Following the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt as President of the United States in November of 1932, there was a four month period before the president-elect took the oath of office. Roosevelt did what a lot of his predecessors did before him. He took a vacation.
FDR was very fond of fishing off of the Florida Coast. Roosevelt went on a two week vacation that began off the coast of Jacksonville. He was talked into completing his two week vacation in Miami where he would speak briefly to a crowd at Bayfront Park.
On February 15, 1933, Roosevelt arrived at Pier 5 in Miami and spoke with reporters prior to leaving to give his speech to over two thousand people at Bayfront Park. He was put into the back seat of a convertible and driven from the pier to the band shell in the park. He arrived at the stage, was propped up on the back of the convertible, and addressed the crowd shortly after 9:00pm.
It was at the conclusion of his remarks that the course of history nearly changed. Five shots rang out from the crowd. An anarchist by the name of Giuseppe Zangara tried to assassinate the president-elect. He was unsuccessful in killing Roosevelt, but he did manage to hit the Mayor of Chicago. Anton Cermak’s wounds would prove to be terminal.
This episode of the Miami History channel provides the story of that fateful night in February of 1933. It also tells the story of the swiftest justice one could imagine. Five weeks after the crime was committed, Zangara was executed at Raiford Prison.
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