Tecumeseh’s curse: How Scandal, Sickness and Shootings killed 8 US Presidents

Everyone knows that some of the American presidents have met unfortunate ends, but until I went to research the subject of presidential assassinations I had never heard of Tecumeseh’s Curse. The curse is a theory that has evolved form a particular event in American history.  In 1811 there was a battle between native and non native American’s at Tippecanoe. The Native American Shawanee tribe were led by Tecumeseh, who was defeated in the battle. One of the Americans on the other side of the fight was William Henry Harrison, who later became president in 1840. However his success was short lived as within a month of taking office he had died of pneumonia, having made a long inaugural speech in the wet and cold. And so Tecumeseh’s curse was born, any president elected on a year ending in a zero was believed to be destined to die in office.

The next victim of the curse was Abraham Lincoln, who was elected in 1860. His desire to end slavery in America sparked a civil war between north and south, which lasted four years. On April 14, 1865, just five days after the south surrendered and brought the war to an end, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, a disgruntled southern sympathiser.

In 1880 it was the turn of James Garfield, who took up office in March 1881. In July of the same year he was shot by Charles J. Guiteau because he had not been  given a diplomatic post by Garfield’s administration. However it was not until 19 September 1981 that Garfield died of his injuries.

In 1900 William McKinley was elected for his second term as president. On 6th September 1901 he was shot by anarchist Leon F. Czolgosz.

1920 saw Warren G Harding become president. On August 2nd 1923 he suffered a stroke while travelling around the states to understand the needs of the people, and died.

In 1940 Franklin D Roosevelt was elected for a third term. However it wasn’t until his fourth term that the curse caught up with him. On 12th April 1945 he died from a cerebral hemorrhage.

1960 saw John F Kennedy become the youngest elected president. His time in office was turbulent and troubled with foreign affairs going badly. On November 22nd 1963 he was shot in the head by Lee Harvey Oswald, while driving through Dallas in a motorcade.

1980 and Ronald Reagan, who has been compared with Trump, as a celebrity with no political experience before taking office, won the election. Like JFK his term saw highs and lows, successes and scandals. On March 30th 1981 John Hinckley attempted to assassinate Reagan in Washington D.C. Although he was shot Reagan managed to survive due to quick medical attention. It is believed this broke the curse as no president has died in office since.

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