“Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible.I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot.”
Those were the words he said after he was shot during his presidential campaign.
On October 14, 1912, the startled crowd at the Milwaukee Auditorium gasped as the former president removed his vest to show his bloodstained shirt. “Killing a bull moose requires more than that,” the wounded man assured them. He took a 50-page speech from his coat pocket, which was bullet-riddled. Roosevelt continued, holding up his written remarks, which had two large holes blown through each page. “Fortunately, I had my manuscript, so you can see that I was going to give a long speech, and there’s a bullet—that’s where the bullet went through—and it probably saved me from having it go straight through my heart.” Because I’ve been hit by a bullet, I won’t be able to give a long speech.
The editor-in-chief of The Outlook had described Roosevelt as “an electric battery of endless energy” only two days before, and the 53-year-old former president proved it for the next 90 minutes. He declared, “I offer you my word, I don’t give a rap about being shot; not a rap.”
Few people could possibly disagree with him. Roosevelt stared at his terrified aides whenever they urged him to stop speaking or positioned themselves around the stage to catch him if he collapsed, despite his voice weakening and his breath shortening. He agreed to go to the hospital only after the speech was finished.
As Roosevelt exited his car outside the Gilpatrick Hotel shortly after 8 p.m., the shooting occurred. A light from a Colt handgun 5 feet distant lit up the night as he stood up in the open-air automobile and waved his hat to the audience with his right hand. The shooting was done by John Flammang Schrank who was later ruled to be psychotic
To prevent the assailant from firing a second shot, the candidate’s stenographer instantly placed him in a half nelson and grabbed his right wrist.
The well-wishers turned into a violent mob, bombarding the shooter with blows and yelling, “Kill him!” Roosevelt was “the coolest and least agitated of anyone in the frenetic mob,” according to an eyewitness.
Please bring him here. “I’d like to meet him.” “What did you do that for?” Roosevelt inquired of the shooter. “Oh, what’s the point?” When he didn’t get a response, he asked them to hand the man over to the cops.”
Despite the lack of visible blood, the former president felt a dime-sized bullet wound on the right side of his chest as he reached inside his heavy jacket. Roosevelt informed a party official, “He pinked me.” He coughed three times into his hand. He didn’t see any blood, so he assumed the bullet hadn’t gone through his lungs.
An accompanying doctor understandably urged the driver to go straight to the hospital, but Colonel Roosevelt gave the driver different marching orders: “You get me to that speech.”
The bullet was stuck against Roosevelt’s fourth right rib on an upward path to his heart, according to X-rays obtained after the campaign event. Fortunately, his thick overcoat, steel-reinforced glasses case, and weighty speech stuffed inside his inner right jacket pocket had slowed the missile.
Roosevelt dictated to his wife that he was “in excellent shape” and that the “trivial” wound wasn’t “a particle more serious than one of the injuries any of the boys used to have on a regular basis.”
John Schrank, 36, an unemployed New York City saloon keeper who had pursued his prey across the country for weeks, was the “weak” mind behind the assassination attempt. A schizophrenic’s troubling thoughts were reflected in a scribbled screed found in his pockets. Schrank had written, “To the citizens of the United States.” “I had a dream that President McKinley was sitting up in his casket, pointing at a man dressed as a monk, and it was Theodore Roosevelt.” “This is my murderer—avenge my death,” the dead president said.
Schrank also claimed that he acted to uphold the American president’s two-term tradition. At his trial, the shooter stated, “I did not aim to kill citizen Roosevelt.” “I planned to assassinate Theodore Roosevelt, the third president.” Schrank pleaded guilty, was found insane, and was committed to a Wisconsin state asylum for the rest of his life.
Despite the fact that the shooting exacerbated Roosevelt’s preexisting rheumatoid arthritis for the rest of his life, doctors decided it was safer to leave the bullet stuck deep in his chest than to operate. Despite the fact that Roosevelt’s attempted assassination sparked a surge of sympathy, the Republican division led to Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s comfortable triumph on election day. Roosevelt finished second with 27% of the vote, the largest proportion of any third-party candidate in US history.
- “Daily TWiP – Theodore Roosevelt delivers campaign speech after being shot today in 1912”. Nashua Telegraph. October 14, 2010. Archived from the original on September 19, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
- “SCHRANK ADJUDGED INSANE ON REAL EXPERT TESTIMONY”.
- “Maniac In Milwaukee Shoots Col. Roosevelt; He Ignores Wound, Speaks An Hour, Goes To Hospital”. The New York Times. October 15, 1912. p. 1. Retrieved January 2, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.