Excerpts from the Trial Transcript: Summation of Guiteau

Charles J. Guiteau

Charles Guiteau Speaks to Jury
(January 15, 1882)

" I am going to sit down, because I can talk. I am not afraid of anyone shooting me.  This shooting business is declining."

"I am not here as a wicked man, or as a lunatic, I am here as a patriot and my speech is as follows.  I read from the New York Herald, gentlemen. It was sent by telegraph Sunday, and published in all the leading papers in America Monday."

"If the court please, gentlemen of the jury: I am a patriot. To-day I suffer in bonds as a patriot. Washington was a patriot. Grant was a patriot. Washington led the armies of the Revolution through eight years of bloody war to victory and glory.  Grant led the armies of the Union to victory and glory, and today the nation is prosperous and happy.  They raised the old way-cry, 'Rally round the flag, boys,' and thousands of the choicest sons of the Republic went forth to battle, to victory or death. Washington and Grant, by their valor and success in war, won the admiration of mankind.  Today I suffer in bonds as a patriot, because I had the inspiration and nerve to unite a great political party, to the end that the nation might be saved another desolating war.  In the grief and mourning that followed President Garfield's death, all contention ceased....."

[Guiteau here argues that there was no malice in his action, and hence no homicide.  Second, the contends that medical malpractice was to blame for the President's death.]

"The Deity allowed the Doctors to finish my work gradually, because he wanted to prepare the people for the change and also to confirm my original inspiration.  I am well satisfied with the Deity's conduct of the case thus far, and I have not doubt that He will continue to father it to the end, and that the public will sooner or later see the special providence in the late President's removal."

[Guiteau here argues how the death of Garfield would end the worsening political strife. He argued that Americans were now coming around to his view, and he read letters and poems sent to him--many of which predicted a future in which Americans would accept the divine origin of his inspiration.].

"As sure as you are alive, gentlemen, as sure as you are alive, if a hair of my head is harmed this nation will go down to desolation... all you can do is put my body in the ground, but this nation will pay for it as sure as you are alive.  To hang a man in my mental condition on July 2 would be a lasting disgrace to the American people; they did not want the Republican party's savior hung. The mothers and daughters of the republic are praying that your will vindicate my inspiration, and their prayers I expect will prevail. A woman's instinct is keener than man's, and I pray you listen to the prayers of these ladies."

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