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On  October 14, 1912, Teddy Roosevelt was shot in the chest outside of a hotel in Milwaukee. It marked the only time a presidential candidate was shot in the chest and kept campaigning—Roosevelt still gave a speech before heading to the hospital.The New York Times was on the campaign trail with Roosevelt and covered the breaking story in great, great detail.

On his way to an auditorium to speak, Roosevelt was shot, but only slightly wounded. The gunman pushed his way through the crowd to get closer to Roosevelt, but "little attention was paid to him because many admirers of the Colonel have done such things."  Roosevelt then "looked benevolently upon him and smiled" before getting shot.


The bullet was slowed by a steel eyeglasses cases and a fifty-page manuscript for his speech that evening. (Fifty pages!) He handled the situation well:

Col. Roosevelt looked down, saw the hole, then unbuttoned the big brown army coat which he was wearing and thrust his hand beneath it. When he withdrew it, his fingers were stained with blood.

He was not at all dismayed.

"It looks as though I had been hit," he said, "but I don't think it is anything serious."


Roosevelt went on to deliver his speech, warning the crowd that he had in fact been shot and would unfortunately not be able to deliver his full remarks. He spoke for about 50 minutes and showed the crowd how much blood he was losing at least once.


Roosevelt ended up staying at the hospital for around an hour when he finally did make it there. Doctors decided it was more dangerous to remove the bullet (which was lodged in his abdominal wall) than to just leave it. He walked out of the hospital on his own power and boarded his train to Chicago and the next campaign stop.

Eventually it was revealed that the gunman, John Flammang Schrank, who was against the idea of a third-term president, was acting on the orders of the ghost of William McKinley. He died in a mental hospital in 1943.


In 2012, Milwaukee staged a re-enactment (that was more accurate than many smiling participants possibly realized) of the assassination that produced this weird image.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The whole article is available for free as a PDF from the Times and serves as a remarkable reminder how different presidential elections (and the power of handguns) used to be.

[H/T nycsouthpaw]

David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on—hop on. Got a tip? Email him:

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