Anton Cermak was the mayor of Chicago in the 1930s. He was injured by an assassin's bullet intended for the president-elect, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Cermak was taken to a local hospital, treated nonoperatively for his injuries, and initially improved. Cermak's condition deteriorated on the sixth day postinjury, with symptoms that his doctors described as colitis. He died of sepsis on the 19th day after the shooting, and his autopsy revealed a perforated colon causing peritonitis. This study will review Cermak's clinical course and autopsy findings to determine if he died of his gunshot wound or if he died of complications of toxic colitis.
On February 15, 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in Miami returning from a fishing trip in the Bahamas. As he passed through Miami, Roosevelt planned to give a short speech and meet, informally, with Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak. Roosevelt stopped at the Biscayne Bay Park after 9 pm and gave his 1-minute speech while sitting in his car. After the speech, Cermak approached Roosevelt's car and sat with the president-elect discussing the financial future of Chicago. As Cermak was leaving Roosevelt's car, several shots were fired by a lone gunman attempting to assassinate Roosevelt. Roosevelt was uninjured, but Cermak and four other bystanders were stuck by errant bullets. 1 Cermak was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he died 19 days later. 2 This study will review Cermak's health prior to the shooting and also the care he received during his stay at Jackson Memorial.
Anton Cermak was a Czech immigrant that rose to power in Chicago politics in the environment of the major financial depression of the early 1930s. ( Fig. 1 ) He was born in 1873, came to the United States with his parents when he was 1 year old, and moved to Chicago at the age of 16 years. He began his political career as a member of the Democratic Party in 1902 when he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. He defeated a Republican incumbent and became the mayor of Chicago in 1931 3 ( Fig. 2 ).