Loading Events
This event has passed.

Murder of a President 

American Experience Films/PBS 

Directed by Rob Rapley 

2 hours, 30 minutes 

On March 4, 1881, James Garfield became the 20th president of the United States—a position he would hold for only 200 days. Garfield rose from poverty to become the most powerful man in the United States, and many Americans believed he had the potential to become one of the country’s truly great presidents. But on July 2, mentally disturbed drifter Charles Guiteau shot President Garfield as he walked through the Baltimore and Potomac train station. Garfield survived the immediate shooting, but, with the importance of sterilization not yet realized by most American medical professionals, infection set in, killing the president 79 days later. 

For many Americans, James Garfield represented not only an American’s capacity to rise up in the world, but also the larger notion of what they believed the Union had fought for—equal opportunity for all men, black or white. With his death, many feared that vision died. But instead of Garfield’s vision dying with him, his death brought together the American public in a way they had not been united since well before the Civil War. The hope that Garfield had given them for a better day, a more just and equal America, would be carried forward in the decades to come. 

“Murder of a President” is based on Candice Millard’s bestselling and Edgar Award-winning book, “Destiny of the Republic.”