How President Garfield’s death changed America – Lillian Cunningham, the Washington Post Presidential Podcast

Garfield was physically robust, and likely would have survived his shooting, but the doctors got to him instead. They poked their dirty fingers around in his wounds and killed him with infection. Garfield’s death brought antisepsis into the mainstream of medical practice in the US — it was already gaining traction in Europe — but too late for Garfield.

Garfield came up from poverty and fought for the rights of African-Americans, and against political patronage.

The Presidential podcast looks at his life and work:

Only 100 days into office, President James A. Garfield was shot down in a train station in 1881 by a disturbed office seeker. The newest episode of the Presidential podcast tells the dark story of Garfield’s murder and his medical treatment, but also illuminates some of the brightest, most overlooked aspects of his life story.

“Destiny of the Republic” author Candice Millard and Michelle Krowl, of the Library of Congress, take listeners through Garfield’s impoverished beginnings, his fierce intellect, his gregarious nature—and the way his death changed both American medicine and the civil service.

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