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On Sept. 19, 1881 Birmingham citizens assembled to express their grief

President James Abram Garfield was assassinated on July 2, 1881. He lingered for eleven weeks and died on September 19, 1881 at Long Branch, New Jersey.

President Garfield's cottage Long Branch, New Jersey (Library of Congress) (2)President Garfield’s cottage Long Branch, New Jersey (Keystone View Co. 1926 – Library of Congress)

The day after his death on Monday, was followed Tuesday morning by a call for the citizens of Birmingham and Jefferson County to assemble in a mass meeting at 2 p.m to express their grief. At the appointed hour the bells of the city tolled and the people met in solemn convocation at the Court-house. Mayor Jeffers and a number of public and private citizens spoke. Resolutions appropriate for the occasion were delivered and adopted unanimously.

President Garfield and family 1881 (Library of Congress)President Garfield and family 1881 (created by E.P. & L. Restein, Library of Congress)

This transcription below is an editorial from the Birmingham Iron Age of September 22, 1881.


After eleven weeks of deep suffering, James A. Garfield, President of the United States, passed from time to eternity on Monday night last, at 10:35 o’clock. The event was not unexpected, but the shock produced by the nation’s calamity seems no less great than a sudden taking away might have created.

President Garfield portrait 1870 (Library of Congress)President Garfield portrait between 1870-1880 (Library of Congress)

The head of the American governmental is dead, and the administration passes into the hands of one who is yet to be tried. Upon the strength of Mr. Arthur’s wisdom, the magnitude of his heart, the virtue of his manhood, alone can be measured the full extent of this calamity.

Grave covers every fault of manhood

Eulogies have been pronounced over the dead President: words of high encomium are echoed throughout the land over the dead man. The tongues of orators, the press, and the electric wires have borne the panegyric which declares, in no uncertain sounds’; that in America the grave covers every fault of manhood when that manhood achieved worldly success and worldly glory. Far be it from the intention of the writer to detract one iota from the record made by him whose memory the people seem to love to honor. Rather would he forget the past, estop the rush of memory, and let the good that Garfield did live long after him, and the evil, if any there was, to be buried forever.

People of America unite

A touch of sympathy oftimes makes the whole world akin. The dispensation of an all wise God may unite the people of America and cement strong and durable ties of brotherhood by the blood of the murdered President. He who permitted the assassin to strike the blow may blot out sectional lines by the blood thus drawn; and while the whole country mourns for the stricken mother, wife and children, to Him who rules all men and nations let us leave the ends of justice.

Chester A. Arthur is now President of the United States. As loyal citizens let us do him reverence and affirm our allegiance to the land he governs. As a sorrowing people let us hope for the best.

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  • Who Controlled And Organized The New State of Alabama?
  • Tuscaloosa Had Three Other Names
  • Chandelier Falls & Capitol Burns
  • Alabama Throws Parties For General LaFayette
  • Francis Scott Key Was Sent to Alabama To Solve Problems

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Have you ever heard the song about the the man that killed Garfield. My Grannie would sing it to me all the time.

    1. No, but can you by chance give us the name and author of said song?

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