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Turning Back the Pages

When the former president, only 54 years old, returned home on June 18, 1912, he became disturbed by uncertain American politics occurring since he was in office, and he sought to return to the presidency.

Colonel Roosevelt was later nominated for the presidency by the Progressive Party and embarked upon a bid for a third term in office which did not sit well with many voters, as he had promised that he would never run again. Nonetheless, he boldly forged ahead with his own Bull Moose Party.

“We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord,” he thundered. At first he was brimming with physical and mental energy, but as time wore on, this enthusiasm waned and the voters grew bored.

In October, 1912, just 100 years ago, his campaign got a boost with a flash of drama when an anti-third-term fanatic by the name of John Schrank shot Roosevelt in the chest in front of a Milwaukee hotel. The bullet passed through his glasses case and a copy of his speech and lodged in a rib near his right lung. Undaunted, Teddy made his speech on schedule. “There is a bullet in my body,” he told his audience, “But it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”

Would-be-assassin John Schrank did not know whether Roosevelt was dead or alive as all newspapers were kept from him in his jail cell. He was eventually allowed to read one and said he felt very disappointed at the outcome as he had every intention to kill the former president. He was not allowed to be tried until after the election.

In November 1912, Roosevelt received far more votes than William Howard Taft , but Woodrow Wilson won the election with the most votes and a huge electoral majority. The Bull Moose party died and faded away into history. “There is only one thing to do,” said the Bull Moose, “and that is to go back to the Republican party.” (Note…Theodore Roosevelt is best remembered for his favorite saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick — you will go far.” Roosevelt died in 1919 at his home in Oyster Bay, NY.)

Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden at jhadden1@nycap.rr.com or 623-2210.

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