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Unintended Consequences

June 17, 2014

The Stalwart faction of the Republican party campaigned for Garfield’s election and hoped they could control him when he became President, but Garfield surprised them by disregarding the tradition of Senatorial Courtesy.  When chief Stalwart Roscoe Conkling resigned from the Senate in protest, Garfield wrote in his diary: “…a very weak attempt at the heroic.  If I do not mistake, it will be received with guffaws of laughter.”  Garfield was right.  Conkling had shot himself in the foot.

Meanwhile, Charles Guiteau was still seeking appointment to political office, and he was convinced that Garfield was overly influenced by Half-Breed James Blaine.  If Garfield were out of the picture, Stalwart Chester Arthur would become President.  Then, Guiteau reasoned, the right people would be receiving the patronage.

Guiteau had hoped Garfield would appoint him Ambassador to some European country, but Garfield did not even retain former President Grant’s good friend Adam Badeau as consul general in London.  Something had to be done.  Guiteau would have to sacrifice his own future for the sake of the Stalwart faction.  It would do no good to implicate his fellow Stalwarts by consulting with them.  He would have to act alone.  If he couldn’t be an Ambassador, he would become an assassin.

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