GUITEAU, Charles Julius (1840-1882), Assassin of President James A. Garfield. Autograph letter signed (“C. G.”), to Benjamin F. Butler. Washington, D. C., 19 October 1881.
6 pages, 8vo, on lined paper, creased. Provenance: Acquired from the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop.
GARFIELD’S ASSASSIN SEEKS AN ATTORNEY FOR HIS DEFENSE
Guiteau writes to Benjamin F. Butler, one of the nation’s great trial lawyers, who had been a member of the U. S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts and who would go on to serve as Governor of Massachusetts. He asks Butler to represent him: “I wish you to defend me & use me to destroy the republican [sic] party…My defense is insanity, in that it was God’s act & not mine.” Guiteau maintained that it was the physicians, and not his bullet, who killed Garfield.
Guiteau, a Republican supporter for the election of President Garfield, came to Washington in 1881 to secure a federal office. He did not receive a position, and became enraged at Garfield’s support of civil service reform and his stand on the stalwart wing of the Republican Party, which Garfield opposed, but which Guiteau supported. Guiteau fatally wounded Garfield in the waiting room of the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad in Washington on 2 July 1881, and Garfield died on 19 September 1881.