There's a superstition about American presidents that goes back nearly two centuries. Seems that ever since 1840, every president that's been elected in a year ending in "0" dies, or nearly dies, while in office, regardless of the political party he belongs to.

The tally so far:

It's disputed whether or not Ronald Reagan actually broke the curse by narrowly escaping death at the hands of his assassin. Nevertheless, the ramifications are dramatic and the choice of every red-blooded American should be clear: in the year 2000, vote based on the Vice Presidential candidate you think is most suited for the job. Odds are, he's going to be the one taking the helm before too long.

There once was drunken Shawnee Indian named the Prophet. Actually, he was born Laulewasika in 1775. He was the eighth child of Puckeshinwa and Methoataske. His brother was the famous warrior, Tecumseh. He lost his right eye as a child when his brother was teaching him how to shoot a bow. Soon after that, he acquired a second name, Elkswatawa, which means "the Prophet." Later in life, he also adopted the name Tenskwatawa, which means "open door."

The accident with his eye made it impossible for him to become the warrior he wanted to be. In his depression, he began to drink heavily. This habit stayed with him throughout his entire life. It's hard to say if his visions, which were the reason he got both his second and third names, were a result of true prophecy or cheap whisky. It is said that he predicted both an eclipse and the Great Earthquake of 1811.

On Nov. 7, 1811, American troops led by William Henry Harrison attacked and routed the native Americans at a place in Indiana called Tippecanoe. Versions of the legend say that Harrison came back to this battle site in 1840 while campaigning for the Presidency and that this is when the curse was placed upon him by an aging Tecumseh. The problem here is that Tecumseh died in 1813. Others say it was the Prophet who placed this curse at that time. The problem here is that the Prophet died in 1837.

You know how legends go, however. The curse was that not only would Harrison die in office, but that every future Great Chief elected in a year ending in -0- would also die in office. No President had ever died in office. One month after being sworn in, Harrison died of pneumonia. And every other President elected in a year ending in -0- has also died, almost. That would be Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, FDR, and JFK.

When Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, it would have seemed a good bet to assume the curse would continue. I mean, Reagan was no spring chicken. And, sure enough, in 1981 he was shot. However, Reagan apparently didn't believe in the Curse. He lived.

So, the big questions now are these:

  • Is this all just a bunch of crap?
  • Is Ronald Reagan some sort of superhuman?
  • Or, is this stupid Curse finally broken?

I guess we'll know fairly soon.

There is a very good reason why Reagan survived the assassination attempt in 1981: he had mystical help of his own.

When Reagan was elected, he and his advisors believed that the curse could be real, and that Reagan stood a good chance of falling before its power. So it was necessary to develop countermeasures to insure that Ronnie would be able to escape the curse.

It was not believed that the administration could trust the Cherokees or any other Indian tribe to provide accurate information about the curse -- Indians tended to be Democrats, according to conventional wisdom, and would not want to keep a Republican president from dying in office. Besides, it was also believed that Reagan's few Western movies in Hollywood could lead to added hostility from Indians. So since Reagan and his advisors could not bring themselves, for better or worse, to trust the Indians, it was decided to seek alternate methods to thwart the curse.

Back in the 1950s, the Soviets and the KGB instituted an ESP research program, and the CIA, fearful of falling behind in the psychic arms race, started their own paranormal research division. After the fall of the USSR, it was discovered that the Soviets spent most of their time trying to get gypsy fortune-tellers to read their minds, but the CIA was more successful, merging their ESP program into Majestic-12, the secret division assigned to research the artifacts left at the saucer crash site in Roswell, New Mexico. Majestic-12 had employed the scientific method, unscrupulous brain surgery, illegal drugs, and good old American know-how to craft a moderately reliable staff of telepaths, telekinetics, precognitives (with an almost 80% success rate at predicting the Super Bowl), and one pyrokinetic (able to light a match from 30 feet away -- MJ-12 has high hopes for his children). In addition, the CIA and MJ-12 had performed a few experiments in what can only be called magick; they had studied medieval grimoires, researched primitive shamanism, and performed minor rituals and castings -- nothing more impressive than fertility spells and seances, but enough to understand the basics.

