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Two Boys On The Train After President Shot

February 27, 2020

There is one part to the assassination story of President James Garfield to be found in Destiny Of The Republic which is new to me.  I have never before come across this part of the events from any previous readings.  Candice Millard does a superb job of adding so many aspects in her account of this most-awful chapter in our national story.

The morning of the shooting at a railway depot in Washington, DC, Gardfield’s two youngest children were already on a train speeding to Mentor, Ohio.  Ten-year-old Irvin and eight-year-old Abe are, as we might imagine any youth at that age, excited by the ride and looking forward to weeks out of Washington.

The shots fired in DC was making news far down the tracks from where the kids were traveling.  But the boys were not aware of the tragedy.   The boys did, however, became a focus of national concern.

There became a unified effort to not alert the boys while in transit.   Rail workers all along the route were instructed to stay quiet, conductors made sure passengers were not conversing about the shooting, and along the depots where the train traveled boys hawking newspapers pulled away so not to be seen.

No one in the nation seemed to be unconnected to the boys on the train.  By the time the boys reached Mentor the town had known the news for an hour.

The two boys were bundled into a carriage and taken to the family farm where they will then be informed of the news about their father.

Just a most bitter-sweet account.


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