What is Tecumseh’s Curse?

The great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, who died fighting with Canada against the United States’ invasion in the War of 1812, placed a curse on the American presidency. He proclaimed that every president elected in a year that ends in a zero would die during his term. Since then, every president elected in such a year has died in office, with the exception of Ronald Reagan, who was shot, but survived. Here is a complete list of presidents affected by the curse:

  • William Henry Harrison, elected in 1840, died of pneumonia one month into his presidency.
  • Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, was assassinated in 1865 at the beginning of his second term.
  • James A. Garfield, elected in 1880, was assassinated in 1881.
  • William McKinley, elected for his second term in 1900, was assassinated in 1901.
  • Warren G. Harding, elected in 1920, died of Ptomaine poisoning in 1923.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected for his third term in 1940, died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1945 at the beginning of his fourth term.
  • John F. Kennedy, elected in 1960, was assassinated in 1963.
  • Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, survived an assassination attempt while in office. Some say that by surviving he broke the curse.
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