On October 14, 1912, while running for President for a third term under the Progressive, or “Bull Moose,” party, former President Teddy Roosevelt delivered one of his most famous speeches. Its opening lines don’t have the stirring cadence of the Gettysburg Address or the emotional heft of Washington’s Farewell Address, but there is one important sentence that history never forgot: “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot.”
Earlier that evening, just after 8 p.m., Roosevelt was shot while leaving the Gilpatrick Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Luckily, the bullet was impeded by a 50-page speech and his glasses case, both tucked in the breast pocket of his overcoat. A doctor traveling with Roosevelt urged the former President to go to the hospital, but the stubborn candidate countermanded those orders, insisting “you get me to that speech.” He wasted no time turning his brush with death into a political opportunity, saying calmly as a preamble to his speech: “It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” Roosevelt spoke for nearly 90 minutes before finally heading to the hospital. Though he didn’t win the election, he received the most votes of any third party candidate in American history.