Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

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Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

Author: Candice Millard
Publisher: Knopf
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 339
Cover Price: $ 28.95

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Certainly James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back.

But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what hap­pened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in tur­moil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his con­dition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet.

Background Information

James A Garfield was elected president as a Republican in 1880 and assassinated in 1881. American Civil War lasted from the bombardment of Fort Sumter in 1861 to the surrender of the Confederacy in 1865. Alexander Graham Bell's work in the development of the telephone led to the creation of the Bell Telephone System of nationally interconnected phone networks. In the election of 1880, Republicans retained the control of the White House that they established during the Civil War.