James A. Garfield – Ira Rutkow

Last president born in log cabin. Born in the Western Reserve. Close to what is now Cleveland. Great student at Williams College. Good at debate. Considered one of the best-educated presidents.
 
Long-time congressman from Ohio. Was a radical Republican, voted for the impeachment of Johnson. Not a Lincoln fan, felt he wasn’t aggressive enough.
 
Elected to Senate. Backed Blaine for presidential nomination. Disputed convention, Blaine supporters eventually threw support to Garfield. Eventually he won out over Grant.
 
Made Blaine Sec. of State. He preceded to attempt to control Garfield. Assignment outraged Conkling, boss of NY politics. 
 
He and his vice-president did not like each other. Author was aligned with Conkling, a Stalwart. 
 
Garfield refinanced the national debt, reducing the interest debt by 40%. Was agressive in bring Hawaii under US influence.
 
The “Star Route” scandal involved post office officials pocketing funds from rural routes that generated additional money do to their rural nature (they  didn’t’ really deliver the mail, just kept the money). To his credit, Garfield did not attempt to shield his campaign  manager or primary fund-raiser when their involvement was discovered.
 
Charles Guiteau shot Garfield at the Baltimore and Washington train depot. Garfield was headed to New England for a two-week vacation with his wife (she was already in the North East, recovering from an illness). Guiteau was a nut-job who had been pestering the Garfield administration for a position. He claimed he acted to save the  republic from Garfield. 
 
The doctors gave him champagne to counter liver hemorrhage. oh boy. The doctor’s fought vigorously about Garfield’s care. Dr. Bliss won out, over the objection of several more qualified doctors. 
 
Book provided a lot of information on the history  of medicine (written by a doctor).  Basically, there were two schools of though: Allopaths, who believed in strong remedies to produce the opposite affect of a disease, and homopaths, who basically believed the opposite. Neither really led to particularly effective treatments. The Allopaths probably did more harm.
 
In the 1860’s doctor Joseph Lister made the connection between sterilization techniques and positive surgical outcomes. His thoughts were well-known by the time Garfield was shot, but not well-accepted by U.S. doctors, especially older ones, such as those that treated Garfield.
 
Author notes that Garfield’s wound was similar to Reagan’s. He would  have recovered quickly with modern medical treatment.  
 

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