Wait — How Many Presidential Injuries Do I Not Know About?

“Wait —” is a weekly newsletter in which Caity Weaver investigates an unanswered (and possibly unasked) question in the news and pop culture. Catch up on the past two columns and sign up here to receive it in your inbox going forward.

One thing I am curious to know is what made Donald Trump bleed two weeks ago. His bleeding hand is a footnote on a footnote on a footnote of history as, in the foreground, the vital machinery of government continues to rust from non-use. The facts of how and why he incurred a minor hand injury are likely not important enough that they should be wondered about weeks after the fact for even one second by any but the person with the absolute most time on his or her hands, which, unfortunately for me, is me.

For everyone else: On Jan. 10, the president traveled to Texas, where he was seen wearing a blood-soaked adhesive bandage on his right hand, as captured in this image on Sean Hannity’s Instagram account.

When the president stopped to speak with reporters outside the White House that morning before departing for Texas, he already had a clean bandage on his right hand. Because blood was visible during his appearance at Anzalduas Dam (scheduled for 3:30 p.m. E.S.T.), we may infer that an initial wound was somehow reopened in the intervening six hours.

Remember when, in 1902, almost exactly a year after William McKinley was shot, his successor, Theodore Roosevelt, nearly died in a gruesome carriage accident?

That accident occurred when an electric trolley car slammed into the side of a horse-drawn carriage transporting President Roosevelt through Massachusetts, sending all four carriage passengers flying through the air.

President Roosevelt was flung face first into a dirt pile; his favorite Secret Service agent, William Craig, was thrown under the trolley, where, The Times graphically reported, he was killed instantly, “his entire skull being crushed, and his body terribly mangled.” (The San Francisco Call published a vivid minimalist watercolor imagining of the scene.)

Mr. Craig was the first Secret Service agent to die while serving the president; before President McKinley’s assassination, the agency focused mostly on investigating counterfeit currency.

(In fact, at the time of this accident, Mr. McKinley’s vice president turned president, Theodore Roosevelt, was so new to office that he had not yet named his own vice president. Had he been killed, the presidency would have fallen to Secretary of State John Hay, a Midwesterner who counted among his “dearest friends” every United States president who had been assassinated to that point.)

The Times reported that, as a bruise rapidly swelled his face, President Roosevelt — covered in dirt, bleeding from his mouth, “deeply overcome” by the sight of his friend’s destroyed body — stormed up to the trolley and demanded the driver identify himself.


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