An assassin shot him. His doctors screwed up. Ninety days later, President James Garfield was dead.
This will be the third time I have written re this strange scenario. I continue to find it interesting and worthy of sharing. I was motivated this morning when I noticed Garfield died this day 1881.
The first writing was a lengthy KONK Life column on October 17, 2015. The second a shorter version as part of Key West Lou on July 2, 2016. This version even shorter.
Charles Guiteau was a demented out of work attorney. Sought a position with the Garfield administration. Rejected. Bore ill will towards the President.
Garfield was at the Washington, D.C. railroad station. Guiteau shot him twice. Once in the arm and once in the back. The arm injury of no consequence. The back major.
Garfield was lying on the terminal’s dirty floor. Several doctors in the railroad station. All rushed to the President’s assistance. He was taken to the White House. Died 90 days later. Of everything. The bullet in his back never found till he was autopsied.
Doctors with dirty fingers prodded Garfield’s back for 3 months searching for the bullet. Medical cleanliness not yet part of the profession.
Garfield had been shot on the right side. Their fingers went into the open wound on the right side. No one bothered to look on the left side. The prodding had caused the bullet to move.
The doctors knew the President would die if the bullet was not found.
Alexander Graham Bell had invented the telephone 5 years earlier. Now famous, he had also invented a metal detector. Referred to as an induction balance. Graham was confident he could locate the bullet. He had already tried it successfully on Civil War veterans. Always located the bullet.
The metal detector failed to locate the bullet.
Metal box springs were new. Recently invented. Not yet on sale. One had been given free to the President. The metal box spring was on his bed beneath the mattress.
All Graham could get from the detector was static. Neither Graham nor the doctors could understand why. After Garfield’s death, it was determined the metal box spring was diverting the electric charge making it impossible to locate the bullet.
Guiteau was tried for murder. His defense….I shot the President, but the doctors killed him.
Guiteau was initially represented by his brother. During the trial, he fired him. Represented himself. Ranted and raved incoherently as he defended himself.
He was convicted and hung.
Guiteau’s rants continued as he was led up the steps to the hangman’s rope.
Enjoy your day!