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The Attempt To Kill Theodore Roosevelt

Updated on June 27, 2009
The Attempt To Kill Theodore Roosevelt
The Attempt To Kill Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States. Known for his bold personality, Roosevelt was a myriad of contradictions. While Roosevelt was a Republican, he was also a Progressive Reformer who took on special interests and dissolved giant corporations whom he believed yielded too much power in America. While an avid hunter, Roosevelt was also a conservationist who set aside millions of acres of public lands. While known for his cowboy style and military heroics, Roosevelt was also an academic who read vigorously and wrote 35 books including works on outdoor life, the American Frontier and political history.

Roosevelt Took Office After The Assissination Of President McKinley
Roosevelt Took Office After The Assissination Of President McKinley

Roosevelt Takes Office

After the Spanish American War, of which Roosevelt was a hero as part of the “Rough Riders” and the taking of San Juan Hill, Roosevelt returned to America a popular man. He was overwhelmingly elected Governor of New York upon his return. However, Roosevelt was not popular among the power structure in the Republican Party whom feared Roosevelt could not be controlled if he ever obtained real power. In order to silence Roosevelt, he was nominated to run as William McKinley’s Vice President.

In 1901, William McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz at the World’s Fair in Buffalo, New York. Roosevelt was sworn in as President at the age of 42, the youngest in History.  One of the first acts Roosevelt pursued was providing protection for the President.  The Protection Detail of the President came from the Treasury Department in what today is known as the United States Secret Service.

Roosevelt Tried To Run For A Third Term As A Republican But When Taft Got The Nomination Roosevelt Became The Candidate For The Bull Moose Party
Roosevelt Tried To Run For A Third Term As A Republican But When Taft Got The Nomination Roosevelt Became The Candidate For The Bull Moose Party
Roosevelt Was Campaigning In Milwaukee When He Was Shot In The Chest, But Gave A Ninety Minute Speech With The Bullet Lodged In His Chest
Roosevelt Was Campaigning In Milwaukee When He Was Shot In The Chest, But Gave A Ninety Minute Speech With The Bullet Lodged In His Chest
The Bullet Would Had Killed Roosevelt Had It Not Been For The 50 Page Speech And Eyeglass Holder In Roosevelt's Coat Pocket
The Bullet Would Had Killed Roosevelt Had It Not Been For The 50 Page Speech And Eyeglass Holder In Roosevelt's Coat Pocket

The Attempt To Kill Roosevelt

Roosevelt won re-election in his own right in 1904 and vowed not to run for a third term as President as was the tradition. However, after Roosevelt left office, he became unhappy with the policies and direction of his successor, William Howard Taft. Once good friends, Roosevelt began denouncing Taft publicly and ran in the Republican Primary against Taft in 1908. While winning many primaries, Republican Party officials who still do not care for Roosevelt supported Taft, and Roosevelt and his followers left the Convention.

But, as was his style, Roosevelt did not quit and instead ran for President as a member of the Bull Moose Party. On October 14, 1912, while Roosevelt was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a saloon owner named John Schrank shot Roosevelt in the chest. Schrank had reportedly followed Roosevelt around the country waiting for the right time to shoot him. Schrank, who suffered from psychotic episodes, stated that he was motivated to kill Roosevelt after having a dream. Schrank stated, “I saw President McKinley sit up in his coffin pointing at a man in monk's attire in whom I recognized Theodore Roosevelt. The dead president said, "This is my murderer, avenge my death."

When Schrank saw Roosevelt in Milwaukee, he saw his chance to kill him. He pointed the gun at Roosevelt’s head, but a bystander saw what was happening and hit Schrank’s arm just as he fired the bullet. The bullet lodged in Roosevelt’s chest but after going through his eyeglass case and his speech which was 50 pages long. Reports claim that Roosevelt did not even notice that he was hit until someone mentioned that there was a hole in his overcoat. Roosevelt reached in and found blood on his fingers.

Roosevelt, who was an experienced hunter, looked at his wound and concluded that since he was not coughing up blood the wound was not fatal or even that serious. So instead of going to the hospital, Roosevelt finished his campaign schedule and gave a ninety minute speech. Roosevelt remarked, “"Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose."

 

Despite Roosevelt's Loss in 1914, Roosevelt's Personality and Bravey Is Remembered Fondly
Despite Roosevelt's Loss in 1914, Roosevelt's Personality and Bravey Is Remembered Fondly

The Aftermath

After Roosevelt gave his speech he did end up going to the hospital.  X-rays showed that the bullet traversed three inches of tissue and was lodged in his chest.  The doctors decided that it would be more dangerous to remove the bullet than leave it.  Roosevelt carried the bullet in his chest the rest of his life.

Because of the assassination attempt, Roosevelt ceased campaigning two weeks before the election.  However, it didn’t really make a difference.  Taft and Roosevelt were splitting the Republican vote which made a victory for the Democratic nominee, Woodrow Wilson, inevitable.  Roosevelt finished second in both the popular vote and electoral college to Wilson.

 

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    • trooper22 profile image

      trooper22 7 years ago from Chicago

      Well written, and thorough, a great hub for a great man, and one of the last Great Progressives of a time when Republicans actually represented the ideals of the Constitution rather than the religious fanatics and the top 1%. Alas Harding, Hoover and the 1964 civil rights act caused the south to move from Dixicrat to nutcase NEOcon and the Modern Republican party.

      The real shame of the Bull Moose party was that if Wilson does not get elected there is a very good chance the 16th amendment does not go through. On the flip side, if Roosevelt had won, the U.S. would have been involved in the 1st World War much sooner than 1917. Taft on the other hand may have kept the U.S. out it all together.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Good Points. Thanks for the comment.

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

      He sounds absolutely extraordinary!

      Was he related to Franklin Roosevelt?

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      He was an amazing man. He was a distant cousin of Franklin Roosevelt, and second cousin to Eleanor Roosevelt.

      Thanks for reading.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      I love Teddy. I never knew he was shot! You find such interesting pieces of history. My great grandfather charged up San Juan HIll with Teddy.

      For Troopers information, the top 1% of wage earners in America voted 80% for Obama. Hell, everybody knows that, except those Anti-Christian fanatics.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks James

      There is an old saying: If you want to live like a Republican, vote for a Democrat.

    • profile image

      Joe Wiegand 7 years ago

      Great post and interesting comments. Eleanor was actually TR's niece, his brother Elliott's daughter. Elliott died young. TR gave Eleanor away at her March 17, 1905, wedding to FDR. All the best. TR Joe

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Joe, thanks for the comment and the clarification.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Bgpappa, I love this story. TR was the most interestng president. One of my sons was crazy aboutTR so we all went up to Sagamore Hill on Long Island to visit his home. What a wonderful trip. We really got a feeling for the man that T Roosevelt was.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Dolores, thanks for the comment.

      TR is one of my favorites historical figures. He is rich in contradiction, but was free speaking and brave.

    • profile image

      Jim 6 years ago

      Roosevelt did not run at all in 08, in fact he endorsed Taft.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      thanks for the comment

    • profile image

      Dave 5 years ago

      Wow!!!

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for reading

    • profile image

      Hi(s)tory 5 years ago

      Definitely helped me with my project! Thanks for writing. ^_^

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      No worries, best of luck.

      Thanks for reading

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