Garfield’s Assassination, part 2

This is Garfield’s congregation.  Which puts into perspective Garfield’s diary excerpt the week before calling a sermon “a very stupid sermon on a very great subject”.

He who studies the movement of American society cannot fail to see that we are under a reign of selfishness in striking contrast to 40 years ago.  As one newspaper said this morning, office-seeking, office-hunting, and looking after spoils have become the main object of life.  Each man is trying his best to crowd the others out.  We are having disgraceful political fights, and we may expect to see these scenes intensified.  Money, money is the craze all over the land; get money, no matter how, is the popular cry.  Why?  Because pleasure is the chief end of man.  Such is the tone of American society today, and it grieves me to say it.  Its apostles are lionized.  The men who are stabbing American morals and constitutional government to the vitals are held up as emamples to follow and admire.  I say to you that the President’s assassination is directly chargeable to this philosophy of good living that is pervading the minds of the public today, and assassinations will be multiplied unless we call a halt.  I predict that in less than 25 years, if matters go as they are going, we will have the Roman Arena in this country, and I do not think it improbable that gladiatorial combat will be restored.

I have thought proper, my dear friends, to make these remarks to you today to call your attention to the calamity which has occurred, and to the real reason for it.  Under the utterances of the assassin we discover the principles of epicurean philosophy.  May be the God, in His goodness, intended to awaken them.  One reason I had hoped against hope for the President’s restoration to health is that I cannot help but think he has a great work to perform.  Still, it may be taht more can be accomplished by his death than by his recovery.  I doubt not that a great work was accomplished by the death of Abraham Lincoln.  I never doubted that his murder was providential.  Even the assassin who stuck with such vengeful fury yesterday may have brought good which could not have been secured in any other way.  Let us pray, if God wishes, that he will continue the life of James A Garfield.   [Amen]  It is right in any event that our prayers should go up to that end.  But if God in his providence thinks it better to take James A Garfield to himself, we may be content to see him die.

— Rev. M. Harbison, visiting for Rev Power, Church of Disciples


Our much boasted universal suffrage, our power and our shield, as in our enthusiasm we are want to term it, is not without its drawbacks, not without its dangers to our Nation.  I believe in popular suffrage to the full; but in the name of intelligence and virtue and common honesty, not say decency, I am against the system that places unrestricted power in the hands of the paupers and criminals whom Europe is pouring upon our shores by tens of thousands.
— Reverend Dr. JP Newman

Philadelphia Press
We have not yet become so Mexicanized that assassination is employed as a political weapon.  This crime, which plunges a whole Nation into sorrow, is the deed of one maddened fanatic, crzed it may be, by political excitement and wrought into a morbid state by imaginary wrongs, but representing nothing but his own insanity.
Pastors through, some more news items.
Washington Star
Laying aside its effects upon the incumbent of that high place and those immediately connected with him, and without attaching much importance to the character or purpose of the murderer, the fat that two Presidents have fallen by the bullet of an assassin, raises the question whether the simple surroundings and quiet modes of life heretofor adopted by our Presidents are consistent with the genious of our institutions and becoming to the head of a Republican form of government are, after all, wise and sufficiently safe.  If the Chief Executive of the Nation is to be a target for the bullet of lunatics, disappointed aspirants for office, or political malcontents, it will be necessary to surround the office and its incumbent by more formal and efficient means of protection than have yet been devised or thought necessary.

And you got to love the British Tories!

London Standard
It would almost seem as if a wave of revolutionary ruffianism is passing over the world.  We are not alone in suffering from its violence.  It is not England only, nor yet only Russia, only Germany, only Italy, that feels the shock.  The American Republic itself has just experienced its malevolence in a peculiarly painful manner.  It matters not whether the assassin of President Garfield had or had not associates in his hateful enterprise.  His act was revolutionary, was ruffianly, and was stamped with that vicious character of personal vengeance which marks all the attempts of the party of disorder.  They do not even aim at a rough sort of justice.  All they seek to do is to kill somebody or other, to alarm a great number of persons, and to disconnect society.  They seek to establish a reign of terror by spasmodic explosions, by irregularly recurring strokes of the dagger, by all and every of the fitful expedients of vague and general vengeance.  The American people are much too shrewd to be the dupes of the blatant adventurers who seek to raise a skirmishing fund to put an end to the tyranny of Great Britain.  They know thoroughly well that if England is suffering from any disease or any cause whatever, it is not from too little liberty, but from too much; not from the cankor of tyrnny, but from the enfeeblement of that just authority and those legitimate restraints, without the cooperation of which society never yet was held together.  Knowing this, and reflecting upon it, they will hardly refrain from drawing the conclusion that what is our case today may be theirs tomorrow.

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