Giuseppe Zangara (September 7 1900 - March 20 1933) attempted to assassinate United States President-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933.
Zangara was born in Ferruzzano , Italy. He did a variety of menial jobs in his home town before emigrating with his uncle to the United States in 1923. On September 11, 1929, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
At some point in his life Zangara developed a very painful ulcer that was never treated. Instead, Zangara, who had very little education, or money for doctors, was driven insane by the constant pain in his stomach. It was difficult for him to work due to both his physical and mental conditions, and in his fevered mind he developed the theory that the President of the United States was somehow supernaturally actively causing his pain. Other sources report that Zangara envied those who had more than he did, and sought the assassination of "all capitalist presidents and kings." Zangara began plotting to assassinate the current president Herbert Hoover, but Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to replace him before Zangara could act on his plan. Zangara would later say, "Hoover and Roosevelt — everybody the same."
On February 15, 1933, FDR was giving a speech in Bayfront Park in the city of Miami, Florida where Zangara worked as a brick layer. Zangara took a .32 caliber pistol and joined the crowd. However, being only five feet tall, he was unable to see over other people and had to stand on a wobbly wooden chair to get a clear shot of his target. Due to his inexperience with guns and awkward firing position, he missed the president with all six shots, but one bullet managed to hit Anton Cermak, the mayor of Chicago who was touring with FDR. Four other anonymous members of the crowd were also wounded. En route to the hospital, Cermak allegedly told FDR, "I'm glad it was me and not you, Mr. President."
Cermak died of an abdominal wound 19 days later, on March 6, 1933, the only fatality of the shootings. Only two weeks later, on March 20, 1933, Zangara was executed in the electric chair at Florida State Penitentiary.
Giuseppe Zangara's last words were spoken to the judge present at his execution, "You give me electric chair. I no afraid of that chair! You one of capitalists. You is crook man too. Put me in electric chair. I no care!"
Some believe that Zangara was not a lone nut and that he was a hitman hired by the Chicago Mafia to kill Cermak. Supporting evidence includes the facts that, in spite of the anarchist rhetoric he used to justify the act, Zangara was a registered member of the Republican Party, that Zangara was a practiced marksman firing at close range, yet he completely missed Roosevelt and that Cermak was in Florida only because he had backed the losing side in a gang war back home.
Zangara is one of the assassins portrayed in Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's musical Assassins.
Whether Zangara was a crazed anarchist or a mob killer may never be known, but Judge John H. Lyle , widely regarded as Chicago's most knowledgeable official on Mafia matters flatly stated: "Zangara was a Mafia killer, sent from Sicily to do a job, and sworn to silence."