X-Ray showing a would-be assassin’s bullet in Teddy Roosevelt’s chest, October 1912
On October 14, 1912, Teddy Roosevelt was shot while greeting a crowd on the campaign trail in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The would-be assassin was quickly subdued, and the crowd shouted for him to be lynched. Roosevelt, however, shouted for the assassin to be brought to him, then asked him, “What did you do it for?” Getting no response, he said, “Oh, what’s the use? Turn him over to the police.” As the police took him away, Roosevelt said, “You poor creature.”
An experienced hunter, Roosevelt correctly deduced that since he was not coughing up blood, the bullet had not punctured his lung. In fact, he had been saved by his metal glasses case and a 50-page copy of his speech he had been carrying in his breast pocket.
Roosevelt returned to the stage, bleeding from his shirt, and proclaimed “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.” He proceeded to give his full 90-minute speech before he accepted medical attention. The bullet would never be removed, and when asked about it, Roosevelt would say, “I do not mind it any more than if it were in my waistcoat pocket.”
The would-be assassin, John Flammang Schrank, later claimed that the ghost of William McKinley had visited him in a dream and told Schrank to avenge his assassination. Schrank was found legally insane, and was institutionalized until his death. When Roosevelt died in 1919, Schrank conceded he was a great American and was sorry to hear of his death.