tv Assassination of President James Garfield CSPAN August 2, 2016 10:25am-12:32pm EDT
had ill gotten gains so to speak to simplify it. that's one of the issues that made it difficult for him to obtain the nomination in 1876. by the early 1880s it was the fact that he had written an extremely popular two-volume memoir called "twenty years in congress." it was a best-seller of its time. it sold tens of thousands of copies. it netted him a great deal of money. we're now in the billiard room which is one of the rooms that was built as part of the addition that the blaines made to the house in 1872. this is also a room which has been a place to hang photographs and in some cases the christmas cards of the previous first families. the first family was the millikens, and this is a large family, carl milliken and his wife are shown in the photograph
along with their large family. there have been 21 families who have called the blaine house their home from the millikins in 1920 to currently governor paul lepage and his wife first lady ann lepage beginning in 2011. today when we think of james g. blaine in maine, i think we think primarily of the blaine house. it really is a symbol of both the maine governorship. and also of the state of maine as a whole. i think it is probably as well known a house as any in the state, and thus the equating of the name blaine with the governor's mansion really keeps his name alive and in the public today.
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>> today, of the four presidential assassinations, the one that i find the most absolutely fascinating and interesting is the one we're going to discuss tonight, james garfield. for quite a number of reasons, first of all, garfield is one of the most intelligent presidents we have ever had. i mean, he is up there in the top half dozen and when we go through his life, you're going to start laughing because you're going to say, no, that can't be, he can't that be good in that field, it is just not possible. and then we'll find something else and then, no. he's just incredibly bright. and the hope for his presidency was enormous. and so we're going to discuss an
absolutely brilliant human being. i was chatting with a friend before and he asked me if i thought garfield was the most intelligent. i don't know how you test something like that. it's not as if you give presidents iq tests. it's a lot easier with things that are easy to measure, tall and short. we all know madison was our shortest president, lincoln was our tallest. because that's easy. i don't know how you know the most intelligent. certainly the two adams, jefferson, madison. lincoln. but garfield is right up there. so one of the reasons it's so exciting is because of who he was and how he could have changed america. last week when we discussed lincoln, we were discussing had lincoln not been shot, how america would have been different. would the south be so far behind the rest of the country to even today in education and health
care and so many other areas. would african-americans have suffered for over 100 years the way they did had lincoln been in charge of reconstruction instead of andrew johnson and a congress that wanted to take revenge on the south and didn't really care about the african-americans. so one of the reasons today is so interesting is the brilliance of garfield. and the second is the other main character in our story, charles guiteau, and it shows the failure of our mental health treatment in this country then and today. there is no doubt in my mind that charles guiteau was mentally ill and it was not treated properly then even though they knew. they told his father he needs to be institutionalized. he's nuts. and the father agreed. but he said you know putting people in sanitariums, you have to pay.
and the father said i can't afford it so they didn't institutionalize him. the contrast between garfield and his assassin is so astounding. last week when we were discussing lincoln after the talk, a gentleman came up to me and asked me to recommend a book at each of the subsequent talks. i didn't do that last week. my failure. and so i was asked when he said that, i thought that was a very good idea. and obviously when you prepare talks like this, i use lots and lots and lots of sources. secondary sources, books, and primary sources. a lot of the primary sources are now available on the internet. so you can read the letters of garfield and diaries and so forth. it's easy to get primary sources. i used a lot of different sources.
but if i have to recommend one book, i will do that for garfield, mckinley and kennedy. in the case of garfield, a tale of madness, medicine and the murder of a president. by candace malard. it's a wonderful read. okay, good. she is an excellent writer. if i were to read just one book on this topic, it would be this. obviously i used it, but i used a lot of other its, as well. but that would be the one book, again, there is no book exam after this, no assignment. a couple members of my book club are here today and we're not going to discuss it, but it would be the one book to take a look at. you don't even talk about garfield or people don't. and i remember a conversation i had in 1988. i know exactly the year with
then congressman dick gephardt who was running for president. and i knew dick quite well and i was chatting with him and i asked him, do you know the last member of the house who was elected from the house to become president? and he said no. i said let me give and you hint. do you know who the only member of the house elected straight from the house to be president? and he still said no. and i said garfield. and he said they shot him. and i said you're running for the job, i'm not. but garfield as we see in a brief period was president-elect, senator-elect from ohio and sitting congressman all at the same time.
fascinating, fascinating guy. at the time he was elected president, he was by far the youngest president we had had in american history to that date. only two american presidents in our history died before reaching the age of 50, kennedy and garfield. obviously both for sad reasons. but he's the only house member and i'm trying to think quickly, obviously on the democratic side, this time no one from the house is running. and on the republican side, no one either. that i'm aware of. it's not a jumping stone -- or a stepping stone usually for the presidency. it occasionally happens, but that a house member tries to run for president. but not that often. even senators in the 20th century, only two senators went straight from the senate to the white house. harding and kennedy.
obviously obama did. and this time cruz, rubio and rand paul. so three senators are trying to move from the senate. but not that often from the house. vice presidents, not that many either. only three that i can think of went straight from the vice presidency to becoming president. jefferson, van buren and bush senior. governors more often. anyway, on to garfield. garfield was born in 1831. died the year he was elected to be president in 1881. should put him up there. he served nine consecutive terms in the house and his presidency lasted only 200 days. he was inaugurated in march, he was shot on july 2nd and he died in september.
he lingered and we'll talk a little bit about his medical care and what happened to him. garfield, james garfield, was the youngest of five children. he was born in absolute extreme poverty. this is a recreation of his house in ohio. his family lived in a log cabin. they were so poor, they couldn't afford to put down a floor. so it was a dirt log cabin. his father died when garfield was 18 months old. leaving his mother to raise five children on her own. so a single mom with five kids and no money. the family was so poor, he did not have his first paver of shoes until after he was four years old. later on when people address admired how he rose from total poverty to becoming president of the united states, he didn't
romanticize this at all. he said let us never praise poverty especially as a means of raising children. but you do need to really have a sense of awe about his mother eliza to be able to pull this off. to go from such poverty to get her son into the white house. she ultimately moves into the white house with him. she later claims to have been the first president's mother to move into the white house to take care of the kids. remarkable woman herself. she was fiercely proud that she never accepted aid from anyone. they worked hard. and from her, he gained a love of learning, of education. and that defines his life. he more than anything else schooling, education for himself
and then when he's president for the country is a key to understanding him. when his brother, his older brother, thomas was 11, thomas left home to work on other people's farms to help raise money and he would send the money back -- or give the money back to mom. when james turned 11, he said it's time for me to do the same thing. if thomas leaves home at 11 to work on farms, i will. and mom said no. she realized there was something very, very special about this kid and she said you're staying in school. we'll support you. you need to stay in school.
that's the key to his life. it shapes his mind, it shapes his attitude. and it creates opportunities for him that otherwise never would have existed. garfield's parents were both members of the church of christ. he was never particularly religious growing up. at about age 19, he decided to go to church and his speaking skills were so good on his first day in church he asked the -- the pastor said would you like to say a few words and he was so remarkable that they said you need to go and travel around to other churches and give sermons. and people who heard him preach said if he decided to make his career in the ministry, he would have been one of the leading clergymen in america. if he had gone to the chch church, he would have been one of the best in the country. he remains an elder in the church and resigns when he becomes president. and he said i resign the highest office in the land to become president of the united states. garfield at age 16, his life almost took a major change. all of a sudden he decided enough with school, i want to go
and have a life on sea. which was interesting because he couldn't swim. and no one knew why he did this. so he was living hundreds of miles away from the ocean. the closest he could find was to get work on the canal, on the ohio and erie canal. at age 16, he drops out of school. mom is totally devastated. he later said i broke my mother's heart as she feared this would end her high hopes for me. he takes a job on a canal boat. unfortunately a few days after he's on the boat, he couldn't swim, all of a sudden he falls off the boat and he can't swim. and so he's going under and he grabs a rope and he yanks on the rope and he's able to pull himself up on to the boat and then he noticed that the rope wasn't attached to anything.
but it got caught in a crack in the wood of boat and saved his life. and he was somehow able to pull himself up on this and he said i did not believe god paid any attention to me on my own account, but i came to believe he saved me for my mother and for something greater and better than canalling. and so he went home. and he was a totally changed young man thinking this is something that i don't know why this happened, but god is sending me a signal. he also got very sick. he caught malaria. and he was so sick after ten days the fever broke and he thought he was okay and he had a severe relapse. for two months, no one knew if he was going to survive. when he finally survived and recovered his health, mom and brother thomas went to him and they said, thomas had saved $17
so far and they said we're giving you this money on one condition, you go back to school. so he attended a number of local schools. and when he reached age 20, he decided it's time to go on to the equivalent of college. he went to western reserve which later became known as hiram college. but he could not afford the tuition, so he took a job as the janitor. he would get at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning and chop wood and then work in the kitchen to prepare breakfast for the other students and then he would join them in class and then he would work in the kitchen to help them with lunch. then afterwards, he would clean the latrines, clean the school, lower the flag at the end of the day and go back in his room and study.
