President Garfield’s Condition: August 26, 1881, 12:30 PM

Portraits of Garfield's six doctors surround an illustration of the President on his sickbedEXECUTIVE MANSION,
August 26, 1881.

12.30 P. M.

At the morning dressing of the President it was observed that pus from the parotid swelling had found its way spontaneously into his right external auditory meatus, through which it was discharging; some pus was also discharging through the incision made into the swelling. His wound looks as well as it has done for some time past. His pulse and temperature are at present higher than at the corresponding hour for some days. He continues to take by the mouth the liquid food prescribed, nevertheless we regard his condition as critical.
Pulse 118; temperature 100°; respiration 18.

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

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. Even after 132 years, I want to shake these men for their misguided (though no doubt well-intentioned) care of President Garfield. At this point they must have been growing somewhat desperate, but they would not leave the comfort zone of their past understanding and practice. Meanwhile, James Garfield was being put through unnecessary pain and deterioration.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts, and for following this series. How each doctor responded individually, and how they did (or did not, as the case was) collectively, is no doubt a topic of history that will be discussed and debated for many years to come! One wonders what archival sources, if any, might be discovered one day to shed new light one this chapter in the history of medicine and America.

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