Monday, October 15, 2012

Today -100: October 15, 1912: It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose

In Milwaukee, Theodore Roosevelt is shot in the chest outside his hotel. The gunman was immediately captured, and might have been lynched on the spot had Roosevelt not told the crowd not to.

The full force of the bullet was broken by his spectacle case and by the notes in his breast pocket for the speech he was to deliver that night. Fortunately, it was a really long speech (and the pages were folded over).

Because he was Teddy Fucking Roosevelt, he actually did deliver that speech, with some modifications (here’s the text of it), for ninety minutes, while bleeding, before consenting to go to the hospital. He told the crowd, “But it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” He added that he was not important, the movement was. Yeah, right. Also: “I cannot speak to you insincerely within five minutes of being shot.”

The hospital didn’t even keep him overnight, although the bullet, which was never removed, was quite near his lung, though it didn’t penetrate the abdominal wall.

He then took a train to Chicago, where he might be operated on (or, if he has his way, he’ll go on to Indianapolis to give another speech tomorrow night).

Incidentally, the bullet entered just under Roosevelt’s right nipple. Or, to put that another way, the NYT in 1912 used the word nipple.

The assassin, John Schrank, a 36-year-old former saloonkeeper, was your basic lone gunman loon, who believed that William McKinley came to him in a dream, and who really, really believed in the tradition of presidential term limits. He was committed to an asylum, where he died in 1943. No one ever visited him.

When he gave the speech, TR knew nothing about Schrank or his motives, but he was willing to blame his actions on the violence of campaign rhetoric: “it is a very natural thing that weak and vicious minds should be inflamed to acts of violence by the kind of foul mendacity and abuse that have been heaped upon me for the last three months by the papers in the interest of not only Mr. Debs but of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Taft.”

But other than that, Mrs Roosevelt... Edith Roosevelt heard about the shooting while attending a play (The Merry Countess) in NYC. She was told he wasn’t injured, so she watched the rest of the play.

Serbia demands that Turkey stop mobilizing its army, which is a little rich. Turkey invades Serbia. Greece demands back the ships that Turkey has seized and is admitting deputies to the Greek Parliament representing Crete, which the Ottomans consider part of their Empire.

Headline of the Day -100: “Montenegrins Take Tushi.”

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