Destiny of the Republic has ratings and reviews. Jeffrey When I read about the Candice Millard book on James Garfield I was instantly intrigued. Yet it is one of the many pleasures of Candice Millard’s new book, “Destiny of the Republic,” that she brings poor Garfield to life — and a. Destiny of the Republic. A TALE OF MADNESS, MEDICINE AND THE MURDER OF A PRESIDENT. James Abram Garfield was one of the most extraordinary.
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James Abram Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back.
But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what happened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in turmoil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care.
A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his condition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet.
Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic will stand alongside The Devil in the White City and The Professor and the Madman as a classic of narrative history. On May 18, two days after Conkling’s dramatic resignation, Guiteau, “depressed and perplexed.
He had been lying on his cot in his small, rented room for an hour, unable to sleep, his mind churning, when he was struck by a single, pulsing thought: Guiteau was certain the idea had not come from his own, feverish mind. It was a divine inspiration, a message from God. He was, he believed, in a unique position to recognize divine inspiration when it occurred because it had happened to him before. Even before the wreck of the steamship Stonington, he had been inspired, he said, to join the Oneida Community, to leave so that he might start a religious newspaper, and to become a traveling evangelist.
Each time God had called him, he had answered. Despite his certainty that the message had come directly from God, he did not want to listen.
The next morning, when the thought returned “with renewed force,” he recoiled from it. Guiteau had “no ill-will to the President,” he insisted. Blaine was my friend in the matter of the Paris consulship,” he wrote, still wounded by the memory. Blaine, Saturday, ‘on the Paris consulship canfice long as you live. On May 23, he again wrote to the president, advising him to demand Blaine’s “immediate resignation.
Candice Millard | Destiny of the Republic
I will see you in the morning if I can and talk with you. That did not change until Guiteau’s eccentricity and doggedness turned into belligerence. Finally, after a heated argument with one of the president’s ushers that ended with Guiteau sitting in vestiny corner of the waiting room, glowering, Brown issued orders that “he should be desttiny kept away. Soon after, Guiteau stopped going to the White House altogether. He gave up trying to secure an appointment, and he no longer fought the press of divine inspiration.
For two weeks, he had prayed to God to show him that he had misunderstood the message he had received that night. By the end of May, Guiteau had given himself up entirely to his new obsession. He would kill the president. The next day, Guiteau began to prepare. A Companion to the Bible. The publicity it would bring the book, he believed, was one of the principal reasons God wanted him to assassinate the president. This book was not written for money. It was written to save souls.
In order to attract public attention the book needs the notice the President’s removal will give it. As was true of most things in Guiteau’s life, The Truth was largely stolen.
In a tne sentence preface, he insisted that “a new line of thought runs through this book, and the Author asks for it a careful attention. The ideas, most of them copied verbatim, came from a book called The Berean, which John Humphrey Noyes, the founder of Oneida, had written inand which Guiteau’s father had treasured, believing that it was “better than the Bible.
Even The Truth’s publication had been fraudulent. Guiteau had tried to persuade D.
Determined to see The Truth in print, and for it to have the illusion, if not the reality, of respectability, he hired a printing company to produce a thousand copies, all with “D. Lothrop and Company” on the binding and cover page. After trying unsuccessfully to sell the book for 50 cents apiece on the streets of Boston, he left town without paying the printer.
If he was to assassinate the president, he realized, he would need a gun. Guiteau knew nothing about guns. Upon millardd the door, his eyes immediately fell fepublic a showcase that held a selection of revolvers.
He walked directly to the case, pointed to the largest gun, and asked the store’s owner, John O’Meara, if he could hold reupblic. He “did not call it by name or ask for any special pistol,” O’Meara would later recall.
Destiny of the Republic
He had walked in so quietly that Maynard had not even cancice him. Looking at Guiteau, he noticed that he held his head at an unusual angle, tilted slightly forward. In acndice meantime, he needed money to pay his board bill. Although by this point Maynard could not have had any hope of being repaid, he was, as Guiteau knew, “a good fellow.
