Charles J Guiteau – The Wild Man Who Killed James Garfield


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And are you ready and then you're tiding a manifesto over here, hey man? What's up, have you ever heard of charles j guato? I don't feel like you're saying it right, but okay, charles j j good to go to no. So this was actually recoes. They play the gateau, oh my god, things as was actually recommended to us by our patron supporter, a rabid, but the use named rabbit. Okay, i don't know what you galouse like my rapid he last night. I think rabbits their first name. I don't think that's like. I don't think there's there doesn't be real lyon. I don't want someone listening to be like, oh, is. Is it a he talk about me, rabid phillips? What do you think about the rabbit phillips? Did you recommend this? Are you a patriot support? Those are the couple other questions as all right all right now, so this guy charles j, o te he's famous for something, notably assassinating the united states president james, a garfield in one thousand, eight hundred and eighty one, but i'm going to go out on a limb and say that's the least interesting thing that happened in his life. So, okay, because get this all right. Twenty three years later after he assassinated, he ran in a little of the olympic race. So here's what happened. Okay to this guy, so he was born- and i hope eighteen forty one in and freeport illinois, okay and you think they got a sign for him. This is real. Like do you, you don't want to honor them, but i do you think i get. Is that we're just like hey we're, free porin illinois, we're home with that guy home of presidential assess child? Stick, i'm serious, not iereus like its lisle, it's not a memorial, but it's almost like we're. Like i mean yeah he's from here you, oh my gosh, so his mother died shortly after his birth and by shortly aster his birth. I mean about fourteen years after his birth, so from okay from what the doctor described, post part of psychosis, oh, which i think is just the way like you remember, early psychology yeah and they were like you're depressed because you have a kid it kind of what it was like. You had a kid and that messed you up, yeah you're depressed yeah, and it was pretty much yeah they pretty much. Just like psychosis was kind of just the depres, the the diagnosis they gave you if, like you, were kind of sad and it could mean anything and she died of it apparently. So i think what really happened is they just didn't understand what happened, but she didn't like take her life or anything show do of cacosi post part em, sycosis yeah. I think what that means. Is they don't know what happened and they were just like put some on there. Yeah they're like as pus part of em, psychoses, yeah and then so a little bit after there's a joke. You can cut out or leave it. I don't care just write, covin nineteen on the tri. Don't leave it a funny it some of those jokes make me sound like a conspiracy person, but i'm not you're, not you're, not, but it's funny to make fun of them as if i am oh gosh. Okay, so his father later died a couple years later of his mother's post, part of the is contagious is davis, so his father died a little while later and he inherited a thousand dollars, which is worth twenty nine thousand dollars to day okay, and so he moves to ann arbor michigan, and he goes to the university of michigan wherever one it goes: ann arbor, the university of michigan and the la of the midwest, but whatl he tried to attend the university of michigan, but he failed the entrance exams because of the school. He went to only taught him french and algebra in high school to pretty useless things, and so he took the interest. Exam is like there's a lot of other stuff on this that i know nothing about, and so he ended a long division he's like what's long division. I have never heard of this. Only now i can sole for x. I can solve this, and- and i can say x and french also x is on say, say i go ahead, say it also x, and so then, because he failed joining the university of michigan. He instead joined what a lot of people considered a cult the only in the oniata community in oniata you nor new york. Okay, i said you know you're you i nork. I did freaking telephone operator to that. I love you nork. I make one of the make those i heart in. Why shirts? But it's i heard why in you know, or you, ok, here's the thing about this. Only at a community, the big orange. This was a ridiculous group of oniata, only ada yeah. So this was a christian community on that people call a cult because the founder, john humphrey noise he his goal was he thinks that people here and now are capable of perfection just like jesus, and he said we should strive for that yeah, and so they got in this community and they set up this community around not sinning and which i mean is sounds like yeah, except of a lot of christian movements, yeah yeah, except for what they. What they did instead is the main phrases was modest as hot as gosh that's annoying, and so what was interesting about this is a well a couple things there's a couple things that they did in this. In this thing, one of them was mutual criticism. Where a couple times a week, they would just get together to point out everything that was wrong with each other so which work yeah so etats you and i do we just get together and we like hey, you know you kind of suck yeah. Do you want to go to lunch after on me, brother yeah, so they would get really intense with their their criticism of each other, of course, a worse and just kind of rip, each other apart yeah, so there's no way that can go wrong. There was a this other thing, that's very seems counter. It doesn't seem to go in line with the whole. You know were perfect thing. They practiced what was called complex marriage, which essentially meant everybody was married to everybody. That makes sense, and you just you're married all of them. The catch was you couldn't have children. Unless the leader of the cult yep interviewed you yeah and deemed you of able to parent it's