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.
afterwards,” his mistress, Kate Sprague, would later write to Arthur, “& saw how he was suffering, I urged his quitting Washington without delay. Friends who have seen him within a day or two, report him as very ill.” Arthur had, in part, found the strength to free himself from Conkling’s grasp in the bold letters of his mysterious friend, Julia Sand. So much did he admire her strong, intelligent advice that he finally decided that he must meet her. After dinner on August 20, 1882, a highly
up music, clinging to it with a particular ferocity in times of stress and anxiety. It was a habit that may have given him some release but little rest, as he succumbed to what his mother described as a “musical fever.” Even to Bell’s father, a highly regarded elocutionist who for years had worked in his study until two in the morning, developing a universal alphabet, his work habits seemed not just extreme, but dangerous. “I have serious fears that you have not the stamina for the work your
Lafayette Park as he had done nearly every day for the past four months. He rested, read the paper, and “enjoyed the beautiful morning air.” At eight, he returned to the Riggs House and had a large meal. “I ate well,” he would later say, “and felt well in body and mind.” After breakfast, Guiteau returned to his room to retrieve a few items. Over the past few weeks, as he prepared to assassinate the president, he had written a series of letters that he took great satisfaction in knowing would be
evening. As Garfield lay in his bed, “drenched with a profuse perspiration,” the two surgeons examined his back and found a small pus sac about three inches below the wound. Using only a sulphuric ether, sprayed directly onto the site, to lessen the pain, Agnew made a deep incision into Garfield’s back and inserted a large drainage tube. Bliss’s bulletin that day announced that “the President bore the operation well,” and was “much relieved.” Garfield’s condition, however, continued to
Potomac. “Please hunt in the study and see if you can find [a] bundle of letters and papers in [a] large envelope concerning [the] Induction Balance,” he had written quickly to Mabel as the capital came into view. “If so please send me the names and addresses of the poor people who want to have bullets located.… One especially is from the father of a little boy who was shot last year.” Now, as he listened to the newsboy’s cries, an exhausted Bell could only reflect on the injustice of the ordeal