Shot of the Assassin, July 2—Scene at the Depôt—Sad Tidings Spread —Europe and America Startled—Removal to the White House —The Assassin Described—His Letters—Profound Public Sympathy— Letters, Telegrams, and Resolutions by the Hundred— Universal Depression—Sunday, August 28, for Fasting and Prayer—Removal to Long Branch—First Effect of Sea Air—Still Worse—Death

While the contest was going on in the New York Legislature over Senator Conkling’s re-election, an attempt was made upon the President’s life which startled and shocked the nation. He had arranged a journey to New England, for the purpose of attending the Commencement at Williams College, Williamstown, Mass., the annual meeting of the American Institute of Instruction at St. Albans, Vt., extending his trip into Maine, where he would be the guest of Mr. Blaine, Secretary of State; thence into New Hampshire, in response to an invitation by the Legislature of that State, then in session; returning through Boston to Washington; hoping thereby to recruit his somewhat exhausted energies by a brief respite from official duties. On Saturday morning, July 2, he left the Executive Mansion at a few minutes past nine o’clock, in his carriage with Secretary Blaine, for the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Depôt. At twenty minutes past nine o’clock he entered the depôt, arm in arm with Mr. Blaine, when two pistol shots were fired in quick succession, the first one sending a ball through the right coat-sleeve of the President, doing no damage, the second one driving a ball deep into his body above the third rib. The unexpected shot well-nigh paralyzed the bystanders. Mr. Blaine turned to seize the assassin, but found him already in the hands of an officer. As he turned back, the President sank heavily upon the floor, and the fearful tidings spread through the city: “The President has been assassinated!” The telegraphic wires took up the terrible news and conveyed it over the country, startling every town, village, and hamlet as they never were startled except by the assassination of President Lincoln. By twelve o’clock the entire country was apprised of the appalling calamity, except in sections beyond the reach of telegraphs and telephones. The dreadful news flashed over the Atlantic cable, astounding and affecting Europeans almost as sensibly as it did Americans. The manifestations of unfeigned sorrow were gauged by this remarkable fact. The South seemed to vie with the North in profound grief over the fearful crime and heartfelt sympathy for the illustrious sufferer.

Physicians and surgeons were speedily summoned; and, within an hour, he was removed to the White House in an extremely prostrated and critical condition.

The President was still conscious while prostrate upon the floor at the depôt, and fearing that the intelligence of his injury might overcome his wife in her feeble state of health, he dictated to Colonel Rockwell, who was at his side, the following despatch to her at Long Branch:

Mrs. Garfield, Elberon, New Jersey:

“The President wishes me to say to you from him that he has been seriously hurt—how seriously he cannot yet say. He is himself, and hopes you will come to him soon. He sends his love to you.

“A. F. Rockwell.”

It should be stated that Mrs. Garfield was recovering from a severe sickness of several weeks, and a few days before the President accompanied her to Long Branch to hasten her restoration. Her life was despaired of for a time, and her husband’s watchful and tender care of her, night and day, when her life hung quivering in the balance, in connection with official duties, made a heavy draft upon his strength.

A correspondent of the New York Times, who was an eye-witness, said that when the President “was tenderly lifted from the vehicle with the pallor of death stamped upon his countenance, glancing up to the window, he saw some familiar faces, and with a smile which those who saw it will never forget, he raised his right hand and gave the military salute, which seemed to say, ‘Long live the republic!’ ”

Soon after the President was laid upon his bed in the presidential mansion, his nervous prostration passed away, and he became composed and cheerful, greeting members of his cabinet, and other intimate friends

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.