so he was a janitor in his first year. by his second year, he was promoted to assistant professor. because in his first year, he learned and became fluent in greek and latin and was able to read virgil in the original. again it's every time you go through this, you say this is amazing. how is this possible. if you think it's impressive that he was fluent in greek and latin after one year, the teacher said his best subject was math. just to give you an idea of how good he was at math when he was in congress, he was bored for a while. and so he developed a trapezoid proof of the pythagorean theorem published in the new england journal of education and apparently garfield's work in math is still taught in graduate math programs today. but despite his ability in both math and languages, his interest
was science. so he studied the latest scientific discoveries. remember he's taking a full course load as a student and he's teaching. he's an assistant professor. so in his second year, he is teaching latin and one of his students was lucretia randolph. as you can see, this is his wedding picture, so we're jumping ahead. he was 19, she was 18, she was the student. she would later tell their daughter he was a big shy kid with a shock of unruly hair. he was as awkward and he was determined to learn everything and anything that came his way. they had virtually opposite personalities. he was this big hearted cheerful outgoing guy. he wouldn't shake hands with people, he would give people bear hugs. people laughed with him.
he was great company. people loved being around this extroverted big wonderful guy. she on the other hand was shy, soft spoken, very private. in her diary, she wrote she was fearful that she would be considered cold and heartless. their courtship was awkward to put it mildly. even though he was an incredible extrovert, he couldn't talk to her. he couldn't tell her what he felt about her. and she couldn't talk to him. and this is not a good thing if you are courting. it seems the first time he was able to tell her what he thought of her was by letter. he took a tour of niagara falls and he writes her a letter in which he says please pardon the liberty i take in pointing my
pen toward your name for this evening i have taken in so much scenery that i cannot contain it all myself. not exactly a love letter, but the first time he's telling her i'm thinking about you. she was even more shy and reserved than he was, so neither of them were able to tell each other that they really felt quite strongly about each other. and so in 1854, he leaves ohio and decides to finish college at williams college in williams town, massachusetts. our new congressman don beyer went to williams college. and in fact when we visited don when he was the ambassador to switzerland in baron, we brought him a copy of this because both he and garfield share the same alma mater. when he was at williams of course, he was the best student
there. he was a skilled debater. he was a skilled writer. he became editor of the williams quarterly. and in two years at age 25, you because again he got a late start, he graduated from williams college with the highest honors. returns to western reserve to teach latin and greek to become a professor as well as other subjects. and one year later, selected to be president of the school. you're going to keep laughing because it's like -- he then realizes the school is deeply in debt, has no endowment, so he decides to become the chief fund raiser, raises enough money so that the school is able to survive very well and achieve financial viability. he also resumes his rather awkward courtship of a woman he called cret. both of them remain unable to tell each other what they think and so one day she hands him her diary. and says just read this. and in the diary, it's full of
pages about how much she loves him. and so finally on november 11, 1858, the 27-year-old james garfield marries the 26-year-old lucretia randolph after an 11-year courtship. here she is. if the courtship was difficult, the beginning of the marriage was pretty much worse. they had great difficulty figuring out, okay, now that we're living together, what do we do. as a result, it became -- not as a result, but it became even more difficult because he was never home. in the first five years of marriage, they spent less than five months together. because of the civil war and because of everything else. and their separation, their difficulty of communicating with one another made it very difficult for them at home alone.
their first child, same name as james' mother, they called her trot, she unfortunately dies at age 3 and they grieve separately instead of together. it's a difficult period. in 1864 when he was a congressman and she was in ohio, he thought he totally ruined their marriage because he had an affair with a young widow in new york named lucia calhoun. she was a reporter for the new york tribune. they had a month long affair. he felt guilty and confessed to his wife. assuming that the marriage is now over. she forgives him and said it is time for us to figure out how to make this thing better. and from that moment they fell passionately in love with each other. they decided that they were going to do the best they could together with each other and
after that, maybe for the first time, they almost couldn't bear to be apart. he later wrote we waited a long time for this love to come, but time for this love to come, but it is here to stay. he later wrote lucretia became the love of my love. during one period away, he wrote you can't believe how much i miss you, how much i love you. i can hardly bear to be away from you. so from the moment that they really jump-started their marriage, they were this happily married couple. it took them a long time to get there, but once they were there, they were really there. they ultimately wind up having seven children. so they were there.
sadly two, trot and eddie passed away before neither reached their fourth birthday, but five did become mature adults and we'll talk about that a little bit later. the five who survived to adulthood all did extremely well because they were -- they had great parents. and particularly after he passed away, she did a great job of raising them afterwards. while he was president of western reserve, he decided this isn't enough to keep me busy, so he decided to study law. you'll keep laughing. so in 1859, he studies law and two years later, he's admitted to the ohio bar. turns out he was an absolutely brilliant lawyer, but unfortunately for his legal career, the civil war came first and then he was elected to congress and so he had to put law aside. and so he didn't actually engage in the practice of law until right after the civil war. the first case he argues of course was in front of the supreme court.
first time he'd ever been in a courtroom. it was a case which is still one of the key cases taught in constitutional law today. it is a case on how to deal with civilians during combat times and it is cited take as well particularly garfield's arguments at the time. as i mentioned, two things stalled his legal career. first of all, politics and second the war. garfield does not consider himself to be an abolitionist, but he was fiercely opposed to slavery and very, very eagerly supportive -- not eagerly, but very, very passionately supportive of the rights of african-americans to be equal citizens in this country. when he was relatively poor, a number of freed slaves, he put
them up in particular one stayed with him for a while. and he gave him what little money he had to try and help this escaped slave. he was enormously upset when john brown was hanged. he said this is a dark day in the history of our country. and then in his diary, of course in latin, he writes slavery be damned. his diary would switch from latin and greek and english. from what you can pick up of this guy, it's no surprise that people were drawn to him and were very impressed with him. in 1859, a state senator in ohio died and the republican party, which is relatively new, comes to him and says you're opposed to slavery, you're for emancipation, you're for the union, would you run for state senate. i said i know nothing about
politics. they said give it a try and of course he wins overwhelmingly. and that begins a political career. in 1859 to 1861 he serves and within 20 year, he's president of the united states. it's an absolutely remarkable story. and he probably would have gone very well do as a lawyer and politician and then the civil war breaks out. when the civil war breaks out, garfield enlists as a private and four weeks later he's promoted to colonel. it gets better. he was one of the first to apply. and he is appointed command of the 42nd ohio volunteer infantry.
and immediately assigned to stop an invasion of kentucky, eastern kentucky, by the confederates. abraham lincoln said i hope to have god on my side, but i must have kentucky. they were fearful that if the confederacy gave control of eastern kentucky, it would be able to split the union. and so they were very, very concerned and they didn't have enough troops and they didn't have a seasoned leader of these troops. and so they sent garfield with about 1,000 men, not enough artillery, and said repel the invasion. the confederates were led by general humphrey marshall who had graduated number one in his class from west point a year after garfield was born. so he is a seasoned military expert who had more than twice as many troops, had artillery
and was marching in to eastern kentucky. garfield is told stop them. he said how. they said that's why you're in charge. and so garfield decides to study geography and maps, which he had not done before. he spends three days locked up in his room studying maps and comes up with a plan where he splits his 1,000 troops into three, about 330 each, and attacks confederate from three sides. they think that they're outnumbered 3:1 when they are in turn actually have more than 2:1 majority, surrender and leave. this is known as the battle of middle creek. it is the battle that helps save eastern kentucky for the union. as a result, garfield gains nationwide recognition in the north and is promoted to brigadier general. he's been in the army four months. typical of garfield when he spoke of the battle of middle creek, he invariably never spoke
about his role in this, but only spoke of the sadness that he felt about the number of both union and confederate young boys who died and who were injured. in early 1862, friends of his came up to him and said would you like to run for congress. he said i don't have time. they said would you let us put your name in and he said i don't care. do what you want. and so in october of 1862, he is elected to congress by a 2:1 majority in his district in ohio. he did not have time to campaign. after the election, he shows up in washington not to be a congressman but to get his next military duty. and he is appointed, he goes to help general grant at the battle of shiloh. grant says that he would not have survived shiloh if garfield has not repelled the forces of albert sydney johnson and that
the hero of shiloh was garfield. in 1863, he returns as chief of staff to general william rosecrantz. he then comes to the conclusion that one of the big flaws with the union army is it doesn't have good intelligence. so he complains to other generals and says we don't have a good intelligence unit, so they said form one. so he does. and he creates the army intelligence unit and sets it up from scratch. he then turns out to get a reputation as a military genius. he is the principal strategist for the union taking over
gaining control of chattanooga. he played a key role at the battle of chickamauga, but in late 1863, his health deteriorates. he suffers from jaundice, significant weight loss and probably infectious hepatitis. and so he has to go home. and he goes home when he arrives home, first of all, he's promoted to major general before he does that, but he goes home and cret nurses him back to health. at this point when he's back in good health, he goes to washington and lincoln says you're a superb general, you're a superb intelligence, you're a superb strategist, i need you in congress. you've been elected, you haven't fulfilled your duties here. we're fighting against some of the real crazies. please serve in congress. so here is congressman garfield with his daughter eliza trot who sadly enough dies at age three. when gets to congress, his first speech calls for emancipation. he gains tremendous respect among his colleagues as a wonderful speaker. according to one reporter when he takes the floor garfield's
voice is heard above all others. every ear attends. his eloquent words move the heart, convince the reason. and tell the weak and wavering which way to vote. garfield eventually serves nine terms, 18 years in the house. he becomes one of the most influential and respected members of congress. serving as chairman of several important committees. we don't have time to go through his whole congressional career. a number of very significant committees. he is seen by his colleagues as one of the bright he is members and thoughtful members and fairest members. democrats go up to him as well because they like him and trust him. he's a superb orator. when garfield is scheduled to speak, the galleries fill up. people know advance he's speaking and they come to listen. he's also an incredible strategist on how to get bills through the house.
