‘Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and Murder’ is a new book written by Candice Millard of Kansas City. It’s the story of the shooting of President James Garfield by Charles Guiteau in 1881. The president lingered for more than two months while physician Dr. Doctor Bliss (Doctor was his given first name) effectively botched Garfield’s treatment.
Rejecting the new concept of sterilization of wounds and instruments, doctors repeatedly probed Garfield’s wounds with dirty fingers. They never found the bullet. Their ignorant infection killed Garfield … and he was in constant agony.
Guiteau argued at trial that he actually did not kill the president, the doctors did. He was right, but he was hanged anyway. The nation would not accept anything else.
Millard gives us a look at James Garfield, a president about whom I knew almost nothing. She also tells us about Alexander Graham Bell’s involvement in trying to locate the bullet.
It’s a good read.
Our thought for today is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
“The love of learning, the sequestered nooks. And all the sweet serenity of books.”