On February 15, 1933, a deranged, unemployed brick layer named Giuseppe Zangara attempts to assassinate president-elect, Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR had just delivered a speech in Miami's Bayfront Park from the back seat of his open touring car when Zangara opened fire with six rounds. Five people were hit. Roosevelt escaped injury but the mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak, who was also in attendance, received a mortal stomach wound in the attack.
Several men tackled the assailant and might have beaten him to death if Roosevelt had not intervened, telling the crowd to leave justice to the authorities. Zangara later claimed I don't hate Mr. Roosevelt personally, I hate all officials and anyone who is rich. Zangara's extreme action reflected the anger and frustration felt among many working Americans during the Great Depression. At the time of the shooting, Roosevelt was still only the president-elect and had yet to be sworn in. His policies remained untested, but reports of Roosevelt's composure during the assassination attempt filled the following day's newspapers and did much to enforce Roosevelt's public image as a strong leader. Unsubstantiated reports later claimed that Zangara's real target had been Cermak and hinted at his connection to organized crime in Chicago. He was initially tried for attempted murder and sentenced to 80 years in prison, but when Mayor Cermak later died of his wounds, Zangara was retried and sentenced to death. Zangara died in the electric chair on March 5, 1933.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. The book can be purchased at Amazon through the following link: