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Year
1881

President James A. Garfield shot

Only four months into his administration, President James A. Garfield is shot as he walks through a railroad waiting room in Washington, D.C. His assailant, Charles J. Guiteau, was a disgruntled and perhaps insane office seeker who had unsuccessfully sought an appointment to the U.S. consul in Paris. The president was shot in the back and the arm, and Guiteau was arrested.

Garfield, mortally ill, was treated in Washington and then taken to the seashore at Elberon, New Jersey, where he attempted to recuperate with his family. During this time, Vice President Chester A. Arthur served as acting president. On September 19, 1881, after 80 days, President Garfield died of blood poisoning. The following day, Arthur was inaugurated as the 21st president of the United States.

Garfield had three funerals: one in Elberon; another in Washington, where his body rested in state in the Capitol for three days; and a third in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was buried. Charles Guiteau’s murder trial began in November, and in January 1882 he was found guilty and sentenced to death. In June 1882, he was hanged at his jail in Washington.

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