Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A new president--and a broken curse

So, today, Wednesday, January 21, is the first full day of Barack Obama’s presidency. But there’s something else historic going on; a curse has been broken. The Curse of Tippecanoe.
It all began in 1811, when William Harrison, governor of the Indiana territory, used bribes and other immoral means to get the Native Americans to part with their land. The chief of the Shawnee, Tecumseh, and his brother Tenskwatawa, also known as the Prophet, were defeated in their attempts to resist Harrison in a battle on the Tippecanoe river. Supposedly, the Prophet laid a curse on Harrison…but the curse didn’t end with him.
In 1840, William Harrison took office as the ninth President of the United States, but his victory was short-lived. He died of pneumonia while in office a year later. And since then, every president to have been elected on a year ending in the same number as Harrison (0) has died in office. Because of the four-year office term, a president is elected on a year ending in 0 every twenty years. So, if we go down the list:

Abraham Lincoln, elected 1860, assassinated in 1865
James Garfield, elected 1880, assassinated in 1881
William McKinley, elected 1900, assassinated in 1901
Warren Harding, elected 1920, died of either heart attack or poisoning in 1923
Franklin Roosevelt, re-elected 1940, died of cerebral hemorrhage in 1945
John F. Kennedy, elected 1960, assassinated 1963

You’ll notice two names aren’t on this list. George W. Bush, elected in 2000. And Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, who SURVIVED an assassination attempt on March 31, 1981, and is the man most likely responsible for breaking the curse.
There was much speculation among those familiar with the Curse of Tippecanoe, after Reagan survived his double term as president, as to whether this meant the curse was broken. But we had to wait 28 years to find out. And it most certainly seems that way. Not to be morbid, but even if something were to happen to President Bush now, he survived his term and didn’t die in office. The curse, it seems, is broken.
If you do believe this was in fact a curse, and not just an extraordinary coincidence, it begs an interesting question: why is the curse over? Was it only supposed to last a hundred years? Did it only last until the American Indians had gained enough of their property back to satisfy the original insult? (I find this hard to believe, given the deplorable conditions native people are still living in on reservations throughout the Southeast) Or has modern medicine and technology (used to save Reagan’s life and protect the presidents) overcome ancient magic?

Beware the sound of crying children, watch out for the barmaids, and whatever you do, don't let the Pegasus spit on you.


Samuel Morton said...

I haven't checked other blogs, but you and I both chose to write about the presidency today. Great minds...!

Mary Cunningham said...

Can't believe I've never heard this! My hometown (in Harrison County, Indiana) was named by William Henry Harrison. Then again, at my age, it could be something I've forgotten. lol

Oh, and WHH died within a month of his presidency.

Interesting post. Sad that such mistreatment of native americans stains what should've been a great time in our history