Police in Ohio say thieves have broken into the monument of President James A. Garfield and stolen a set of commemorative spoons. The vandals shattered a window to get inside the 180-foot-tall monument at Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland Heights. A cemetery worker discovered the theft on May 7, 2014, it was announced on May 11. Police reports say cigarette butts, a T-shirt and a whiskey bottle were recovered.
President Garfield is the only president to have his casket on full display. His casket is located near the glass case from which the spoons were stolen. His wife's casket is next to his.
On the morning of July 2, 1881, President Garfield was on his way to his alma mater, Williams College, where he was scheduled to deliver a speech. Garfield was accompanied by James G. Blaine, Robert Todd Lincoln, and his two sons, James and Harry. As the President was walking through the Sixth Street Station of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad in Washington at 9:30 a.m., he was shot twice from behind, once across the arm and once in the back, by an assassin, Charles J. Guiteau, a rejected and disillusioned Federal office seeker. Garfield exclaimed immediately after he was shot, "My God, what is this?" One bullet grazed Garfield's arm; the second bullet was thought later to have possibly lodged near his liver but could not be found; and upon autopsy was located behind the pancreas.
On Monday, September 19, 1881, at 10:20 p.m. President Garfield suffered a massive heart attack and a ruptured splenic artery aneurysm, following blood poisoning and bronchial pneumonia. Garfield was pronounced dead at10:35 p.m. by Dr. D. W. Bliss in the Elberon section of Long Branch, New Jersey.
Guiteau was formally indicted on October 14, 1881, for the murder of the President. Although Guiteau's counsel argued the insanity defense, due to his odd character, the jury found him guilty on January 5, 1882, and he was sentenced to death. Guiteau may have had syphilis, a disease that causes physiological mental impairment. Guiteau was executed on June 30, 1882. He was also heard to claim that important men in Europe put him up to the task, and had promised to protect him if he were caught.
In June, 1882, the Garfield National Monument Association was incorporated, under the laws of Ohio. It was composed of the following prominent Ohioans: Governor Charles B. Foster, ex-President Rutherford B. Hayes, Senator Henry B. Payne, J. H. Wade, Joseph Perkins, T. P. Handy, D. P. Eells, W. S. Streator, J. H. Devereux, Selah Chamberlain, John D. Rockefeller, John Hay, and J. H. Rhodes. On July 6, 1882, an executive committee, with J. H. Rhodes as its secretary, was formed. Active measures were at once taken, and soon the sum of $150,000 was at the disposal of the association. Of this, Cleveland contributed $75,000; Ohio, $14,000; New York, $14,000; Illinois, $5,500; Iowa, $3,000; Pennsylvania, $1,800; Wisconsin,, $2,000; Maine, $1,600; Kansas, $1,500; Indiana, $1,400; Connecticut, $1,000; Montana, $1,900. The rest came, in varying sums, from the other States and Territories. In June, 1883, a committee composed of Joseph Perkins, H. B. Hurlburt and John Hay, issued an invitation to architects and artist to submit plans for the monument. Prizes of $1,000, $750 and $500 would be awarded. More than fifty designs were submitted. They were examined by Henry Van Brunt, of Boston, and Calvert Vaux, of New York, the most eminent architects in the country. Each made a separate trip to Cleveland, and an individual decision, but both selected the design of George Keller, of Hartford, Connecticut, and on July 21, 1883, it was formally accepted. In October, 1885, the contract for masonry was given to Thomas Simmons. Work was started, in due season, but a rumor was soon current that the foundations were insecure. Finally, the local Civil Engineer’s Club made an examination, and reported that all was safe. A like report was also made by General W. J. McAlpine, of New York, a national authority on foundations. Notwithstanding this, the committee, at its annual meeting in 1886, changed the design, reducing the height of the tower from 225 feet to 165 feet, and supplanting the castellated form with a conical roof.May 30, 1890, the monument was formally dedicated. President Benjamin Harrison, Vice-President L. P. Morton, and a host of other celebrities, were present. The ceremonies wee held in Lake View Cemetery. They were simple, but impressive. Ex-President Hayes presided, the opening prayer was made by Bishop Leonard, and ex-Governor Jacob D. Cox, the orator of the day, made an eloquent address. Brief speeches were also made by Vice President Morton, Governor J. D. Campbell, General William T. Sherman, Secretary William Windom, Attorney-General Miller, Secretary Rusk, Bishop Gilmour, General Schofield, and Hon. William McKinley. Then the Knights Templar, of the Grand Commandery, concluded the ceremonies, with their impressive service. There were over 5,000 men in line for the procession.The monument is erected in the loftiest and most beautiful spot in Lake View Cemetery. Its shape, for the most part, is that of a tower, fifty feet in diameter. Steps lead to the landing, which is constructed about the base of the building. A romanesque porch supports the tower. Below the porch railing, there is an external decoration, a frieze of historical character, showing in its five panels characteristic scenes from Garfield’s life. The great doors of oak open in a vestibule vaulted in stone, and paved with mosaic. From this, spiral staircases ascent the tower, and descend to the crypt. In this crypt is the casket containing the coffin. Opening from this vestibule, is the chamber where the statue, by Alexander Doyle of New York, stands. It shows Garfield in the House of Representatives. Over the statue, supported by granite columns, is a dome twenty-two feet in diameter, which is decorated with a marvelous frieze of Venetian glass, showing an allegorical funeral procession of the dead President. The tower has thirteen magnificent memorial windows, from the original thirteen States. The monument is built of native sandstone.