Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Curse of Tecumseh

One of my favorite bits of presidential trivia.

In 1811, William Henry Harrison, then governor of Indiana Territory, defeated the Shawnee chief Tecumseh near the Tippecanoe River. Legend has it that the blood-brother of Tecumseh, known to Indians as the Prophet, placed a curse on Harrison. This curse supposedly affected not only Harrison, who was elected President in 1840, but every president who was elected in a year ending in 0. Each one would die while still in office...

1840: William Henry Harrison catches pneumonia and dies soon after his inauguration

1860: Abraham Lincoln is famously assassinated in 1865 by John Wilkes Boothe in Fords Theater

1880: James Garfield is assassinated by the insane Charles Guiteau during his first term

1900: William McKinley is assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz during his second term

1920: Warren Harding dies from a stroke, under somewhat mysterious circumstances

1940: FDR dies from a cerebral hemorrhage during his fourth term

1960: JFK is assassinated in 1963 by a massive international conspiracy involving Castro, the CIA, J. Edgar Hoover, and the gay mafia; Lee Harvey Oswold becomes their patsy

1980: Ronald Reagan is injured by a crazed assassin trying too hard to impress Jodi Foster, but the Gipper survives

Given that Reagan lived through both terms, perhaps the curse was broken. Maybe the Prophet's magic was no match for modern medicine, or maybe Reagan was Indian-proof. The only way to know for sure is whether Bush, elected in 2000, survives through Tuesday.

Post-script: The curse is complete make-believe, probably attributable to "Ripley's Believe It or Not." I should probably have mentioned this above.

Edit on 1/24/09: Looks like Bush lived. The curse is broken.

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