Tecumseh's Curse and the American Presidents

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Tecumseh's Curse and the American Presidents

The curse of Tippecanoe, or Tecumseh's Curse, is a widely spread explanation for why, from 1840 to 1960, every U.S. president elected (or re-elected) every 20th year has died in office. Rumor has it that Native American leader Tecumseh administered the curse when William Henry Harrison's troops defeated his forces at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Check it out:

  • William Henry Harrison was elected president in 1840. He caught a cold during his inauguration, which quickly turned into pneumonia. He died on April 4, 1841, after only one month in office.
  • Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860 and re-elected four years later. Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865, and died the next day.
  • James Garfield was elected president in 1880. Charles Guiteau shot him in July 1881. Garfield died several months later from complications following the gunshot wound.
  • William McKinley was elected president in 1896 and re-elected in 1900. On Sept. 6, 1901, McKinley was shot by Leon F. Czolgosz, who considered the president an "enemy of the people." McKinley died eight days later.
  • Three years after Warren G. Harding was elected president in 1920, he died suddenly of either a heart attack or stroke while traveling in San Francisco.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932 and re-elected in 1936, 1940 and 1944. Although his health wasn't great overall, he died rather suddenly in 1945 of a cerebral hemorrhage or stroke.
  • John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960 and assassinated in Dallas three years later.
  • Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, and though he was shot by an assassin in 1981, he did survive. Some say this broke the curse: George W. Bush, who was elected in 2000, escaped and went on to serve for a second term in office [source: Snopes].
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