Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!
Past Imperfect, the Smithsonian Institutions’s blog about ‘History with all the interesting things left in’, tells this story of how a speech saved Teddy Roosevelt’s life.
“What brought them together in Milwaukee—Theodore Roosevelt and his would-be killer, John Flammang Schrank—on that cool night in October of 1912, was their differing opinions on whether any man should serve three terms in office as president of the United States. And what saved Roosevelt were the things he carried—a steel eyeglass case and a 50-page manuscript of his speech—tucked close to his chest, which absorbed the force of Schrank’s bullet and prevented a lethal wound. Roosevelt would carry the slug from Schrank’s .38-caliber revolver in his chest for the remaining six years of his life, a violent but proud reminder of the strenuous and dangerous life that he lived with such brio……
[After being shot, Roosevelt] took the podium to great cheering, then spoke softly to the thousands in attendance. “Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but … fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet—there is where the bullet went through—and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.”….
The crowd alternatively roared and pleaded with him to rest. To the side, Roosevelt’s advisers tried to persuade him to cut his speech short. Roosevelt would have none of it….
Roosevelt spoke for more than an hour. Then he was rushed to the Johnston Emergency Hospital, where six surgeons prepared him on an operating table….. After they proved unable to locate the bullet, he was transported to a Chicago hospital, where X-rays helped surgeons see that it had lodged where it couldn’t do further damage. They chose not to remove it.”