interesting. I was trying to figure out what i was t trying to fan. I was looking up and kind of reading about like what defines a cold, because there was a few church groups in the v pacific northwest that were like kind of colty yeah, but they just didn't have a leader who i want to say dictated but like yewer sat like it's usually got that sexual element, as far as like everyone can either sexual freedom, or only these people can have you know, and the leader usually oversees that part yep and he yeah. It's usually a there's, usually some sort of charismatic leader who kind of twists everything to make him great. You know, but for some reason this article was saying that, in order to be defined as a cult, it had to involve a sexual element in some way. Huh interesting. I didn't hear of that. But i don't know if that's accurate, well, charles loved the call leader like he worshipped this call leader, but he was he's. The thing about charles charles is that guy in your friend group, who you're kind of like i wish you weren't here, you know like yeah yeah but like not like, but not like it. Like a mean way, it's like a like he's, the one like it's like. It's like important, alex. It's like it's like he's, the guy who, like i took him a second to get it to because he's just watching this on the screen or on pound like it was like he was like, oh no, but like it like a way where it's like it's like yeah, he's pretty annoying, and you hear in the lot and you're like a you saying that stuff again, but it's also in the way where it's like he's hitting on your mom all the time and like he's fighting, he picks fights with you. I i you're like i really don't want to be friends r, that's charles charles is the guy where you're, like i wooning on your mom. All the time like you know that friend, you know that friend yeah a that end, we've all been there yeah yeah, so golly he's curls hitting on people's moms yeah everybody. Well, i don't know i this charles, hitting on minds right. One of our twenty five la patron supporters is charles myers, my dad, who pretty often hits on my mom for tother a lot. I don't like it, but he's a he's, a painting on supporter. So you know thanks for doing that. Charles supports it twenty five a month- and you know it was pretty awkward because our twenty five dollar patrons get a little. They get an exclusive mug, yeah right and patron sends that out yeah. So my dad got his mug yeah, but he got it like last week and we're recording this on the twenty fifth or whatever of june right. So sunday was father's day. He thought that was his father's raked. There was a part of me that was like i'm not going to tell what well yeah i was like i'm gonna. Let him believe that's his father's day gay i didn't, but he got it. He was like. Oh thanks and i was like yeah. You know anyway, if you're at turon supporter there's, you know especially the twenty five dollar level. One were mentioning you in episodes, but also you get exclusive, merge, get insight into the episodes beforehand and you don't have to listen to an advertisement like this one, hey thanks for being here, we've got merchandise, it's a way to support the show and help us do more stuff by new equipment reach more people. If you like what we're doing, i want to help us do that more. Please consider doing that. If you want to link to that all of that's going to be sent to you. If you is text till in to six six, eight, six, six i'll tell you it's not a thing where we're going to text you a lot where no, it's, not a tech service, we're not going to like send you more than bo. It's just a way for you to get a link. It's one text, that's all we're going to send. I promise you, charles, because people hated him so much in the croup, like he, charles j, good, tell good to chills, go tell, and so he spent five years there and everybody they hate years in the cold yeah. I spent five years there. How long do colts run, i don't know just depends on on. We should talk more about colds later, go ahead, and so the people hated him so much that lobbyists on and cults honestly. This is the reason why i wanted to tell you about this guy, the cult the cult gave him the nickname charles get out they're like how do we get this message across and he did and they gave him that in a year too, he stayed around with three more years. Charles gould i hears charles get out. Hey here's charles get out what you just call me this, so he by what your mom so an she s, roulong for you, i just ruber loved. I would love to have a complex marriage in your mom. You know i'm saying oh man, charles kidd, no so charles ended up leaving the call after five years there yeah, because he was just thinking a nickname. He was he wasn't fit, but he made it seem like it was his decision. You know it was like, like you know what guys i just got to go on to other things, i'm going to go. My own way- and they were like all right- okay, thanks, thank you finally yeah. So so he left and he said, okay, what do i got going for me? I didn't get a college degree. I spent five years in the call. I've got twenty nine grand that i spent all moving to ann arbor, michigan and he's like well. What am i going to do? He's like hal i'll, be a lawyer in chicago, so he moved to chicago. He becomes a lawyer and somehow he passes the exam, which is an american dream. I mean you can really start over yeah, so he passes the bar this man yeah, who only knows french and algebra, passes the hatsa. The bar is it's french and algebra, and so french algebra he, coincidentally, did not have a successful law career. He only argued one case in court which we don't have a record to have of how it went, but i'm going to bet not great because he is rieses nervous, he's shaking and he was you're on there, the what the french accent well, he can always beak frients. I don't know. Are you telling me? He spoke french with like a southern ex. We we, what you talking about, he's, not frenchtell him me. The child of course he's in, of course he's weird and doesn't fit in with okay, but imagine not fitting