What about Garfield and McKinley?

29 Apr

We all have heard plenty about Lincoln’s and JFK’s assassinations. But what about the assassinations of our 20th president, Garfield and our  25th president, McKinley?

Before I start on the lesser known assassinations, Jimmy Kimmel, a comedian did a stint last night in D.C. for the Press and Obama. He joked that he now knows who really killed Lincoln. It wasn’t John Wilkes Booth, it was Lincoln himself. Kimmel joked that Lincoln killed himself 150 years ago because he knew what would come of the Republican party.

Both Garfield and McKinley were from Ohio. McKinley’s tomb is located in Canton, OH just down the street from the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Did you know that the Secret Service (you know those guys who hire hookers in Columbia) actually went into action the day after Lincoln died. Not to protect the next president, but to protect U.S. currency which at the time was being counterfeited like crazy. It wasn’t until after McKinley’s murder that the Secret Service was ordered to protect the president. Can you believe it? It took the federal government 36 years after one of our greatest presidents was killed to start protecting the President of the United States. Mind boggling, indeed.

Did you also know that before 2007, the Secret Service protected former presidents for life but now only protect them for 10 years after leaving office. Our 42nd president, Clinton is the last former president who gets lifetime protection. Sorry Bush Sr. and Bush Jr., hey don’t feel bad though they have Dick Cheney to protect them as long as he is not in the hospital for heart surgery.

So back to Garfield who served nine consecutive terms as a U.S. House Representative before he was elected in 1881 as our 20th president. If you are Oklahoma City Thunder fan, Garfield had a James Harden type beard. Garfield officially served as president for 200 days but really only served for 120 days since he lay dying for 80 days after he was shot twice on 7/2/1881. Making Garfield’s presidency the 2nd shortest behind William Harrison’s who only served for 20 days (kinda of like my last job, oh yea that was only 10 days).

What’s funny about Garfield is that he didn’t even want to be president. Can you believe it? Yea, Garfield was picked by the convention to be the Republican nominee, beating out former President Grant for the nod. Garfield actually only won the “popular” election by 7,000 votes over Winfield Hancock. Thank God the Supreme Court didn’t have to “select” Garfield over Hancock like they did with Bush Jr. over Gore in 2000.

One of the 2012 election’s issues (after birth control and the war on women) is immigration reform. The Republicans are afraid that too many Hispanics will make the country less white so they are trying to stop Hispanics from immigrating to our country. Back in the 1880 election, Chinese Immigration was the hot potato issue. The Chinese were “invading” California and Americans (Republicans were concerned).

So Garfield was unprotected as he was preparing to take a train from D.C. to give a speech at his former college. In this party, along with others was Secretary of War, Robert Todd Lincoln (yes, Abe’s son) when he was shot twice by a “deranged political officer seeker” (no Newt wasn’t born yet) Charles Guiteau, a Republican who just wanted to work for Garfield. The president would wait for the grim reaper for 80 days after the shooting. Alexander Graham Bell (inventor of the telephone, not cell phone) invented a metal detector to attempt to find the second bullet that was hiding somewhere in Garfield’s body. The bullet was never found but thank God we have metal detectors, they didn’t quite work on 9/11. The first air conditioner unit was also used while attempting to keep Garfield comfortable. They rigged up six tons of ice  with an air blower and some duct work. Amazing! Unfortunately for Garfield, back then the doctors didn’t sterilize their hands and the prez probably died from an infection from those unsterilized fingers. Yuck!

Guiteau was found guilty on 1/5/1882 and was executed on 6/30/1882. I think the following quote from Garfield says it all about the importance of equality (in all areas of life), “Freedom can never yield its fullness of blessings so long as the law or its administration places the smallest obstacle in the pathway of a virtuous citizen.” Another parallel between 1881 and now, is that Garfield sought to reform the Post Office and the civil service servants (government workers).

Now that Garfield was put to rest, let’s talk about our 25th president, Mr. McKinley. McKinley had a very successful first term as president winning the Spanish-American War which gave us Puerto Rico, Guam, Philippines, and Hawaii. It also gave Cuba its independence from Spain. Can you believe it, we actually fought for Cuba? The president was also big on tariffs to protect our companies from foreign competition. So much for protection in today’s global economy, eh?

McKinley needed another vice president since his first one died in 1899. He couldn’t decide and let the convention decide on Teddy Roosevelt to be his running mate in 1900. The Prez had just visited Niagara Falls and was making a stop in Buffalo when an anarchist by the name of Leon Czolgosz walked up to shake his hand with a gun under a handkerchief and shot him twice. Garfield died nine days later and Czolgosz was put on trial nine days after that. Leon sat down for the last time before Halloween in the electric chair.



2 Responses to “What about Garfield and McKinley?”

  1. Floyd Cook May 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    Interesting. A bit ‘wordy’, but otherwise well written.
    Floyd ~~~

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