when the civil war ends, he is one of the leading members of the house on how do you take this enormous army and put them back into civilian jobs. how do you close the army. how do you get people out of these and get them back into jobs. he is particularly interested in finance because of his math background. and uses his position on the house ways and means committee and as chair of the house banking and currency committee to focus on the currency of the country. he is very, very upset at the printing of paper money, green backs, that are not backed by gold. he says green backs are the printed lies of the government and wants the economy based on a gold standard. which is totally opposed by his constituents in ohio who wants a more inflationary currency. he says i don't care, it's better for the country. another one of his top
priorities is to create a department of education. he says we need to educate our people, particularly african-american, better. and in particular those who are freed slaves. you can't just free people and let them go. you need to educate them because otherwise people will take advantage of them. and so he gets passed the first department of education which is then created, established and collapses afterwards, not because of him, but because of mismanagement of the department of education. so it takes deck aids before a new department of education is set up. he is appointed chairman of the subcommittee of the census. as a result of the census taken that he established, we now have far greater understanding of who was living in america at the time. shortly after he was reelected in 1864, lucretia sends him a note and says in the last 57
week, we've been together less than 20. and he says you're right. come to washington and live with me. and so he brings his family to washington and he is as happy probably as he has ever been. he loves the house. he loves his colleagues. his wife is there. his family is growing. he's got a little -- not a little, but he has a law practice on the side. he's finally earning decent money. and it's time -- the kids in particular want a dog and we'll talk about the dog in a minute. so he has the five kids and they're in a rented small house. he says it's time for us to move to something bigger. they can't find a place they like, so he says let's find an architect. but he says i can do this myself. so he studies architecture for three or four week, design as house. and it became a model for houses
and is on the cover of architectural digest. keep laughing. my good friend bob dawson who is here, his office is located on the site where garfield's house was. i'm sorry we don't have time to go over the rest of garfield's house career. again, he was involved in all of the issues of the time that you can imagine. the impeachment of president johnson -- i think we did lose -- nope. okay. sorry. the impeachment of president johnson, westward expansion, reconstruction. he speaks very forcefully in favor of the 15th the amendment.
he constantly goes on the floor to attack the ku klux klan and racism. one more issue to mention because it's important is his commitment to civil service reform. at the time, if you wanted a federal job, you basically bribed someone to give you one. to the victor belong the spoil. whoever wins elections would appoint their friends and would expect their friends then to make contributions or gifts to whoever gets them the job. garfield felt that it was time to have most federal jobs based upon merit, not upon who you know or what you can buy. so he's one of the leaders of trying to get civil service reform. this becomes important because
this is why he was killed. the only black mark or the main black mark against garfield when he was in the house was he got the caught up in one of the largest scandals of the times, known as the credit mobile yay scandal. essentially a stock in a construction company and the union pacific railroad, they were building the transcontinental railroad, members of congress bought it, there was unscrupulous dealings. garfield had only ten share, he sold them before it became a big deal. and he was able to -- he got the tainted a little bit because of involvement in the scandal, but it didn't you cause him great difficulty. in 1876, garfield's son neddy died and this time both he and lucretia were able to mourn together. as sad as the passing was, it brought this happily married couple finally together because they could share the grief. in 1879, a series of political events take place that are almost mind boggling that no one
could have predicted. republican leader of the house of representatives was james blaine of maine. blaine decides he'd rather be a senator. remember in those day, senators are not elected by the people, they are elected by the state legislatures. so blaine goes to the legislature in maine and says i want to be senator. they say fine and he's elected to be the senator. leaving vacant the leadership of the republican party in the house. the republicans were then the minority. and they select garfield to be the republican leader. so in today's term, he's nancy pelosi. the leader of the minority party in the house. and he's thrilled. he's happy as can be. and he's the leader of the republicans there. this is the last years of the presidency of rutherford b. hayes. hayes for those of who you we'll talk more about him next week,
hayes won the contested presidential election in 1876 in which hayes got less votes than samuel tilden, popular vote, and also got probably less electoral votes. but because of florida -- you can't make this up. we were together with al gore on election night in nashville in 2000. and i had a discussion with gore that this reminds me of the tilden/hayes election. he had gotten far more popular votes and in the electoral college, he was one short.
florida sent two sets, one republican, one democrat and washington didn't know what to do with it. so they set up a commission on whose electoral votes to count. they picked five house members, three democrats, two republicans. they picked five senates, three republicans, two democrats. and they picked five supreme court justices, two democrats, two republicans, and the only independent on the court. who realized that he would cast the deciding vote so he quits. resigns from the supreme court. there is no other democrat or independent on the court. they appoint a republican. and as a result, hayes wins because of the vote of one supreme court justice picking the votes from florida. of course that would never happen in our lifetime. hayes has a difficult time as president and vetoes quite a number of things passed by the democrats in congress and it's
garfield's task to sustain the president's veto. garfield's kids want a dog. so he gets them a dog and they name it veto. i mean you got to love this guy. he's brilliant, he's happy, he's got the five kids, he's got the dog, the house that he built. everything changes in 1880. and no one could have predicted it. hayes announces he's not running for re-election which is okay because no one would have renominated him. and so it's now up to the republicans to pick the nominee. the republican party in 1880 is divided in to two warring factions. they hate each other. it makes our current politics look tame.
the two factions, one called the stalwarts and the other the half breeds. the stalwarts defend the spoil system. the only way to get a job is someone appoints you. to the victor belong the spoils. they hate the south. they wanted revenge and they don't particularly care about african-americans. the half breeds want civil service reform and want better education for the african-americans who were free before and who were freed as a result. as mentioned, obviously garfield feels more comfortable with the half breeds.
the leader of the stalwarts, he's sort of the poster chide of the stalwarts, is roscoe conkling, senator from new york. a loyal supporter of president grant when grant was president. so much so that grant allowed conkling to pick anyone he wants to be the port collector of new york. a very lucrative position. if you get this job, the only thing you have to do is give money to roscoe conkling and the republican party. so roscoe is making so much money from the port of new york and his buddies running it are making so much money that when grant offers to appoint him to the supreme court, he says i can't afford it. i'd rather be senator from new york and control the port of new york currency coming in. the customs house of new york, conkling appoints his good buddy to be in charge, a man by the name of chester a. arthur. yes, the same guy who becomes president of the united states. he's seem as so corrupt, but he runs the customs port. hayes then tries to remove chester arthur as the port collector of new york and conkling blocks it.
hayes says conkling is a thoroughly rotten man because he keeps it corrupt system going in new york. conkling is feared, he is slavishly obeyed, he is secretly despised. he's incredibly vain. he wears canary yellow waist coats and always has his thick wavy hair in a split curl in the center of his forehead. he has one major detractor in the united states congress and that is the former congressman and now senator from maine james g. blaine. blaine ridicules conkling for, quote, his grandiose swell, his majestic overpowering turkey gobbler strut. why can't our politicians today talk like that?
