Theodore Roosevelt’s Assassination Incident of 1903

Nava Berger

Abstract: On September 1st 1903, a man named Henry Weilbrenner visited Sagamore Hill, the home of President Theodore Roosevelt, three times in an attempt to speak to the President. He was turned away the first two times and arrested on the third. A gun was found in his carriage and many newspapers claimed that he intended on assassinating President Roosevelt. This occurred during the time of sensational journalism, when it was not uncommon for facts to be created to sell stories. There are many differing accounts as to what happened when Weilbrenner went to Sagamore Hill, which is covered in this paper. This paper also explores the lives of those involved, discusses the history of the press, of the celebrity, and of presidential security.

Keywords: Long Island, Theodore Roosevelt, Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, Newspapers, Journalism


Editors Note, Dr. Nancy Tomes: This paper had its origins in my course HIS 401, “Presidential Assassinations in Historical Perspective,”  which Nava took in Spring 2019.   Taught seminar style, the course looked at the history of Presidential assassination attempts, both failed and successful, from Andrew Jackson to Ronald Reagan.  For her 401 paper, Nava chose to follow up on a story she had heard while working as a Park Service guide at Sagamore Hill about a 1903 incident involving Theodore Roosevelt and his daughter Alice.   Showing impressive archival skills, she did an extraordinary job of research for that paper.  In fact,  she uncovered so much material that we decided she should continue working on it for her honors’ thesis.   When she completed the thesis in spring 2020, I encouraged Nava to submit the paper to the LIHJ.  We are both very excited and grateful that the Journal accepted it.  (My friend Roger Wunderlich, the founder and editor of the hard copy Long Island Historical Journal, would be very happy, I think.)  In my 43 years teaching, this is the most impressive job of research by an undergraduate that I have ever seen.

-Nancy Tomes, Stony Brook University

“Less than one hundred feet away in a buggy stood Henry Weilbrenner, a young farmer of Syosset, L.I. with a revolver aimed directly at the president as he stood silhouetted by the light from his library”[1]

The American Citizen

Henry Weilbrenner would not be the man to marry the strong willed and popular Alice Roosevelt, but he did try. He claimed that Alice’s father had agreed to the union between Alice and himself. Her father was President Theodore Roosevelt, who had never spoken to Weilbrenner. On a fall night in September 1903, Weilbrenner, determined with full belief that he had talked to the President, drove his carriage to the President’s home, Sagamore Hill, to get his bride. He tried three times to speak to the President, but his failed attempts ended with a lifetime in Kings Park.

This incident is not widely written, spoken, or known about. It is hidden away in newspapers from the time period and occasionally makes short appearances in books about Theodore Roosevelt.[2] Before starting my research, I had only heard this story told once, from a tour guide at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. The story told, I now know, was not even close to what happened. However, I do not blame the guide, as it is difficult to find information about this event. As mentioned, there are only a few books that discuss or mention the incident briefly. I can confidently say that those books are wrong. They quote newspaper accounts as if they are completely factual, when in reality they are not. They fail to fact-check the newspapers they use and, as a result, are providing their readers with incorrect historical knowledge. I am setting out to fix this mistake, understand what really happened and did not happen, and share my findings so all can understand what transpired that night.

Weilbrenner’s visit occurred during the time of sensational journalism – when newspapers were sold not to spread accurate information, but to make a profit. Historians know well that stories would be fabricated to make them more exciting, so that more people would buy the papers. That is exactly what happened with this incident. There is not a uniform account that is the same in all papers, instead there are multiple differing versions of the same event. I set out to find which version was the real one. Using digitized databases, I looked at newspapers from across the country to find every account possible. I meticulously searched through Theodore’s letters and papers to see if he had written about it. I visited the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. to see if Alice had left anything behind, and went through maps, census records, and other documents pertaining to Henry Weilbrenner.

This research has left us with a history of this assassination incident and a timeline of the life of Henry Weilbrenner, which until this point had been overlooked. This article discusses the history surrounding the incident in regards to fame, journalism, and security. It also discusses what followed the incident as it relates to the Roosevelt family, Weilbrenner, and security. This incident is important historically. It is not just significant to those focused on the Roosevelt family history, but also to the histories of journalism, presidential security, and celebrity.

To determine what happened at Sagamore Hill on 1 September 1903, this article will be looking into a variety of topics, documents, and people. First, there is a basic summary of what happened. Next, the article will explore the history of sensational journalism, Theodore Roosevelt’s relationship with the press, and Alice Roosevelt and her position as a celebrity. Then, an examination of Henry Weilbrenner, his life and health problems, will be provided.

The second portion of this article analyzes the 118 newspaper articles found that described the incident.  They fall into three basic categories.  The first type of article was short, with no added sensationalized information about the incident. The second and third type of articles were longer, containing new and different information than the first set of articles did. It is difficult to know what exactly happened, because different papers reported completely different stories. This article will conclude with what happened after the incident, with discussions about the trial, the history of the insanity plea, and reports following the incident. What happened that fateful night will not be referenced as an assassination attempt, but as an assassination incident, or just “the incident.” This is because not every newspaper provides evidence that Weilbrenner intended to kill the President.

The basic fact pattern of what occurred that night was best captured by The New York Times in a story published on 3 September 1903.  The newspaper reported that “Henry Weilbrenner was arrested at Sagamore Hill… while making a persistent demand to see President Roosevelt.” Sagamore Hill was the home of President Roosevelt and his family. It is located in Oyster Bay, New York. This was his permanent residence except for the years in which he held public office that provided housing, including during the time that he was president. During his presidency, Sagamore Hill was used during the summers. It is commonly known as the Summer White House for that reason.  At 10 PM, Weilbrenner drove to Sagamore Hill in his carriage. He was stopped by a Secret Service agent who asked why he was at Sagamore Hill, to which he responded that he had an appointment to meet with the President. The officer did not allow him into the house and turned him away. Weilbrenner, determined to see the President, came back a second time. He was turned away. Again, a third time he drove to Sagamore Hill, determined to talk with Roosevelt. The road up to the main house at Sagamore Hill is much longer than an average modern driveway. The odds are that, in accordance with this account, Weilbrenner never got very close to the home. The third time he returned, he was taken by an officer and held in the stable on the property. He claimed to have spoken with the President in a “wireless talk” the night before and that Alice Roosevelt had been at his house.[3] Simply put, we know that Weilbrenner went to Sagamore Hill, wanted to see the President, and wanted to marry Alice Roosevelt.

