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If You Don’t Think Teddy Was Our Most Hardcore President, This Will Change Your Mind

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Teddy Roosevelt is commonly depicted as a hardcore frontiersman charging his steed into a herd of buffalo, and despite being born the sickly child of a wealthy Manhattan socialite, he pretty much was the legendary figure that we make him out to be.

Need proof of his awesomeness? Well, did I mention that the guy was once shot in the chest and then proceeded to give a campaign speech mere minutes later? I didn’t? This is how it went down.

During the 1912 presidential campaign, the Republican Party was split between Taft’s more conservative outlook and Roosevelt’s, which was more progressive.

Losing the Republican nomination to Taft, Roosevelt decided to form the Bull Moose Party.

But some Republicans saw this separation as an affront to the stability of the party. Someone who was decidedly unhappy with Roosevelt’s approach was John Flammang Schrank, who owned a saloon 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.

Fun fact: Schrank claimed that the ghost of former president William McKinley appeared to him in a dream and instructed him to shoot Teddy.

The bullet flew through 50 pages of a folded document (on which Teddy’s speech was written) and a steel eyeglass case before entering his chest.

Despite all of that, 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.”

Being an experienced hunter, Roosevelt concluded that because he wasn’t coughing blood, the bullet hadn’t reached his lungs.

The bullet did not penetrate his pleura, meaning that it would be 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 caused Teddy to be off the campaign trail for several weeks and kept him from doing his daily exercises. This is when Teddy started to gain weight. In the end, Roosevelt defeated Taft by a slight margin, but it was not enough to beat the Democratic Party that year. Woodrow Wilson took office in 1913.