conkling vows the only goal he has left in life is to block blaine from the one thing he wants more than anything else, and that is to be president. and he says if i can keep blaine from becoming president, then high life's ambitions are accomplished. okay. 1880. hayes is not running for re-election. blaine announces he wants to run for president. conkling says i got to block him. in order to block him, you need a candidate. conkling comes up with a candidate. ulysses grant. george washington said you only serve two terms. the question us a since grant had served two terms and left, if he comes back and runs again, is that okay. and they didn't know. this is before franklin roosevelt and the change in our
system. so he was certainly -- it wasn't illegal or unconstitutional for him to run again, but people wondered is a third term that is not contiguous a third term. or is a first term for the second time. and that's the way they phrased it. grant did not want to be president again. he didn't like the job. but he was not in good health and was broke. and he needed a job. and so he allowed conkling to put his name in nomination. and so the two main figures for the republican nomination in 1880 are james blaine of maine and former president grant. a third candidate appears. the third candidate is john sherman of ohio. john sherman had been the treasury secretary in the hayes administration, left the hayes administration and became a senator from ohio. he is the brother of william tecumseh sherman.
john sherman then goes to gar feed and says garfield, will you be my campaign manager. garfield says yes, i would be honored. sherman then decides to resign from the senate in order to devote his full-time to run for president. that leaves a vacancy for the ohio senate. now, remember, voters don't vote for the senators. state legislatures do. so the state legislature from ohio picks james garfield. so garfield is the republican leader in the house and the senator-elect from ohio. okay? it's going to get better. the republican convention in 1880 takes place in chicago which is still suffering from and showing many of the ill
effects from the famous fire. blaine's name he the is brother of william sherman. now we have three major figures, and john sermon goes to garfield and says garfield, will you be my campaign manager, and he says, yes, i would be honored. he decides to resign. the state legislature of ohio picks as the next senator from ohio, james garfield. so garfield is the republican leader in the house and the senator-elect from ohio, okay?
it's going to get better. the republican convention in 1880 takes place in chicago, which is still suffering from the -- showing many of the ill affects from the famous fire. conklin gets up and names grant, citing him as the hero of appomattox. at this point, then, it's time to nominate sherman, and it's a remarkable speak, he says it is time for america to live up to the true principles of the constitution, namely that all men white or black shall be free and stand equal before the law, and the place goes nuts and everybody says, maybe we are picking the wrong guy from ohio. this guy, he is brilliant and wonderful, and sherman, he's okay. the first at that time, each convention, as you know, always determines for themselves how the procedure works. in 1880, in order to get the nomination you needed 379 votes of delegates, unlike today, for the most part, today's convention is a big party, and in those days they went and nominated people. they went to the convention and needed 379. on the first ballot, grant gets 284, and sherman gets 83, and nobody is even close. so they take a second ballot and a third ballot and a fifth ballot and a tenth ballot, and it's the same three, and they shift five or six birth nothing is changing. on the 14th ballot, there is one vote for garfield. garfield jumps up and says i am the campaign manager for sherman and i am not a candidate. i will not accept the nomination. and the chair says garfield is out of record and tells him to shut up and sit down. and then the delegate for wisconsin casts all the votes for garfield and he jumps up
again and says i am not a candidate, i am the campaign manager for sherman, and again is told you are out of order, sit down and shut up. and the 36th ballot, garfield receives 399 votes and gets the nomination to be the republican candidate for president. as he walks out of the convention hall, a reporter comes up to him and says, general, this is wonderful. garfield says, i wish that had not happened. this is the worst day of my life. okay, so now you have a half breed as the presidential candidate. who do you select as the vice presidential candidate? so conklin names chester arthur.
chester arthur had never run for political office and he was not in chicago, and he did not know that he would be nominated for anything, let alone vice president of the united states, and when he found out when he got a cable saying you have been nominated for vice president he thought the western union broke. he said, what do you mean? i am not a candidate. well, yes, he was. so arthur had been paid $50,000 a year as port collector, which is enormous in those days, and forced out on grounds of corruption and never held any office or never run for any office and suddenly is running for vice president, and everybody said it doesn't matter. garfield is the youngest man to run for president in american history to that point and he
ultimately becomes the youngest president to date to be elected, in good health, 6'2", great physical shape and has a wonderful family who cares about who is going to be vice president, it's irrelevant. and here is a poster of garfield and arthur. the democrats name another civil war hero at the time, winfield scott hancock, another general, to run for president. in the popular vote out of close to 9 million casts, 8.9 million votes casts, garfield wins by only 7,000 votes nationwide, and in the electrical vote he wins 214 to 155, and suddenly we have president garfield, and this is the official picture of garfield as president, and the only man ever elected to the presidency directly from the house of representatives, and what is more remarkable is that for a brief period of time he was the
sitting member of the house and the leader party of the house and a senator-elect and president-elect all at the same time. garfield is sworn in on march 4, 1881. here is garfield with kraet. president hayes offers for him to use his used-up rig, and there is a lot of snow in washington at the time, and thousands of people come to see the youngest person ever to be president, and here is garfield's inauguration. in those days it was done on the east wing of the capitol and today its done on the west wing. garfield is in the capitol waiting to come out, and thousands of people are waiting for garfield to come out, and
three people walk out of the capitol, and everybody goes, wow, wow, wow. the first person to walk out, the new president, james garfield, the youngest man to be president. the next person to walk out is his mother. he points to her, and i wouldn't be here because of her. next person to walk out, frederick douglas, and they go, an african-american standing next to the president on the capitol lawn, and that symbolized garfield more than anything else. and here he is being sworn in. james blaine is behind him here. here is the official white house picture. mom, garfield and the wife. she claims, and i don't know if this is accurate, but she claims
to have been the first mother of a president to move into the white house to take care of the president's kids. maybe true, i don't know. garfield's inaugural address will give us an idea of what he would have wanted to happen. he emphasizes civil rights of african-americans, and he believes they deserve the full rights of citizenship, and then goes on to say, but they must be literate or they will be taken advantage of and stresses the need for universal education in america. then he goes on to talk about agriculture as the key to american prosperity, and he says we have all this land and growing all these crops and it's all wonderful but if we did scientific agriculture and studied how to improve our crops and agriculture and we could double and triple what the use of the land is, so he says i want the smithsonian among others, to do research on how to improve the quality in the scientific nature of our agriculture. then he goes into an attack on the mormon church, particularly polygamy, and he says it offends the moral sense of manhood, and
then talks about civil service reform, and he says federal appointees should be based on merit and not on who you know. the speech is applauded and people go nuts and they think it's wonderful, and after the speech, john phillip sousa leads the marine corps band with music that he composed that we still use today. the president and his family, the wife, the daughter, the president garfield, irwin, harry and liza, the mother, and it was camelot to use a phrase from kennedy's time. the president with his young family, with his wife whom he is in love with, and mom is sitting there, and grows up in poverty
in a dirt floor log cabin and reads latin and greek and is a mathematics genius and could have been an architect or the best clergyman in america. the first thing he has to deal with is filling federal jobs. if those days office seekers come to the white house personally asking for jobs. he thinks this is awful. before he deals with the white house and the cabinet, he puts together his cabinet and tries to split it, and he appoints james blaine to be secretary of state. blaine is a half breed and believes in civil service reform and is probably the closest member of the cabinet to garfield. he appoints conklin supporters to other key positions in the
cabinet, and he appoints robert todd lincoln, lincoln's son to be the secretary of war. the feud between conklin and garfield breaks out almost immediately. garfield appoints an enemy of conklin to be the job to new york, and garfield says i am president. conklin says senatorial courtesy, it's a new york job and you can't do it without me, and garfield says i just appointed him. conklin says i will show you, i will resign from the senate. so he and the other senator from new york, thomas platt, both quit, believing they would reappoint him to come back to the senate and that will show garfield i have support and you have to get my guy in. and they refuse to re-appoint
them. it's the presidency and it's the executive power, and it's the senatorial power being weakened compared to the presidential power. the polite of african-americans is very much on his mind, and he believes that education for the blacks, for the african-americans is a way for a better life. frederick douglas, and robert elliott, and quite a number of others, people are saying, wow, what a change.
the next issue he faces, the growing national federal debt. and he looks at american treasury notes and he notices they are all held by new york banks and the federal government is paying 6% interest. he says i can do better, and he goes up to the banks and says you are controlling at 6% interests, and the interest just changed to 3.5%. you want to control these notes, you drop your interest rate. they are furious and they drop the interest rate. it remains me of the scene in the movie "dave" with kevin kline and they suddenly
rearrange the books. garfield figures this out and goes up to new york and saves millions of dollars in his first week of president. lots of appointments we don't have time to go into, and the one that i think is one of the more fun ones, we talked about him last week because he was one of the judges at the lincoln conspiracy trial, and that is general lou wallace. garfield appoints him to be the ambassador to turkey, and he says i am appointing you to be ambassador to a muslim country so you can write another book. he gets involved with an ohio senator by the name of george pendleton to try and draft civil service reform and sadly it only passes after garfield's death.
