fter leaving office, Roosevelt’s friend and nominated candidate William Howard Taft was elected President. But Roosevelt had no plans of relaxing after leaving office. Instead he set off on an exhibition of Africa. Where he planed to sail on the Koenig Albert for Naples via the Suez Canal. But the trip would prove to be the most dangerous that Roosevelt ever took.
The team he was with, including his son Kermit, got lost in the Amazon Rain Forest and wondered into dangerous territory where tribes would kill and eat any strangers that passed through. Roosevelt said you could never see anyone, but you would always hear them as if they were right next to you. The dog travelling with Roosevelt was shot by the tribe with arrows because the dog could always sense when they were near.
Roosevelt caught malaria while in Africa and was weakened so bad he thought about taking his own life. The only thing that stopped him, was his son, Kermit. He said that there would be no way that Kermit would leave him in the forest and that carrying his body out may slow them down. So the only way he would get out of that forest was alive. Eventually they ran into a relief team, sent out to rescue them. Roosevelt would return to the States and make a full recovery.
It was when he got back to the States that he would decide to run for President again. But when he lost the Republican nomination, he started his own party, called “The Progressive Party” He would run against his friend and successor, William Howard Taft and democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson. But this election campaign would be like no other, for this one almost cost him his life.
A deranged man by the name John Schrank had a dream where he saw President McKinley sit up in his coffin pointing at a man in monk’s attire, the man recognised the man as Theodore Roosevelt. The man explained that the dead president said “This is my murderer, avenge my death.”
On the evening of October 14, Roosevelt was in Milwaukee standing in his open automobile in front of the Gilpatrick Hotel, waving his hat to the crowd. Schrank, who had been stalking Roosevelt for a month was standing just 7 feet away,he aimed a pistol at Roosevelt’s chest and shot him. The bullet passed through Roosevelt’s glasses case and the folded 50 page speech behind it, smashed through his chest wall and lodged in a splintered rib less than a quarter of an inch from his heart.
Roosevelt dabbed at his mouth, found no blood and concluded his lungs were undamaged and insisted on giving his speech, despite being injured. At the beginning of his speech he said…
Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you full understand that I have just been shot. There is where the bullet went through. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best. Now, friends, this effort to assassinate me emphasises to a peculiar degree the need of the progressive movement.
He showed the crowd his mangled glasses case and unbuttoned his jacket so that they could see his bloody shirt. Pale and sometimes swaying, he went on to talk for more than an hour before his aides could get him to stop and agree to go to hospital. Woodrow Wilson suspended his campaign. After recovering, he made one more campaign appearance in Manhattan. Unable to lift his right arm, the crowd cheered him for 43 minutes.
On election day, Roosevelt waited for the returns at Sagamore Hill. Roosevelt easily beat Taft. But his entry into the race had ensured a democratic victory. Woodrow Wilson became president.
A few years later, World War 1 would break out and once the United States finally decided to join, Roosevelt was denied entry into the war. Instead he put his sons forward to fight. All his son’s would return home, except one. Quentin Roosevelt was killing in action when his plane was shot down. A German photographer photographed his body and his plane wreckage. It broke Roosevelt’s heart.
On the evening of January 5, 1919, Theodore Roosevelt was reading by the fire in his children’s empty nursery. He had recently been hospitalised for inflammatory rheumatism. He was weak, weary and oddly short of breath. He had made peace with the Republican party and was certain that 1920 would bring him back to power at last.
But first, he needed to rest and while he shut his book and got ready for bed that evening he said to Edith…
I wonder if you will ever know how I love Sagamore Hill.
He never woke up. He was 60 years old. His son Archie, sent word to his brothers. “The Old Lion is Dead” he said.
Vice President Thomas Marshall told the press that death had to take him sleeping, for if Roosevelt had been awake, there would have been a fight. Two days later he was buried on a hilltop grave at Oyster Bay.