WI: President Garfield survived his assassination?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by CountDVB, May 10, 2019.

  1. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    I know this is not a new topic, but President Garfield was a very fascinating figure and given his set, it would be interesting to see what he could do if remained President.

    Now the other threads I saw mention his civil right stances, potential diplomatic policy and so on. Most others say that he would likely not be able to do much because of how the differing politics were at the time.

    But, I would like everyone to consider this question? What would he be able to do beyond his first presidency?

    I would think that his attempted assassination would galvanize Congress to assist him, but if he is not able to do much in 1881-1885... what about beyond?

    He was only 50 when he died so he probably has a good 20-25 years left in him, which is plenty of time for him to become elected a second time. For example, what if he ends up winning in 1898 (he'd be 67) rather than McKinley becoming President? He would probably have more security given how he was a prior target and perhaps he would not be shot like OTL McKinley would?

    I could see him definitely inspiring and giving ideas to Teddy Roosevelt on domestic policy, especially with African-Americans.

    But what does everyone else here think? If President Garfield survived and could potentially run again in the upcoming decades, especially since this was the Progressive era and dominated by Republicans?
     
  2. Mark E. Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2007
    Location:
    Forgottonia, USA
    He did survive and the bullet wound healed. The issue was that Alexander Graham Bell volunteered his newest invention, the metal detector, to assist surgeons to find and remove the bullet. (Now imagine the accuracy and precision of the world's first metal detector in 1881.) The problem was that Garfield was given the comfort of another newly marketed item: metal box springs for beds. They were new and uncommon then, but after all, this is the president. The detector kept detecting the springs, surgeons made multiple incisions, and gave up before they found the bullet. Garfield then died from infections that set in where the cuts were made.
     
    Kaze, Odinson, Tyg and 3 others like this.
  3. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    He died because the doctors also did not wash their hands and they did not believe in sterilizing their tools.

    But here, the point is that if he did not die. Maybe the bullet just grazed him instead or landed in an easier to find area.
     
  4. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Location:
    Peterborough, UK.
    Wouldn't he get his second term (if any) long before then?
     
  5. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    Well, IOTL after Garfield died, Chester A. Arthur got the seat and after him, Grover Cleaveland got voted in 1884, being pretty popular among both parties. He would lose in 1888 to Harrison IOTL and run again later.

    Maybe he could take Harrison's place, though I am not well-versed in this era
     
  6. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Location:
    Peterborough, UK.
    He could succeed himself in 1884 if he avoided that "Rum Romanism and Rebellion" business. As it was, NY only went Democratic by the slimmest margin.
     
  7. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    Well, Garfield was pretty big on civil rights reform along with voting rights for African-Americans so while he could succeed in 1884, he'd have to win the party's vote first. I'm thinking he doesn't at first, but when he runs again later, he ends up doing so.
     
  8. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Location:
    Peterborough, UK.
    Did Blaine not also support Black Rights - insofar as the issue still mattered in 1884?
     
  9. Curtain Jerker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2018
    That sounds like a particularly bad way to die.
     
  10. David T Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    It's really anyone's guess whether Garfield would have been re-elected in 1884, because Gilded Age presidential elections, especially the four from 1876-1888, were incredibly close. (In 1876, a switch of 3,800 votes in Ohio would have been enough to elect Tilden even with all the disputed states going to Hayes. In 1880, a switch of a little more than 10,000 votes in New York would have changed the result; in 1884, a switch of less than 600; in 1888, a switch of a little over 7,000.) But even if Garfield lost, he could well make a comeback in 1888--just as the defeated-in-1884 Blaine could probably have won in 1888 as I note at https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/blaine-in-1888.380702/

    I once even proposed the following timeline in a Garfield-isn't assassinated scenario:

    1881-1885 James Garfield
    1885-1889 Grover Cleveland
    1889-1893 James Garfield
    1893-1897 Grover Cleveland
    1897-1901 James Garfield (defeats William Jennings Bryan)
    1901-1905 Grover Cleveland (revolt in the Democratic Party against Bryan--who "can't win"--happens four years earlier than in OTL. Cleveland manages to unite Democrats around anti-imperialism issue.)

    (Remember that at this time many people thought the no-third-term tradition only applied to consecutive terms.)
     
  11. John Fredrick Parker Donor

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Took a shot at this myself not long ago (didn’t get far).
     
  12. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    Oh nice! How do you think James Garfield would do with Teddy Roosevelt?

    Also Garfield and Cleveland switching about would no doubt be lampooned up the wazoo
     
  13. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Location:
    Peterborough, UK.
    Not necessarily anything. There were plenty of other potential VPs around, and if he (again) escapes assassination it won't matter who the VP is.

    BTW can we assume that there is still a war with Spain? The blowing up of the Maine could easily be butterflied away. And as an ACW veteran (he fought at Chickamauga) Garfield might be more antiwar than McKinley.
     
  14. Darth_Kiryan The Númenorean Sith

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Location:
    AUS
    Bah! Robert Todd Linciln for the Win for VP.
     
  15. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    That may be a very good point. If he was President around that time, then perhaps differing standards could lead to that. Granted, the US would still have very sour relations toward Spain because of what they're doing with Cuba, but maybe that could end up boiling over elsewhen
     
  16. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    How would things go if he decided not to go to war in Spain if he was elected at the time?
     
  17. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Location:
    Peterborough, UK.
    Cuba and PR probably stay Spanish quite a while longer.

    One possibility. If the Spanish Civil War still happens on schedule, could the Republicans hold out on Cuba even after losing mainland Spain - and might the US intervene to stop Franco conquering it?
     
  18. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    Yeah, though there's also the Phillippines to consider. THAT would be quite interesting to see indeed.

    Well, it all depends on how US politics is. Would we have a different President rather than Wilson by the time WW1? If so, would this new President (like Teddy) have gotten us in to WW1 sooner? This would change a fair bit of things like Spain and the Spanish Civil War. If we assume that despite these things, the Spanish Civil War still happens, I could see the USA letting the Repulicans go to Cuba or Puerto Rico and I don't think Franco would risk coming in to try and take it.

    The USA would probably accept this in exchange for Puerto Rico becoming a state.
     
  19. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Location:
    Peterborough, UK.

    A change of POTUS by itself couldn't bring US entry forward by more than a couple of months.

    For that you need a change in *Berlin* rather than in Washington. If for some reason Germany goes to full-blown USW earlier than OTL, then war will come that much earlier[1]. If it doesn't, the most that can happen is a DoW as soon as USW is announced, ie in Feb 1917 rather than April. W/o USW there is virtually no public or congressional support for war, and it will signify nothing who the POTUS is or what he says.


    [1] Unless you get a POTUS like Bryan or Champ Clark, who remains opposed to war despite USW, in which case war is probably never declared at all.
     
  20. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017

    Maybe the lack of a Spanish-American War might influence that?

    Thoufh what other changes could happen, such as no US control in the Philippines or Guam.