good point for us to stop here and shift to the second character in our story, and there is nothing more different than this absolutely brilliant latin and greek scholar, president of the united states, a lawyer who argues ex parte. he was born in freeport, illinois. he moves to new york as a young man because he wants to go to nyu, and he is completely inadequately prepared and flunks the entrance exam, and moves to michigan to take remedial courses and quits after a couple weeks and decides he is not very good at schooling, in his phrase, and joins of utopian religious secretary known as the oneida community, that was in new york and practices free love
and sexual freedoms to put it mildly, and group marriage, and none of the women wanted anything to do with him. they refer to him as charles get out. so he feels slighted by this and quits and moves to hoboken, new jersey, where he attempts to start a newspaper and it fails and he goes back to oneida and stays there for a while and is thrown out. he gets married to a librarian, and she would later say this was the most desperate and awful period in her life and he abused her physically and verbally and beat her periodically and they
were constantly on the run and they would go into motels and cheap boarding houses and skip out before paying the bills, and after a brief period of time she left him because of his behavior. he moves to chicago where somehow he gets a law license. in those days, you didn't have to go to law school, you could practice law. he meets a lawyer that asked him three questions and he gets two right and the lawyer says you just passed the bar. he becomes a lawyer, but his happiest moments as a lawyer is reading his business cards that say charles guiteau, attorney at law. for a brief period of time he had an office in a building with an elevator. he has a case and he loses and it's thrown out and he spends most of his time as a lawyer as a bill collector which he does rather poorly. at one point he sues the "new york herald" for $1,000 because they wrote an article about him that he represented a client to get $350 back, and he pocketed and used it as his fee. the paper said don't use him, and they knew it out. he moves in with his sister, francis, who he attacks with an axe. she, in turn, tries to have him institutionalized as mentally
disbushed, and a doctor interviews him and says he is, and he finds out he is being institutionalized and runs away, and he decides he will devote the rest of his life to god and writes a book about theology, and he writes a book called "truth" and it was plagiarized word for word, and he said christ has already had his second coming. he travels around the country jumping off trains before they come to collect his ticket, and his father asked to be institutionalized and finds out he has to pay for that and he says he cannot afford it.
and then on a ship called the "uss stonington." it's foggy and it's a terrible night and it collides with another ship and it catches on fire and sinks and dozens of people lose their lives, but guiteau survives. the higher plan for him he says is to get involved in politics. he decides to write a speech to help the next republican presidential candidate, grant, so he writes a speech on why people should vote for grant, and then garfield gets the nomination, so he crosses out
grant and writes garfield, and that's the only change in the speech. he then is able to get a small audience in new york to come and listen to him, but most of them walk out, and it's about a dozen people show up to hear him, and they walk out, and he becomes convinced that it was this speech that helped garfield win new york and get the electoral votes of new york and if for this speech he would not be president.
when garfield is elected, he sends him a letter, we won, we cleaned them out just as i expected. he writes and says now that i got you in as president, i want a job. spoil system. i got you in as president, you owe me. i want to be the ambassador to vienna. give him credit, he doesn't stick on that for long. after a while, he looks into vienna and says i don't want that, i want to be the ambassador in paris. at the time presidents met with job seekers, so somehow he goes in and he meets with garfield in the white house and he hands him a copy of the speech, grant crossed out, and garfield up
there, and he writes on it, paris consulship. he is convinced it's a matter of time. he met the president and has given a speech and he will be the next ambassador. somehow he is able to attend a reception at the white house where he spends time with mrs. garfield, and goes up to her and says, you probably don't know who i am, i am the man most responsible for the president's election and as a result i am going to be the next ambassador to paris. he goes and is told to get any job you need to have a formal application, so he goes to the white house and fills out the form and is told your application will be put in a file, so he is now convinced that garfield will go through the files and pick his out and name him ambassador to paris. a few days later he goes to the white house to find out what has happened to his application. he is told the president cannot see you today. so he figures, aww, that means the president can see me tomorrow. so he goes back to the white house day in and day out, and he is meeting frequently with the president's staff outside, and they, of course, think that this man is nuts. he spends a lot of time spending in lafayette square waiting to meet people, and somehow he meets vice president, chester arthur. he says i got you elected in new york, and chester arthur being from new york was surprised, and he said i would appreciate your help in becoming ambassador to paris, and he says that's a presidential appointment and says, sorry, i can't help you. and he runs out of paper, and he steals paper from a motel, and he says don't you know who i am, i am going to be the next ambassador of paris. then he goes to see secretary of state blaine, and he says
ambassadors fall under the state department and i would appreciate your help to become the next ambassador to paris and he does it so often the state department says he could no longer come back. and he meets blaine on the street, and he says what is happening, and he says you are not going to get a job, stop this nonsense. and he writes a letter to garfield, and he says i figured out what is the problem, it's the secretary of state, and we have to figure out how to get rid of this guy because he's the problem. obviously he is not getting anywhere, and he writes a letter to the president, and he basically stops, on june 1, he decides this is not going anywhere, and this is not working. but he has a visitor, god. god talks to him and says it's time for you to kill the president. he didn't think this was murder or an assassination. he thinks he was merely removing the president who was not doing
a good job, and replacing him with somebody who would do good job, and besides, he wouldn't be guilty because god had specifically asked him to do this, and so he is not to be blamed for this. so if he is going to kill the president, obviously you need a gun. he's never had one. so he borrows $15 and goes to buy a gun. this is a photo that the smithsonian took of the gun, and they since have lost the gun. he goes to a gun shop and he is told he has a choice of two guns, and they are both .442s, and he wants the ivory grip because it would look better in a museum. again, we are talking about mental illness. the next thing he needs to do is figure out how the gun works,
and so somebody shows him how the gun works, and somebody goes out and shows him and the first time he shoots it he gets knocked over from the recoil because he has no idea what he is doing. so he starts to follow the president and stalking him, waiting for the right opportunity. it's now time to return to the garfields. in midway of 1881, mrs. garfield contracts spinal meningitis, and she is doing quite poorly, and when her temperature subsides the doctors suggest that she go to a seaside resort in new jersey in the elmaron hotel. on june 18 mr. and mrs. garfield go to new jersey so she. and he goes to the train station and decides to kill them.
he sees mrs. garfield and she is not doing well so he doesn't want to upset her and kill the president while she is there, so he decides not to kill him. and then he comes back to washington, a few days later on july 2nd, there is a speaker at williams college and in order to get up there he needs to take the train and he goes to the train station accompanied by james blaine and two of his sons, james and harry, and here is the train station. that train station is today where the national gallery of art is.
my good friend, eric danger, one of the curators at the gallery, he said there is a plaque where garfield was shot and it's somewhere in the national gallery today. when i see eric next, i will ask him where it is. secretary of war, robert todd lincoln is at the train station to greet him, and he was -- poor robert todd lincoln is next to his father when his father dies, and next to garfield when he dies, and with mckinley when he is shot, and he said i never
want to see another president again. garfield enters the waiting room and guiteau steps forward and shoots garfield in the back, and he says, my god, what is this, and throws up his arms. prior to shooting the president, a few days earlier, he figures he would temporarily be arrested for this, and so he went to the d.c. prison to get a tour to see if this is an okay place for him to live, and they wouldn't let him in, so he walks around the building a few times and figured this is okay. he gets to the train station by cab and tells the cabdriver, could you please wait i have business here but i will be out in a few minutes. so he shoots the president, the first bullet grazes garfield's shoulder and the second hits him in the back passing the first lumbar vertebrae but missing the spinal cord and the bullet lodges of liver and could not be found until after the autopsy and it was found later behind the pancrease in fatty issue. guiteau calmly puts the gun back in his pocket and turns to leave
the station, because he has a cab waiting for him. at this point, a policeman by the name of patrick kearney jumps on guiteau, and wrestles him to the ground and is so excited that he just wrestled the assassin of the president that he forgets to take the gun away and they don't take it away until he gets back to the police station, and a crowd gathers and shots lynch him. he said i want to be arrested. arthur is president. this leads some people to believe that arthur had something to do with the assassination, and he didn't. unlike the lincoln assassination of last week and the kennedy assassination in a few weeks where we will talk a lot about conspiracy, there is no conspiracy here. we have one very deranged human being acting alone.
