1881: James Garfield’s Son

Autumn White, guest writer

I was 16 years of age when I had lost all hope for the world. It was my worst year yet. That year I lost my dad, a few friends and family. But let me take you back to where it all started.


March 4, 1881, my best friend John and I were at the White House to watch my dad, James A. Garfield, be sworn in as the 20th president. That day was the best day ever for me and my family. The sun was shone extremely brightly and there were no clouds to be seen for miles. Since my father was receiving the privilege to reign as president, it made me open my eyes and start to look into my future. I wanted to meet my father’s expectations as well as play golf for a good college. As I started looking to various colleges, I discovered a nice baptist school in Atlanta, Georgia. I applied to Morehouse College, and later on received an acceptance letter. My best friend and I arrived at the school the next month.


“Scott, It’s time to go! We still have to pick up John,” my mother hurriedly yelled from across the house, trying to get us both back to our dorm room.

Today, I am headed back to college in order to start my journey of becoming a politician like my father.

“John, hurry up! We’ve got to go, we will be late for the train,” I said, rushing into his house.

“One second, I need to tell my parents, goodbye.”

5 minutes transpired.

“It’s about time! You better hope this does not make us late for the train.”

“Sorry, Mom would not let me go.”

“You’re such a mama’s boy,” I teased.

An hour later, we arrived at the train station. We got onto the train and said our goodbyes to my parents; we left for Atlanta.  It took about 13 hours to get to Atlanta. Once we arrived, a car waited for us, we put our luggage into the trunk, and we were off to Morehouse College. This college is an all male school, so I do not have to worry about dealing with girls and I can work on getting good grades. Plus, I could never get a girl; John always could but never me. The car dropped us off and we went to our dorm.

“Hey, Scott you want to go golfing?”

“Well, of course I would love too!”

We got to the golf course and started the game. I’m pretty good at golf, John on the other hand, let’s just say if you are on the course or near him you need to stay back like 100 feet. My first hit I got a hole-in-one, John just hit it into the lake three different times.

“Why, are you so good at this? Ugh! I’m done. I’m going to back to the dorm,” John lamented.

“Come on John. One more hole and I’ll go back with you, ok?”

“Fine. One more hole.”

We went to the 8th hole. John hit it into the woods for the 50th time. On the other hand, I hit another hole-in-one, my 5th one of the day.

“I told you I suck, I going back to the dorm.”

“Wait up John, I’ll go with you.”


A month went by and it was time for finals. Today, I’m taking my last test and hopefully I will pass my class with an A.

“John, how did you do on your finals?”

“I do not know yet, I think I did really well but I’m not sure, my teacher has not put them in.”

“I got an A on one of my business finals.”

“Wow, that’s great!”


We finish are finals and we will be able to go home this week. I just can’t wait to be home with my family.

“You ready to head home?” I said happily

“Yes, I’m so ready!”

The car came and picked us up, and we were off to the train station finally being able to be home for the summer. We got to the train station and got onto the plane and took off to Washington, D.C. I was so excited to be home and be able to hang out with my dad and play golf with him. When we got home, I dropped off John at his house, and I went to my house, the White House. It was great to see my dad working in the White House.

“Hey. Dad, I’m home!”

“Hey. Son, how are you? I missed you so much!”

“I missed you, too, Dad! Can we go golfing?”

“Sorry. Son, but I can’t, I have so many things to get done.”

“Oh, ok. Maybe another time.” I said in a depressed voice.

I turned to leave the room. Before I could leave my dad, he saw that I was sad. He said to me, “Hey, son wait! How about we go to New Jersey for vacation? We can play then.”

“Really? That sounds great. When will we leave?”

“July 2nd. Is that ok with you?”

“Yes, that would be so fun. I can’t wait! I miss hanging out with you!”

“Ok, great it’s a set date.”


“Scott, you ready to go?” My dad yelled to me.

“Ok, the car is outside waiting for us, so hurry up!”

Today is July 2nd. We are leaving for New Jersey to spend time with my dad. We got into the car and we were off to the train station. We got to the train station in Baltimore and Potomac Railroad station when everything changed.

“Sir, how much longer until the train leaves?” James asked.

“In about 10 minutes or so, Mr. President,” The police officer replied.

