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American Experience; Insanity on Trial

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American Experience
Insanity on Trial
Program Number


Series Description

Premiered October 1988 As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation. Now in its eighteenth season, the series has produced over 180 programs and garnered every major broadcast award. Series release date: 10/1988

Program Description

On July 2, 1881, Charles Julius Guiteau shot and fatally wounded President James A. Garfield in the lobby of a Washington, DC train station. Guiteau proclaimed that he was a patriot, inspired by God to "remove" Garfield for the good of the nation. A lawyer himself, Guiteau participated in his own defense, vigorously presenting evidence of his own insanity. Producer Matthew Collins uses stylized dramatic vignettes, based on trial records, letters, diaries, to recreate the assassination and elements of Guiteaus' defense while exploring the definition of insanity and 19th century ideas of morality and justice. Kyle MacLachlan narrates.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “American Experience; Insanity on Trial,” WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 16, 2019, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_0C3E8922962846A089A67414EB491358.
MLA: “American Experience; Insanity on Trial.” WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 16, 2019. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_0C3E8922962846A089A67414EB491358>.
APA: American Experience; Insanity on Trial. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_0C3E8922962846A089A67414EB491358
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