Monday, July 20, 2009

The Answer

Sorry all.....the answer to The Man was.....SCHRANK

It was John F. Schrank that shot President Theodore Roosevelt in Milwaukee.

The Story:

The Bull Moose
Cattle Rancher, Commissioner of Police. Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York. He was also the youngest president in American history, rising to sudden and unexpected power at the age of 42 when President McKinley was assassinated.

Roosevelt is most famous today for two things: the 'teddy bear', which is named after the man himself, and his dream project, the Panama Canal.

A canal across Central America had been a dream of travellers, exporters and explorers since the early 16th century. Roosevelt, a sometime explorer himself, certainly knew the cachet that such a project held. Before the canal, a ship sailing from the Atlantic to Pacific had to sail around the very dangerous Cape Horn, at the very southern tip of South America.

It took ten years, hundreds of millions of dollars, and cost hundreds of lives, but Roosevelt's army completed the impossible: The Panama Canal, linking the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, opened officially on August 15, 1914, and American troops have never left 'the Free Republic' of Panama since.

Roosevelt declined the opportunity to run for a third term, nominating his friend William Taft, to represent his party. He was later convinced, however, to run against Taft, even though he had to form a new third party, the National Progressive Party, in order to do so. The party was more often called The Bull Moose Party, because Roosevelt, when once asked whether he was in shape enough for another campaign, remarked that he was 'fit as a bull moose.'

The campaign was one of the most bitter and dark in American political history, with Roosevelt fighting more against his 'old friend' Taft than either of them fought against their common enemy, Woodrow Wilson.

But it could be said that Roosevelt's vision protected him in more ways than one. It was in Milwaukee, at the height of the campaign, when he was hit by a gunshot from a barkeeper named John Schrank.

The Barkeep
John F. Schrank, born in Bavaria, came to America at the age of 13. His parents died soon after, and Schrank came to work for his uncle, a New York tavern owner and landlord. Upon their deaths, Schrank's aunt and uncle left him these valuable properties, from which it was expected he could live a quiet and peaceful life. But Schrank was heartbroken, having now lost not only his second set of 'parents', but his first and only girlfriend, in a ferry accident in New York's East River.

Schrank sold the properties, and drifted around the East Coast for years. He became profoundly religious, and a fluent Bible scholar whose debating skills were well-known around his neighborhood's watering holes and public parks. He wrote spare and vivid poetry. He spent a great deal of time walking around city streets at night. He caused no documented trouble.

It is unclear when his interest in domestic politics so flared that he would attempt to kill Roosevelt. It is known that he was a staunch opponent (to say the least) of a sitting President's ability to seek a third term in office.

He claimed, later, that he had nothing against the man himself, and he did not intend to kill 'the citizen Roosevelt', but rather 'Roosevelt, the third termer.' He claimed to have shot Roosevelt as a warning to other third termers, and claimed further that it was the ghost of President McKinley that told him to perform the act.

It didn't take long for Schrank to be declared insane. The doctors that examined him reported that the man was suffering from 'insane delusions, grandiose in character.'

While millions of Americans wanted him executed, Schrank lived on in a mental hospital. He died there, many years later.

The Bullet
Schrank's bullet, which struck very close to Roosevelt's heart on that cold Milwaukee night, was deflected by the glasses case in his pocket and lodged itself 'harmlessly' in his ample chest. It may also have been cushioned somewhat by the speech that Roosevelt was carrying, neatly folded, in the same breast pocket.

Roosevelt went on to deliver that very speech, that very night, before visiting the hospital to have the bullet removed. As it turned out, the bullet was lodged in his fourth rib, and doctors decided to treat the wound and leave the bullet in place. It remained there for the rest of Roosevelt's life.

His vision couldn't save him twice, though. His third-party split the political right, and he collected only 4,118,571 votes, compared to Woodrow Wilson's 6,296,547. (Taft placed third with 3,486,720).

Retiring from politics, Roosevelt led two expeditions into the Amazon jungle in 1913 and 1914, returning only when he succumbed to malaria.

In 1919, though he was weakened by his sickness, deaf in one ear and blind in one eye (he lost it while boxing at the White House), he was still widely rumored to be planning another run for the Presidency. He didn't live long enough to make any such announcement, however.

Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth president of the United States and the protagonist of everyone's favorite palindrome, died unexpectedly of complications resulting from a blood clot in his heart, on January 6, 1919.

©Rod Bruinooge


john said...

Rats live on no evil star?

OK, I'm confused. How were we supposed to get that from the placement of the question mark? And what was the movie to which you were referring?

Michelle M. said...

I'm just relieved it wasn't me. I was drinking a lot that day and I look awfully guilty...

FDot said...

John: I first solved this puzzle about 9 years ago. The teddy bear and the glasses led me to Teddy Roosevelt. At first the question mark confused me, so I tried to think of things it could be. Looking at the holes in the speech made me think of a bullet, so I looked up assassination attempts on Roosevelt which led me to Schrank.

Rats live on no evil star? A palindrome I believe. Though a false one as rats do live on the highly evil star Raxacoricofallapatorius.

FDot said...

Michelle--Shhhh. Some detective trying to close an unsolved case may try to pin it on you since you say you don't remember that day.

john said...

FDot: YAAAAAY! A Doctor Who reference! I thought rats only lived on Clom?

FDot said...

Oof, the Abzorbaloff. That was a tough episode.

john said...

It was. There were things about it I liked, but overall, it was one of the weakest.

The only thing that took me longer to say than Raxacoricofallapatorius was The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe

FDot said...

Has the 10th Doctor ever referenced the Jagrafess?

That was another weakish episode, made better in retrospect when it turned out to be a set up for the final episodes.