That same day, Guiteau returned to John O’Meara’s shop, as he had promised he would. The last time he was there, he had seen two revolvers that interested him—one with millsrd wooden handle that he could have for nine dollars, and millrad that cost a dollar more but had an ivory handle. He was rephblic toward the more expensive gun, picturing it on display in the State Department’s library.
Cradling the revolver in his hands, he asked O’Meara about its force. It was, the shop owner said, a self-cocking. After striking a deal with O’Meara—ten dollars for the revolver, a box of cartridges, and a two-bladed, pearl-handled penknife that had caught his eye—Guiteau asked him where he could take the gun to test it.
O’Meara warned Guiteau that he would need to leave the city limits, and suggested he try the river’s edge. Taking his millarf, Guiteau went to the Potomac one evening and shot ten cartridges with his new gun, sometimes aiming for the river, other times trying to hit a sapling growing nearby. Everything about the gun, from the feel of it in his hand to the damage it wrought, was utterly new and unfamiliar to him. In his letters and, he would later insist, his thoughts, Guiteau never referred to what he was about to do as murder, or even assassination.
Republiv was simply removing the president—in his mind, an act not of rfpublic or cruelty but practicality. Guiteau had no illusions about what would happen to him after he assassinated the president. He had been twenty-three years old when John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln, and he could not have forgotten the manhunt that had led to Booth’s death. Prepared to kill for God but not to die, his only other option, he candicce, was imprisonment.
As he had spent a month in the Tombs, he knew how bad jail could be. He felt, therefore, that it would be wise to make a trip to the District Jail. One Saturday morning, Guiteau took a streetcar from the Riggs Hotel as far as he could and then walked another three-quarters of a mile before reaching the prison. When a guard arrived, he asked for a tour.
Although the jail did not allow tours on Saturdays, Guiteau destiyn that he had gotten a good enough look at the building. Guiteau knew that the president, who had no Secret Service agents and was in frequent contact with the public, was an easy target, especially outside the White House.
Killing the president in church was not sacrilegious, Guiteau argued. On the contrary, “there could not possibly be a better place to remove a man than at his devotions.
A member of the Disciples of Christ since mullard, and himself a minister, he had faithfully attended the Vermont Avenue Christian Church in Washington since he entered Congress nearly twenty years earlier.
He had been an active and involved parishioner, teaching Sunday school and, inhelping the congregation raise enough money to build a larger church. The church’s pastor, Reverend S. As she had begun to recover, however, he had come back, grateful to the congregation for their many prayers.
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Quickly locating him, Guiteau noted that he killard sitting next to an open window that stood about three feet from the ground. Although he had his revolver in his pocket and, had he stepped outside the church, a clear shot through the window, Guiteau stayed seated throughout the sermon.
At one point, no longer able to restrain his frustration, he shouted out, “What think ye of Christ? When the sermon was over, Guiteau had missed his opportunity, but he had not given up on his plan. Standing in the summer sun, Guiteau could picture the moment when he would raise his gun and take aim.
Before the next Sunday sermon, however, another opportunity presented itself to Guiteau. On Thursday he read in the newspaper that the president would soon be traveling to New Jersey republif his wife. A train station, Guiteau thought, might even be better than a church.
That Saturday morning he woke up around six, put his gun in his pocket, and walked down to the Potomac to practice his aim one last time. After shooting off another ten cartridges, he made his way to the train station. After returning to his boardinghouse that day, Guiteau wrote a letter to the American people.
He had been reluctant to leave Lucretia, worrying that the “sea air is too strong for her,” but he was thrilled by the progress she had made.
He also knew tye he would see her again soon. In less than a week, while his two youngest boys headed to Ohio for the summer, he would leave for New England with his older sons. He had yhe, he said, that his father had had a prophetic dream shortly before his assassination, and he wondered if Robert would describe it.
Although a private and reserved man, Lincoln agreed to tell the story.
After he had fallen asleep late one night, Abraham Lincoln had had a dream in which, he later told his wife and an old friend, there was a “death-like stillness about me. Lincoln had believed deeply in dreams, seeing in them omens that he dared not ignore.