him a cult people you know like, like they're already to fringe of society. Where do you go after that? You go to chicago law, all right and then you're up there and you're. Just like i don't know your honor he's nervous he's like i, charles get out o good. Do i like to picture that he said something really offensive or like something you're not supposed to do in the courtroom, and the judge is like charles get out and he's like. Oh that's what my friend he's like wait. Were you part of the ere you there, and so when that didn't work charles get out when that didn't work, he was like. Okay he's like we didn't really work he's like i can get into the business of bill collecting, so he became a bill collector and pretty quickly on. He was like wait. A second he's like i could go, collect this money for people's bills and then just go back to the people who were looking for the bills and tell them they didn't pay, oh my god. So he was collecting people's bills and not paying the people back. Yeah he's just stealing yeah yeah. So so he s doing that's e, that's exactly pretty old scheme yeah and that what you know what tax collectors in jewish tax collectors did that it's similar they would ask for more. I was being asked for and they would keep the x. I i was still pay the romans, because the lens yeah they still roll in back, really are. When you look at atts business model they take after the romans like the romans would kill you. So in one than eight here and sixty nine still a bill collector, he carries a librarian named annie. Bon who- and i guess just didn't see it- that's the most is name of her o. My life, like, i imagine that she she's living in black and white. Like you know, sanat anny bun, that's straight up a black or white name. He s that's pretty accurate. She talks like this, i'm wit any bun. That's yeah! I like well he's like well, you outer whatever his exit is we don't know he's like? Well, you are any good o now, so you know yeah so and i don't know how this happened like. I guess she just didn't see it like. I don't know if, like like everything i read about this guy, is that nobody liked him. Everybody was like this guy's awful and he was also a crook, and so it's like i mean i don't know, but she fell in love with him and yeah, but i mean, like you know, manson had admires yes, but i mean that's because you all admitted crimes, that's different. I guess i mean we talked about this. The cult hated him, so it's like i mean i don't know any may be she sucked to you, don't know any bun. I guess i should sounds like she didn't. She sounds like she's, a really sweet. You know she sounds like she is an angel. All we know about her is her name though yeah she was a librarian. I i that's what i'm saying: yeah okay, so the bill collectors ended up the the people who needed the bills ended up catching on to what he was doing and they said it started setting bill collectors after him right and so he's like. I know what i'll do i'll move to new york a d an this is in the late eighteen hundreds. So it's like you had to save to you, nork you move out of state and you're almost untraceable at this point like you, you disappear off that how dad's left the yeah well move to new york, yeah, real and so why he was in new york. He was do that up until probably two thousand and two you could just disappear, just be gone for ever real yeah. That's actually pretty true! I can't do that now. You can't. I have the location of my phone on you or, like you, could look up my location in time. Yeah. You could never disappear from me. Okay, it sounded threatening the way you said it for go ahead. I'm not gonna, say boo. Okay, thanks! I hope that that's a disease, so he ends up. He ends up wise in new york. He's like well, i got to do thing different lot at work, bill, collecting kind of went bad on me. What am i going to get into? And so then he was like politics, and so he got into politics. He identify with the democratic party, and he- and this is in what year this is eighteen, seventy two okay, so he supports horace greeley, who was who was a candidate for a president and doesn't go well? He didn't win really yeah. He he prepared a speech for greeley and it didn't like greeley hated the speech and he was mad at gato about it and he was convinced that, but i'm having a hard time, greely guita greatly gato the two different people. Gatell, was convinced that of greeley. One greeley would make a tell the minister to the nation of chili for no reason like nothing ever was told to him, i'm the ministers of the nation of chilis, and so he was really really mine, us ambassador to chiles, so o chilos. After this, you want to go out, huh you go chilis after this kind of actually on one of o voi might as well go chilis you've heard of them. Eathen need, i you know about chiles. You know the chili, you know so dumb, so he was convinced that he would be gan, minika e h and then, when greeley lost he was mad at greeley, because he is i. This is your fault right. The speech is a one. It is you had my speech a yeah, but the speech had all bunch of stuff about my opponent's mom and i wasn't going to war that in front of a bunch of people m m his meanwhile, his marriage to ann is not going well or and on yeah is not going well. Any bones sounds like and you make up a little cartoon character and be it actually pretty accurate. It's really good. Well, they wanted to divorce and they by bun here's the thing they wanted a divorce, but at the day at that time you couldn't just get a divorce. Just because, like you had to have like a good reason for it yeah and really the only good region now, you probably should still have a good reason to get divorced. So you don't legally have to have one, but back then pretty much. The only legal reason you could get a divorce was infidelity yeah. So gato was like i'll just hire a prostitute and bring her to the court, and so he does that and then afterwards he makes her testily have to see it. You know the court doesn't have to like yeah, so you don't go to the court and