Garfield Was Shot 33 Years Ago Today
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, July 2, 1914 [p. 11]
Thirty-three years ago today -- July 2, 1881 - the people of the National Capital, and, for that matter, of the entire civilized world, were thrown into great excitement by the act of the assassin, Charles J. Guiteau, in shooting President James A. Garfield, while the chief executive was in the old Pennsylvania railroad depot at 6th and B streets.
Thirty-two years ago day before yesterday - June 30, 1882 - the people of the National Capital were almost equally excited, when Guiteau was hanged for his crime in the District jail, down on the Eastern branch.
The writer, a reporter for The Star, with George W. Adams, another member of The Star's staff, was present in the railroad depot July 2, 1881 when President Garfield was shot. The writer retains a vivid recollection of the scenes and incidents of the time, and among other Washingtonians still going about their daily duties here who were concerned in the events of those days may be mentioned Sergt. Joseph Carter of the police force, now in charge of the police property room at the District building, and John Barry, who is now coachman for Secretary Bryan of the State Department. Sergt. Carter had charge of Guiteau, and guarded him at the assassin's trial, and Barry, who was then coachman for Secretary Blaine of the State Department, and who has been coachman for a long line of Secretaries of State, was the coachman who drove President Garfield to the railroad depot the morning Guiteau shot him.
Act Was Premeditated
When the President entered and while he was in conversation with some friends in the waiting room the assassin fired at him, the shot entering the President's back.
George W. Adams of The Star was present in the room and was about to take passage on the same train with the President. The writer was standing near the train gates, and on hearing the shot hastened to the room.
The assassin had been caught by one of the railroad officials, turned over to the police and taken to police headquarters. Mr. Garfield was carried upstairs to one of the office rooms on the second floor, adjoining the telegraph dispatching department of the railroad, and in a little while physicians were on hand attending him, while members of the President's cabinet and other high officials sat in the adjoining room awaiting some hopeful or favorable word of the President's condition.
With Members of Cabinet
When Guiteau was arrested he exclaimed:
"I am a stalwart."
It will be remembered that at this time a portion of the republican party, headed by Senator Conkling of New York, was "at outs" with the administration.
When Gen. Sherman and others heard of this exclamation made by Guiteau from the writer, the faces of all in the room, with the exception of Gen. Sherman, became a study.
Sherman asked: "Are you sure of it?"
Orders Troops for Jail
President Garfied was later in the day removed to the Executive Mansion, and afterward to Elberon, N.J., where he died in September.
Guiteau, whose identity was learned very shortly after the commission of his crime, remained in the jail until his execution. Many alienists visited him and many expressed the opinion that he was of unsound mind, but the majority, as well as the jury that convicted him, looked on him as sane, and a great egotist.