Alexander Graham Bell almost saved President Garfield’s life after he was shot. He couldn’t because of the bed Garfield was lying on!
President James Garfield was shot on July 2, 1881 by a man named Charles J. Guiteau only four months into his term as the 20th president of the United States. Guiteau was waiting for Garfield at a train station one morning. When he spotted the president he quickly approached him, shooting him twice. One bullet grazed his shoulder and the other struck the president in the back, missing his spinal cord and resting behind his pancreas.
This is when Alexander Graham Bell comes into the story. Garfield was alive for many hours because of the nature of his injury. Unfortunately, he could have been saved if they could only have found the bullet. Doctors attempted to probe Garfield’s body for the bullet with dirty, unsterilized fingers, until Bell thought of a better way to find the bullet.
Alexander Graham Bell devised a metal detector and attached the president to it. When he turned it on however the frequencies were disrupted because Garfield was lying on a metal spring mattress, which was very rare for time. Because of this, Alexander Graham Bell was unable to find and extract the bullet and the president passed away several hours later. Just think, history would be extremely different if Garfield had only been placed on a different bed!