be like my husband cheated on me and the courts like prove it prove it yeah. I don't see he he's not cheat on you right now. She a here she ain't here, that's how he talks she ain't here. I don't see her yeah, so he hires a lady yeah and a lady of you nork to come with him to court yeah yeah. So they get the divorce and then gato is like well, politics didn't work. Law was borning bill. Collecting was weird. The call was kind of fun, though, and says like i'll get back into theology, and so he writes a book on theology called the truth very well well named, which was a exact plagiarism from the work of noise. The cult leader, like he literally just, took his book and was like this is my book, the truth, the true el? What you could do you couldn't get there was no proof of that. You know yeah, there's no national distribution at that point, so he just stole his book and called it his own book an when did he get cot with that, while he became increasingly convinced that he was divinely inspired and he called himself the new paul and he was preach. He's like he's like i'm preaching a new gospel to the world when it was really a. He took the writings of noise, but somehow he was able to get like people to just listen to him and so on, housden ht here and enty seven. He actually gave a lecture at the congressional church in washington dc from his book, the truth, and so he had a lot of people kind of like eating out of the palm of his hand for a while, and as he was going down this religious road, okay, he began gaining some more political clout because he was in dc and everybody there. Everybody in dc at the time was very religious, and so he was gaining this political clout and so in the s he switched to the political party, are the republican party and got back into politics to help people in politics, which i want to for a second highlight this, because in the late eighteen hundreds phones just come out, yeah actually phones just came out. You could call someone across was doing during the sum arm. I don't know, i actually don't see anything in his life thought. What he did in so are probably nothing he's, probably working on his theology manifesto that he stole yeah. How do you work on that? His every day, you're like copy paste yeah? That's what he was doing copy pasting your on his macbook air. I kid you not so the republicans yeah, don't kid me e the republicans at this point. They split the republican party is split into two factions right and i can't make this up. This is the name of the two factions of the publican party, this time- hey thanks for being here for things alone last night, if you want bonus, content, early access to episodes and a whole lot more, including a discord channel. We have that available to our patron supporters to sign up for that and for info text till in to six six, eight six six. They were the stalwarts and the half breeds yeah yeah yeah, it's literally like some mary potter stuff it, as i was just sure i was trying to do that. You you jumped on it. I was going to be like yes, the sixth book yeah, so ill in other jokes. He he said you just bring this stuff and i'll file yeah. So i'll. Try, i'm not funny. All the time are youtube comments and reviews really are they tell us that we're not so he doing speaking of reviews, i do gosh yeah good idea. This part out, where i'm mad at him, goodness gracious, i teed you for actually a review we want to highlight is this review. We got that says jar, never edits it out. Yeah. We read your podcast reviews, so keep doing that please and we like them. We like him when they're funny and they make us laugh like that. I also like them when they're one star those are even finer. I don't leave on sar reviews like don't because i will hurt us yeah but like i enjoy the ones that genuinely hate our show on they had us yeah. It's funny, yeah yeah for real reviews for the podcast applied a lot so yeah play a second keep doing that to review it. Who who left that? Did they live a name? I don't think i actually. I think that one was a nominis. It's actually. We have like a hundred and ninety five reviews and it's all meats and grains and then one from my dad and then won from jos. It was literally he thought he was texting you he was like he was like hey. Is this bug your father's day? I was so confused on how he is bone, that he was texting me and accidentally left a podcast review even hit. The number of stars is like he's like. This is weird he's like. I guess this is a five star text message he's like. I feel good about it: five stark text twenty minute way to texas roy house. You know how we want to start fighting you perfec. We should do that. We should take pictures and in the captures, are all things we would just see in this text. Essais t messages go les, so anyway yeah. So he decides to sport, support the stall wards a tall, and so this time he tastes ulyssess grant side who beat his the person. He stated with last time he's like a perfect shegeig with the winner this time, and so he writes us a speech for us. Ses called grant against hancock, oh what a leader when things that go well with uluses, he sided with andrew garfield and he just took that same speech and just changed. Everything from in tha said grant to garford against hancock and so, and the speech starts with ask not because what the stalwarts can do for you yeah, because i mean that's all. It is the government's all plagiarism, yeah, ye and so what's great about it is i'm pretty sure both of those speeches were given, i'm pretty sure bliss as grant gave that speech and then gar and regard fill ended up. Giving that speech as well and all that changed was just the name grant to garfield and and so garvie ends up winning and now guato is like sweet. I am the new sort of chilling minsters his fascination do. We know where it came from. I have no idea like there's no explanation, but he, but he didn't get named, that he was just so yeah. He was just like i goniel now and and and garfias like well, not really he's like, but i wrote that peach he's like