In 1903, the same year as the incident, President Theodore Roosevelt was still in his first term as President. He was voted into office as Vice President to President William McKinley in 1900. The next year, President McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz, making Roosevelt president.  He went on to win reelection in 1904, and ushered in a new era of Progressive reform in many aspects of American life. As President, Roosevelt made peace between Russia and Japan, called for reforms to regulate the American economy with interests in favor of the public, and worked with both parties in Congress to pass the Hepburn Act of 1906, which “strengthened federal railway regulations.” He also got the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Acts passed in 1906.[4]

Besides his association with the Progressive movement, Theodore Roosevelt’s years as President occurred at key turning points in the history of both presidential security and presidential press relations. First, McKinley’s death led to intense debates about presidential security.  At the time of his assassination, McKinley had limited official presidential protection. What little security he had was provided by the Secret Service Division of the Treasury Department. After McKinley was assassinated, members of the cabinet and McKinley’s private secretary George B. Cortelyou insisted that steps be taken to improve presidential security. Roosevelt fully believed that he was capable of protecting himself, and that having other security would not be, in his estimation, “manly.” He was hesitant, but ultimately gave Cortelyou permission to do what he thought was best. As a result, Secret Service operatives were assigned on a daily basis and there was advanced planning “in cities that the president planned to visit.” Although a president had just been assassinated, the overall viewpoints of Americans did not change. In his paper, “Presidential Protection during the Progressive Era: The Aftermath of the McKinley Assassination,” Richard B. Sherman described the feelings of Americans in this way: “despite the recent assassination of McKinley many senators and other Americans believed that it would be contrary to traditional American values and practices to have any sort of guard constantly surrounding the president. Indeed, the belief that the president should mingle freely with the people and that they should have easy access to him was deeply engrained.” The House and Senate failed to pass any presidential protection legislation after the McKinley assassination.[5]

Regardless of the failed congressional attempts to pass legislation, security around Roosevelt was expanded. According to Sherman, “The Secret Service provided guards in the interior of the White House, with two operatives normally on duty at the president’s office. The District of Columbia police had the responsibility for guarding the entrances to the White House and the grounds. Their numbers were gradually increased during the Roosevelt years” and that “Two Secret Servicemen accompanied the president whenever he left the White House, although more operatives, as well as District policemen, were brought in when he visited theaters or other public places.” It can be reasonably assumed that there were two guards sent with him to Sagamore Hill as well. Prior to Weilbrenner’s visit to Sagamore Hill, the President had encountered other threats. “In June 1902, for example, an officer discovered a heavily armed and ‘dangerously insane’ young man in the White House. Another incident occurred in February 1903 when the chief usher stopped a woman in the White House who was threatening to blow the heads off the president and his secretary. She too was armed.” Even though there were threats, it was still taboo to talk about presidential security.[6]

At the same time, Roosevelt’s presidency coincided with a massive expansion of press coverage that inevitably increased the public’s interest in his and his family’s whereabouts.  Roosevelt’s entry into the presidency coincided with an “explosion” of newspapers being written and sold at the start of the 1900s.[7] Newspapers grew exponentially in popularity starting in the late 1800s and continuing into the 1900s. There were great advances in the technologies which created newspapers. The telephone and typewriter made it easier to send stories back to the newspaper headquarters, and have the stories typed up to be ready for print. New machines increased the speed of printing and folding papers. As historian Christopher B. Duffy notes, “all together, these mechanical innovations made it possible to create forms of journalism that were faster, fresher, and cheaper to produce.”[8] Furthermore, as more people started working in cities, their daily commutes got longer. When people rode buses and subways to and from work, they would read newspapers. Another change occurring at this time was the switch from homemade to store bought. Women started to buy the items that they traditionally made at home. To find out what was for sale, and where to find it, they would turn to the newspapers and the advertisements for products.[9]

The first man credited with revolutionizing newspapers along these lines was Joseph Pulitzer. He bought the newspaper the World in 1883 and used it as a tool to fight against “gambling, prostitution, and local political corruption.” The World was different from other newspapers printed at this time because it had articles about murder, different sports such as horse racing and boxing, and editorial crusades. During the late 1800s, the price of a newspaper could be six cents. Pulitzer made the World only two cents, allowing a larger number of people to afford it, and be able to read it. The decrease in the price made the paper affordable to people in the working class as well as immigrants. Pulitzer created a new type of journalism, called “sensationalism.”[10] These types of stories included murder, sexual scandals, and railroad disasters. As Daly writes, “At a time when many newspapers labored under Victorian codes of propriety, Pulitzer waded into the sordid, the squalid, and the shocking.” Another type of reporting used by Pulitzer’s paper was the “scandal.” This style included information on individuals “whose names people have heard and in whose doings they are specifically interested by knowledge of their official or social position…Thus a divorce involving a prominent person would qualify as news, and soon the World and other papers began carrying more and more such stories.” The popularity of the scandal style led to an increase in people’s need to know more about celebrities. “Pulitzer was part of a broader trend in news coverage during this period that elevated certain people to a pedestal of prominence, giving millions of strangers a (false) intimacy with them.” News was no longer just politics and wars. Celebrities and people of interest were considered “news” as well.[11]

Pulitzer was not the only man changing the newspaper business. Pulitzer’s chief rival, William Randolph Hearst, adopted the same strategies. He first read Pulitzer’s the World while attending Harvard. He had his own interest in newspapers, and in 1883, he took over the San Francisco Examiner. Hearst had his paper include “the same themes that Pulitzer was using in New York: sex, crime, and scandal.”[12] Hearst would create news by sending his reporters on unusual assignments, such as finding the “last living grizzly bear in California.”[13] By creating news, Hearst made sure that there was never a slow news day, and always something for people to read. For both Pulitzer and Hearst, facts were not the priority. “In big cities, where newspaper competition was at its fiercest, reporters and editors were under constant pressure to hurry, to exaggerate, even invent,” Daly writes. This led to sensational stories and journalism.[14]

There was one paper that dissented from the Pulitzer-Hearst style and did not allow itself to disregard facts to create a sensational story. The New York Times was bought by Adolph Ochs in 1896. After purchasing the paper, he greeted his new readers with this message: “it will be my earnest aim that The New York Times give the news, all the news…in language that is parliamentary in good society, and give it as early, if not earlier, then it can be learned through any other reliable medium; to give the news impartially, without fear or favor.” Ochs made it clear that his Times would be a reliable paper, one without crazy scandals, sex, and murder. The top of every paper had the tagline, “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” Ochs also decreased the price of his newspaper, which increased the amount of readers. He worked to make sure that his paper had the reputation of being serious and factual.[15]

At the same time that Pulitzer, Hearst, and Ochs were working to make their papers successful, there was an association of newspapers being formed. According to Jacob Silberstein-Loeb, The American Associated Press (AP), incorporated in 1892, grew out of several regional news associations that emerged across the United States during the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s.”[16] The AP would supply a story to many different newspapers. In 1900, 28.41% of all the newspapers in the United States were subscribed to the AP.[17] The AP was not the only newspaper group, as there were others including the International News Service, which provided to the newspapers of, and was created by, William Randolph Hearst.[18] As will be discussed shortly, syndication played an important role in how the 1903 incident was reported.

