FDR Survived an Assassination Attempt. You Won’t Believe What He Did Next.


Franklin Roosevelt found out just a few days before he took the oath of office in 1933 that the Presidency is a very dangerous position to hold.

Four presidents have been assassinated while in office: Abraham Lincoln (John Wilkes Booth, 1865), James Garfield (Charles J. Guiteau, 1881), William McKinley (Leon Czolgosz, 1901), and John F. Kennedy (Lee Harvey Oswald, 1963).

There have also been many attempted assassinations of the President of the United states. The first attempt (or at least the first documented attempt) happened in 1835 when an unemployed house painter tried to assassinate Andrew Jackson. Of the 44 people who have held the Presidency (Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, so gets counted twice), 16 of them have faced an assassination plot or attempt. Of course, four of those attempts were successful.

On February 15, 1933, President-elect Franklin Roosevelt, who was two weeks away from taking the oath of office, was a subject of one of those assassination attempts.

Newspaper Clipping after the Assassination Attempt. San Francisco Chronicle Archives

On that night, Roosevelt had arrived in Miami, Florida to give a speech. He had just finished speaking when shots rang out. Giuseppe Zangara had shot five times towards the President-elect, though he had to stand on an unsteady chair in order to see the much taller man.

By the time he had been subdued, four bystanders had been wounded and Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, had been mortally wounded in the stomach. One of the other wounded would also eventually die from her injuries.

Whether Zangara’s aim was off due to the unsteady chair, or if it was because a woman named Lillian Cross hit his arm with her purse, we don’t know. What we do know is that he missed Roosevelt despite being only 25 feet away from the newly elected politician.

So what makes this assassination stand out? Click next to find out!

Click Next to Continue