well, i mean you wrote it for ulysses and he gave that speech m and then i also gave it so no i mean like so i mean minister to chili. Well yeah. So that's actually really close. What happened. Garfield was like well actually pump the brakes bud. You're. Not we actually don't have one of those. We don't do ministers here in the us. I love the. I love the garfield talks like a startup company in san francisco actually pump. The breaks on that could be so over gave a pink cong yeah. I like you, know like we don't really have like. We don't have office, i know so i would want to fight my, but maybe we could. We could go to the talking corner, hmm yeah so pump the breaks the brakes there buddy so so gato. He realized that the president is too strong to kill with a knife. That's what he said in a quote and he's like so because i can't be the representative, i'm manhattas somebody else. That's in a quote: yeah! That's close! He starting to reporters he's like a. He was too trying to kill at his outside and someone's like hey hey. Why did you do it? How did you do it as well? He's too strong and kill, and nice literally the court said he said. Garfield would have crushed the life out of me with a single blow of his fist, and so he settled on a pistol instead to try to kill who's. He talking to, i don't know some reporters, so he borrows fifteen dollars from his ex wife's relative. Like i don't know what relative like his x, wise cousin, he's like he, any fun bucks, hey, what's what's annie up to well she's, making pretzels now, actually and and the profits are pretty good kind, borrow fifteen bucks. I got to get and bucks and so yeah. He buys fifteen bucks and he buys a revolver what she ended up, having to make a choice at the the gun store. Do i want a wooden grip or an ivory grip and he told reporters afterwards. He said he selected the ivory grip because he thought it would look better in a museum. What a psychopath so yeah he's electe ivory lit grip and he goes and he shoots andrew garfield and andegavian up dying in the hospital which, what's really sad about it, is modern. Doctors have looked back at what happened there. They've reviewed the case, and they think that angeal would have survived if he didn't go, seek medical attention because they were their sanitist was just so bad. He ended up getting infection and dying sexual, not of the actual bolt on, so they think he would have survived if he didn't go to the doctor after he got shot but like he would ave un a been better off to just not see the doctor right. That's why, when i got shot, i do for this they're going to kill me. They gook me. Well, that was actually coincidentally, when guato stood on trial, for is a wit de fence. He said i didn't kill him. That was his defense. He's, like literally a direct quote, was what was i didn't, kill him. I just shot him. The doctors killed them. That's a direct quote. I didn't kill him, i just shot up. I just shot. I i just shot them with that gun that you're going to put on display right yeah, that's going to be an busum right, so they ended up in chili in chili. Do i get to go to chili for a lean museum here i ask, is that you hang me in chile in a museum in emus, so they ended up convicting gain and they hung them yeah and the he. So he goes in to kind of like death row of the day and why i was in death row. He wrote this lengthy poem that he said in the poem hes that god commanded me to kill garfield and all this like crazy, just crazy theory stuff. But it's like this ethics are red, voles or blue. I bought me a gun because a knife wouldn't do god, tell me to kill garfield last line. Man doesn't really but it s, so he he wrote the like the like the poem he's that here's the best part about it, though one he wrote it from the perspective of a child. So when he was going to his execution, he recited the poem from memory in the voice of a child. So he was like in a falsetto this whole time, reciting this poem from the perspective of this child and that at all he wrote the poem to be accompanied by an orchestra kid's going in. Like i mean like, i would execute that person immediate. I wouldn't even let him get to the gallows, execute them quicker. Yeah killed faster, oh gosh, dude, like that's terrified, so yes he's he's reciting this pole and he wrote it to be accompanied by an orchestra, and so he kept asking the guards he's like where's. My orsato, please he's like. Where is my order? I you're kidding orchestra executed, we're not getting you n orcas like i need my orchestra and said, but then he just kept like powering through and he's like. He's like this is where the orcas orchestra, i i that was just part of the poemwhere's, my he the powers that be i never. Where is my orchestra will never understand me power of life. Is it will be a lot better if i and they were like we're gonna, i mean what do you do with that? I don't know. Is anybody? Was there anybody in the crowd who was like? I think we should get him an orchestra. Where was the violins from the titanic? Where were they at yeah? I so i are not set get this man i mean, and so in odness, one of the most poetic moments of poet, justice stupid go ahead. They ended up displaying his revolver at the smithsonian, but what i love about it is somewhere along the line. The smithsonian lost it and they don't know where it is they just they literally just like how we misplaced that, no his ghost, and to that's exactly what happed they misplaced it. They lost it. They have no idea where it is well to be fair. It's not what killed them so yeah. They should have put the doctor on this play. Here's the doctor who killed garse, yeah, that's a that's charles j gate or get out wow yeah you're right that wasn't even the most interesting art. It's the orchestra. For me, my goodness, i'm not a fan yeah. What a crazy man, what a crazy man yeah big fan at him. You know what this episode would be better with what an orchestra playing, but like a southern orchestra with a french like a french orchestra with a other accent playing fiddle, is a

