20 Important Historical Figures Who Survived Assassination Attempts
20 Important Historical Figures Who Survived Assassination Attempts

20 Important Historical Figures Who Survived Assassination Attempts

Steve - April 8, 2019

20 Important Historical Figures Who Survived Assassination Attempts
Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. Wikimedia Commons.

3. Theodore Roosevelt, the youngest person to ever serve as President of the United States, was shot in the chest before a campaign rally but proceeded to give his hour-and-a-half long speech with the bullet lodged in his torso anyway

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (b. 1858) served as the 33rd Governor of New York, the 25th Vice President of the United States, and the 26th President of the United States. Succeeding to the Oval Office following the assassination of President William McKinley just six months into his second term in March 1901, Roosevelt was, and remains, the youngest person to become President of the United States, doing so at the age of just forty-two. Despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his efforts in brokering a conclusion in the Russo-Japanese War, Roosevelt, like his predecessor, was the victim of an assassination attempt.


On October 14, 1912, whilst campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as the presidential candidate for the Progressive Party, Roosevelt was shot by John Flammang Schrank. Slowed by a steel eyeglass case and a fifty-page copy of his speech, the bullet lodged in Roosevelt’s chest. Delivering his speech as planned, the former President spoke for the next ninety minutes before calmly accepting medical attention. Schrank, certified insane and institutionalized until his death in 1943, claimed during his trial that William McKinley had visited him in a dream and begged him to avenge his own assassination by murdering Roosevelt.

20 Important Historical Figures Who Survived Assassination Attempts
The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964. Wikimedia Commons.

2. Martin Luther King Jr., eventually the victim of an assassin, was almost killed in 1958 when he was stabbed in the chest whilst signing books in Harlem

Martin Luther King Jr. (b. 1929) was an American minister who became the de facto leader of the civil rights movement until his assassination in 1968. Advancing the non-violent tactics of civil disobedience inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is most remembered today for his legendary speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial entitled: “I Have a Dream”. Provoking a sustained backlash from white Americans in favor of racial segregation, King and his followers were subjected to intense violence and repeated attempts on their lives throughout the civil rights movement.

Facing assassination for the first time on September 20, 1958, whilst signing copies of his book Stride Toward Freedom in a department store in Harlem, New York City, King was attacked by Izola Curry. Believing that King was conspiring against her with communists, the mentally ill Curry stabbed King in the chest with a letter opener. Hospitalized for several weeks, King recovered after emergency surgery and reflected upon the experience in later works. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, by James Earl Ray, a white supremacist opposed to the racial equality preached and advocated for by King.

20 Important Historical Figures Who Survived Assassination Attempts
Portrait of Adolf Hitler; author unknown (c. 1938). Wikimedia Commons.

1. The subject of dozens of assassination plots, German dictator Adolf Hitler survived them all before eventually killing himself at the end of the Second World War

Adolf Hitler (b. 1889) was the leader of the German Nazi Party, Chancellor of Germany, and subsequently Führer of Germany from 1934 until his death in 1945. Initiating a one-party dictatorship in 1933, Hitler presided over a policy of extreme nationalism, aggressive expansionism, and racial purity, contributing to the outbreak of World War II and the mass murder of civilians during the Holocaust. Due to the radical nature of his politics, Hitler was the subject of countless assassination plots, with current estimates placing the confirmed number at forty-two, with many more believed to remain undocumented.

Surviving them all, the earliest known attempt was made in 1932, with Hitler and several close members of staff falling dangerously ill after consuming meals at the Kaiserhof Hotel believed to have been laced with poison. The most famous and closest to success, the July 20 Plot came within centimeters of assassinating the Führer, along with the preponderance of the German High Command, during a meeting at the Wolf’s Lair. Spared by a table-leg which muted the blast from a bomb planted by Claus von Stauffenberg, Hitler survived with only minor injuries, whilst three officers died and more than twenty suffered serious wounds.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

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“A Thousand Pieces of Gold: Growing Up Through China’s Proverbs”, Adeline Yen Mah, Harper Collins (2003)

“Alexander to Actium”, Peter Green, University of California Press (1990)

“Lenin: Life and Legacy”, Dimitri Volkogonov, Harper Collins (1995)

“Lenin: A Biography”, David Shub, Pelican Books (1966)

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“Republicanism, Anarchism, Anticlericalism, and the Attempted Regicide of 1906”, Enrique A. Sanabria, Palgrave Macmillan (2009)

“A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain”, Marc Morris”, Windmill Books (2009)

“Edward I”, Michael Prestwich, Yale University Press (1997)

“President Ford Survives Second Assassination Attempt”, The History Channel (September 22, 1975)

“The Cambridge History of China, Vol 7: The Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644”, Frederick W. Mote and Denis Twitchett, Cambridge University Press (1988)

“The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605”, Antonia Fraser, William & Norton (1996)

“The Gunpowder Plot: Faith in Rebellion”, Alan Haynes, Hayes and Sutton (2001)

“Louis XV”, Michel Antoine, Hachette Pluriel (1989)

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“Kill the Queen! The Eight Assassination Attempts on Queen Victoria”, Barrie Charles, Amberley Publishing (2012)

“All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror”, Stepeh Kinzer, John Wiley & Sons (2003)

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“The Measure of a Man”, Stanford University, The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute

“A Racial Crime: James Earl Ray and the Murder of Martin Luther King Jr.” Mel Ayton, Archebooks Publishing (2005)

“Valkyrie: The Plot to Kill Hitler”, P. von Boeselager, Hachette Publishing (2009)

“Killing Hitler: The Plots, The Assassins, And The Dictator Who Cheated Death”, Roger Moorhouse, Bantam Books (2006)