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Ah, Shot Again!

January 18, 2018

Theodore Roosevelt had a .38 caliber bullet in his chest, but he insisted on keeping his speaking engagement in Milwaukee.  He did not speak as long as he had originally intended.  Instead, he spoke for only one hour and twenty minutes.

Immediately after the speech he was taken to the local hospital.  It was around 10:00 P.M. before he was properly examined, but first he dictated a telegram to Mrs. Roosevelt, referring to his wound as “trivial.”  By midnight he was on the train to Chicago where he would be hospitalized.  He arrived at 3:32 A.M., but the doctor who arrived with the ambulance allowed him to sleep until dawn.  Upon leaving the railroad car a photographer took a flash picture of the former President.  “Ah, shot again!” Roosevelt wittily remarked.

Roosevelt did not return to the campaign trail until October 30.  If he did not get back on the stump before the election, perhaps his supporters would stay away from the polls.  He needed to do all he could to show them he was well enough to serve a full Presidential term.  Maybe he would even receive some sympathy votes.  Meanwhile, Taft and Wilson had temporarily suspended their own campaigns.

But it was to no avail.  Wilson’s New Freedom bested Roosevelt’s New Nationalism.  The former had been an inadvertent phrase that Wilson adopted as an afterthought.  Roosevelt’s slogan dated back to 1910 and was well defined.  No matter.  Wilson had given a simple answer to Roosevelt’s slogan, and his simple answer appealed both to the South and to small business in the North.

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