Theodore Roosevelt knew how important the newspapers were when he became president. He understood how many people read the papers, and he saw the press and reporters as a tool that he could use to his advantage. One of his first acts as president was calling a meeting with a group of reporters that he knew and trusted. He said to the reporters, “I shall be accessible to you…I shall keep you posted, and I trust to your discretion as to publication.”[19] Roosevelt had meetings with reporters every day in the White House, which allowed him to choose what stories he wanted to be printed. Roosevelt made sure that the reporters felt comfortable around him. As George Juergens writes in Theodore Roosevelt and the Press, “he called them by first name; he shared their jokes; he invited them to social functions.”[20] Roosevelt expected loyalty. If they would not cooperate, he would remove them from his inner circle of trusted reporters.[21]

Roosevelt understood that people who read newspapers were not necessarily looking to learn about a boring legislative bill. They were looking to learn about his personal life. As Juergens notes, “Newspapers had to respond to the reality that by and large people are more interested in personal details about figures in the news than in dry matters of statecraft.”[22] Roosevelt appreciated the power that came with sharing details of his personal life. “When every detail about a person’s life is a matter of concern…he achieves a status much like that of royalty.”[23] Theodore was so invested in having access to the press that he built them a room in the White House. While President, he renovated the White House to make more space for his large family to live in. During the renovation, “Roosevelt specified that one room off the main lobby, next to his secretary’s, be set up for the press.”[24] It was the first time that the press was given its own space inside the White House. This allowed Roosevelt to generate even more publicity about himself, because he could easily access reporters. Not only was the president of great interest, but his family was too. For the first time, there were six children living in the White House. Roosevelt did not always allow the press to access his younger children, and “he tried to shield them as much as possible from inquisitive newsmen.”[25]

Fig. 1. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, 1904. Theodore Roosevelt Center.[26]
The one child he could not hide from the press was his daughter Alice.

Alice Roosevelt was Theodore’s eldest daughter, and his only child from his first marriage. Roosevelt’s mother had died from complications in childbirth, so she was raised in her first years of life by her Aunt Bamie, and then by her father and his second wife, Edith. She was a teenager when her father became president and was thrown into the spotlight. Alice Roosevelt, like many young adults, was not the most well behaved. She was known to smoke cigarettes, gamble, and drive fast cars.[27] Theodore Roosevelt, after being asked why he did not do more to control his daughter is famously known to have said, “I can either run the country or attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both.”[28] An article from September 25th 1901 in the Montgomery Advertiser said that Alice Roosevelt would be “the next queen of the White House” and that she had the “requisites for success” such as being “tall, graceful, beautiful, with a wealth of golden-brown hair and big blue eyes.”[29] Theodore Roosevelt had not been president for very long when this was published, as he was sworn in as president on September 14th, 1901. Already, the younger Roosevelt was being described in romanticized detail.

On January 4th, 1902, Alice Roosevelt made her debut at the White House. According to an article in the newspaper the Craig Courier, Alice was “presented to Washington society last night at a ball given in her honor” and “Miss Roosevelt is the first white house debutante since 1873, when Miss Nellie Grant, the daughter of President and Mrs. Grant, was presented to society at a ball.”[30] It had been awhile since the American people had a debutante in the White House. The New York Times also reported on the party in incredible detail. Theodore had invited reporters to this event for a reason, to allow the American people to feel like they were attending the party. Reporters from the Times captured every detail, writing “the Blue Room was decorated with many yards of asparagus vine… the adjoining rooms were great masses of flowers.” They printed the list of every song played by the full Marine Band. “Miss Roosevelt… looked the ideal debutante in a clinging gown of white chiffon built on white taffeta with elaborate garniture of tiny white rosebuds on skirt and bodice.”[31] In many ways, Alice Roosevelt belonged to the American people. Her party was not so much for her as it was for the people who would read about it.

Almost immediately after she was presented to society, Alice Roosevelt had her first step into the international stage, when she was invited by the Kaiser of Germany to christen the Kaiser’s newest yacht.[32] She was taking on a new and very important role. Now, she would be a representative of her father’s administration and the country. Throughout her father’s presidency, Roosevelt traveled around the world on diplomatic trips and missions. Each time it would be reported on, allowing many people across the United States to not only know who President Roosevelt was, but also who Alice Roosevelt was.

Alice Roosevelt’s fame grew quickly. Soon, she was being referred to as American royalty. An article by the Pawtucket Times, “Our Princess Alice Roosevelt Will Rank with the British Royalty” called Roosevelt “princess.”[33] Another article, by the Tucson Citizen, also referred to Roosevelt as “princess” both in the article and in the title “Our Princess Abroad.”[34] She was no longer just the daughter of a President, but an American “princess.” She was to America what the royal family is to Britain. Details about her were in high demand. Newspapers printed articles such as “Some Facts About Alice Roosevelt” noting that her “features are clear-cut and regular.” Roosevelt was described as beautiful, and also very popular. After going to a naval graduation with her father, “Miss Alice soon became acquainted with the gallant embryo naval officers and was promptly invited to stay over for the hop that evening.”[35] There was also great interest in Roosevelt’s fashion choices. After she was seen carrying a cane, “every young lady who had heard of the thing is robbing the hall rack so that she may be early in fashion.”[36] The way that Roosevelt was reported on in the early 1900s is not very different from the way that celebrities are reported on today in 2020. Both in the past and the present day, every possible detail about the person, even the most seemingly innocuous, is published.

It is very clear that Alice Roosevelt was an extremely popular celebrity. An article in the World from February 8th, 1903 titled “Who Will Be Her Valentine” shows the types of stories that were printed about Roosevelt in newspapers. The article took up a full page and had a full-length image of Roosevelt. The article said, “Five eligible young bachelors are among the most frequent callers at the White House. All are received with equal favor and all are assiduous in their attention to Miss Alice Roosevelt, the charming daughter of the President. Which one of the five, if any, will succeed in capturing her hand?” Accompanying the text were images of five men, their names, descriptions of who they were, and in some cases how much money they or their family had. For example, “Lieut. Robert Sterling Clarke, U.S.A., stepson of Bishop Potter and heir to nearly $10,000,000, is one of these admirers of Miss Alice Roosevelt. At his request she led with him his famous $30,000 cotillion given at Washington recently.”[37] This newspaper article is very similar to what is printed about celebrities today. Her celebrity status made it easy to access information about Roosevelt. All a person had to do was pick up a newspaper and start reading.