As we were walking toward the waiting room, a man dressed in black came six feet behind my father. “He took his Bulldog Revolver Bulldog Revolver out of his coat, leveled it across his arm, and fired” (James). My heart stopped as I watched the first bullet go through my father’s “right coat sleeve, causing a slight flesh wound of the upper arm” (Rutkow).  Then the second shot went off entering my father’s middle right side of his back. My father fell to the ground. Soon after the shots went off, the station filled with panicked screams from bystanders. The gun man made an attempt to flee, but a man blocked the door, allowing a police officer to catch him. Meanwhile, my father laid out on the train floor, bleeding a puddle of blood out from his back wound.

“Please, someone help him! Don’t let him die! Dad, stay strong! They’re  going to help you.”

“Within minutes, 10 different doctors had arrived to examine him and try to locate the second bullet” (Andrews). But none of the doctors could find the bullet. I screamed at the doctors  urging them to help him. They took him back to the White House, Where the doctors tried to get him better.

The doctors feared that he would not make it through the night. My father stayed strong for me while he laid on his death.

“The upper story is alright,” he said. “It’s only the hull that is damaged” (Andrews).

I still don’t know what he meant by that. While my father fought for his life, news got out of who the man that shot him. His name was Charles J. Guiteau, they said that he shot my father because God told him to do it. I don’t believe that. I think he just did that so people wouldn’t hate him. Guiteau stayed in jail while he waited for his jury date. They moved my father to a house in New Jersey where he would recover from his wounds.


It’s now been a month since my father was shot, and he’s not gotten better. The doctors are still trying to get the bullet out of him but can find it. A man named Alexander Graham Bell decided to make this thing called a metal detector to hope to find the bullet in my father’s back. Bell was on a time crunch time, “he hurriedly invented a crude metal detector in an unsuccessful attempt to locate the fatal slug. Bell’s metal detector was an electromagnetic device he called the induction balance” (Bellis). While my father was laying on his death bed, the fifth hurricane hit North Carolina and Virginia on August 27, 1881. Seven-hundred people lost their lives, some of them were my family members and close friends. I was so depressed when I heard of the new that they passed away. I became so depressed through the year. My father was not getting better at all. My mom is a disaster, she cries every night; I’m pretty sure she cries her self to sleep. I wish I could help her some way but I don’t know how.


I got a call from my mom today saying I need to come home right now. I was out with John playing golf trying to get my mind off of things. I did not have a clue why I needed to be home, but I did not think it was good. I got to the house and went into my dad’s room. When I saw my mom, I knew what was wrong.

“No, he can’t be dead! no, Dad wake up! wake up!” I said to him as I tried waking him up. “We never got to play golf like you said we would, please, please wake up!”

“I’m so sorry son, but he’s gone, he passed away just 30 minutes ago.” The doctor told me in a distorted voice.

My father passed on September 12, 1881; he survived 80 days after being shot from that horrible man. I still hate Guiteau, he took my father from me. To this day, I have not forgiven him and I probably will never forgive him. We buried him three days after he passed.


A month has passed since my father passed away. I’m back at college, but I decided to change my major. I changed it to security; I wanted to become a cop and make sure that no kid would have to ever go through what I went through with my father. As I get older, I’m going to protect people. I will especially protect the important people-like the president. I’m going to get more people to become a cop so future presidents can have proper protection.


It’s June 30, 1882. Guiteau is supposed to be hung today for killing my father, the 20th president. I wish they weren’t going to hang him. I wish he would be the first one to try out the electric chair. He took my father away from me; I want him to feel pain the way I did when I lost my father. But they hanged him instead.


It’s been ten years since I lost my father. John and I are now bodyguard for president Harrison. It’s the best job ever, but I wish my father could see how I am doing. I still play golf. Every year on the day my father got shot and the day he died I play golf in honor of him.












Works Cited

Andrews, Evan. “The Assassination of President James A. Garfield.” History.com. A&E                           Television Networks, 01 July 2016. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

Bellis, Mary. “The Evolution of the Metal Detector.” ThoughtCo. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

“James Garfield.” The White House. The United States Government. 08 Mar. 2017. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

“President James Garfield Dies.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 05 Apr.                    2017.

“The American Presidency.” The American Presidency. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.


Rutkow, Ira M. James A. Garfield. New York: Times, 2006. Print.