Charles Julius Guiteau Biography

Charles Julius Guiteau was an American lawyer best known for assassinating President James Garfield in 1881 for denying him an ambassadorship position in Paris.


Charles Julius Guiteau was an American assassin born on September 8, 1841 in Freeport, Illinois. As a young adult he joined a controversial religious sect and then studied theology and law. Guiteau wrote a speech that was delivered at most two times by James Garfield, and as such believed he was responsible for Garfield’s presidential win. Guiteau insisted President Garfield appoint him an ambassadorship to Paris. After the president denied his requests, Guiteau shot him in 1881. Guiteau died by hanging on June 30, 1882 for the assassination of President Garfield.


Early Life

Assassin Charles Julius Guiteau was born on September 8, 1841 in Freeport, Illinois. The fourth of six children, Charles Julius Guiteau was raised in Freeport and Ulao, Wisconsin. After a failed attempt to attend the University of Michigan, Guiteau joined the Oneida Community in New York, a controversial religious sect his father belonged to. He then obtained a law license in Chicago and started a firm with an inheritance from his grandfather. After that endeavor failed, he turned to theology and then politics.

Assassination of President Garfield

After writing a hackneyed speech in support of President Garfield, Guiteau insisted he be awarded with an ambassadorship in Paris. Garfield's staff grew weary of Guiteau's repeated requests and eventually told him never to return. Filled with righteous indignation, he shot President Garfield at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station on July 2, 1881. Garfield died from his wounds on September 19.

Trial and Execution

Charles Guiteau's trial was a media circus, with the defendant viewing himself as something of a celebrity. He claimed he was legally but not medically insane at the time of the shooting and was dismayed to be found guilty on January 23, 1882. Guiteau was sentenced to death by hanging on June 30, 1882.

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