Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
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A Booklist Notable Book of 2012
The extraordinary New York Times bestselling account of James Garfield's rise from poverty to the American presidency, and the dramatic history of his assassination and legacy, from bestselling author of The River of Doubt, Candice Millard.
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, a renowned congressman, and a reluctant presidential candidate who took on the nation's corrupt political establishment. But four months after Garfield's inauguration in 1881, he was shot in the back by a deranged office-seeker named Charles Guiteau. Garfield survived the attack, but become the object of bitter, behind-the-scenes struggles for power—over his administration, over the nation's future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic brings alive a forgotten chapter of U.S. history.
that the January 20 date was established. 6 By the time a crowd: New York Times, February 1, 1881. 7 Just beyond the Mall: Another three years would pass before the Washington Monument was finally finished, and by then the Army Corps of Engineers would have to use a type of marble different from that in the original construction, leaving the top two-thirds of the monument slightly darker than the bottom third. 8 “free from snow”: “A New Chief Magistrate,” New York Times, March 5, 1881. 9 “The
been slaves”: “How the Address Was Received,” New York Times, March 5, 1881. 17 “The emancipated race”: James A. Garfield, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1881. 18 “There was the utmost silence”: “How the Address Was Received,” New York Times, March 5, 1881. 19 “Mr. Garfield will doubtless leave”: New York Times, August 6, 1881, quoted in Theodore Clarke Smith, The Life and Letters of James Abram Garfield, 435. 20 “No trades, no shackles”: Garfield, Diary, August 9, 1880, 4:439. 21 “I need
trustfulness and truly love her qualities of mind and heart. But there is no delirium of passion nor overwhelming power of feeling that draws me to her irresistibly.” Lucretia was painfully aware that Garfield’s feelings toward her had not deepened over the years, and she was tormented by the thought that he was marrying her because he felt he had to. The summer before their wedding, she wrote miserably to him, “There are hours when my heart almost breaks with the cruel thought that our marriage
letters, he used the stationery either of the well-respected Riggs House, the hotel where Garfield had stayed on the night before his inauguration, or the White House. One day, when a White House staff member refused to give him more stationery, Guiteau slapped one of his enormous business cards down on a table and shouted, “Do you know who I am?… I am one of the men that made Garfield President.” He also continued to try to associate himself with powerful men. He found out where John Logan, a
was thrilled by the progress she had made. He also knew that 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. The plan was to meet up with Lucretia and Mollie and then go on to Massachusetts, where they would attend his twenty-fifth class reunion at Williams College and help Harry and Jim settle in for the upcoming academic year. Before Garfield could leave, however, he needed to meet