While doing baseball research, I always come across really cool stuff in the contemporary newspapers that have nothing to do with baseball. The historical events of the times are fascinating and I've wasted lots of time reading about murders and fires and tornadoes and the weird, everyday stuff of American life in the 19th century. I found this piece on the death of James Garfield in the same issue of the Clipper that had the squibs on Fred Dunlap and the Brown Stockings/Cincinnati series. It's the holidays and I'm off doing holiday kind of stuff all week so I just thought I'd share this with you. Consider it a Christmas present from the Old Weird America.
JAMES ABRAM GARFIELD - BORN IN CUYAHOGA COUNTY, O., NOV. 19, 1831 - INAUGURATED PRESEDENT OF THE UNITED STATES MARCH 4, 1881 - ASSASSINATED JULY 2 - DIED AT ELBERON, N.J., SEPT. 19.
The bullet of the assassin has completed its frightful work. An end on earth has come to a great life. Its physical sufferings are forever past, while those of noble wife and tender offspring are keener now than at any other time since the cruel, senseless wound was inflicted, and the horror that well-nigh paralyzed an entire nation on that Black Saturday in July has given way to the profoundest grief. Eleven and a half weeks of pain patiently endured, the skill of physicians and the knives of surgeons, a constitution phenomenally strong for its years, and a mind exceptionally well-balanced in view of the amount of work it had done, a sanguine temperament and a faith that never wavered, a courage that never shrank from a long railroad journey that is unparalleled in the annals of medical practice - all these were powerless to save. "God reigns!" are the well-remembered words of this martyred President as uttered after the pistol of another assassin had deprived this Republic of an earlier Chief. In spite of the earnest prayers of fifty millions of people, it has pleased Him who doeth all things well that James A. Garfield should cease from labor and enter upon a career of immortality. The choice of time seems peculiarly fit. In being but two months short of what should have been the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of a busy life, it was on the precise anniversary of the day on which he at once attained to his highest military honors and ended his career as a soldier in his country's service that he became in the fullest sense a Soldier of the Cross. Just eighteen years before, or on Sept. 19, 1863, the Battle of Chickamauga was fought. As the chief-in-staff of General Rosecrans, then commanding the Army of the Cumberland, James A. Garfield wrote the orders for that battle, which was the last in which he bore any part. Then began his conspicuous civil life; and as he had to resign from the army in 1863 to take his seat in Congress, so he had to resign from Congress to take the Presidential chair in 1881. It seems but a step from the House of Representatives to the Executive Mansion, but the self-made man who in his youth was first a carpenter and then a driver on the towpath had been many years making it. The idea of advancing James A. Garfield to the Presidency seems to the country at large but a recent one; but we remember, as if it were but yesterday, that as far back as the days of the Rebellion the suggestion was made that there was another American of obscure origin who, like Lincoln, would one day become President of the United States. As the Ohioan was then scarcely known even by name to the bulk of Eastern politicians, the nomination provoked a smile in this section of the country. It may have been that Garfield was even then filled with the laudable ambition to become one day the head of the nation, and he may have so expressed himself to this correspondent; or the idea may have suggested itself to the correspondent because of Garfield's career having somewhat resembled Lincoln's. It matters not what it was that gave rise to the idea. It is enough that the subject of it became in 1881 the twentieth President of the United States, although he was fated to occupy the position but a short time. Never was there less justification for the killing of a ruler than in the case of him who died at Elberon on Monday last. It was altogether different in the case of Lincoln. There had been four years of civil war to distract the country and breed madmen, and Lincoln had been foremost on one side throughout that strife. But Garfield had not been in office long enough to possibly give offense to any considerable number of persons, and logically he should have had no more enemies on the day he was shot than on the day he was nominated by the Chicago Convention. Fortunately, the lapse of time between his assassination and his death has been such as, while serving to endear him more and more to the country at large, to deaden the shock occasioned by the first tidings of the assault upon him. The nation, heavy-hearted though it be, is yet prepared to now accept in hopefulness a change of rulers that would have been distasteful to it three months ago. But while it hastens to give to the successor of the Republic's second martyr its most cordial support, it is equally prompt to tender to the stricken family its broadest measure of condolence, together with its assurance that the name of James A. Garfield and his public services will live always in the recollections of a grateful people. In token that no divergence of political views will be permitted to stand in the way of national reverence, and that Democrats and Republicans will join in honoring his memory, this vast city to-day presents a spectacle whose significance is not to be mistaken. Twenty-four hours have not elapsed since the telegraph flashed the sad tidings from Elberon, and yet the outward signs of woe are to seen everywhere in the metropolis, from the Battery to the Bronx River.
-New York Clipper, September 24, 1881