On February 15, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt was in Miami, Florida. Having just won the presidential election three months earlier, he was still 17 days away from being inaugurated as the 32nd President of the United States. (The 20th Amendment to the Constitution, changing the date of the inauguration to January 20, would not go into effect until later that year).
That night, just as FDR was finishing a speech from the back of his open Buick convertible, five shots rang out. Guiseppe Zangara emptied his .32 caliber pistol at the president-elect from a distance of about 25 feet. At that range, only the most amateurish marksman could have missed his target. Although the bullets found targets, all of them missed Roosevelt.
Why was it that Zangara had such bad aim? As it turned out, because of his height of 5’1″, Zangara was forced to stand on a metal folding chair in order to see Roosevelt over the crowd. The chair on which he stood was quite wobbly, thus throwing off the assassin’s aim. After the first shot, a bystander grabbed at him, further interfering with his accuracy.
Zangara’s bullets struck five people. One of the victims, Chicago mayor Anton Cermak, died from his wounds 19 days later. He reportedly said to Roosevelt, “I’m glad it was me, not you.”
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