The Quick 9: 9 Victims of the Curse of Tippecanoe
It was 30 years ago today that Ronald Reagan was nearly killed in an assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr. The more superstitious among us chalk that up to the Curse of Tippecanoe, a gift to William Henry Harrison from Chief Tecumseh's brother after the Battle of Tippecanoe. The curse apparently damned Harrison and every other President elected in a year that ends with zero. So far, it's been mostly accurate - see for yourself.
1. William Henry Harrison, elected in 1840, delivered the longest inaugural speech in history and, despite the cold and wet day, refused to wear a coat or hat while he speechified for two hours. At the time, many people thought his failure to dress properly for the elements brought on the bout of pneumonia that killed him just 30 days later, making him the first President to die in office.
2. Abraham Lincoln. Enough said.
3. James A. Garfield, the winner of the 1880 Presidential Election, was shot just a few months into his first term. Though the assassination attempt was in July, Garfield lingered all summer and didn't die until September 19, 1881.
4. William McKinley became the third consecutive President elected in a Naught year to be assassinated. Like his predecessor, McKinley clung to life for a time after being shot by Leon Czolgosz, but succumbed to gangrene - and perhaps the Curse of Tippecanoe - eight days later.
5. The 29th POTUS, Warren G. Harding, was already in poor health when he embarked upon his "Voyage of Understanding" across the U.S., which was supposed to help him reconnect with the American people. He had already canceled some appearances and was trying to rest up at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco when, mid-conversation, "A short quiver suddenly went through the frame of the President and without a groan he died instantly," according to his physician. Tippecanoe strikes again?
6. Unlike most of the other curse victims, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 1940 curse victim, had a long and successful career in the White House. But it was still a shock to many when he died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage during his fourth term. Roosevelt was sitting for a portrait when he suddenly announced, "I have a terrific pain in the back of my head," then immediately slumped forward, unconscious. He died a few hours later.
7. John F. Kennedy, elected in 1960, was, of course, assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. That makes every assassinated President in U.S. history a Zero/Naught President. Coincidence?
8. Though Ronald Reagan was shot and nearly died - he lost more than half of his blood and doctors noted that people his age usually didn't recover from such trauma - he's often said to have broken the curse with his survival.
9. Perhaps Reagan did break the curse for himself and the Naught Presidents to come after him - though there were assassination attempts on 2000's election winner, George W. Bush came through his two terms unscathed (physically, anyway). Some say the attempts themselves are a sign of the curse, but every President since Nixon has been the victim of at least one assassination plot.
What do you think? Curse or coincidence?