Sunday, January 31, 2016

PBS debuts episode on Garfield's assassination

The Gilded Era was a rough time for U.S. presidents.  There were two assassinations, two misfires (elections where the candidate winning the most popular votes nonetheless lost in the electoral college), and a farmers' revolt.  It was an era where Congress yielded the greatest power.

America's 20th president, James A. Garfield, was the second chief executive to be assassinated.
In a new feature in its American Experience series titled "Murder of a President" that premieres on Tuesday, 2 Feb., PBS tells the story of Garfield's rise to the White House, the assassin who shot him, and the unbelievably bizarre story of the medical care he received after being shot.  You can preview the first episode by clicking here.
The PBS website accompanying this series is filled with all the materials you would need to support a lesson on President Garfield with your students.  There are background articles that put Garfield's presidency in context, photographs, primary sources, and links to other resources.  My favorite linked resource is to the website (curated by the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law) that tells the story of the trial of Garfield's assassin.

The PBS video is based upon Candace Millard's Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.  Millard discussed her book, and the circumstances of Garfield's assassination, in this interview.
This looks like a good watch.  The New York Times called the series "particularly engrossing."  The fact that its running now, while we are finishing our studies of the Gilded Age, make this series "particularly timely."

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