President Garfield’s Condition: July 4, 1881, 8:15 AM

Portraits of Garfield's six doctors surround an illustration of the President on his sickbedEXECUTIVE MANSION,
July 4, 1881.

8.15 A. M.
The condition of the President is not materially different from that reported in the last bulletin.  He has dozed at intervals during the night, and at times has continued to complain of the pain in his feet.
The tympanites reported has not sensibly increased.
Pulse, 108; temperature, 99.4° respiration, 19.

D. W. BLISS,
J. K. BARNES,
J. J. WOODWARD,
ROBERT REYBURN,
FRANK H. HAMILTON,
D. HAYES AGNEW.

This post is one of a series reenacting the official bulletins released to the public by the physicians to President Garfield during his illness after the shooting on July 2, 1881.

2 comments

  1. Is it worth thinking about that these bulletins, which were published in newspapers nationwide, would refer to conditions such as tympanites? I had to click on the word to know what it means. Was this medical term, and others we may across in the next several days, familiar to the average American in 1881?

    1. Thanks for your observation and your question, which is an excellent one that we admit is challenging to answer succinctly. We should remember that these reports were written by the doctors attending President Garfield. Therefore, it really shouldn’t be surprising that these bulletins contain medical terminology that some – depending on their background, education, and experience – would have found incomprehensible, confusing, or even a bit frightening. At the conclusion of this series we will be posting a list of sources through which we hope interested individuals can “Learn More” about the Garfield assassination and its aftermath. Thanks again for your interest and contributions!

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