A letter sent to Alice Roosevelt, dated November 23rd, 1905 shows the infatuation people had for her. A man from Tokyo wrote to Roosevelt asking her to send him an image of her. The letter stated:

So, it is, because I love and admire all that is beautiful, and because I never saw anything more charming than your image. I have seen two images of yours; the first is from your visit this summer in Tokio, the other represents you sitting in a chair and looking so sweet. Also to [?] the fame of your beauty and endowment has come, and also here you are admired. I think you divine, what it is I will beg you to do. I will beg you to send me a photography of yours, so that I always may see your graceful droughts and rejoice at them. Here before me the image from Japan is lying. It is not particularly well performed, I have got it out of a weekly paper.”  “That I promise you that if you fulfil my prayer, I shall protect and keep holy your image. I am very afraid to be misapprehended, so that you would think that I am a dunce, who has caught a stupid caprice and think to be able to attain anything, or that I am a boy not of age, who credulously believe only to need to write to the “princess” and immediately gain her favour. Neither I am so foolish nor a boy. I should wish you could read, what I feel and think, so you would fulfill my prayer. I should wish that all the joy I feel in contemplating your image, I had sufficient strength to fix it at the paper and make you feel, how [faithy?] and sincerely I mean it. But I don’t succeed, the worse I don’t master your language as my own. Do not smile at this and do not tear it immediately, but do meditate that far away in a foreign land there is a young man, whom you would make so unutterable glad by fulfilling his prayer. I fear that my letter is incorrect, but if you only knew, what racking of the brain it has caused me to write it, I think out of very admiration you would have to send me your photography. Your admiring, [?] Hassen.”[38]

As this letter shows, not only did people in the United States recognize Alice Roosevelt as their celebrity, but so did people in other countries. In this respect, she was not the first young woman in the role of celebrity who had a young man stalk her as a result.  Historians regard Britain’s Queen Victoria as the first victim of celebrity stalking. According to Jan Bondeson, she was pursued by a man named “Edward “the Boy” Jones” who would sneak into Buckingham Palace without being caught. He once stole the Queen’s underwear, and twice sat on the royal throne. Because of the ease in which he could sneak into Buckingham Palace, Jones himself became a celebrity.[39] Over sixty years later, Alice Roosevelt’s popularity inspired the same obsession, with men such as Hassen begging Roosevelt to send him an image of her, because the ones that he had were not good enough. This fascination and obsession with Alice Roosevelt was not maintained by Weilbrenner alone.

As they became international celebrities over the course of his presidency, Theodore, Alice, and the rest of the Roosevelt family moved back and forth between the White House and the Roosevelt home at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, Long Island. In the middle of Long Island’s storied Gold Coast, Oyster Bay was becoming a place where the wealthy spent their summers. It also became strongly associated with the Roosevelt family. The Oyster Bay train station was regularly used by Roosevelt while Police Commissioner of New York City. He would also use it to travel to and from Washington D.C. as president. The Oyster Bay Bank building, on Audrey Avenue, was used by Roosevelt and his staff while governor and by his stuff during his first year as president. His staff moved to the Moore Building, on East Main Street, in 1903. Also on East Main Street was the Christ Church, where the Roosevelt family would attend church.[40]

Fig. 2. Drawing of Henry Weilbrenner from The Spokane Press[41]
Nearby was the town of Syosset, set in what was an agricultural area during this time period. There lived a young man who became infatuated with Alice Roosevelt, with unfortunate consequences.

Henry William Weilbrenner, who would become the unwanted visitor to Sagamore Hill, was born on April 14th, 1876 in the state of New York.[42] His height was classified as “medium,” his build as “medium,” and his hair and eyes were brown. His father and mother were immigrants from Bahan, Germany.[43] His father, Henry Weilbrenner Sr., was born in April of 1844 and immigrated to America in 1866. His mother, Catherine, was born in November of 1849 and immigrated in 1860. His father was naturalized on October 19th, 1872.[44] In 1875 the family lived in Brooklyn, and the state census that year tells us that the “dwellings value” was $4,000. Henry Sr. was 30 years old and Catherine was 25. At this point the family had three daughters: Kate, Mary, and Susan. They had a servant from Germany named Barbra, aged 22. She was only listed as living with the family during the 1875 census. Henry Sr.’s profession at the time was a liquor dealer.[45] This information suggest that the family achieved a comfortable middle class status.

The 1880 census had the first documentation of the man we are focused on, Henry. I will refer to him as “junior” when discussing his family. In 1880 the Weilbrenner family were still living in Brooklyn. The family consisted of Henry Sr., Catherine, Catherine Jr. (same as Kate from the 1875 census), Mary, Susanna (same as Susan from the 1875 census), and the new additions of Henry Jr., aged 4, and William, aged 1. The children were listed as being “in school” and Henry Sr. as an “ale dealer.” All the children were born in New York.[46] The next census  which enumerates the family is in 1900. However, in the U.S. City Directories, it lists Henry Sr. as selling liquor as late as 1885.

Fig 3. Map showing the land owned by Henry Weilbrenner (Sr.). The plot is in upper left corner of the map, under where it says “Syosset.”[47]
By 1900, the family relocated to the Oyster Bay Township district in Nassau County, Long Island. A map from 1906 had a plot of land belonging to Henry Sr. that shows the family living in Syosset.[48] Furthermore, the 1900 census listed Henry Sr., Catherine, Henry Jr., and William as living in Syosset. According to the census, all four household members could read, write, and speak in English. The plot of land was a farm, and the census showed that this farm was owned, not rented.[49] The next census is years after the assassination incident.

The newspapers that printed articles about the incident supplied addition information about Weilbrenner. The New York Times said that “he was well dressed in a suit of dark material and wore an old fashioned derby hat. He is the son of a truck farmer and is one of three brothers. He has two sisters. The family is respectable and is held in general esteem.”[50] They also ventured explanations for his rash act. The Wisconsin Weekly Advocate wrote “Weilbrenner was driven insane by labor union strikes in New York City. His brother had lost his place in New York through continued strikes and had returned to his father’s home with his wife and family to keep from starving.” This news outlet reported that Weilbrenner “broke down under the strain” and started practicing with a revolver.[51] While the Wisconsin Weekly Advocate blamed Weilbrenner’s actions on social pressures, the Times wrote “Weilbrenner several years ago had a nervous attack which rendered him mentally helpless for a day or two, but his family supposed that he had been quite restored by the medical treatment he had received at the time.”[52] At the time that these articles were written, social pressures and nervous attacks were seen as strongly related. According to an article by Megan Barke, Rebecca Fribush, and Peter N. Stearns, The Journal of Social History, any problems that males might be having would be blamed on “exterior conditions, such as the zeal of professionals.”[53] After the “nervous attack” Weilbrenner continued to work.

