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Announcement of the Assassination of President Garfield to the Navy

September 20, 1881

General Order.


Washington , September 20, 1881.

The officers and men of the Navy and of the Marine Corps of the United States are hereby notified that president Garfield died at Long Branch on the 19th instant at 10 o'clock and 40 minutes p.m. Under the Constitution and laws of the Government Chester A. Arthur, then Vice-President, duly took the oath as President of the United States, and has entered upon the duties of that office. As President and Commander in Chief of the Navy of the United States he will be obeyed and respected by all persons connected with this Department. It is becoming that at a time when the heart of the nation is heavy with grief a proper expression should be given to the respect and affection so sincerely and universally entertained for the memory of the wise, patriotic, and noble Chief Magistrate who has departed this life under circumstances so distressing. To this end the officers of the Navy will see to it that all honors and ceremonies befitting the occasion are observed by their respective commands in accordance with the regulations of the service.

The offices of the Department will remain closed for all business during the time the remain's of the President shall lie in state at the Capitol.

WILLIAM H. HUNT, Secretary of the Navy.

Special Order.


Washington, September 23, 1881.

Struck down by the hand of a cowardly assassin, in the day of his vigor and usefulness, on the eve of departure from the capital in search of much-needed rest from the toils and cares of office, our Chief Magistrate, President, and Commander in Chief, James A. Garfield, after bearing with heroic fortitude untold suffering, succumbed to the dread summons and yielded up his life at Elberon, N.J., on the evening of the 19th instant. The nation mourns its loss. The funeral services will take place at Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday, the 26th instant. It is eminently fit and proper that special honors should be paid to the memory of the late President on that day, and the Department therefore directs that at all naval stations and on board all vessels in commission the flags shall be at haft-mast from sunrise to sunset and a gun fired every half hour during that period. The period of mourning by half-masted colors will cease at sunset. On foreign stations this order will be carried out on the day after its receipt. The navy-yards will be closed and all work suspended during the day. Officers of the Navy and Marine Corps will, as a further mark of respect, wear crape on the left arm and sword hilt for six months from the 20th instant.


Acting Secretary of the Navy.

James A. Garfield, Announcement of the Assassination of President Garfield to the Navy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/203794

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