's death.

The question of Presidential disability was not addressed. Article II, section 1, clause 6 of the Constitution says that in case of the "Inability [of the President] to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President", but gives no further instruction on what constitutes inability or how the President's inability should be determined. Garfield had lain on his sickbed for 80 days without performing any of the duties of his office except for the signing of an extradition paper, but this did not prove to be a difficulty because in the 19th century the federal government effectively shut down for the summer regardless. During Garfield's ordeal, the Congress was not in session and there was little for a President to do. Blaine suggested the Cabinet declare Arthur acting President, but this option was rejected by all, including Arthur, who did not wish to be perceived as grasping for power.

Congress did not deal with the problem of what to do if a President was alive but incapacitated as Garfield was. Nor did the Congress take up the question 38 years later, when Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke that put him in a coma for days and left him partially paralyzed and blind in one eye for the last year and a half of his Presidency. It was not until the ratification of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1967 that United States law provided a procedure for what to do if the President were incapacitated.

Nor did the Congress take any measure to provide for Presidential protection. It was not until after the murder of William McKinley twenty years after Garfield that the Congress charged the United States Secret Service, originally founded to prevent counterfeiting, with Presidential security.

The Garfield Tea House, built by the citizens of Long Branch, New Jersey with the rails that had been laid down specifically to give Garfield's train access to their town, still stands today near the location where Garfield died.

Wikipedia.org

 

 

 
 
 
 
contact