Charles Julius Guiteau (pronounced /gɨˈtoʊ/; September 8, 1841 – June 30, 1882) was an American lawyer who assassinated U.S. President James A. Garfield on July 2, 1881. He was executed by hanging. He had a history of mental illness.
Guiteau was born in Freeport, Illinois, the fourth of six children of Luther Wilson Guiteau and Jane Howe. He moved with his family to Ulao, Wisconsin (now Grafton, Wisconsin) in 1850 and lived there until 1855, when his mother died. Soon after, Guiteau and his father moved back to Freeport.
He inherited $1,000 from his grandfather (worth about $24,400 in year–2011 dollars) as a young man and went to Ann Arbor, Michigan, in order to attend the University of Michigan. Due to inadequate academic preparation, he failed the entrance examinations. After some time trying to do remedial work in Latin and algebra at Ann Arbor High School, during which time he received numerous letters from his father haranguing him to do so, he quit and joined the utopian religious sect known as the Oneida Community, in Oneida, New York, with which Guiteau's father already had close affiliations. Despite the "group marriage" aspects of that sect, he was generally rejected during his five years there, and was nicknamed "Charles Gitout". He left the community twice. The first time he went to Hoboken, New Jersey, and attempted to start a newspaper based on Oneida religion, to be called "The Daily Theocrat". This failed and he returned to Oneida, only to leave again and file lawsuits against the community's founder, John Humphrey Noyes. Guiteau's father, embarrassed, wrote letters in support of Noyes, who had considered Guiteau irresponsible and insane.