guiteau thinking he had done the best for the republican party, and garfield is conscious but in shock, and he is carried upstairs in the train station with a bullet in his back, and his sons and blaine bursts into tears as does robert todd lincoln. lincoln says how many hours of sorrow have passed in this town, and in less than five minutes a physician by the name of smith townsand arrives at the train station. and there was already a need for sanitation and a danger of sepsis caused by drugs -- excuse me, by germs, and the need not to put germs into patients, but there were many in america that did not believe this, and we will come to this in a second, particularly with the doctor who will be one of the lead figures in our story, dr. bliss. dr. townsand comes and believes
he has to take the bullet. if a bullet gets into you and has not caused harm, you can survive for a long time. he sticks his finger unwashed into garfield and this is the beginning of bad things. garfield is in tremendous pain but is mostly concerned, how will his wife take this news, so he personally dictates a telegram to be sent to her, i'm okay, don't worry about this, come to washington when you feel better. at this point, robert todd lincoln makes an extremely well-meaning but incredibly tragic mistake, and the mistake is, he calls for his own personal physician to come and be the physician -- here is another picture of the assassination. again, here is blaine standing there, and guiteau shooting garfield pretty much at
pointblank. a man with a great first name of dr. doctor willard bliss was one of the attending physicians at lincoln's deathbed is called by robert todd lincoln to come and see what he could do. bliss was one of the leading experts in america, and he wrote a paper saying what do you mean germs can harm you, if you can't see them they can cause you no harm. so he immediately gets there and sticks his finger into garfield to see if he can find the bullet. he can't. and so he goes into his medical bag and pulls out a probe, one that had been used on another patient and had not been sterilized or watched since and sticks it into garfield, into the president's back. he tries to remove the probe and it gets engaged between
fragments and the end of the rib, so in order to get the probe out, he has to press down on the president's ribs so the ribs would lift so he could lift the probe out there by cause ing a cavity to develop in the president, and he sticks his finger back into the president to see if he could find a bullet, but he can't. and then interestingly enough, an african-american doctor, how many of them were in america at the time, he had seen enough and said stop this, and remarkably bliss did. then they decided they needed to move the president to the white house, so they take him to the white house and everybody
decides there is no way garfield is going to survive the night, and this is going to be fatal. but mrs. garfield says, he ge the train continues for two more miles, ripping up the tracks and the engine almost explodes. if it exploded, everyone on the train, including mrs. garfield, would have been killed. somehow she gets to washington, she gets to the white house. late that night, garfield breaks into a broad smile despite his pain and says, that's my wife. now all will be well. she responds that she is there to nurse her husband back to health. despite all the confusion going on and doctors running around, doctor bliss decides it's his turn to take command of the situation. he decides that he is going to
be in charge of everything -- the medicine, who could see the president, what would be done, where he would be. high on his suspects is people who believe in lister and sepsis. anyone who enlists that has no right to see his patient. bliss found the notion of invisible germs to be ridiculous and refuses to even discuss it. for the next 80 days the country has a death watch, watching what's happening to president garfield. bliss issues a statement, "if i can't save him, no one can." bliss considers the greatest threat to garfield's health to be other doctors who will get in his way. garfield's personal physician, hyde baxter, dr. hyde baxter, shows up at the white house.
bliss says, "i know why you're here, and i won't tolerate it. get out." blac baxter says i'm the president's personal physician. bliss says, you were, but not because of this emergency. bliss starts screaming at him. garfield is lying right next to him and dr. baxter realizes this argument is not helping the president and walks away, thereby conceding to bliss. baxter cries out, i've been with the president for years, he is my friend. bliss says, friendship is not enough. i am the president's doctor. other doctors later came and said, why was bliss in charge? bliss said, because both the president and mrs. garfield asked for me to be in charge. mrs. garfield later said that she never was asked and would never have come to that decision. mrs. garfield had two other doctors in mind. the first was a doctor named sylus bowman, the president's
first cousin and long-time childhood friend and close physician when he was in ohio. she sent him a telegram. he came. and bliss says i don't need you here, but if you must be here, you can be a nurse. the second doctor whom mrs. garfield wanted was her physician, a woman physician by the name of susan ann edson. she was such a familiar in the white house but garfield used to sing. dr. edson, dr. edson, full of medicine, full of medicine. he loved her. bliss said, women are good to be nurses, not doctors. so bliss was in charge. he issued daily bulletins on the president's health. he struggled to keep down solid foot, spent most of the summer eating little. only liquids. he was in excruciating pain for the last 80 days of his life.
although he was in terrible condition, bliss refused to allow the president to be taken to a hospital. he said he will get better care in the white house. the summer of 1881 was one of the hottest in american history up to that point. as a result even worse, the plumbing system in the white house was over 100 years old, or almost 100 years old. the pipes were disintegrating. the basement was full of foul smells. the water fluid flowing through the white house 5 to 10 grams. not only can quinine in those dosage be fatal, they cause
intestinal cramping which cause further problems for the president's already ravaged digestive system. it was so hot that they decided to develop an air conditioning system and it was the first air conditioner in america. they took a huge block of ice and they had fans blowing across into the room and they lowered the temperature in the president's room by 40 degrees. but. president said i'd rather have the heat than this noise so they had to shut it off. and alexander graham bell. of course, a major figure by now because he invented the telephone.
he decided to be helpful, and since bliss said the key thing was finding the bullet, and they did not have x-rays at the time, he decided to develop a metal detector to try and find the bullet through metal, so he worked feverishly to come up with a metal detector and it worked, and they pulled out a number of civil war veterans that had bullets in them leftover and it went click, click, click, there it is and they had something that looked like a telephone and it worked. he goes to bliss and says i can find the bullet, and bliss says i don't believe you. he brings over several civil war veterans and it worked, and they bring it to the white house and here he is with the metal detector trying to find it. problem. it said the bullet went to the right, and there it, click, click, click, there it is, works, and they open the president and no bullet. he was on a spring metal frame bed. it would have gone "click click click" no matter where they had it. so it didn't work because it
wasn't used properly because he was laying on the bed. garfield is bedridden for the summer. graham bell's thing doesn't work. they can't find the bullet. he is in extreme pain and is starting to develop septicemia, and the doctors decide to operate, and of course, this is another bad thing they do. by now the infection in his body is so toxic that it's a danger to anyone near him. and while doing the separation bliss accidentally slices his finger, and puss from the president gets into his finger -- and as a result, he gets what they then called puss fever. and his hand swells up so much that he has to -- dr. little bit has to put his hand in a sling for days afterward. garfield's weight drops from over 200 pounds to 130.
he is unable to keep food down. and bliss begins to fear that garfield will die of starvation. he is unable to keep any food down other than oatmeal and the only food that garfield hates in oatmeal. he is suffering from profound dehydration. he can't keep liquids down. in today's world he would be given an iv and in those days they did not have it. he suffered from hallucinations blood poisoning and infection are causing even greater pain and problems. meantime, whenever he is lucid, he tells jokes. he's trying to be the model patient and he keeps particularly when mrs. garfield is around trying to put the best light on all of this. mrs. garfield suffers so much from the stress that her hair falls out, and so she only wears a scarf on her head or a hat when she comes to see him. final it is decided to get out of the heat from washington and take him back to new jersey.
and on september 6th, they take him on a specially equipped train to new jersey in the belief, in the hope, that maybe if he is at the seaside, the better air, the fresh air, seeing the ocean will somehow revive him. unfortunately, new infections set in, as well as spasms of angina. on monday, september 19, 1881, at 10:20 he suffers a massive heart attack and an aneurism following blood poisoning and bronchial pneumonia. dr. bliss, unsuccessful, tries to revive the failing president with restoring medicine. garfield's final words are, "my work is done." mrs. garfield leans over her dying husband and yelled, oh, why was i made to suffer such a cruel wrong. he is pronounced dead at 10:35 in the morning by dr. bliss and
obviously vice president chester arthur becomes the next president. garfield's body is taken back to washington where it lays in state in the capital in the rotunda before taken to cleveland where he is buried on september 26th, and he is survived by his lisa garfield who dies seven years later in 1888, and lucretia survives him for 36 years living a very quiet but seemingly comfortable life. the five children who grew into adulthood all did very well. the eldest, harry, became a lawyer and a professor of government at princeton. then, like his father, he became a university president at his father's university, williams. james would serve as the under secretary of interior under
teddy roosevelt. and the third, irwin, became a lawyer. abram, known as abe, became an architect, and mary marries the president's top assistant, joseph stanley brown, who had gone to yale, and was sort of a second son to her -- additional son to the president. was very close to garfield. he becomes a very successful investment banker. so the kids do very, very well. most historians and doctors and every historian i read on this came to the same conclusion, and that is that garfield would have certainly survived if the doctors had left him alone, that the bullet was lodged in fatty tissues, and within a week or two, ten days, maybe two weeks, he would have been out walking. he would have been fine. he was certainly in no danger. had garfield been shot 15 years later, the bullet would have been found quickly with an x-ray machine. but it didn't happen. he would have been treated with
antiseptic surgery because, by then american bought into lister. but the a the time they didn't. he would have been back on his feet within a matter of days, or a week. unfortunately for garfield, most americans at the time did not understand antisepsis and the need for cleanliness to prevent infection. in addition, all of the probing of garfield in all likelihood punctured his liver as well when they were probing around in to him. they had erroneously probed rightward when the bullet went leftward. the autopsy also revealed pneumonia in both lungs and was filled with so much puss that it was unsealed sepcemia. chester arthur was in new york when he found out that the president had died, and his immediate reaction was, oh, no, tell me this isn't true.
