Letter from Charles J. Guiteau, the assassin of President James A. Garfield, to his defense attorney while on trial in Washington, D.C. The letter is dated January 4th, 1882, days before his conviction and sentencing.
The letter is written on a postal card, measures 3″ x 5.25″. Housed in custom blue cloth folder, title in gilt on cover over red morocco label. Encapsulated in archival sleeve.
The letter reads as follows: “Jan 4, 1882 / 4PM / Mr. Scoville, Please come see me at once about my meals. There is far more danger of my being poisoned from jail food than other wise…C.G.” The letter is addressed to “Attn. Scoville / Tremont House / Washington D.C. / C.J. Guiteau / January 4/82.”
Presidential assassin Charles Guiteau had good reason to fear being poisoned while in jail. Three months prior to this letter, a prison guard named William Mason fired at Guiteau, but missed. Mason was sentenced to 8-years in prison for the offense. The recipient of this letter, George Scoville, was Guiteau’s brother-in-law and lead defense attorney. Guiteau, also an attorney, believed he could defend himself, but the judge disagreed and appointed council. Scoville pursued an insanity defense, which was met with anger and outbursts by Guiteau. He was sentenced to death by hanging on June 30th, 1882, which was met with cheers by the crowd.