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    James A Garfield

    National Historic Site Ohio

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Dramatic Play "The Trial of Charles Guiteau" to be presented at James A. Garfield NHS

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Date: January 6, 2010
Contact: Todd Arrington, 440-205-3838
Contact: Joan Kapsch, 440-205-3826

            James A. Garfield National Historic Site is excited to begin a new year of programs in 2010, including the newly created “Sunday Program Series.”  This new series will bring a different and unique program to the site on the second Sunday of each month beginning in January.

            On Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 2 p.m., the site will host a reading of the dramatic readers’ theater play The Trial of Charles Guiteau.  In a readers’ theater production, the audience members serve as the cast.  Audience members in attendance will be selected to read the various parts, including those of the judge, the attorneys, witnesses, and even Guiteau himself.  Those who volunteer or are selected to read a part will be given a copy of the script.

            Charles J. Guiteau shot President James A. Garfield on July 2, 1881 as Garfield walked through a Washington, D.C. train station.  Garfield survived but eventually succumbed to his wounds on September 19, 1881 after just six months as president.  Guiteau’s trial began in November 1881 and ended in January 1882.  James A. Garfield’s home in Mentor is now the site of James A. Garfield National Historic Site, one of 391 units of the National Park Service.

            “A readers’ theater production is a very unique way to educate the public about President Garfield’s assassination and the subsequent trial of Charles Guiteau,” stated Sherda Williams, Site Manager of James A. Garfield National Historic Site.  “The play teaches a great deal about the shooting itself, Guiteau’s state of mind, and the nineteenth century legal process.  We hope the public will have a strong interest in this event since it is so interactive.”

            The Trial of Charles Guiteau was written by Joan Kapsch, a Park Guide at James A. Garfield National Historic Site.  Kapsch pored over original testimony given at the trial to produce the approximately one-hour play.  The production may be adapted for use by high school and college drama programs, so anyone interested in such an adaptation may ask for a copy of the script.  The program is also available for presentation at offsite locations.  Please ask a Park Ranger for assistance if interested in scheduling The Trial of Charles Guiteau for an offsite location.

James A. Garfield National Historic Site is located at 8095 Mentor Avenue (U.S. 20) in Mentor, Ohio, approximately 25 miles east of Cleveland.  The site offers guided tours of the Garfield home, museum exhibits, and an introductory film.  The house was completely restored by the National Park Service in the late 1990s, making it one of the most impressive presidential homes preserved for the public.  For information call (440) 255-8722, write 8095 Mentor Avenue, Mentor, OH 44060, or visit www.nps.gov/jaga on the Internet.

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Did You Know?

Garfield Profile, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-209 DLC

In addition to being the only President to ascend to the Presidency directly from the House of Representatives, James A. Garfield is the only President to be an ordained minister.