From September 2-16, 1903, there were at least 118 articles printed about the incident. An article about the incident was printed in every state except for Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Wyoming. The territories of Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico also had articles printed in their newspapers. Reports of the incident were printed in at least four languages, English, Spanish, German, and Polish.

To categorize how sensational the articles were, the newspapers will be separated into three groupings as follows:  the “least sensational” were articles that said there was a revolver in the carriage and no intention of assassination. The second grouping was “semi-sensational” which included articles that said the revolver as loaded as well as that Weilbrenner may have had accomplices, resisted arrest, and that President Roosevelt momentarily left his home to see what was happening. The third group, or “sensational” was, as the name implies, the least trustworthy of the articles. These claimed that Weilbrenner was intent on assassination, that Weilbrenner pointed his gun at President Roosevelt and would have killed him had a security guard not intervened. A majority of the papers fell into the “semi-sensational” category.  To highlight the differences among them, the paper will look more closely at one paper from each category.

The coverage cited earlier in the paper by the New York Times exemplifies the first category.  The paper reported that Henry Weilbrenner was arrested when he tried to get a meeting with President Roosevelt. Weilbrenner first arrived at Sagamore Hill around 10 o’clock at night. He “said he had a personal engagement with the President and desired to see him.” It was many hours past the time that Roosevelt would see guests, so the secret service operative on duty at the time turned him away. A “short time” later Weilbrenner returned to Sagamore Hill and asked to see Theodore. Yet again, he was turned away. At 11 o’clock, Weilbrenner made his third visit to Sagamore Hill and he asked to see Roosevelt. The officer took Weilbrenner from the buggy that he came in and put him in the stables that were on the property. At this point in the night, “a revolver was found in the buggy.”[54]

In the second type of coverage, many of the newspapers started in the same way as a first category paper, and then embroidered new details to it. A good example is the story from the Montgomery Advertiser from Alabama which was very similar to the one from the New York Times. The story repeated the Times story verbatim with the only difference being that they called Henry “Frank.” After the Times portion of the article ends, the Montgomery Advertiser added to the story. The paper claimed that Weilbrenner struggled and was not arrested easily. “The officer seized him and drew him out of the vehicle over the front wheel. The noise of the scuffle attracted the President’s attention. He appeared at the doorway overlooking the driveway from the veranda…but returned to the library almost immediately.”[55] It also reported that Weilbrenner had been practicing with his revolver, implying that he had been planning on killing the president.

Fig. 4. Sensational illustration from The Anaconda Standard with a drawing of Weilbrenner, and what they allege to be his brother, horse and carriage, and home. Also includes a diagram of what they claimed occurred.[56] The same diagram can be found in an article about the incident by The American Citizen.[57]
The third type of story presented a highly dramatized version.  Here, a good example is the American Citizen. Not only does the article have a very exciting story, but it also provided a drawing of what supposedly happened. The article started with “no one better than President Roosevelt realizes how near he was to death at the hands of a crazed – would be assassin.”  They reported that Roosevelt heard the noise, left his doorway, and stepped onto his porch. “Less than a hundred feet away in a buggy stood Henry Weilbrenner… with a revolver aimed directly at the president as he stood silhouetted by the light from his library.” It goes on, “within a fraction of a second a bullet would have been sped on its way had not the maniac’s revolver been knocked from his hands by a secret service agent.” The paper alleged that Weilbrenner was not acting alone, but “at the same time two men, who have not yet been captured…were prowling about the grounds.”[58] This article stretches the truth in such great lengths that it tells a story very different from the first category of papers, and what actually happened.

Many of the papers printed the exact same story, which originated from the Associated Press. The Associated Press stories fall under “least sensational” or “semi-sensational” depending on what information was printed in the given article. Every AP story starts with this line: “A man giving his name as Frank Weilbrenner, was arrested at Sagamore Hill late last night while making a persistent demand to see President Roosevelt.” Some later papers get the name correct, calling Weilbrenner “Henry.” The story continues by positing that Weilbrenner was armed with a fully-loaded revolver and had been taken to the town prison. It describes how Weilbrenner came to the house three times, saying that he had an engagement with the President, but was turned away each time. The second visit he was told not to return and on the third he was arrested.  He was not described as resisting arrest, only that the officer simply took him from his buggy and into the stables on the property. The revolver was found in his buggy. Weilbrenner was described as being 5’8”, 28 years of age, with a medium-sized dark mustache, black eyes, and of German descent. The reports said that he was from Syosset and was well-dressed. It is noted that officers thought that there may have been other men involved, but not that they knew this with any certainty. The transcript of the conversation between Weilbrenner and Justice Franklin is included.[59]

Within the AP papers there are two groups, which will be called “AP original” and “AP plus.” The “AP original” is exactly like the example that was just provided. The “AP plus” starts out exactly the same as the “AP original” papers, but then has new information added to it. This information includes President Roosevelt being asked if he had an engagement with Weilbrenner as well as hearing Weilbrenner resist arrest and stepping outside for a moment to see what was happening. These papers tend to include the line, “when Weilbrenner returned a third time with a demand that he be permitted to see the president the officer seized him and drew him out of the vehicle over the front wheel.” Many “AP plus papers” also say that Weilbrenner had been practicing with his revolver and some mention that his brother had recently lost his job.[60] This research uncovered forty-two “AP original” articles and twenty-two “AP plus” articles. While most of the AP papers did not directly credit the AP for the story, some newspapers did.

A second group of papers uses a report from the New York Herald. These papers all contain the line: “No one better than President Roosevelt realizes how near he was to death at the hands of a crazed would be assassin.”[61] All of these papers are super-sensational. These articles state that Weilbrenner was able to point his revolver at Roosevelt and would have shot at him had a security guard not knocked the revolver out of Weilbrenner’s hand.

The timeline of printed information starts on September 2, 1903, which is when the first article about the incident was printed. Most of the articles from this day are semi-sensational, and many are “AP original.” There are a couple articles that claim it was thought that Weilbrenner came to assassinate. The first “AP plus” article and the first Herald article was printed on September 3.[62]

Fig. 5. Letter written by Theodore Roosevelt regarding the incident.[63]
What exactly did happen that night?  This research included searching the papers of both Theodore and Alice Roosevelt to attempt to find the answer.  The most important source found came from Theodore Roosevelt himself, who wrote about the incident in the days after it happened, in a letter to his Secretary of State John Hay. He wrote, “there was nothing whatever in that crazy man incident. He was a poor demented creature with a revolver, who was wholly undecided whether to see me as a friend or to protest against my having done him some unknown wrong. He came in a buggy, so there was no danger of his getting past the secret service men, who simply arrested him and took him to the village. By noon the next day our entire family had forgotten that he had come, and would not have recalled it had it not been for the papers.”[64] The President’s letter is perhaps our most accurate account of what occurred. He does not mention footprints or leaving his home to see what happened. He does not mention any struggle between Weilbrenner and the secret service, or there being multiple people involved. Following this letter, it can be assumed that the semi-sensational and sensational articles are incorrect, as they contradict Roosevelt’s account of the incident.

