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  » Appendix IX
  » Appendix X
  » Appendix XI
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  » Appendix XIV
  » Appendix XV
  » Appendix XVI
  » Appendix XVII
  » Appendix XVIII
Warren Commission Report: Page 507« Previous | Next »

(APPENDIX VII - A Brief History of Presidential Protection)

vestigation of the assassination, but with traditional reluctance, called for no action to provide better protection for the President in the future. Nor did requests for protective measures come from the President or from Government departments. This lack of concern for the protection of the President may have derived also from the tendency of the time to regard Lincoln's assassination as part of a unique crisis that was not likely to happen to a future Chief Executive. 15


For a short time after the war, soldiers assigned by the War Department continued to protect the White House and its grounds. Metropolitan Washington policemen assisted on special occasions to maintain order and prevent the congregation of crowds. The permanent Metropolitan Police guard was reduced to three and assigned entirely to protection at the White House. There was no special group of trained officers to protect the person of the President. Presidents after Lincoln continued to move about in Washington virtually unattended, as their predecessors had done before the Civil War, and, as before, such protection as they got at the White House came from the doormen, who were not especially trained for guard duty.16

This lack of personal protection for the President came again tragically to the attention of the country with the shooting of President James A. Garfield in 1881. The President's assassin, Charles J. Guiteau, was a self-styled "lawyer, theologian, and politician" who had convinced himself that his unsolicited efforts to help elect Garfield in 1880 entitled him to appointment as a consul in Europe. Bitterly disappointed that the President ignored his repeated written requests for appointment to office and obsessed with a kind of megalomania, he resolved to kill Garfield.

At that time Guiteau was 38 years old and had an unusually checkered career behind him. He had been an itinerant and generally unsuccessful lecturer and evangelist, a lawyer, and a would-be politician. While it is true he resented Garfield's failure to appoint him consul in Paris as a reward for his wholly illusory contribution to the Garfield campaign, and he verbally attacked Garfield for his lack of support for the so-called Stalwart wing of the Republican Party, these may not have supplied the total motivation for his crime. At his trial he testified that the "Deity" had commanded him to remove the President. There is no evidence that he confided his assassination plans to anyone or that he had any close friends or confidants. He made his attack on the President under circumstances where escape after the shooting was inconceivable. There were some hereditary mental problems in his family and Guiteau apparently believed in divine inspiration. 17

Guiteau later testified that he had had three opportunities to attack the President prior to the actual shooting. On all of these occasions,

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