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    [James Garfield]. Charles J. Guiteau Cabinet Card Twice Signed. 4.25" x 6.5", 1882. The assassin of President James Garfield is seen in an oval portrait, from the chest up, wearing a dark coat, bowtie, and waistcoat, looking off to his right. His beard has been shaved off with only a mustache remaining. Guiteau (1841-1882) was in prison awaiting his execution when this photograph was taken and signed once under his image and again, with an accompanying inscription, on the verso, in full: "To John McCullough / With Compliments of / [signed] Charles Guiteau / U.S. Jail Washington D.C. / Feb 11 - 1882." Printed on the verso of the mount is a notice from Washington photographer, Charles M. Bell, reading: "The negative from which this photograph is taken was made personally by me in the jail in the city of Washington on February 6th, 1882, for Charles Guiteau, and I warn all persons not to infringe upon the copyright." The mount has rounded corners and there are two small tack holes at the upper and lower edges, of which only the upper one affects the image. Very light silvering is seen in the dark areas.

    Before the assassination, Guiteau had dabbled with non-conventional religious beliefs and had written a religious book, which was mostly plagiarized. Shortly before the election of 1880, he had become interested in politics and printed a tract promoting Garfield for president. After Garfield won the presidency, Guiteau considered himself mostly responsible for Garfield's win. As compensation for his efforts, he expected an appointment in a diplomatic position. After numerous rejections, he believed that God had commanded him to kill the president, whom he stalked until the July 2 assassination.

    His trial began in November 1881, and his outlandish behavior became a media sensation. Though there were two assassination attempts on his life while he was incarcerated, Guiteau never fully understood the public's hatred of him. His court-appointed defense lawyers chose to present an insanity defense, but the defense was not accepted by the jury and Guiteau was sentenced to hang on January 25, 1882. The sentence was carried out on June 30, 1882. From the Donald P. Dow Collection.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    9th Thursday
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