On February 15, 1933, following his return from a fishing trip in the Bahamas, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was met by a large crowd of thousands of people. The crown was so excited to see the president, but they soon found themselves in the middle of a terrifying situation. Suddenly, before their eyes shooting began. Giuseppi Zangara, an anarchist gunman opened fire, in an attempt to assassinate President Elect Franklin D Roosevelt. Zangara shouted, “Too many people are starving!” Of course, the driving force behind the attack was the Great Depression. People were starving, jobs had been lost, banks were going under, and true depression had set in. Desperation was the next step.
President Roosevelt 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. While Zangara missed the president, five people were hit. One of those hit was the mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak, who was also in attendance. The mayor received a mortal stomach wound in the attack. While every attempt possible was used to try to save the mayor’s life, he later died of his wounds. Four other bystanders were also wounded. One of them, a woman, is was not expected to recover.
Thousands of people witnessed the shooting, which occurred in a dense crowd at Biscayne park on the Miami water front. The people acted quickly. A woman named Mrs W F Cross, of Miami was the first to seize the assassin’s gun. Zangara was quickly captured after that and people in the crowd began to beat him severely. The men that had tackled the assailant, might have beaten him to death, if Roosevelt had not intervened, telling the crowd to leave justice to the authorities. At police headquarters he was found to be of maniacal anarchistic tendencies. He ranted, “I like Roosevelt, all right, but I don’t like presidents.” President Roosevelt, who had stayed to speak to Mayor Cermak after the speech, immediately got Cermak into the Presidential Limousine and rushed him to the hospital. Cermak told the president that he was glad it was him and not the president. Noble words from a man who was about to die. Mayor Cermak, who did not lose consciousness during any of the time prior to being put on the operating table, was wounded by a single bullet which entered his back just above the right kidney.
For a time there were reports that the gunman might have been a Chicago gangster sent down here to murder Mayor Cermak, but the subsequent developments showed that was not the case. Zangara 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 on the electric chair on March 20, 1933. I find myself amazed that his death came so quickly after his conviction. Most often it takes years to put someone to death. Nevertheless, just over a month later, the execution took place. At least that one time, justice was swift.