Who Done It

The Murder of Theodore Roosevelt

On October 14, 1912, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Bull Moose Candidate Theodore Roosevelt stood up in his open car to acknowledge cheers from a crowd about to hear a campaign speech from the ex-President. A shot from the second rank of the crowd rang out. A bullet entered the right side of Roosevelt’s chest and lodged in a rib. In real life, Roosevelt, true to his reputation for bravery proceeded to deliver his speech. His iron spectacle case and the manuscript of his speech saved him. He was, however, forced to suspend the remainder of his speaking tour. In our simulation, the bullet did not miss. A day and a half after the shooting, Theodore Roosevelt died. Since the murder of a president was not a federal crime in 1912, the Chief of Police for Milwaukee, Mr. Buck, is in charge of the investigation.


The initial search of the area, immediately after the crowd dispersed, uncovered in a garbage pail, a large man’s jacket with a note inside which read, “Thanks, my friends, I know we’re going to do it.” In one of the pockets, there were some foreign coins, a picture of what appeared to be a cat –like silhouette, a button with an elephant on it, a map of Chicago, a blank postcard from Lake Mohonk Mountain House, a picture of Teddy Roosevelt taken at a Rough Rider Reunion in 1905, and a receipt for a train ticket from Washington D.C.

The Game

Each of you will play a detective assigned to report back to the Chief of Police on one potential assailant. You will draw a name, then do background research on your suspect and explain why or why not this individual could be seriously considered as the murderer. The first part of your report will require you to gather information beyond your textbook by writing a biographical sketch on your individual. As matter of fact, many of you will be assigned suspects who are not even mentioned in your textbook. The second section of your report must address why or why not you feel your suspect deserves further investigation by addressing each and every one of the clues. When you do your research on your individual, make sure to investigate the following:

  • The early political and military career of Roosevelt
  • The various diplomatic crisis of Roosevelt’s two terms
  • The struggles over Progressive reform during Roosevelt’s president
  • The collapse of the positive relations between William Howard Taft and Roosevelt
  • The event surrounding the Election of 1912 (note, the election itself hasn’t taken place yet)

For your use, listed below are the suspects the detectives will investigate. If, in your detective work, you come across someone not on this list that you suspect participated in the murder of Roosevelt, you may report on that person in your report.

  1. Addams, Jane
  2. Aguinaldo, Emilo
  3. Ballinger, Richard A.
  4. Berkman, Alexander
  5. Brandeis, Louis
  6. Bryan, William Jennings
  7. Bunau-Varilla, Phillippe
  8. Cannon, Joe
  9. Carnegie, Andrew
  10. Debs, Eugene V.
  11. Diaz, Portifiro
  12. DuBois, W.E.B.
  13. Dunne, Finley Peter
  14. Eliot, Charles W.
  15. Emperor of Japan
  16. Ford, Henry
  17. Goldman, Emma
  18. Gompers, Samuel
  19. Hearst, William R
  20. Holmes, Oliver Wendall, Jr.
  21. Hughes, Charles Evan
  22. Johnson, Hiram
  23. Jones, Mary Harris
  24. Kelley, Florence
  25. Know, Philander C.
  26. LaFollette, Robert M.
  27. Lippman, Walter
  28. Lodge, Henry Cabot
  29. London, Jack
  30. Mahan, Alfred Thayer
  31. Morgan, J. Pierpoint
  32. Newlands, Francis
  33. Nicholas II, Czar
  34. Norris, George M.
  35. Rauschenbusch, Walter
  36. Reed, John
  37. Riis, Jacob
  38. Rockefeller, John D.
  39. Root, Elihu
  40. Sanger, Margaret
  41. Sinclair, Upton
  42. Steffens, Lincoln J.
  43. Taft, William Howard
  44. Terrell, Mary Church
  45. Tillman, Benjamin
  46. Wald, Lilian D.
  47. Washington, Booker T.
  48. Watson, Thomas E.
  49. White, William Allen
  50. Wilhelm II, Kaiser
  51. Wilson, Woodrow
  52. Big Bill Haywood