Charles E. Rosenberg

Charles E. Rosenberg

Charles E. Rosenberg

Charles E. Rosenberg wrote a book in 1968 titled, "The Trial of the Assassin Guiteau: Psychiatry and the Law in the Gilded Age" (University of Chicago Press). Rosenberg wrote the following:

Ralph Wormley, colored, a plasterer for the Pension Bureau, expressed what must have been the consensus among Washingtonians – if among prospective jurors, an outspoken one – when he said that “the man is partly crazy or something of the kind, and it seems to me that no sensible man would have done such a thing anyway.”

Even in the trial’s earliest stages, during the choosing of the jury, Guiteau made it clear that he planned to play an active role in the proceedings. He was especially animated during the first day of jury selection, discussing tactics in a loud voice and giving constant advice to his legal colleagues, Scoville and Robinson.

Not all was accepted. He asked, for example, that no Negroes be allowed on the jury and that they be challenged peremptorily. Yet Scoville did accept Mr. Wormley. (As a minor political appointee, Wormley was not worth one of the government’s challenges; although Wormley had said that Guiteau was certainly unbalanced he had also declared that any proven murderers should hang.)

It was no easy task to find jurors; even those accepted asked to be excused while almost all those questioned expressed varying degrees of hostility toward the prisoner. It was not until Wednesday, Nov. 16, after three days of selection, that the final juror was chosen. The first group of 25 had been exhausted the first day, another 75 the second day, and it was not until a third of 75 was called that the jury could be completed. It was a mixed and satisfactorily representative group. All, of course were male, and one, as we have seen, was a Negro.

Despite the presence of a Negro in the jury box, Guiteau remarked heatedly that he disliked being called by his middle name [Julius]; it had too much of the “nigger about it.”

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