'The Dark Horse' Robert Siegel talks with Kenneth D. Ackerman, author of The Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield. On July 2, 1881, President Garfield was shot in the back after serving four months in office. He died 2 months later. His assassination was an outgrowth of a political fight over patronage. Ackerman talks about the life and times of the second U.S. president to be assassinated in office. Born into poverty, Garfield grew up to become a university president, a state legislator, a Civil War general and ultimately president.