GARFIELD, James (1831-1881), President. Partly printed document signed ("James A. Garfield.") as President, Washington, [D.C.], 1 June 1881. 1 page, 4to, on light blue stationery, very fine.
GARFIELD A MONTH BEFORE HIS ASSASSINATION
A rare signed document from the Garfield administration, accomplished just one month before the successful assassination attempt upon the President. Garfield authorizes and directs "the Secretary of State to cause the Seal of the United States to be affixed to the envelope of my letter recalling Mr. O.P. Christiancy from the mission at Lima." The president has boldly signed the document, his signature measuring 4 inches across.
Garfield, who achieved the rank of major-general of volunteers during the Civil War, saw his political star ascend as a result of his wartime accomplishments. In 1863, in the midst of the war, he was elected to Congress from his home state of Ohio. He consistently won reelection until 1880. In that year, the Republican National Convention divided between supporters of Ulysses S. Grant, known as Stalwarts, and supporters of James G. Blaine and John Sherman, known as Half-Breeds. The efforts to nominate a candidate ended in deadlock on 33 ballots. Finally, the convention supported a compromise ticket, Garfield for President (a Half-Breed who supported Sherman) and Chester A. Arthur as Vice-President (a Stalwart). Only four months after Garfield was inaugurated, on July 2, 1881, Charles Guiteau, a disappointed office seeker, confronted the president in the Washington Railroad Station and shot him, declaring that "his was a political crime, that he was a 'Stalwart' and wanted Arthur to be president" (DAB). Garfield survived for several more weeks, only to die on September 19, 1881.