[GARFIELD, James A.] GUITEAU, Charles (ca 1840-1882). Assassin of President James Garfield. Autograph manuscript signed four times ("Charles Guiteau" and "C.G."), draft of three paragraphs from his proposed book outlining his reasons for the assassination of Garfield, U.S. Jail, Washington, D.C., 23 July 1881 and 6 August 1881. 4 1/3 pages, 8vo (8 x 5 in.), lined paper, some very light soiling, otherwise in fine condition.
"MY MOTIVE WAS PURELY PATRIOTIC" AND: "I THINK OF GEN. GARFIELD'S CONDITION AS A REMOVAL & NOT AS AN ASSASSINATION"
The man who shot President Garfield on 2 July 1881 forwards his manuscript to an unnamed publisher, who presumably abandoned any involvement in the project. Guiteau writes an introductory paragraph, dated August 6, which explains that the text is from the preface to his book, noting that it was written "when I understood the President would recover, and I presume he will recover now... altho he has not been so well for two weeks, as on July 23rd." Guiteau's defense of his actions proves a rambling, theologically-obsessed jumble: "I have not used the words 'assassination,' or 'assassin,' in this book. These words grate on the mind and make a bad feeling. I think of Gen. Garfield's condition as a removal & not as an 'assassination.' My idea simply stated was to remove as easily as possible Mr. J.A. Garfield a quiet and good natural citizen of Ohio, who temporarily occupied the position of President of the United States, and substitute in his place Mr. Chester A. Arthur of New York, a distinguished and highly esteemable gentleman. Mr. Garfield I intended to quietly remove to Paradise which is a great improvement on this world while Mr. Arthur saved the Republic. I presume there were a thousand republicans in the United States who felt as I did about Gen. Garfield's wrecking of the Republican party, & had they had the conception, the brains, the nerve, & the opportunity would have removed him...Not a soul in the Universe knew of my purpose...My motive was purely patriotic and acted under Divine pressure...It was the same kind of Divine pressure that led Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham's case is exactly parallel to mine: in that, the Lord directed him to do a certain thing, & afterwards prevented the consumation of the act. God, Allowed Gen. Garfield to live after keeping him at the point of death for two weeks...The prayer of the American People kept him alive..." Three postscripts, written on August 6th, state that "As soon as my book is out I expect there will be a decided reaction in my favor. Why can't you publish it now?" He expresses sentiments that people do not understand him and that "the spectacle of the President of the United States trembling between life & death is most appalling."
Guiteau, a Stalwart, had actually supported Garfield during his 1880 campaign. He went to Washingtom seeking a diplomatic post as a reward for his support but was politely turned down. Mentally unstable for some time, Guiteau came to believe that Garfield must die. He purchased an expensive forty-four caliber British Bulldog, which he claimed to have picked out because he thought it would be attractive in a museum. Garfield finally succumbed to the two gunshot wounds on September 19th. Prior to his execution on 30 June 1882, Guiteau self-published a book, The Truth and Removal, in which he traced the same themes presented in the present manuscript. Guiteau repeatedly defended himself against the charge of insanity, declaring "I am not a Lunatic."
Provenance: Paul C. Richards Autographs, 1982.