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October 14, 1912, Teddy Roosevelt Shot During Campaign Stop - Today In Crime History

On this day, October 14, in 1912, saloon keeper John Schrank shot Theodore Roosevelt during a campaign stop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.   Amazingly, with the .32-caliber bullet still in him, Roosevelt delivered his campaign speech anyway.

Theodore Roosevelt was president of the Unites States for two terms -  from 1901 to 1909 as a Republican.   During the next election cycle, the  Republican Party nominated William Howard Taft, who was elected president for the next four year term.   The 1912 presidential election campaign became one of the more exciting ones due to a split in the Republican Party between the conservatives under President Taft and the liberal/reform wing under ex-President Theodore Roosevelt.  After a heated confrontation at the Republican Convention, Taft won renomination.   Roosevelt decided to leave the Republican Party with his supporters and held another convention which nominated him for President as part of the Progressive Party, nicknamed the "Bull Moose Party".   During the bitter election campaign that ensued, Taft depicted  Roosevelt as power-hungry for seeking to break the tradition that U.S. Presidents only serve up to two terms in office.

On October 14, 1912, Roosevelt was at the Gilpatrick Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at a dinner provided by the hotel's owner, a supporter.  The ex-President was scheduled to deliver a speech at the Milwaukee Auditorium after dinner.   News about Roosevelt’s campaign schedule had widely circulated and John Schrank went to the hotel in search of him. The ex-President had finished his meal, and was leaving the hotel to enter his vehicle when Schrank attempted to assassinate Roosevelt by firing a single shot at him.

The bullet, slowed by Roosevelt's steel eyeglass case and a copy of his speech (which was fifty pages long), lodged in his chest.  Roosevelt decided the bullet could not have penetrated to his lung because he coughed no blood.   Against medical advice, Roosevelt refused to go to the hospital and, instead, went to deliver his scheduled campaign speech.  

At the auditorium, Roosevelt showed the bloody manuscript and proclaimed "It takes more than one bullet to kill a Bull Moose."  He spoke for more than an hour before he was taken to a hospital.  Upon medical examination, doctors decided that Roosevelt was not seriously wounded and that it would be more dangerous to attempt to remove the bullet than to leave it in his chest, where it remained until he died seven years later.  With the Republican vote split between Taft and Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson was elected president of the United States.

Schrank was apprehended and declared, "Any man looking for a third term ought to be shot." Police found letters on Schrank saying that the ghost of William McKinley had told him to avenge his death by killing Roosevelt.   Doctors soon examined Schrank and determined that he was suffering from 'insane delusions, grandiose in character'.  Schrank was found to be insane and committed to the Central State Mental Hospital in Waupun, Wisconsin, in 1914.  He remained there for 29 more years, until his death from natural causes in 1943.

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