arthur was known as a man of leisure, and he liked fine wines and dinner parties, and he spent a lot of time grooming that mustache and those side burns. he was very proud of them. his wife had died shortly before, and so he moved in with roscoe conklin. roscoe conklin at the time had a place in new york, and that's who he was living with. whether he first got the news, arthur's first comment was, i hope, my god, i hope it is a mistake. but it was not a mistake. he travels from new york to new jersey to be with mrs. garfield and to pay his respects. we'll come back to him and his -- when we go over what happened to the various folks. time to move on to charles guiteau's trial. the case of the united states versus charles guiteau, began in november of 1881, less than two
months after garfield's death. america's greatest fear was that guiteau would be let off, that he would be able to have a plea of insanity and that they would let him off. the insanity defense was known at the time and was used, and they were quite fearful. for quite a while guiteau could not find an attorney to represent him, because no one wanted to represent the assassin of a president. so finally he got george scoville to represent him. he what's married to guiteau's sister, frances, whom he had tried to attack with an ax. that's not who you want as your attorney. scoville was a patent attorney. he had never tried a criminal case. that's also not what you want. but he was also the only attorney willing to take the case.
scoville said, if i did not think the unfortunate man insane, i would not have represented him at all. as hard as it was to find an attorney, it was equally hard to find jurors, because everyone in america thought he was guilty, and he was caught right there and there was no question about it. and they interviewed close to 200 people before they finally came up with 12. the trial was an enormous hoopla in washington. you needed tickets to get in, and even journalists needed tickets to get in to see the trial. guiteau began his defense by asking if he could give a statement, and his statement said that he wanted to indict the president's true murderers, the doctors. he said i was the shooter. the killer were the doctors. the doctors who mistreated him
should bear the odeium of his death, not his assailant. they should be indicted for the murder of james garfield, not me. i deny the killing, your honor, i admit only the shooting. his behavior at the trial became increasingly bizarre, to put it mildly. he would constantly insult his defense team yelling at his brother-in-law during the trial, "you're a jack ass." i must tell you that in public, i am sorry to say. but you are a jackass." he would ask for legal advice from spectators with whom he would pass notes during the trial. he would speak when he felt like it. he would recite epic poems he wrote, and he would get up periodically and sing john brown's body, and he claimed he was not guilty because it was god's will he shot the president and therefore he was just
carrying this out. he placed an ad in "the new york herald." it was a personal ad for an elegant christian lady of wealth under 30 belonging to first class family. object -- matrimony." so he was looking to see if he could get married because of this. he said the ladies should send him letters which he would treat in utmost confidence. he couldn't understand that the public was angry at him even when two attempts were made to assassinate him when he was leaving the court, including a man by the name of william mason that got close enough to guiteau to shoot him, jack ruby style, and got close enough to shoot his coat but he did not hit him.
as the trial wore on, he began to say that he was sane before the assassination, insane just prior and during and sane again, that therefore he should be released promptly, and given a job as ambassador to paris. [ l.a. you know, once you set your you know, once you set you you know, once you set your sights on a job, you may as well try and keep it. he then also actively began to prepare to get on the lecture tour -- this is the picture. he, by the way, allowed photos to be taken which he would autograph for payment. woody allen once said his grandfather had a marvelous watch which he sold to him on his deathbed. what do you -- payment when you're on trial for murdering the president, what are you going to do with it? he was very dismayed and very surprised when the jury issued a verdict unanimous in less than
an hour, january 25th, 1882, finding him guilty, and when the verdict was issued there was tremendous applause. he then appealed and wrote a letter to president arthur saying the only reason you are president is because of me, and if i had not shot him, you wouldn't be president. "you owe me." [ laughter ] two things. pardon me? and, by the way -- i need a job. obviously this didn't happen. he was hanged on june 30th, 1882, three days short of the second anniversary of the assassination of garfield. he wrote a lengthy poem, which he said was really not a poem, it was a song, and he asked for an orchestra to play while he could sing his song on the way to the gallows and he was
allowed to read the poem but there was no orchestra. a few matters to clear up before we get into questions. remarkably chester arthur turned out to be a far better president than anyone, including chester arthur, could have predicted. he owed more than any man in the country, he owed to the spoil system. the collector of the poor. he was fired from that. first thing he did was broke off contact with conlin. said you are corrupt, i want nothing to do with you. conklin felt totally angered by this, to put it mildly. chester arthur then worked with a senator from ohio, pendleton, to pass ultimately to draft, and then pass, the pendleton civil service act creating tests for people to get jobs and to create the civil service commission. only 10% of federal jobs were covered at the beginning, but obviously it set the whole stage for everything that we have here in washington now.
it passed january of 1883, and it is the legacy of garfield that came because obviously of his passing. conklin was furious with him, and to his amazement, when they met, chester arthur told him, "your behavior is outrageous." he realized he was powerless to control the man whom he had created, and he went back to his room sick with rage. he felt this betrayal was even worse than when the legislature hadn't renamed him to be senator from new york. arthur was an honest and decent president, not a great one, but certainly for the times did a good enough job. that said, the republicans did not renominate him for president of a his term ended. and instead, the republicans nominated james blaine who ran against grover cleveland. and grover cleveland turned out
to be only democrat elected between abraham lintoynincoln 1 and woodrow wilson. arthur moves back to new york where he is diagnosed as suffering from the brights disease, a painful kidney disease, fatal at the time and dies at the age of 56. conklin then goes and gives a speech at chester arthur's funeral and refers to him as his accidentci. conklin himself falls ill in new york while walking home from his girlfriend's house during a blizzard and dies of pulmonary edema in 1888. dr. bliss, our famous physician, hoped that this case would tremendously thrust him into the leadership of the medical
profession in america. obviously exactly the opposite happened. the entire medical community in the united states turned on him. within months after garfield's death, the boston medical and surgical journal printed an article criticizing bliss not for doing too little but for doing too much. bliss has done more to cast distrust upon american surgery than anyone ever in our medical history." another medical journal concluded that "none of the injuries inflicted by the assassin's blult we bullet werey fatal and that listeria of the wound treatment would have prevented the death of the president." another medical journal ended their criticism of dr. bliss by quoting the poet, thomas gray, who a century earlier had written "ignorance is bliss." bliss, of course, rejected this
criticism and said that no one in the country could have treated the president better -- and as a result, sent a bill to the congress for his services for $25,000, which in those days was enormous. the congress debated the matter and agreed to give him $6,500. and he was so outraged at this he complained bitterly at the notoriously inadequate compensation and turned it down. seven years later he would die following a stroke, never recovering his health, his practice, or his reputation. the outrage, interestingly enough, at the president's assassination did not focus on the fact that there was no guarding of the presidents. and it was not until after mckinley's death that they established the secret service to guard the president. something we'll talk about next week. what they focused on instead was the cause, the need for civil service reform.
garfield himself was mourned in the country, almost like the kennedy assassination. this young, vibrant, brilliant, with this great family, camelot is over. hundreds of thousands of people waited hours in the rain to walk past the president's casket in the rotunda. in cheefld cleveland, more than 150,000 people, which was equal to the entire population of the city, came to the president's funeral and paid their respects. a wreath was sent to the united came to the president's funeral and paid their respects. a wreath was sent to the united states by queen victoria and it adorned his coffin while it was taken to the final resting place. he was permanently interred, was moved in 1890, and ultimately mrs. garfield joined him when she was buried as well. this evening as i walked over here from my office, i walked
past this. the garfield memorial in front of the house of representatives. which those of you -- i keep referring to my day job as, i make house calls. my father was a physician. he made real house calls. and i am the type of doctor that you call if you need footnotes. but i walk daily past the garfield statue. it's a nine-foot bronze statue in front on the west side of the capitol right near the helicopter land pad. it will occur to some of you on the way home, the gyrocopter, i am sorry. it's located just below the capitol grounds itself. interest there are three male figures representing the various stages in his life. a scholar, a soldier, and a statesman.