The letter would also mean that the article from the New York Times reconstructed the most accurate account we will probably ever have of the event.

Although other family members may have been more concerned about the incident, documentation of whether or not they felt so could not be found. The person who inspired Henry’s ill-fated visit to Sagamore Hill is a case in point. A read through Alice Roosevelt’s diaries, saved letters, and newspaper clippings, which are kept at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Roosevelt, at least according to this collection, show that she did not keep any correspondence, newspapers, or write anything in her diary about the incident. Her diary tells us that she was not at Sagamore Hill when Weilbrenner came, and that she had actually left earlier in the day.[65] If any letters were written to her about the event, she did not keep them. So, while the incident was widely reported on in newspapers across the country, it apparently received little attention within the Roosevelt family.

After Weilbrenner was arrested, he was questioned by Justice Franklin of Oyster Bay. During the questioning, Weilbrenner said that he went to Sagamore Hill to “see the President about his daughter Alice” and that he set up a meeting with Theodore Roosevelt the previous night through a “wireless talk.” Weilbrenner also claimed that he had seen Alice and her brother Theodore Jr. in his home. After the questioning, there was an “inquiry of lunacy” which was an examination conducted by Dr. George A. Stewart and Dr. Irving S. Barnes. The doctors declared Weilbrenner to be insane.[66] The next day, Weilbrenner was “brought before County Judge Seabury and formally committed to the State Asylum at Kings Park.” During the exchange between Weilbrenner and Judge Seabury, Weilbrenner said that he “did not know” what charge he had been arrested on.[67]

It is not surprising that Weilbrenner was declared insane. According to Eric Rauchway, “American jurists began adopting the M’Naghten test in their insanity-related decisions, and it had entered the boilerplate language of New York State judges by the middle of the nineteenth century. It became abbreviated as the ability to know right from wrong.”[68] The M’Naghten test was derived from the 1843 case in which Daniel M’Naghten, a murderer in Great Britain, was acquitted by the British House of Lords because he was determined to be insane. In the case of Weilbrenner’s insanity, he did not know right from wrong. He did not understand that his actions were wrong, why he was arrested, and what the charges were. It is clear that he did not understand the consequences of his actions. Therefore, he was judged insane under the M’Naghten test.

The assassination incident raised concerns about Theodore’s security. Jacob Riis, a Danish immigrant famous for his exposé book How the Other Half Lives, was the only person to visit Sagamore Hill on the day after the incident.[69] He felt that “there is not a sufficient guard about the President to insure his safety. He thinks the Secret Service should provide at least twice the guard which has been maintained, and says that if the President does not look at it that way his friends do, and will insist that he be better guarded.”[70] As mentioned earlier, after President McKinley was assassinated, Congress “informally requested SSD to protect the President.”[71] However, there were no funds appropriated by Congress for presidential protection until 1907. The security around Roosevelt did expand dramatically after the incident, at least not right away. There was an increase from one man during the day and two at night, to two men during the day and three at night.[72]

An article printed by the New York Tribune on September 4, 1903 claimed that Weilbrenner did not intend on assassination. It wrote, “This evening’s reports in which certain county officers are alleged to deny emphatically that the insane farmer had a pistol when he called at the President’s home, are entirely incorrect. Equally incorrect and even more absurd are this morning’s reports that Weilbrenner put a hand on his weapon, or aimed it directly at the President.” In addition, “Further inquiries in Syosset, Weilbrenner’s home, undertaken by The Tribune correspondent this evening, confirm the general belief that Weilbrenner carried his only damning piece of evidence, the revolver, not for offensive, but for defensive purposes.”[73]

After the incident was reported on in the papers, Roosevelt received “many telegrams congratulating him upon his escape” from Weilbrenner.[74] The American people wrote to the President as if he was a friend or a family member. They had a sense of closeness to him because they had read so much about his personal life in the newspapers.

This was not the last time that Theodore Roosevelt’s life was at risk. In 1912, a man named John Schrank shot Roosevelt. Unlike Weilbrenner, there was a clear motive and desire to end the former president’s life. John Flammang Schrank was born in March of 1876 in Balvaria. He immigrated to the United States when he was a young child with his parents. According to the Theodore Roosevelt Center, his parents died soon after the family arrived in America, and “the deaths of his girlfriend and the aunt and uncle who raised him clearly took a toll on his emotional health. After a short stint as a saloon owner, Schrank lived on the margins of society writing poetry and seeking solace in religion.” Furthermore, there is a particular letter that is looked at to understand why Schrank tried to assassinate Roosevelt. “The document suggests that he opposed a third presidential term, but it also recounts a dream in which President McKinley appeared to Schrank, blaming Theodore Roosevelt for his death and directing Schrank to seek revenge.” He followed Theodore throughout his 1912 presidential campaign tour. On October 14th, he finally got close enough to Roosevelt, and shot him with a .38 colt revolver.[75] He was not mortally injured and decided to proceed with a planned speech instead of going to the hospital. Schrank was arrested.  According to the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, “after his arrest, doctors examined Schrank and reported that he was suffering from ‘insane delusions, grandiose in character’ and declared him to be insane.” He was sentenced to the Central State Mental Hospital in Waupun, Wisconsin. He lived out the rest of his life there, dying in 1943.[76]

What happened to the principal figures in the 1903 assassination incident? Theodore Roosevelt was president until 1909. After leaving the White House, he went on a safari to Africa with his son Kermit, to collect animals for the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. He ran for a third term as president, and came in second in votes among the three candidates. He later almost died while exploring the Amazon, again traveling with his son Kermit. He watched all of his sons join the fight during World War 1, as well as his daughter Ethel join the cause as a nurse. In July of 1918, his youngest son Quentin was killed in battle. Less than half a year after his son’s death, Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep at Sagamore Hill on 6 January 1919.[77]

Alice Roosevelt continued to hold celebrity status among the eyes of the American people. She refused to conform to societal expectations throughout the rest of her life. She continued to represent her father on official White House trips, such as a trip to Asia in 1905 as a goodwill ambassador. In 1906, she married Republican Representative Nicholas Longworth of Ohio. She stayed involved in politics after her father left the Oval Office. She was an open opponent of the League of Nations, did not support her cousin President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, and held isolationist beliefs. She was friends with the Kennedy, Nixon, and Johnson families. Alice Roosevelt had one child, a daughter named Paulina. After her daughter passed away, Roosevelt raised her grandchild. She died at age 96 in 1980.[78]

