Inside The Assassination Attempt Against Herbert Hoover

President Herbert Hoover's time in office was marred by the vast shadow of the Great Depression. As Britannica reports, he had performed miraculous work feeding a Europe devastated by World War I, but his administration's struggles against the depression soured his legacy.

There's no telling what Hoover may have achieved during a more peaceful and prosperous time for both the United States and the world. As it was, he certainly had his share of detractors and enemies (as do all presidents, even the best fictional ones). In 1928, there was a potentially horrifying and dramatic assassination attempt against Hoover.

President Hoover would become a tragic figurehead of the nation's suffering (the shantytowns many were forced to live in were nicknamed "Hoovervilles") and was "viewed as callous and insensitive toward the suffering of millions of desperate Americans," according to History. However, the 1928 attempt on his life would come before he took office and was perpetrated by a would-be assassin from outside the U.S.

The bomb plot

As tensions between the United States and South America were running high at the time, Herbert Hoover continued to pursue peace through a policy of nonintervention. To bolster ties with the nation's southern neighbors, he set off on a tour of Latin America in November 1928, where the president-elect would encounter the wrath of Severino Di Giovanni, per the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum's archives.

Di Giovanni was an Italian anarchist and anti-fascist, who had immigrated to Argentina (where he would also become notorious). As History reports, his fellow anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, had been executed in August the previous year for committing a murder in South Braintree, Massachusetts (despite protests about their unjust treatment). Di Giovanni knew that Hoover would be passing between Chile and Argentina in December 1928, and hatched a revenge plot to destroy the president-elect's train with strategically-placed bombs.

Authorities prevented Di Giovanni's ally Alejandro Scarfó from hiding a bomb on the train (per All That's Interesting). Hoover continued on his journey largely uninterrupted, while his biggest concern was preventing his wife from learning about it. According to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, he ripped off the front page of a newspaper that detailed the plot and exclaimed, "It's just as well that Lou shouldn't see it."

Di Giovanni, meanwhile, was arrested in 1931 and executed by firing squad later that year for further bombing attacks (per Culture Trip), aged just 29.