“I have just been shot”

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Dec 10, 2012 | By Maryam

The US presidential election of 1912 was unusual for a number of reasons. For one, the election involved four candidates. One of which was a former president, who upon losing the support of his former party, created his own. In case you’re having trouble recalling your American history, that president was Theodore Roosevelt. Determined to run for office and booted by the Republican Party, Teddy started the Progressive Party, nicknamed the “Bull Moose Party” after Teddy’s claims to the press that he felt like a “bull moose”.

Yet another reason why the 1912 election was so strange was the assassination attempt targeted towards Roosevelt while on the campaign trail, only weeks before Election Day. The bullet passed through a fifty-page single folded speech, as well as a steel eyeglass case in his jacket pocket before penetrating his chest. 

Roosevelt, being an experienced hunter and anatomist, correctly concluded that since he was not coughing blood, the bullet had not completely penetrated the chest wall to his lung. And so he declined his handlers' requests to go to the hospital, choosing instead to deliver his scheduled campaign speech with blood seeping through his shirt and a bullet still lodged in his chest.

A bull moose, indeed.

Roosevelt spoke in this condition for 90 minutes. Here were his opening lines:
“Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. 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.”
In a truly gentlemanly display, the competing candidates - former president William Taft and president-to-be Woodrow Wilson - suspended their campaigns for the duration of Roosevelt’s hospitalization. Although Roosevelt lost the 1912 election, he fared better than any other third party candidate in the history of US elections, coming in second behind Wilson.