You have to be a pretty crazy person to assassinate a United States President. But, for Charles J Guiteau, the man who assassinated the 20th President James A. Garfield, the assassination of the president was the least crazy thing he ever did. From a shady political career to cult ties to ax-wielding outbursts, Charles J Guiteau was certainly unhinged. He was so insane that his lawyers made the first-ever insanity plea while representing him in court following his assassination of President Garfield. This is the story of the absolutely crazy life that Charles J Guiteau lived.

The Early Life of Charles J Guiteau

Guiteau was brought up in the midwest as one of six children during the mid-1800s. After losing his grandfather, he inherited $1,000, which is equivalent to almost $30k today. Charles took his inheritance to Ann Arbor, Michigan, in hopes of attending the University of Michigan. However, he failed the entrance exam because his education had only provided him with a knowledge of French and algebra. He then moved to Oneida, New York, where he joined a cult.

A photograph of Charla J Guiteau the assassin responsible for killing President James Garfield
A Photograph of Charles J Guiteau
Photo provided by Wikipedia
Charles J Get Out

In New York, Guiteau joined the ubiquitous religious group known as the Oneida Community. The group, later labeled a cult, was known for its controversial views on marriage and perfection. The founder, John Humphry Noyes, believed that people had the ability to attain perfection. The cultist would gather to relentlessly point out each other’s flaws week in and week to maintain their sinful lifestyles. On more than one occasion, Charles had taken this practice too far and eventually earned himself the nickname Charles J Gitout, a clear play on his name. The strained relationship with other cult members eventually led Guiteau to leave the group on more than one occasion. After 5 years with the Oneida Community, Charles J Guiteau left for good.