While the CIA and Majestic-12 were researching all things paranormal, Reagan was doing his part for the cause. Reluctant to deal much with "un-Christian" studies like magick, Reagan contacted prominent ministers, including Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell, and asked them to pray for him very, very hard. In fact, the CIA encouraged this -- they knew they were inexperienced in spellcasting and psionic techniques, and felt that if God could give 'em a hand, so much the better. And, though Reagan was not a Catholic, he was a movie buff and had seen "The Exorcist," so he contacted Cardinal John O'Connor to inquire about the possibility of exorcising the White House. So with the CIA and MJ-12 casting spells and holding seances and ministers and priests conducting exorcisms and prayer breakfasts, preparations for the removal of the curse were well underway by mid-March of 1981...

Unfortunately, John Hinckley shot Reagan on March 30.

Faced with the sudden and unexpected manifestation of the curse, MJ-12 went into emergency mode, scrambling several psychics and exorcists to the hospital to perform as many curse-removal and healing incantations as possible while Reagan was in surgery. There were a few touchy moments, but thanks to both the surgeons' skill and MJ-12's spells, Reagan pulled through.

While MJ-12 and the CIA believed that their preliminary incantations had helped prevent the initial loss of life in the shooting, they were also concerned that their psychics had completely failed to predict the shooting. This was eventually tied to the interference of several complete frauds who had wormed their way onto the psychic task force -- most notably, Jeanne Dixon and Uri Geller -- but some evidence also suggested that other spells were being cast to hinder efforts to save Reagan's life. It is believed, though there is no hard evidence to support the conclusion, that Anton LaVey, founder and head of the Church of Satan in America, employed high-ranking moles in Falwell's and Robertson's organizations and worked against Reagan with the intent to humiliate the preachers...

There were other ramifications as well. Majestic-12's deep cover agent in the White House was disgraced and almost exposed after the stress of the shooting prompted him to proclaim to the press that he was in charge at the White House. First Lady Nancy Reagan was also profoundly affected by the incident and became interested in astrology -- one of MJ-12's most trusted psychics, Joan Quigley, was assigned as her official astrologer.

Finally, some MJ-12 researchers fear that the hurried nature of their spells may have had an adverse reaction on the President himself -- they suspect that a magical backlash or an unnoticed spell failure may have caused Reagan's Alzheimer's Disease...

So has the Presidential Curse finally been broken? No one knows for sure. MJ-12 hopes that all their work in the '80s has put it to rest or at least weakened it significantly, but they admit that there is no way to tell for certain until after Bush gets out of office...
The year was 1811, and General William Henry Harrison led an army in Indiana near the Tippecanoe River. His army laid seige upon Prophet's Town which had been the stronghold for the Shawnee Indians. Chief Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwautawa the Prophet had been attempting to unite all the indian tribes as one force against the American agression on sacred soil. With the Battle of Tippecanoe, Tecumseh's dream to avenge his father's death at the hand of the White Man as well as his dreams of an Indian nation stretching for most of what is now the USA was put to an end. General Harrison's army won the battle by exposing his brother The Prophet and convincing the other indians that their leaders had no special powers to protect them from an onslaught of Harrison's army. With no serious opposition, Harrison took over the fort. Tecumseh survived, and with the War of 1812 he joined the British fight against the United States. However, his power and dreams had by then been too weakened.

As the legend goes, after the battle of Tippecanoe, Tecumseh and The Prophet sent General Harrison a message via released prisoners. This message contained a curse. Tecumseh prophecied that Harrison would not win the presidency "to be the Great Chief" of America. However he would win one day, and then die in office. Furthermore they swore that every president who was elected every twenty years would suffer a similar fate. They hoped this curse would keep alive the memory of the death of the Indian Nation, and point a finger at its cause.

William Harrison was elected several decades later in 1840. He died the following April of pneumonia. His successor was Vice President John Tyler. Twenty years later in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president, and then assassinated five years later by John Wilkes Booth. Vice President Andrew Johnson took his place.

