Destiny of the Republic: A Brief History

Destiny of the Republic is a captivating historical book written by Candice Millard. It tells the remarkable story of James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, and his untimely assassination. This gripping narrative explores Garfield’s rise to power, his assassination, and the subsequent events that unfolded in the wake of his death.

The Assassination of James A. Garfield

In July 1881, James A. Garfield took office as President of the United States. Just a few months later, on July 2nd, Garfield was shot by Charles J. Guiteau, a delusional man who believed he deserved a government post. The book chronicles the events leading up to the assassination and provides a detailed account of the aftermath.

The Medical Debacle

One of the most intriguing aspects of Destiny of the Republic is Millard’s exploration of the medical treatment Garfield received following the shooting. At the time, medical knowledge and practice were far from advanced, and Garfield’s doctors made several critical mistakes that ultimately led to his death. Millard delves into the various medical theories, methods, and controversies surrounding the treatment of Garfield, creating a suspenseful and tragic narrative.

Political Climate and Consequences

Destiny of the Republic also provides valuable insights into the political climate of the time. It delves into the political divisions within the Republican Party, the influence of powerful figures like Roscoe Conkling, and the overwhelming support Garfield garnered from the American public. The book also explores the repercussions of Garfield’s assassination, including the trial of Charles Guiteau and the subsequent reforms in civil service and presidential security.

Accolades and Critiques

Candice Millard received widespread acclaim for Destiny of the Republic. The book was a New York Times bestseller and was praised for its thorough research, compelling storytelling, and ability to bring history to life. Millard’s meticulous attention to detail and her ability to make complex historical events accessible to a broad readership were particularly commended by critics.

Key Figures in the Book

Destiny of the Republic introduces readers to several important figures in the life of James A. Garfield and the events surrounding his assassination:

James A. Garfield: The 20th President of the United States

Garfield’s rise to power, his humble beginnings, and his tragically short presidency are at the heart of the narrative.

Charles J. Guiteau: Garfield’s Assassin

Guiteau’s delusions and his fateful decision to shoot President Garfield serve as the catalyst for the events that unfold in the book.

Dr. Willard Bliss: The Controversial Physician

As Garfield’s attending physician, Dr. Bliss played a significant role in the unsuccessful treatment of the President’s gunshot wounds.

Lucretia Garfield: The President’s Wife

Lucretia Garfield’s unwavering support throughout her husband’s ordeal and her later efforts to preserve his legacy are highlighted in the book.

Destiny of the Republic is a captivating narrative that sheds light on a pivotal moment in American history. Through its meticulous research, engaging storytelling, and impeccable character development, Candice Millard provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of the events surrounding James A. Garfield’s presidency and assassination.

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