4. Assassination Conspiracy at the Fifth Avenue Hotel?

Photo from Library of Congress

July 2, 1881 Charles Guiteau attempted to assassinate President Garfield. Guiteau was quickly apprehended and immediately jotted down a note to General William Tecumseh Sherman.

To General Sherman: I have just shot the President. I shot him several times as I wished him to go as easily as possible. His death was a political necessity. I am a lawyer, theologian, and politician. I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts. I was with General Grant and the rest of our men, in New York during the canvass. I am going to the Jail. Please order out your troops, and take possession of the jail at once. Very respectfully, Charles Guiteau.

Guiteau’s assurance that he performed this act for the Stalwarts and his statements that “Arthur will be President” led many to question whether Vice President Arthur or his Stalwart mentor Roscoe Conkling were involved in a conspiracy to rid the country of their opposition. Arthur and Conkling were mobbed on their way into the hotel as suspicion fell on them and New Yorkers assumed that played a role in some nefarious plot.