i've gone on far longer than i had thought, so i'll be happy to entertain some questions. >> during the time when the president was dying, who was running the country? >> during the 80 dies when the president was dying, who was running the country day to day? >> that is such an excellent question. you're not going to believe the answer. no one. it was the summer. in the summer in washington, everyone left. and so there was really no one around. there was some question. people -- blaine said, should we name chester arthur to be acting president? and they all felt this was a bad idea. and so they didn't. and arthur stayed in new york. and so basically, things just sort of continued.
no one was really "running the country." and we really didn't deal with the incapacity of presidents until i believe it is the 22nd amendment. woodrow wilson is incapacitated towards the last year-and-a-half of his life, and mrs. wilson is almost the surrogate president determining who should be able to see the president. she fires the secretary of state because she doesn't like lansing. and so almost no one was running the country. it is an excellent question that doesn't have a really good answer. dian diana. >> a couple things. why wasn't he taken to a hospital? and, also, what is the story about chester arthur? i mean what were his credentials? where did he go to college and why did he -- >> wow. okay. the answer to the first is dr.
bliss did not want him to go to a hospital. bliss felt that he would get better care in the white house. and also, he was fearful that if he was in the hospital, he, bliss, would loss control of the case. and so he felt, what better than to make the white house a hospital, with one patient, with all these helpers around. and so bliss was the one who turned down the idea of the hospit hospital. there's not much that a hospital in those days could have done that they couldn't have done for him in the white house anyway. if they needed something from the hospitals, they would bring it over. in terms of chester arthur, i honestly don't know what his credentials were. he'd never run for political office before. the only job i know that he had was the port collector of new york which was a corrupt position which he got because roscoe conklin appointed him to that, and then he was fired because of corruption. so he had no real background. that's why when he became president and did a relatively good job, everyone, including chester arthur, was surprised.
yes. >> i spoke to you a little bit last time. i'm an infectious disease specialist. >> i thought you weren't going to make it today. >> yeah, well we changed our plans to come. >> okay. >> anyhow, and so i can comment a little on the premise. i agree pretty much what you said about if they left him alone, certainly his chances would have improved significantly. still, you got to remember, the bullet traveling at relatively low speed would not necessarily create the amount of heat to create sterile conditions. and there still might have been a chance without antibiotics he could have died from an infection. but certainly he was doomed from the time that bliss stuck his finger in there. if you read some of the descriptions, he had abscesses in some of his glands well away
from where that bullet went in, meaning it went through the blood stream. obviously, as you well pointed out, he was doomed. now, i'll point out that in 1876, joseph lister came to this country and gave a series of lectures where he said he was treated very politely but basically the response was, thank you, dr. lister, very interesting, go back to europe. so it took a while. in europe, yes. here, as you point out, it did take a while for american physicians to adopt listerian methods. ironically -- i'm also a civil war re-enactor so i portray dr. bliss. but in my defense, at the time of the civil war, the lincoln assassination, this was predated all of his bad stuff. the reason i portrayed him with is he was also the commanding officer of armory square hospital which is where the first doctor to take care of lincoln served under dr. bliss.
his name was dr. liehl. he was 23 so i couldn't portray him. >> very good. good presentation. >> i'm so delighted you came back. i was just surprised and delighted. yes, sir, and then yes, sir in the front. >> good evening. i just have a couple of facts. you know that out of four presidents, lincoln, mckinley and kennedy were shot on a friday. did you know that? >> yeah, things like that. okay. >> garfield and reagan were shot like 100 years apart from each other and both of the guys that shot them were mentally ill. >> and they kept guiteau in st. elizabe eliz beth's rather than a prison. which is where they kept hinckley. there are so many of these coincidences. kennedy was shot in a ford and lincoln was shot in ford's
theater and kennedy's secretary was named mrs. lincoln, and -- yeah. and both kennedy and lincoln were replaced by vice presidents named johnson. [ sin a [ inaudible ] >> almost ten years to the day. exactly. yeah. yes, sir, here in the front. >> i have a short question. did he have a chief of staff? did he have any presidential advisors? >> not the way we know it today. he had a secretary, mr. brown, who was his surrogate son and who married his daughter. but he -- they had much smaller staff. they relied on their cabinet a lot more. today we don't -- presidents don't rely on their cabinets as much. i'm not -- i'm trying to think
of when obama had a cabinet meeting where all the cabinet members come together. they did that all time. so his staff was more the cabinet than -- there was no national security council. there was no domestic policy advisor to the president. it was much smaller and simpler. great question. >> first of all, great talk, ralph. you mentioned half-breeds and stalwarts. half-breed. where does that name come from? >> i don't know. those with were the two names used. both were nicknames used for the two wings of the republican party the a the time. yes, sir, and then yes, ma'am. >> given the examples of garfield's brilliance, how is he rated as a president or ranked, or was his term too brief? >> his term is too short. every time they rank presidents, they always -- the presidents they ignore are william henry harrison who served even shorter. he was in for 31 or '2 days.
and garfield. because they never had time to do anything. with garfield, it is just this unlimited potential that is wiped out. the one we're going to discuss next week, mckinley, the more people looking at him, the better had is ratings are going. he's really -- people are going, wow. during the presidency of mckinley -- again, we'll talk about this next week -- the united states moved from being just a domestic country to becoming a world -- an international player. so mckinley's ratings are going up tremendously. garfield, they don't even count. claudia -- okay. tarzan, it was good to see you. yes, claudia. >> hi. i at the very beginning of your talk, you said something i thought was kind of interesting. and. >> just at the beginning. [ laughter ] >> well, i was so mesmerized by that one thing, i carried it
throughout. you said many, many interesting things, as you know. you said that he was opposed to slavery, called it evil, i think. >> yes. >> and that he specifically talked about education for african-americans. and yet you said he was not an abolitioni abolitionist. you want to help us undertstand that piece? >> you viewed the abolitionists as trying to end slavery through violence and he didn't think that was the right way to go about it. but he was so opposed to slavery. as soon is a the civil war broke out -- when the civil war broke out, lincoln tried to make the case of the civil war is to preserve the union. garfield said, no, the civil war is to end slavery. he really in his gut just felt it was wrong. i'm so glad we have these questions. >> yes.
can you think of any specific ways that the country's history would have been different afterwards if garfield had done one or even two terms? >> wow, what a great question! historians love the "what if?" if you wonder what are historians doing when they sit around together and no one's paying attention, we play the "what if" game. so that's a great question. if garfield had survived, and served out his term, i think he might have been able to restructure the way reconstruction was going. it was going terribly. it was going -- grant was not good on it. hayes was worse. hayes withdrew the troops that were protecting the african-americans in the south. garfield understood their plight and wanted to educate them. could he have overcome the racism that existed particularly in the south? probably not. but could he have helped
increase literacy, literacy among african-americans at the time was well under 30%. he was talking about education for them. could he have improved the scientific methods used by american farmers in agriculture to improve production, to improve the economy of the country probably. he was very interested in financial matters. could he have helped america to become more prosperous. that was something he would have worked on. he certainly wanted to move forward with civil service reform. could he have passed it or gotten it passed? i don't know because he wasn't moving until after he died. so those were the issues he was focusing on. he certainly, looking back on him and particularly reading his inaugural address, you get the impression that he had some really good ideas and he was a
legislative strategist. it is almost like lyndon johnson, knowing how to work things through the system. he had been in congress for 18 years. he knew how it worked. and so he might have been able to get more done than someone like rutherford hayes, his predecessor, who antagonized everyone in congress. great question. >> yes. i was wondering if grant would be considered a half-breed or a stalwart? and if the reason that conklin wanted grant was because he felt that grant would be probably someone who could be elected because he still would have been well known and well loved as the general of the union army, o are because he thought he was someone who he could, i guess for lack of a better word, control? >> you just answered your question with the last sentence. grant was not well. conklin felt he would have been his guy. grant did not want to run for
president. conklin convinced him to. grant felt if he ran for president it would have been because of conklin and he could have been the de facto president. grant's presidency, he was not a particularly strong president. and particularly when you look at reconstruction during this period, a lot of problems. when you look at corruption during his period, when people look back on corrupt presidencies, they jump out with grant and harding as the ones that lead the list there. an ill grant weakened by bad health and would not have been a strong figure elected. he wanted to block blaine. he just wanted to make sure
blaine didn't get. >> could you explain more about how he could be serving -- >> microphone, please. >> -- how he could be serving in the civil war and being elected to congress but he can't be there? did that happen a lot? how did that work? >> the answer is yes, it did. not a lot, but anyone can be elected to congress if you are a -- hey, just look down the blo block. [ laughter ] anyone can be elected to congress as long as they are 25 years of age and a resident of the state they live in and a resident of the state in the senate. you don't necessarily have to show up. i mean today they count votes and see what your percentage is of voting. but just -- you get elected. doesn't mean you necessarily have to show up. obviously if you don't show up enough, constituents will not re-elect you. but certainly s
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