Roosevelt on Being Shot in Milwaukee | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Roosevelt on Being Shot in Milwaukee

Oct 25, 2019

Campaigning for president in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt pitted himself against Republican President Taft and Democrat candidate Woodrow Wilson. Roosevelt ran under the Progressive Party banner, which was also called the Bull Moose party. History was made when Roosevelt became the only candidate of a third party to come in second place.

As we heard earlier this month, it was in October when Roosevelt was shot while campaigning in Wisconsin. Regardless of his wound, he was taken directly to the Milwaukee Auditorium, where he ascended the stage and made an eighty minute speech with a bullet in his chest. As Roosevelt spoke, the horrified crowd could see the bloody handkerchief he held to his chest. It takes more than that to kill a bull moose, Roosevelt quipped.

The bullet remained in his chest throughout his remaining nine years, being too close to the heart for surgery. Visitors to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora can view the shirt Roosevelt was wearing, complete with the bullet hole. Roosevelt later commented on his close call.

“I did not care a rap for being shot! It is a trade risk, which every prominent public man ought to accept as a matter of course.

For 11 years I have prepared any day to be shot; and if any one of the officers of my regiment had abandoned the battle merely because he received a wound that did nothing worse than break a rib, I should never have trusted that officer again.

I would have expected him to keep on in the fight as long as he could stand; and what I expect lieutenants to do, I expect a leader to do.

I have not the slightest feeling against (the assassin).  I have a very strong feeling against the people who by their ceaseless and intemperate abuse, excited him to the action, and against all other criminals once the crime has been committed.”

Dakota Datebook: Remembering Theodore Roosevelt is written and performed by Steve Stark. Funding provided by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.