After the incident, Henry Weilbrenner was committed to Kings Park State Hospital, where he spent the rest of his life. At some point between the incident and 1909, his family had moved from their Syosset farm to Queens. His father died on 4 September 1909 in Queens. The 1910 census shows that Henry Jr.’s younger brother William was living in Queens with his wife Harriet, who he married in 1904. He later moved upstate with his family.[79] The 1915 census said that Henry’s mother Catherine was living alone in Clinton Ave., Queens. She later moved in with her daughter Mary.[80]

Fig. 6. Henry Weilbrenner’s Draft Card.[81]
The first census with Henry in Kings Park State Hospital was in 1910. It listed Henry as being 30, single, and “none” under trade or profession.[82] The 1920 census listed him as an “insane inmate” and the 1930 census said that he could read and write.[83] The 1940 census provided new information such as that Henry’s highest grade of school completed was “8” and that he worked for three hours during the week of March 24-30 for “pay or profit in private or nonemergency Govt. work” while at Kings Park.[84] One of the more interesting finds was Henry’s draft card dated September 9th, 1918. His permanent address first said, “cannot be learned” but then says “Queens, NY.” It lists his nearest relative as being his mother, and the nearest relative address as being in Brooklyn, in Kings County. He was disqualified from service because he was declared “insane.”[85] Henry lived until the age of 75. According to the New York State Death Index, he died on 6 November 1951. Henry died, according to the Death Index, of a heart disease.[86] He is likely buried in one of the patient cemeteries at Kings Park.[87]

This assassination incident was one of overblown drama. The sensational style of journalism at the time the incident occurred made it difficult to know what had actually happened. A small matter could become a misleadingly sensational masterpiece with just a few nonfactual details. The newspapers made it easy to believe that Weilbrenner almost assassinated the president, even though he never actually got close to Roosevelt. The “All the News That’s Fit to Print” tagline of the New York Times is upheld here, as it corresponds well with the one firm first person account we have of the event, from the President himself.[88] Roosevelt’s personal letter about the incident supports the Times piece. This was truly an assassination “incident.” Weilbrenner did come with a gun but did not cause any harm to the president. The lesson of this episode is that newspapers contained a broad spectrum of different accounts of the event and could often not be relied upon for their veracity. What was printed may not be what really occurred, and if historians rely on those accounts without comparison and scrutiny, they are perpetrating false history. This event also allows us to understand more about the obsessions with celebrities, and the realization that it is not just a part of our modern culture.


I would like to thank Stony Brook University History Professor Nancy Tomes for giving me the opportunity to research and write this paper. I would like to thank Laura Cinturati, Elizabeth DeMaria, and Lana Dubin for their gracious help and continuous support. I would like to thank Karen Kernan and Stony Brook University’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities for giving me the opportunity to visit the Library of Congress. I would like to thank Chris Filstrup and Matthew Hartman for helping me access resources I was unable to obtain on my own, and Joshua Ruff for helping me with editing. I would also like to thank the Long Island History Journal for giving me this opportunity to have my research published.


[1]“President Roosevelt’s Narrow Escape.” American Citizen (Kansas City, Kansas), September 18, 1903: 4. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[2]Books that mention the incident include The Roosevelt Family of Sagamore Hill, by Herman Hagedorn (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1954). Hagedorn claims that Weilbrenner admitted to wanting to kill Roosevelt; Theodore Roosevelt, A Life, by Nathan Miller (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1992), claims that Weilbrenner charged towards the house and a guard stopped him as well as that Roosevelt exited his home to see what was happening. In Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris (New York: Random House, 2001), the author says that Weilbrenner charged at Roosevelt with his gun, and admitted to wanting to kill him. Princess Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, by Carol Felsenthal (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988) provides an account similar to Miller’s description, stating that Weilbrenner charged the home and Roosevelt stepped outside to see what was happening, as well as that Weilbrenner resisted arrest. In Sagamore Hill: Theodore Roosevelt’s Summer White House by Bill Bleyer (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2016), Bleyer claims that Weilbrenner charged at Theodore with his horse, was tackled to the ground by security, and said that he wanted to kill Roosevelt. Plotting to Kill the President: Assassination Attempts from Washington to Hoover by Mel Ayton, (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2017) claims that Weilbrenner slept with his revolver under his pillow, charged at Roosevelt, resisted arrest, and said that he wanted to kill the president.

[3]“Sought President with Loaded Revolver,” New York Times, September 3, 1903, New York.

[4]Eric Rauchway, Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt’s America (New York: Hill & Wang Press, 2004). 185.

[5]Richard Sherman. 1983. “Presidential Protection during the Progressive Era: The Aftermath of the McKinley Assassination,” The Historian 46, no. 1 (November), 2, 3, 7.

[6]Ibid., 13, 14.

[7]George Juergens. 1982. Theodore Roosevelt and the Press. Daedalus 111, no. 4, 115.

[8]Christopher B. Daly, Covering America: A Narrative History of a Nation’s Journalism (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012). 117.

[9] Ibid.

[10]According to Kenneth D. Nordin, “the early American press inherited a tradition of sensationalism from the English press, a culture reinforced throughout the eighteenth century by the colonial press’s reliance on British newspapers for copy.” Nordin, Kenneth D. “The Entertaining Press: Sensationalism in Eighteenth-Century Boston Newspapers.” 1979. Communication Research 6, no. 3 (July): 295–320.

[11]B. Daly, Covering America. 115, 117-118, 120-124.

[12]Ibid., 131.


[14]Ibid., 149.

[15]Ibid., 140.

[16]Richard A. Schwarzlose, The Nation’s News Brokers Volume 2: The Rush to Institution, from 1865 to 1920 (Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1990), 18.


[18]Jonathan Silberstein-Loeb, The International Distribution of News: The Associated Press, Press Association, and Reuters, 1848-1947 (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2014). 4.

[19]Juergens, Theodore Roosevelt and the Press, 113.


[21]Roosevelt’s expectation of loyalty from the press went so far as to become the Supreme Court Case, United States v. Press Publishing Co., 219 U.S. 1 (1911). This all began when newspapers reported on events connected to Roosevelt’s purchasing of the Panama Canal Zone. They were very critical of his actions leading up to the purchase. This did not sit well with Roosevelt and he had criminal libel cases brought against Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World and Delevan Smith of the Indianapolis News. The Supreme Court sided with the newspapers over the government. (Clyde Peirce. 1937. “The Panama Libel Cases,” Indiana Magazine of History 33, no. 2: 171-86.

[22]Juergens, 117-125.




