Sunday, October 23, 2011

Watch Out American Presidents, It's the Curse of Tippecanoe!

What if I told you the American Presidency is cursed? I am willing to bet you'd laugh or just not care at all but you should. Why? Well because it's American History and it's important. Also it will when you least expect it, like during games of Trivial Pursuit or when you want to impress someone with your vast knowledge of U.S. Presidential history, it will make you look like a genius. Now how can the Presidency be cursed and more importantly why. Well it all starts in the early 1800s during the "Tecumseh's War" and falls squarely on the actions of one man.


So our 9th President and first victim of the curse, William Henry Harrison is to blame for the Curse of Tippecanoe. Harrison was the governor of the Indiana Territory. How does that relates to the curse? Well just hold on, I'm getting to that. Harrison worked out a deal with the Natives which gave the U.S. Government control of a larger amount of Indiana then the Natives believed they were giving up. Basically, Harrison pulled a fast one on the Natives. He played the regional Natives against each other in order to secure the deal for the land. The Treaty of Fort Wayne (1809) took three million acres of Native land and opened it to the white man. Once the Natives realized what happened, they regrouped and "Tecumseh's War" was on.


"Tecumseh's War" was named after the Shawnee leader, Tecumseh. The war was between the Natives of the Great Lakes region and the U.S. Government. The conflict erupted shortly after Harrison's questionable treaty.  That Natives main goal was the stop westward expansion. The war climaxed in 1811 at Tippecanoe. Tecumseh's brother, Tenskwatawa lead his men against none other then Harrison and his men. The Natives struck first and used the element of surprise to their advantage. However, the attack was brief as the Natives ran out of ammunition. Harrison then led an attack and destroyed the towns and camps of the Natives, which then forced them to scatter in every direction. This spelled the end for Tecumseh and his cause. Tecumseh continued the fight for two years before being killed at the Battle of the Thames during the War of 1812, by none other then, well the troops under the orders of William Henry Harrison. After his death was reported the Natives surrendered to Harrison. Now is Harrison to blame for the curse? What could be the root of such a curse? Could it have been the initial treaty he used to stiff the Natives, or the retaliation of destroying the Natives homesteads or perhaps the fact Harrison was in charge of having Tecumseh killed. I am willing to go out on a limb and say it's all three of those factors. 


 Harrison returns a hero after the war. So what do most war heroes do? Well that start a political career of course. Harrison first became a Congressman and then made his way to the Senate. After sometime in D.C., Harrison was then an envoy to Colombia where he tried to convince Simon Bolivar on the finer points of American Democracy. It wasn't until 1836 that Harrison was nominated for the Presidency. He was trounced by President Van Buren but would later defeat Van Buren in 1840, thus starting the Curse of Tippecanoe. Now not only was Harrison the first victim of the curse but also the most infamous. Now after he won the election it was time for the new President to give his inauguration speech. The 68 year old Harrison wanted to prove he was still the bad ass he was at the Battle of Tippecanoe, so he delivered the longest inaugural address...IN AMERICAN HISTORY, in the middle of a rain storm and without proper attire. So within days Harrison dies of pneumonia and the Curse of Tippecanoe was now in effect, and started with the man who was responsible for the death of Tecumseh.


So the blood thirsty curse was on and it wasn't satisfied with just Harrison's death. The curse would now span for the next 120 years and claim the lives of six sitting Presidents. Now not just any President was the target of the curse but only Presidents that took office in a year ending in zero and would strike every twenty years (talk about anal). Now you might be thinking, I'm totally reaching here, but your wrong. After Harrison died of pneumonia the next three Presidents were assassinated. Abraham Lincoln, who took office in 1860, was killed during his second term April 15, 1865 by John Wilkes Booth at Ford Theatre. James Garfield, 1880, was assassinated during his first term on September 19, 1881 by Charles Guiteau in Washington D.C. Next on this death tour was William McKinley, 1900, he was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo at the Temple of Music on September 6, 1901. The next two Presidents to face the Curse of Tippecanoe were not assassinated but  died of sudden and unforeseen causes. Warren G. Harding, 1920, suffered a heart attack during his first term and dropped dead on August 2, 1923. After him FDR, 1940, who single handed may have saved the U.S. and beat the Nazis suffered a cerebral hemorrhage during his fourth term on April 12, 1945. The finally victim of Tecumseh's revenge was John F. Kennedy, 1960. Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. So there we have it, every years for 120 years the elected President died while in office. But which President could have broken the curse? How could it be possible? Well it was one man, the Holy Father of the GOP, the man that can do no wrong in the eyes of Republicans, everyone's favorite actor-President Ronald Reagan.


Of course Ronald Reagan would be the one to break the curse. Now was it The Gipper's persona or was it something more? Did the curse finally run it coarse and it's thirst for revenge was satisfied? I am going to say, no. Reagan took office in 1980 and the curse struck him as it did the previous Presidents. As Reagan was leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel in D.C. on March 30, 1981, Reagan and three others were shot. The shooter was John Hinkley Jr. and he took aim right at Dutch's chest. Now it seems the curse has struck again right? Well, actually wrong. But what stopped the curse?  The answer, medical technology. Looking back we can see Ole Tippecanoe (Harrison) died in 1840 of pneumonia, before the disease was fully understood.  Honest Abe (Lincoln), took a bullet directly to the head which no one was coming back from in the 1860s. Boatman Jim (Garfield) was shot at point blank in the spine where the bullet remained lodged and the lack of understanding how to remove a bullet from the spine lead to his death. The Napoleon of Protection (McKinley) again was left with a bullet inside him which lead to infection and ultimately his death. Wobbly Warren (Harding) was diagnosed with an acute case of pneumonia by doctors, who were wrong, and Harding would shortly die of a heart attack due to lack of treatment. FDR suffered a cerebral hemorrhage which was due to the stress that he endured during his four term Presidency. And Jack Kennedy, like Lincoln died of a direct hit to the head which lets be realistic a bullet to the head like that will never be able to be cured. So we can see the prior victims of the curse died due to lack of medical technology, while Reagan was rushed to the hospital and was treated with top of the line technology. So for all your Reaganmanics it wasn't the man but the technology around him. But did the curse stop with Reagan? It looks that way. The Curse of Tippecanoe ran a solid 120 years before ending but could it really be over?


If the curse really wanted to continue it would have continued with Dubya. Now before everyone jumps down my throat as an anti-Bush person, relax, take a deep breathe, there is reasons why I say this. The reason being that Bush Jr. took office in 2000. So if the curse were to continue after Reagan it would have come back with a vengeance on President Bush. But nothing happened to Bush. I guess nothing bad can really happen to the President when he spends close to 500 days on vacation under the close watch of security. So how can the curse get past that? No would be assassin would dare try to get into Camp David and Bush was in pretty good health during his Presidency. So is the curse over or just on a hiatus? As an American I am hoping its over but as a person who has a thing for the oddities of history I am hoping its not. However, we will find out together in 2020 to see if the Curse of Tippecanoe makes a comeback tour. So as the new President it elected that year, grab your popcorn, a seat in front of the TV and wait for the curse to rear its ugly head again or if you believe the curse is over just go about your days but just remember the curse made an attempt in 1980, skipped 2000 and could be back in 2020. 

No comments:

Post a Comment