Back in Time: Funeral of Pres. James A. Garfield

President James A. Garfield was shot on July 2, 1881 by Charles J. Guiteau at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D. C. The President lingered for 79 days before succumbing to an infection and passed away September 19, 1881.

Guiteau had apparently felt snubbed after being involved on the fringes of the presidential campaign and not being appointed to a political post after the election. Guiteau was convicted of the murder of Garfield on January 25, 1882 and he was hanged on June 30, 1882.

After his death, Garfield’s body was taken to the Capitol Building where it was viewed by 100,000 mourners before it was removed to Cleveland, Ohio for a funeral and burial. The City erected a pavilion guarded by hundreds of military and civilian personnel. The Marine Band led by Conductor John Phillip Sousa performed a piece that he had composed for the occasion, “In Memoriam of President Garfield” and three other works: “Safe in the arms of Jesus” by Deane, “Inflammatus” from the “Stabat Mater” by Rossini and “Nearer my God to Thee” by Mason.

The funeral service included more hymns, a funeral sermon given by Rev. Isaac Everett. The services closed with the reading and singing of Garfield’s favorite hymn which included the following lyrics: “Ho, reaper of life’s harvest, why stand with rusting blade, until the night draws round thee, and day begins to fade.”

The United States Marine Band also participated in the graveside services, as noted below:

from the Ogden Standard, September 27, 1881

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