Murder of a President: President James Garfield’s Connection to NYC

PBS recently broadcast Murder of a President, an episode of American Experience that focuses on James Garfield, the second American President to be assassinated and the fourth president to die in office. Garfield rose through the ranks from Civil War General to Congressman to President.

Presented below are some of the New York City sites depicted in Murder of a President and associated with Garfield’s Presidency, though he has few formal memorials or dedications here.

1. The Making of an Assassin

collision of the stonington and the narragansettSource: Springfield Museums

On July 11, 1880, the SS Narragansett and the SS Stonington collided on Long Island Sound. The crash and sinking of these ships would not be particularly noteworthy over one hundred and thirty years later except that one of the passengers on the SS Stonington was Charles Julius Guiteau. Guiteau did not amount to much in his early life, but it was the disaster on the Stonington that sent Guiteau on his path toward becoming an assassin as you will see later in this story. Before this, he worked as an attorney and argued a few cases, even making it into The New York Times over a fee dispute and spent some time living in the utopian community at Oneida.

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