Guiteau and the Assassination of President Garfield - WHERE IS THE BULLET?

The President's doctors did what they thought was right. The problem is, what the doctors thought was wrong.

Without using sterilization (which was a new concept in 1881), attending physicians probed the President's wound with unwashed fingers and unsterilized medical devices. First Dr. D.W. Bliss looked for the elusive bullet. Then the Surgeon General of the Army, followed by the Surgeon General of the Navy, unsuccessfully hunted for it. These, of course, were the days before X-rays allowed doctors to look inside a human body.

Even Alexander Graham Bell (who had invented the "photophone" in 1880) was summoned to find the missing bullet. Using his new metal-detecting device, Bell hooked up his gadget to the President. At first everyone thought Bell had successfully located the slug. But when surgeons operated on the President, they STILL did not locate the bullet. Only then did anyone realize the great inventor had actually detected the metal mattress coils of the President's bed. The bullet, lodged near Garfield's vertebrae, was never found while the President was alive.

After all the unsterilized probing of the President's body, including at least one nick of his liver, Garfield developed a massive infection. Blood poisoning, perhaps from the bullet, complicated his condition. After 2½ months of anguished suffering, James Garfield died at 10:30 p.m. on 19 September 1881.

Chester Arthur was sworn in as President. And Charles Jules Guiteau would now be tried for capital murder.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5156stories and lessons created

Original Release: Nov 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: Dec 19, 2013

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"WHERE IS THE BULLET?" AwesomeStories.com. Nov 01, 2004. Jun 20, 2018.
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