James A. Garfield's Presidency

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Why was James A. Garfield assasinated?

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President Garfield was shot and assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau, who believed the president owed him a diplomatic appointment in Paris because of the help Guiteau thought he had given Garfield in getting the Republican nomination. Guiteau was aggrieved because he felt his help had not been rewarded. He shot...

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President Garfield was shot and assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau, who believed the president owed him a diplomatic appointment in Paris because of the help Guiteau thought he had given Garfield in getting the Republican nomination. Guiteau was aggrieved because he felt his help had not been rewarded. He shot the president in revenge for his perceived mistreatment.

Guiteau was a mentally unstable individual whose family had tried to have him institutionalized. Guiteau had initially supported Grant, but after Garfield's Republican nomination, he altered his speech written in support of Grant to be in support of Garfield. After the election, he hung around the White House demanding a position until he was finally banned from the premises. His appearance and mental health deteriorated.

Guiteau then decided to kill the president. Since it was reported that Garfield would be traveling by train from Washington to New England on July 2, 1881 to give a speech at his alma mater, Williams College, Guiteau bought a gun and showed up at the train station. At that time, presidents did not have a secret service force to provide protection, so it was easy for Guiteau to shoot Garfield in the back. Garfield survived for 79 days after the shooting, dying on September 19, 1881. Many historians believe that he would have survived with better medical care, but his doctors did not put much faith in sanitary methods, so his wounds became infected.

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