It’s common knowledge that Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most hardcore, rough-riding badasses to ever grace the Oval Office. We could easily make a bulleted (no pun intended) and easily digestible list of all the insane things he’s accomplished, but it’s not necessary. You really only need to hear one story to drive the point home. You see, during the 1912 presidential campaign, the Republican Party was split between Taft’s more conservative outlook and Roosevelt’s, which was more progressive.
After losing the Republican nomination to Howard Taft, Roosevelt decided to form the Bull Moose party.
While it couldn’t have been further from the truth, certain Republicans saw this type of separation as a threat to the stability of the party, specifically Republican John Flammang Shrank, a saloon owner in Milwaukee.
Hearing that Roosevelt was coming to Milwaukee to campaign, Schrank attended a dinner held by Roosevelt at a hotel. As Roosevelt was leaving to go deliver a speech, Schrank shot him in the chest. (Side note: If you didn’t already think Shrank was off his rocker, he claimed that the ghost of former president William McKinley instructed him to shoot Teddy.)
The shot tore through 50 pages of folded paper (where Teddy’s speech was written) and a steel eyeglass case before penetrating his chest.
Despite having a small case of shot-in-the-chest syndrome, Roosevelt delivered his speech. The audience marveled at his opening lines: “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.”
Because Teddy was an experienced hunter, he concluded that since he wasn’t coughing blood, the bullet failed to reach his lungs. Also, because the bullet didn’t penetrate his pleura, it was actually more dangerous to remove it than it would be to leave it in place. Teddy kept the bullet in there for the rest of his life. The wound kept him off the campaign trail for several weeks, but it didn’t stop him from defeating Taft by a slight margin.