GARFIELD, James A. Autograph telegram signed ("J.a. Garfield") as President, to O.L. Pruden, "Excecutive Manison," Washington, 4 June . 1 page, 8vo (8¼ x 5 7/8 in.), in dark purple pencil, American Union Telegraph Company paper, telegraph operator's marks on page, slight browning.
A PRESIDENTIAL RARITY: GARFIELD IN OFFICE
A rare autograph telegram, written by President Garfield while in office, less than a month before Charles Guiteau shot him in a Washington railway station. Garfield writes: "If you have any bulletin from New York repeat it to me here." The telegram, which was sent to Fort Monroe, was possibly intended for Octavius Longworth Pruden, an officer.
Garfield had only been in office for four months when Guiteau, an unstable lawyer, approached the President with a loaded .44 caliber British Bulldog revolver. He fired two shots into Garfield's back. One bullet, which lodged near the President's pancreas, would prove to be mortal. Guiteau had supported Garfield's campaign for the presidency and expected to be rewarded with an appointment to a political office, when he was denied, he determined that the President must die. Garfield battled his injuries for 2½ months before succumbing to pneumonia on September 19.
Due to his short time in office and because he employed a secretary, Joseph Stanley-Brown (1858-1941), who wrote many of his letters, autograph letters and telegrams written by Garfield while President are rare. In the last 25 years, only two other Garfield autograph letters signed in office have appeared at auction. The most recent, a 2-page ALS written to Wharton Barker on 3 June 1881, sold in Part I of the Forbes sale of American Historical Documents, held at Christie's on 27 March 2002, for $32,900 (lot 120).