A Brief History
On October 14, 1912, a certain badass former U.S. president was shot while giving a speech…and he continued to speak!?
Without any doubt, T.R., or “Teddy” Roosevelt, was just about one of the most manly of American presidents. A war hero and big game hunter, T.R. had a forcefulness about him that few other presidents really matched. Maybe George Washington who campaigned in fierce conditions in the French and Indian and American Revolutionary wars, Andrew Jackson who fought in duels, or Abraham Lincoln who was an accomplished wrestler merit recognition as physically imposing and brave individuals, but many other presidents, as with many politicians just lack the aura of badassery that surrounded T.R.
Consider what I wrote about T.R.’s life before becoming president back in May 2013 for a list at TopTenz.net: “Roosevelt participated in several of the most badass adventures of any American politician. In the mid-1880s, Roosevelt worked as a deputy sheriff in the Dakotas. In that capacity, he hunted down, and eventually captured, three outlaws who stole his riverboat and tried to escape north with it up the Little Missouri. He not only took the thieves back overland for trial in Dickinson, but guarded them for forty hours without sleeping. When the Spanish-American War broke out, Roosevelt resigned from his position as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, formed the famed ‘Rough Riders,’ and served with them in Cuba.”
Of course, even when he left office, he still demonstrated his determined nature in the aforementioned attempted assassination of 1912. On this day, 101 years ago, T.R. campaigned in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A mentally-disturbed saloon keeper named John Schrank, used a revolver to fire a shot at the former president. The bullet damaged T.R.’s speech and an eyeglass case before entering his chest. Unlike if such an incident were to occur to a modern politician, T.R. decided to proceed with his speech rather than go to a hospital and spoke for roughly ninety minutes, telling the crowd, “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.”
T.R. lived another seven years, with the bullet never removed from his chest, a Bull Moose indeed!
For a more in-depth book, please read Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin: Madness, Vengeance, and the Campaign of 1912 (Globe Pequot, 2013) by Gerard Helferich. And yes, we know Robin Williams also portrays him in Night at the Museum…
Love this image from the Smithsonian.