Charles Guiteau Accused Assassin Of President Garfield
He was born in Freeport, Illinois. He wasn't an immigrant, but a died in the wool American. For a few years he lived in Wisconsin, but upon the death of his mother, his father decided to move back to Freeport. He was not a happy child, who could be, when they were constantly beaten by their father? As we all know constant beating not only is physical abuse but it can destroy one's emotional well being and Charles didn't seem to have much self esteem or social abilities. When he failed the entrance exam for college and decided to take remedial courses, it is said that his father was constantly on his case. This just served to push him deeper into his morose and he quit school. Instead of college he decided to join a religious sect, the Oneida Community. As the name indicated they were located in Oneida, New York and practiced free love. He just didn't fit in and left. He had managed to last 5 years, which up to that point was a record for him.
The thing that made Charles Guiteau famous in his time was the fact that he may have assassinated a president of the United States. Guiteau was the one who shot President Garfield. Many people wonder why this or that person decide to assassinate a particular president? Most of the time, but not all, it is for the celebrity of the moment. They want to become the most famous people in the country and one quick way to do it is to kill a president. I don't believe this was the case in the Lincoln assassination however. Booth was already very famous and was very upset over the civil war. One has to classify Lincoln's assassination as a political killing rather than a quest for fame. Guiteau, on the other hand, must have felt very insignificant due to the pressure constantly applied to him by his father along with the constant harassment and his inability to fit in socially. But was this the real reason he shot the president?
On July 2, 1881 all that tension that built up in Guiteau came out when he shot President Garfield. Amazingly Garfield was completely unprotected as he and Secretary of State James G. Blaine walked to the Potomac train station in Washington, D.C. I can't help but find this very strange. Here we had two top government officials walking by themselves to take a train. Not only that, when they would have gotten on the train, they would have been either sitting with passengers or near passengers. Can you imagine President Bush waiting for a subway by himself? This wasn't that long after Lincoln was killed either. I guess that the country just couldn't imagine why someone would want to kill a president in peace time. After shooting the president twice with a .44 caliber gun, Guiteau attempted to hail a cab but was arrested.
Guiteau was not unknown in Washington at the time of the assassination. He had wondered into many government offices asking for jobs. He became such a pest that the Washington bureaucracy thought of him as mentally unbalanced. He would also write various articles and hand them out to everyone. It is said that he became to believe that he was an attorney working for Senator Roscoe Conkling. This was not true and Conking had never even heard of him, or did the Senator just say that so he wouldn't be associated with the killing of a president, if so, who could blame him? It seems that Garfield had dared to disagree with Conkling on an issue and Guiteau took it personally and decided to end the president's life for the insult.
Alexander Graham Bell built a metal detector, the very first one, to help doctors locate a bullet that was logged somewhere in Garfield. The metal detector didn't work because the mattress had metal springs and they interfered with it. Another innovation took place when the first air conditioner was invented to help relieve some of Garfield's suffering as the heat was unbearable. Garfield died on September 19, 1881. He had suffered an agonizing three months or there abouts. He died at the New Jersey Shore where he had been transferred to, for the ocean air, in hopes that this would help him.
It is said by some that if someone was shot the same way today, as Garfield was then, he would have lived. It is believed that one of the things that eventually led to Garfield's death was the fact that many and maybe over one dozen doctors stuck their unwashed hands into Garfield's body trying to find one of the bullets.They also probed with unsterilized instruments. If Garfield would have been shot in France or Germany, sanitary methods would have been used. So this brings up the question of convicting Charles Guiteau of murder. While he did shoot the president twice, it looks like the president died from medical malpractice. Does this mean that Guiteau was guilty of murder? I guess you would have to say that this is a very fine line, but that Charles Guiteau didn't really kill Garfield, it was the infections and complications cause by the doctors of the day. Charles Guiteau was executed on June 30, 1882. Before his trial he wrote letters to different people trying to get them to represent him in his trial. He wrote: "To the American People: I conceived the idea of removing the President four weeks ago. Not a soul knew of my purpose. I conceived the idea myself and kept it to myself. I read the newspapers carefully for and against the Administration, and gradually the conviction settled on me that the President's removal was a political necessity, because he proved a traitor to the men that made him, and thereby imperiled the life of the Republic. This is not murder. It is a political necessity". One of the famous tricks of Harry Houdini was to escape from the jail cell of Guiteau. Guiteau visited the White House staff so much that they made the building off limits to him.
Charles Guiteau took his delusions to the grave with him.
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