Charles J. Guiteau
1880 was an election year. As a lifelong Republican, Guiteau sided with the Stalwarts in the bitter infighting within the party. He wrote letters and speeches in support of the Stalwarts plan to put Ulysses S. Grant back into the White House. Once the Half-Breeds had narrowly defeated the Stalwarts and put
Certain now that he was approaching the great heights he was destined for, and equally certain that the Republican Party (and Garfield in particular) were forever in his debt, Guiteau moved to Washington, D.C., to receive what he felt sure would be an endless stream of honors.
Completely ignored by the new administration, Guiteau nevertheless decided to allow himself to be appointed to an international consulate, and he began writing letters to that effect after his arrival in
To President Garfield he wrote:
Next Spring I expect to marry the daughter of a deceased
Not receiving any response, Guiteau sent
I called to see you this morning, but you were engaged. (Previously) I sent you a note touching on the Austrian mission. (The current Austrian Consul), I understand, wishes to remain at
What do you think of me for Consul-General at
Still receiving no response from
...in January last I wrote
I spoke (with
The History House states that Guiteau had seen the heiress mentioned in the first letter only once, from a distance -- and it is doubtful that
Guiteau was stunned. How could they deny him a position of honor, after his speech and other works had clinched the election?
On hearing the news that the consulate jobs had gone to others, Guiteau felt infuriated and betrayed.
He would not allow himself to be treated so.
He began to concoct a plan, although he would later claim he was directed in his future actions by God. He may even have eventually come to believe that.
To put his plan into effect, he bought a pistol (Geary states that Guiteau made sure to get a gun with an attractive handle, as he was sure it would soon be featured in a place of honor in a fine museum) and made several aborted attempts at the assassination. He would later state that he decided not to act on those earlier occasions because of his desire not to accidentally shoot someone else, his displeasure with the weather, or the fact that
On the morning of July 2, 1881, he arose early, ate breakfast, and went out to assassinate the president.