Description

    [James Garfield] Charles Guiteau Autograph Letter Signed. Two pages, penned on recto and verso (second page verso blank), 5" x 8", n.p., Oct 17, n.y. Following President Garfield's inauguration in March 1881, lawyer Charles Guiteau launched an intense campaign for a diplomatic post, applying as minister to Austria and consul general to Paris. He made the rounds between the White House and the State Department promoting his case and bombarded Secretary of State James Blaine with letters. Not surprisingly, the administration grew tired of Guiteau's persistence. Secretary Blaine bluntly told Guiteau at the State Department on May 14: "Never bother me again about the Paris consulship so long as you live."

    Guiteau, without family and nearly penniless, grew increasingly isolated and depressed. He bought a gun and shot the president as he was about to depart for a vacation from the Baltimore and Potomac train station on July 2, 1881. Throughout the trial and up until his execution, Guiteau was housed at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in the southeastern quadrant of Washington, D.C. During this time, he dictated an autobiography to the New York Herald, ending it with a personal ad for a nice Christian lady under thirty.

    This letter, addressed to "Mr. Smith," mentions his prison interviews, and highlights his wish that prosecutors turn over those interview notes to his defense team. It reads in part: "Mr. Smith I expected you today. I don't think much of democratic papers. . . . If Caskill was not mean, he would allow my attornies [sic] to copy poor Bailey's dictation my autobiography, & thereby I am . . . redictating it. If he has a particle of honor he ought to do this considering how he & Baily [sic] got it. There is nothing I wish to withdraw. Bailey obtained the information upon his, & Caskill's statement that he was a reporter of the NY Herald, & promised to publish it in full in the Herald, & he said it would make forty columns. . . . I therefore, gave Bailey a full & graphic description of my life & experience, which latter in politics, love, theology, &c &c. I don't care to go over this ground again, & I trust Caskill ought to allow me to use Bailey's work book. If he is a man he will. . . . This is written kneeling at my bed. . . . My military desk is in my bed. Oct. 17 CG."

    George Corkhill was the District of Columbia's district attorney and headed the prosecuting team; it is supposed that the "Caskill" noted in Guiteau's letter refers to Corkhill. Edmond Bailey was a legal colleague of George Corkhill, who (according to Guiteau) introduced Bailey as a reporter for the New York Herald. Bailey held lengthy conversations with Guiteau, making copious notes on his life, ideas and motivations. Bailey claimed later to have destroyed the notes. Letter is very boldly penned and lightly toned.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    8th-9th Tuesday-Wednesday
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