On Monday September 26, 1881 our 20th President James A. Garfield was laid to rest in Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio after complications from a gunshot wound took his life. Though the disillusioned Federal office seeker Charles J. Guiteau had attempted to assassinate Garfield on July 2, 1881, it is widely believed that the gunshot wound would not have been fatal and had the medical care of the 1880’s truly understood the correlation between germs and infection.
Though one of the most lavish funerals to date was held in Cleveland, other cities around the country also held funeral rites. New Orleans was one of these cities.
In A history of the proceedings in the city of New Orleans, on the occasion of the funeral ceremonies in honor of James Abram Garfield, late president of the United States, which took place on Monday, September 26th, 1881 these funeral rites are presented in detail.
This volume contains a comprehensive account of the day’s proceedings as it recounts the many ceremonies presented throughout the city. Including transcripts of speeches, sermons, and detailed descriptions of the funerary decorations and the various processions.
One religious service was held at Seaman’s Bethel. A congregation that was located at 2218 Saint Thomas Street, a location that is still in religious service to this day.
In his memorial sermon, Rev. Dr Andrew Jackson (A.J.) Witherspoon, a former Confederate chaplain and founder of church, offered to his congregation of seamen the potential for Garfield’s death at “reuniting North and South, East and West”. His address surmised that Garfield’s goal as president could now be realized in his death -–to bring peace to a post-civil war United States.
One impromptu river procession, The River’s Homage to The Dead President, recounts the gathering of tugboats adorned by black and white drapery, with whistles eerily echoing as they traveled from Morgan’s Ferry to Canal Street.
This volume is housed in the Special Collections and Archives of the Morgan Library.