The term Tecumseh's curse
or Zero Year Curse
is sometimes used to describe a chain of events that began with the death of United States President William Henry Harrison
. Commonly attributed to Indian chief Tecumseh
(and sometimes to his brother Tenskwatawa), who was defeated in the Battle of Tippecanoe
by Harrison, the "curse
" is said to have proclaimed the death of all presidents elected every 20 years. Indeed, all American presidents elected in a year divisible by 20 between 1840
died in office:
, the only other President to die in office, was elected in 1848
and died in 1850
of "acute indigestion".
It is worth noting that Franklin Roosevelt had already served three terms when he died.
The exception to this "curse" was the presidency of Ronald Reagan. He was elected in 1980 and survived an assassination attempt during his presidential term and therefore did not die in office.
Regardless, the "curse" is taken seriously by some Christian groups, who have called for prayer to avert catastrophe from Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush in the election years 1980 and 2000. The group Intercessors for America believes they have broken the curse through "warfare prayer" in 1980.