Will “The Curse” Continue?

Tecumseh’s Curse makes for an unlucky winner in this year’s presidential election.


Jane Gatzemeyer, Writer-East

Could the 20-Year Curse–also known as Tecumseh’s Curse or The Curse of Tippecanoe–take out the newly-elected U.S. President?

As of right now, Joe Biden is the presumptive winner, but the Trump campaign is still fighting to reverse that. Regardless of who wins the election, that person may well lose his life. As the name suggests, the curse occurs every 20 years and has been blamed for the deaths of seven presidents, as well as two near-death experiences. The question is, will the 20-Year Curse strike again in 2020?

The first to fall victim to this curse was the 9th President of the United States: William Henry Harrison. Suffering from pneumonia-like symptoms, Harrison died in 1841, which was just 31 days into his presidency. The story is that Shawnee Chief Tecumseh placed this curse on Harrison after his troops defeated Tecumseh’s army in 1811 at the Battle of Tippecanoe. He and all of his presidential descendants would pay with their lives every 20 years. All tolled, eight Presidents have died in office–seven of them following the pattern of the curse.

Of those, three died of physical ailments:

  • William Henry Harrison (elected in 1840)–pneumonia or typhoid fever
  • Warren G. Harding (elected in 1920)–heart attack
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt (elected in 1940)–cerebral hemorrhage

Four were assassinated:

  • Abraham Lincoln (elected in 1860)
  • James A. Garfield (elected in 1880)
  • William McKinley (elected in 1900)
  • John F. Kennedy (elected in 1960)

The two most recent “candidates” for the  curse–Ronald Reagan (elected in 1980) and George W. Bush (elected in 2000)–both escaped assassination attempts. Reagan survived being shot by John Hinckley Jr., and Bush survived an unexploded grenade bombing while in the country of Georgia.

Some critics have tried debunking this “Curse” by saying that it has skipped presidents, evidenced by their surviving. Did they get lucky and survive? President John F. Kennedy was the most recent president to succumb to the fate of the curse. Did his death somehow bring an end to the curse?

Elkhart-East junior Gabriella Ruiz has no clue. “I’ve never heard of the curse, to be honest.” She continues by stating, “If there’s an actual pattern of deaths happening, then I wouldn’t be too shocked–considering how 2020 has been going.” Ruiz concludes, “Presidents are also at a high risk, because they have a lot of haters. There’s always going to be people who want them dead.”

Regardless of who proceeds as President, it’s mind-boggling to think about what either Trump or Biden would die of  while serving as the 46th President of the United States. People have been speculating about Biden’s health throughout the campaign. Perhaps he would die from health reasons, like Harrison, Harding, or Roosevelt. Or–with all the Never-Trumpers still on the march–is it possible that another assassination is in the offing?

Maybe–just maybe–2020 has seen enough death and destruction on both sides already to last a lifetime. If so, then maybe these two men will beat the the odds and escape the curse. Maybe.