[26]Alice Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site. Theodore Roosevelt Digital Library. Dickinson State University. (Accessed 22 August 2020).


[28]Library of Congress, “Today in History –February 3,” (Accessed 16 May 2019).

[29]“Miss Alice Roosevelt is the Belle of the White House: Brilliant Social Future Assured For.” Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama) LXXII, no. 225, September 25, 1901: 5. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[30]Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection, “Alice Roosevelt’s Debut” The Craig Courier, Volume 7, Number 30, January 11, 1902. (Accessed 16 May 2019).

[31]“Miss Alice Roosevelt Introduced to Society: President’s Daughter Makes Her Debut at The White House. Little Ceremony Attends the First Event of the Kind Ever Held in The Executive Mansion.” New York Times (1857-1922), Jan 04, 1902.

[32]“Miss Roosevelt to Name Kaiser’s Yacht Washington, D. C. Jan. 3.” Tucson Citizen (Tucson, Arizona) XXXVII, no. 63, January 3, 1902: [1]. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[33] “Our Princess Alice Roosevelt Will Rank with the British Royalty.” Pawtucket Times (Pawtucket, Rhode Island), January 31, 1902: 8. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[34]“Our Princess Abroad.” Tucson Citizen (Tucson, Arizona) XXXVIII, no. 135, March 26, 1903: Page Two. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[35]“Alice Roosevelt Enjoying Life.” Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), no. 54, May 28, 1902: 3. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[36]“The Roosevelt Cane Fad” Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana) XIII, no. 252, May 16, 1902: 6. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[37]The World, “Who Will Be Her Valentine” February 8th, 1903, Box 7, “Newspaper Clippings 1”, Alice Roosevelt Longworth Papers, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

[38][Unknown] Hassan to Alice Roosevelt Longworth, 23 November 1905, Box 2 Folder H, Alice Roosevelt Longworth Papers, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

[39]Jan Bondeson, Queen Victoria’s Stalker: The Strange Case of the Boy Hones (True Crime History). (Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 2011).

[40]Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, “Theodore Roosevelt’s Oyster Bay” National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

[41]The Spokane press. [volume] (Spokane, Wash.), 14 Sept. 1903. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

[42], Draft Card of Henry Weilbrenner. (Accessed 16 November 2019).

[43], 1870 US Census. (Accessed 16 November 2019).

[44], Soundex naturalization index. (Accessed 16 November 2019).

[45], 1875 US Census. (Accessed 16 November 2019).

[46], 1880 US Census. (Accessed 16 November 2019).

[47]U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918. Henry Weilbrenner. Accessed August 14 2020. (Accessed 16 November 2019).

[48], Map of Syosset in 1906. (Accessed 16 November 2019).

[49], 1900 census. (Accessed 16 November 2019).

[50]“Sought President with Loaded Revolver,” New York Times, September 3, 1903: 2.

[51]“Intended to Murder: Henry Weilbrenner Confesses That He Had Planned to Assassinate the President.” Wisconsin Weekly Advocate (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), September 3, 1903: 2. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[52]“Sought President with Loaded Revolver,” New York Times.

[53]Megan Barke, Rebecca Fribush, and Peter N. Stearns. 2000. “Nervous Breakdown in 20th-Century American Culture.” Journal of Social History 33, no. 3: 567.

[54]“Sought President with Loaded Revolver,” New York Times.

[55]“Matrimony His Object: Crazy Man Visits President’s Home. Armed with a Revolver. Said He Desired to Marry Miss Alice Roosevelt.” Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama) LXXIV, no. 213, September 3, 1903: [1]. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[56]“Incidents of the Dramatic Attempt of a Lunatic to Assassinate the President.” Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana) XV, no. 3, September 13, 1903: 3. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[57]“President Roosevelt’s Narrow Escape.” American Citizen.


[59] “Supposed Crank after President. Wanted to See Him About Marrying His Daughter Alice-Gave Name of Weilbrenner and is Considered Dangerous.” Pawtucket Times (Pawtucket, Rhode Island), September 2, 1903: 1. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[60]“An Insane Man Wants to Marry the Daughter of the President. He Attempts to Gain Admittance to Sagamore Hill at a Late Hour at Night, And.” Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana) XIV, no. 358, September 3, 1903: [1]. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[61]The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]), 03 Sept. 1903. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

[62]There is one newspaper that has both the AP and the Herald’s accounts of the incident. The Hawaiian Star has one heading, and the two types articles side by side. The Hawaiian star. [volume] (Honolulu [Oahu]), 09 Sept. 1903. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

[63]Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to John Hay. Theodore Roosevelt Papers. Library of Congress Manuscript Division.


[65]Alice Roosevelt Longworth Collection, Library of Congress. Dairy Entry from September 1903, Box 1.

[66]“Sought President with Loaded Revolver,” New York Times.

[67]“Weilbrenner is Committed” New York Times. September 4, 1903.

[68]Eric Rauchway, Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt’s America (New York: Hill and Wang, 2007). 15.

[69]Daly, Covering America. 144.

[70]“The President’s Guard.” New York Times (1857-1922), Sep 04, 1903.

[71]Shawn Reese. The U.S. Secret Service: An Examination and Analysis of Its Evolving Missions. Congressional Research Service. December 16, 2009.

[72]“The President’s Guard.” New York Times.

[73]New-York Tribune. [volume] (New York [N.Y.]), 04 Sept. 1903. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

[74]“Many Telegrams Of Congratulation Sent President’s Escape From the Insane Farmer Subject of Many Messages.” Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, Utah) II, no. 498, September 3, 1903: [1]. Readex: America’s Historical Newspapers.

[75]Theodore Roosevelt Center, “Schrank, John Flammang” TR Encyclopidia, (Accessed 12 May 2020).

[76]Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, “Who Shot T.R.?” National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, (Accessed 12 May 2020).

[77]David McCullough, Mornings on Horseback. (New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks 1981, 2001). 368.

[78]Theodore Roosevelt Center, “Longworth, Alice Lee Roosevelt” TR Encyclopedia, (Accessed 12 May 2020).

[79], William Weilbrenner Draft Card. (Accessed November 16 2019).

[80], US Census 1920. (Accessed November 16 2019).

[81] “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, database with images, FamilySearch, Henry William Weilbrenner, 1917-1918. (Accessed 25 August 2019).

[82], US Census 1910. (Accessed November 16 2019).

[83], US Census 1920, 1930. (Accessed November 16 2019).

[84], US Census 1940. (Accessed November 16 2019).

[85], Henry Weilbrenner Draft Card. (Accessed November 16 2019).

[86], New York State Death Index. (Accessed November 16 2019).

[87]Jason Medina, Kings Park Psychiatric Center: A Journey Through History. Xlibris Corp, 2018.

[88]Daly, Covering America, 140.

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