“Charles Guiteau”


Charles Guiteau, having assassinated President Garfield, is unable to escape the law. His insanity defense is rejected, and he is sentenced to die.

Supplemental text

Charles Guiteau [Laws E11]
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

As recorded by Kelly Harrell, Victor 20797, March 23, 1927

Come all you tender Christians
Wherever you may be
And likewise pay attention
To these few lines from me.
I was down at the depot
To make my getaway
And Providence being against me,
It proved to be too late.

I tried to play off insane
But found it would not do;
The people all against me,
It proved to make no show.
Judge Cox he passed the sentence,
The clerk he wrote it down,
On the thirtieth day of June
To die I was condemned.

   My name is Charles Guiteau,
   My name I'll never deny,
   To leave my aged parents
   To sorrow and to die.
   But little did I think
   While in my youthful bloom
   I'd be carried to the scaffold
   To meet my fatal doom.

My sister came in prison
To bid her last farewell.
She threw her arms around me;
She wept most bitterly.
She said, "My loving brother,
Today you must die
For the murder of James A. Garfield
Upon the scaffold high."

And now I mount the scaffold
To bid you all adieu,
The hangman now is waiting,
It's a quarter after two.
The black cap is o'er my face,
No longer can I see,
But when I'm dead and buried,
Dear Lord, remember me.


The song probably derives from "The Lamentation of James Rodgers" (executed Nov. 12, 1858) or one of its kin (e.g. "My Name it is John T. Williams") - PJS, RBW

Historical references

  • July 2, 1881 - James A. Garfield is shot by Charles Guiteau, who thought Garfield owed him a patronage job. Garfield had been president for less than four months
  • Sept 19, 1881 - Death of Garfield
  • June 30, 1882 - Hanging of Charles Guiteau

Cross references


  • Loman D. Cansler, "Charles Guiteau" (on Cansler1)
  • Kelly Harrell, "Charles Giteau" (Victor 20797B, 1927; on KHarrell02, AAFM1)
  • Roscoe Holcomb, "Charles Guitau" [instrumental version] (on Holcomb1)
  • Wilmer Watts, "Charles Guiteaw" (Paramount 3232)


  1. Laws E11, "Charles Guiteau"
  2. Belden, pp. 412-413, "Charles Guiteau" (1 text)
  3. Randolph 134, "Charles Guiteau" (2 texts plus 3 excerpts or fragments, 3 tunes)
  4. Eddy 128, "Charles Guiteau, or, The Murder of James A. Garfield" (1 text)
  5. BrownII 249, "Charles Guiteau" (4 texts, 3 fragments, plus 1 excerpt and mention of 3 more)
  6. Chappell-FSRA 111, "Charles Guiteau" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
  7. Hudson 101, pp. 238-239, "Charles Guiteau" (1 text plus mention of 3 more)
  8. Friedman, p. 230, "Charles Guiteau" (1 text)
  9. McNeil-SFB1, pp. 56-59, "Charles Guiteau" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  10. Combs/Wilgus 58, pp. 186-187, "Charles J. Guiteau" (1 text)
  11. Lomax-FSNA 142, "Charles Guiteau" (1 text, 1 tune, claiming to be a transcription of the earliest recorded version by Kelley Harrell -- but in fact the text has been slightly modified)
  12. LPound-ABS, 65, pp. 146-148, "Charles Guiteau or James A. Garfield" (1 text, joined with "The Murder of F. C. Benwell")
  13. Burt, pp. 226-227, "(Charles Guiteau)" (1 text plus a fragment, 1 tune)
  14. Darling-NAS, pp. 192-193, "Charles Guiteau" (1 text plus a fragment of "James Rodgers")
  15. Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 48 "Charles Giteau" (sic) (1 text, 1 tune)
  16. Silber-FSWB, p. 290, "Charles Guiteau" (1 text)
  17. cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 478, "Charles Guitea" (source notes only)
  18. DT 623, CGUITEAU*
  19. ST LE11 (Full)
  20. Roud #444
  21. BI, LE11


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1907 (Belden)
Found in: US(Ap,MW,So,SE)