Low Bar for the Law Bar

Charles J Guiteau found himself at a crossroads in life after leaving the Oneida Community. He had no home, no education, and no real work experience. So what was there for him to do now?

He ended up moving to Chicago and found employment at a local law firm. While there, he began studying law and managed to pass the cursory exam into the bar. With his newly minted credentials as a lawyer, Guiteau began to try to work his way into this lucrative industry. Unfortunately, Charles only argued one court in the case and failed to find work after that. It is not clear what happened that day in court—his lack of work after is pretty clear, though.

Charles Get Bills

After his short stint with a career in law, Charles became a bill collector. However, Guiteau stuck to the character in this line of work and rarely returned the fees he collected to his clients. Eventually, bill collectors started coming after him to collect the funds from the bills that Charles had collected. To evade his mounting debts, Charles moved to New York City in 1872.

Politics Take 1

Shortly after moving to New York City, Charles J Guiteau found himself in need of another career change. This time he turned to politics. He sided with the democratic party and began writing speeches for then-presidential candidate Horace Greeley. During the campaign, he became convinced that Greeley would grant him a role as minister to Chile. Unfortunately, this was a baseless belief, and Greeley’s loss to Ulysses S. Grant solidified that Guiteau would miss his opportunity to become minister to Chile.

A Career in Theology

A trend was beginning to take shape in the life of Charles Guiteau. After a few short years in a career that he was unqualified for, Charles once again was forced to forge a new path. This time he chose to pursue theology. He wrote a book title The Truth that was a near-complete copy of the writings of his former cult leader John Humphry Noyes. Despite being a plagiarist, Charles convinced himself that he was a divine messenger from God. His own father disagreed and called him possessed. Guiteau took his new religious fervor and traveled the nation preaching his new gospel.

Politics Take 2

While on a steamship in the Connecticut river Guiteau survived a crash that caused the sinking of another ship. He took his survival in the incident as a sign that he was meant for a higher purpose. Rather than the obvious answer of this purpose is to continue preaching the gospel he had been plagiarizing, he once again shifted careers. This time he found himself back in the political sphere.

He sided with the republican party and began writing speeches for Ulysses S Grant’s campaign for a third term. After James A Garfield won the Republican nomination, Guiteau shifted his allegiance to Garfield and began repurposing the speeches he wrote for Grant to be used by Garfield. When Garfield won the election, Charles believed it was his work writing speeches that earned Garfield the victory and began asking for the consulship in Vienna or Paris.

Guiteau vs. Garfield

It became quickly apparent that Garfield would not grant Charles with his request for the consulship. This fact caused Guiteau to snap. The man bought a revolver with an ivory grip because “it would look better in a museum.” Thus, on July 2nd, 1881, Charles J Guiteau shot the President. Although the injuries did not initially kill Garfield, the infections that followed led to the death of the United State’s 20th president.


The defense of Charles J Guiteau had a mountain to climb to make a case for their client. Not only had he taken the life of the leader of the nation, but he had a history full of crime. He had even taken an ax to his own sister. Then his lawyers devised a brilliant plan, insanity. They pleaded, for the first time, that their client acted out of insanity. Unfortunately, it was not enough to save him, and he was eventually hanged on June 30th, 1882. In perfect irony, after years on display, the Smithsonian somehow lost the ivory gripped handgun used in the assassination. The life of Charles J Guiteau was insane, so it’s only fair that his life would birth the legal method known as the insanity plea.

Learn more about the absolutely bonkers life of Charles J Guiteau in this episode of Things I Learned Last Night. Things I Learned Last Night is an educational comedy podcast where best friends Jaron Myers and Tim Stone talk about random topics and have fun all along the way. If you like learning, and laughing a whole lot while you do, then you’ll love TILLN. Watch or listen to this episode right now!




Charles J Guiteau – Wikipedia

James A Garfield – Wikipedia

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