One bullet grazed his elbow, but a second lodged in the back of President James Garfield, who was shot JULY 2, 1881, as he waited in the Washington, D.C., train station.
The assassin was Charles Guiteau, a member of a polygamist-communist cult called the Oneida Community.
Garfield had only been in office four months.
Though not wounded seriously, unsterile medical practices caused him to die two months later.
Secretary of State James Blaine sent news to James Russell Lowell, U.S. Minister in London, September 20, 1881:
“James A. Garfield, President of the United States, died…For nearly eighty days he suffered great pain, and during the entire period exhibited extraordinary patience, fortitude, and Christian resignation. Fifty millions of people stand as mourners by his bier.”
When Vice-President Chester Arthur assumed the Presidency, he declared a National Day of Mourning, September 22, 1881:
“In His inscrutable wisdom it has pleased God to remove from us the illustrious head of the nation, James A. Garfield, late President of the United States…It is fitting that the deep grief which fills all hearts should manifest itself with one accord toward the Throne of Infinite Grace…that we should bow before the Almighty…in our affliction.”
James Garfield had been a Major General in the Civil War, a college president and a Disciples of Christ preacher.
Elected a U.S. Congressman, he despised fiat paper currency “Greenbacks,” supporting instead a gold-silver based monetary system.
Elected a U.S. Senator, he gave a stirring speech at the 1880 Republican National Convention opposing the rule that State delegates had to vote unanimously for only one candidate.
In an unprecedented move, after 34 ballots, Garfield was chosen as the Republican nominee over prominent contenders, including Ulysses S. Grant seeking a third term.
As President, James Garfield appointed several African-Americans to prominent federal positions.
In his Inaugural Address, March 4, 1881, Garfield stated:
“Let our people find a new meaning in the divine oracle which declares that ‘a little child shall lead them,’ for our own little children will soon control the destinies of the Republic…
Our children…will surely bless their fathers and their fathers’ God that the Union was preserved, that slavery was overthrown, and that both races were made equal before the law.”
Garfield described the Chancellor of the newly united Germany:
“I am struck with the fact that Otto von Bismarck, the great statesman of Germany, probably the foremost man in Europe today, stated as an unquestioned principle, that the support, the defense, and propagation of the Christian Gospel is the central object of the German government.”
At the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1876, then Congressman James Garfield stated:
“Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress.
If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption.
If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature…
If the NEXT CENTENNIAL does not find us a great nation…it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”
William J. Federer is a nationally known speaker, best-selling author, and president of Amerisearch, Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America’s noble heritage.
To learn more about the author please visit William Federer