The would be assassin, John Schrank, was a madman whose family had German roots. Schrank had moved to America to live with his grandparents. Always a peculiar man, Schrank claimed to have been visited by President William McKinley's ghost. The ghost told Schrank that Theodore Roosevelt was responsible for his being assassinated and that Schrank had been chosen by God to avenge his death and stop Roosevelt from setting up a monarchy in America and causing another civil war.
Schrank immediately began writing pose and poetry detailing the reasons he would do the deed of killing Roosevelt. He purchased a Colt .36 for $14 in New York City and then hopped on a train which would trail Roosevelt through the south, northeast, and midwest while campaigning. Finally after being unable to attempt the kill in Chattanooga and Chicago, Schrank mustered up enough fortitude to attempt to kill Roosevelt in Milwaukee, WI while he was on his way to deliver a speech. The bullet hit Roosevelt in the chest. However, since Roosevelt was wearing his very heavy army jacket while having his glasses case and thick speech folded into his right side pocket, the bullet was slowed down upon entering his body. Instead of killing the "bull moose," Roosevelt suffered a broken rib and some muscle damage. The bullet came very close to nicking a major artery which would have probably meant his death, but it wasn't to be that fateful night.
Upon pointing the gun at Roosevelt, Schrank was tackled by TR's stenographer keeping the assassin from firing any more shots or having good aim with his first one. After Roosevelt collected himself, he went and picked Schrank up and stared him over questioning why the man did what he did. When Roosevelt saw that the man had no emotion and no expression, Roosevelt threw him to the side and told the police to arrest him. For Roosevelt, it wasn't worth his time. However, Roosevelt was clear to the police that no one was to hurt Schrank so that justice could be done. Even though Schrank was found insane and spent the rest of his life in an asylum, Roosevelt would later state that he didn't believe Schrank was insane at all. He believed he had been a victim of what was taking place in America due to the political climate that was driving people to do crazy things in an attempt to protect themselves. Asked later if he felt the same, Roosevelt would state that Schrank probably did lose himself in the act.
The book details Roosevelt's hospital stay which I had read nothing about really. He basically took over the place, politely flirting with all the nurses, making well wishes to the other patients in the hospital and dictating letters to concerned people. He made the hospital allow visitors to come and go until his wife arrived and took charge. The nurses remarked that it appeared that only his wife had the ability to tame Mr. Roosevelt. TR himself stated after she arrived, "I guess we know who the boss is." Other patients sent him gifts upon finding out he was in the hospital. An 18 year old girl who was in a room directly above his after having an appendectomy sent Roosevelt a rose and a handwritten letter which brought tears to the bull moose's eyes. In another wing of the hospital, a mother gave birth to twins and when TR heard, he requested to see the baby boys. When they were delivered, he held one in each hand like footballs and played with them. He was told one twin was named Dominick after the father and the other was named Theodore after Roosevelt himself.
Just a few days later, Roosevelt would eventually leave the hospital for home with orders to rest. However, he insisted on making his last speech of his campaign in Madison Square Garden in New York City where upon being introduced, he had to wait some 45 minutes before the cheers stopped and he was able to speak. Still in a lot of pain and worn out from his 27 state tour, Roosevelt delivered a speech about the need for Progressivism in America regardless of the outcome of the election. To those closest to him, Roosevelt had stated that he knew he wouldn't win the election as a third party candidate, but he hoped to shake the system up so that Progressivism could begin its course in the country. He certainly achieved that goal and more.
If you're a history fan and especially a Theodore Roosevelt fan, this book is a must read. It's an easy read as well and the author does a tremendous job at bringing the events in the book to life. Being from Georgia, I enjoyed reading the parts about Roosevelt campaigning in Georgia and visiting Roswell, where his mother was from and seeing the house she grew up in and the church she attended. Two of his stops on his campaign trip through Georgia were Reynolds and Fort Valley. Knowing the size of the towns today, I can only imagine what that would have looked like over 100 years ago.