In 1880 James Garfield became president, only to be assassinated the following summer. Chester Arthur was his VP. In 1900 William McKinley was next to fall to the curse, replaced in September of 1901 by Theodore Roosevelt. 1920 was Warren Harding's turn. He became president, and in August of 1923 he became fatally ill due to food poisoning. Calvin Coolidge stepped in as his successor.

The same year Warren Harding became president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been appointed the Democrat nominee for Vice President. Although the Republicans won that year, FDR had already been tapped to be on the fast track to the presidency. His fate was all but sealed. In 1921, FDR was stricken with polio. He valiantly fought the illness and served his political party and his country with honor and distinction. He was elected USA's 32nd president to his first term in office seven years later. All in all Franklin Delano Roosevelt would be elected to serve four terms; 1932, 1936 1940 and 1944. FDR steered the american people through world war two and the great depression.

However, throughout his presidency, FDR's health continued to deteriorate. By the time America entered World War Two full throttle, the Commander-In-Chief was using a wheelchair. On April 12, 1945, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia, and Harry Truman took his place. It is because of FDR's valiant but heart wrenching story that the congress later amended the constitution, so that no one man could ever serve more than two consecutive terms as president.

The assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 is well documented elsewhere, but the truth will never fully be known. I will not dwell more upon it here. His vice president was Lyndon Johnson. JFK was elected in 1960. The most recent victim of the Tecumseh Curse is by many people's beliefs the end of it. Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States in 1980, and served two full terms, leaving office very much alive. However, on March of 1981 an assassination attempt was made on his life. It is believed by some that the prayers of the American people, and his own faith in God, defeated the curse. Others believe this is all simply a strange coincidence and there never was a curse. Fellow noder, yru, asked me once, "could it be said that Reagan's Alzheimer's disease is part of the curse." One could argue that it is, but although it may have weakened or even incapacitated him near the end of his second term, Ronald Reagan lived many years after his presidency. Irregardless, The Presidential Curse that had killed seven presidents as vowed by Tecumseh's brother may have come to its end

However, the Gore/Bush presidential election may be viewed as the final stand. The year 2000 may have decided the validity and fate of The Twenty Year Jinx once and for all. The political climate was ripe for an assassination. George W. Bush became the next president of the United States, beating out Al Gore. The man did not enter office with a mandate by the people. The election was so close that it can be said half the people did not want the man who made it in there. That, coupled with the questionably amoral condition Bill Clinton left the office, a weakened U.S. military, the economically and politically unstable state of the world as a whole, and the several tangible threats both foreign and domestic to American interests, it would be naive and foolishly optimistic not to expect at least one assassination attempt

Tecumseh and The Prophet spoke over 160 years ago. Does the voice of their curse still echo clearly even today?

We'll see the answer clearly by 2020

Added August 25th, 2002:
Halfway into his first term, President George W. Bush is still going strong and still making enemies, but despite the Taleban and a particularly nasty pretzel, there's no indication the Tecumseh Curse is an issue. It may still be too early to tell, but if Shrub makes it to November 2004 alive without getting re-elected, we can finally say without question that The Twenty Year Jinx is definitely over. History can opt to just call it a strange coincidence, but there will always be people who believe otherwise. I for one couldn't tell ya one way or the other

Added November 2nd, 2004:
As jasonm pointed out to me recently, there are some who don't believe GW Bush was technically elected into his first term in office, which would explain why the aforementioned curse hasn't kicked in. Likewise, though Gore got the popular vote he wasn't allowed to serve. This would therefore make the Tecumseh Curse null and void. Personally I believe that could have happened with the term of Reagan, when prayer spiritually overruled the curse and Reagan survived the Hinkley assassination attempt. It's equally as probable however, that all this is a bunch of hooey. Ballot disputes and hanging chads left much to be desired in the last "zero year" election. However, whether all the above is just coincidence or the curse was real and powerful, I believe time and circumstance has sufficiently weakened its power. However, sixteen years from now, we may know for certain.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.