As part of a new special presentation premiering Wednesday: “The Attempted Assassination of Ronald Reagan,” narrated by Bret Baier, Fox Nation takes a look into the “Curse of Tippecanoe,” an ominous pattern in U.S. history dating back to 1840, that has seen every president elected in a year ending in 0 die in office, be assassinated or be subject of an assassination attempt.
Reagan was one such victim of the apparent curse, Baier describes, following a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton on March 30, 1981.
However, the supposed curse dates back to the president with the shortest-lived administration, William Henry Harrison, a Whig born into Virginia aristocracy.
Harrison, who had been named governor of the Indiana Territory by President Adams, had engaged in diplomacy with the Shawnee Indians and one of their chiefs, Tecumseh, which later deteriorated.
Harrison made a national name for himself during Tecumseh’s War, when in 1811, he defeated a surprise attack from Tecumseh near the Tippecanoe River. That later led to his famed 1840 presidential campaign slogan, “Tippecanoe & Tyler Too”.
However, reports and legend have stated that either Tecumseh or his brother Tenskwatawa, “The Prophet”, summarily cursed Harrison over the defeat. Harrison was inaugurated on March 4, 1841, but quickly developed a cold attributed to the dreary Washington weather, which later worsened into pneumonia. He died on April 4 of that year.
On Fox Nation’s forthcoming program, “The Attempted Assassination of Ronald Reagan” author Steven Hayward called the Tippecanoe curse “a strange coincidence that caught on in the public mind.”
“The Curse of Tippecanoe was one of those flukey patterns in history,” remarked Baier, pointing to all of the presidents that have in turn been victims of the supposed curse.
The next president to be elected in an an aught year was Republican Abraham Lincoln, infamously assassinated in 1865 by Maryland actor John Wilkes Booth.
On July 2, 1881, President James Garfield — elected in 1880 — was shot twice in Washington, D.C. by disillusioned supporter Charles Guiteau. The Republican succumbed to his wounds later that summer in Long Branch, N.J.
Another Republican, President William McKinley, was assassinated in Buffalo by anarchist Leon Czolgosz in 1901, one year after his re-election.
Republican President Warren Harding, elected in 1920, died in office unexpectedly of a heart attack, while President Roosevelt succumbed to a brain hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Ga., in 1945. The Democrat had been reelected for a third term in 1940.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a visit to Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald, three years after his election in 1960.
In the Fox Nation special, Baier recounted the story of a high school senior, Ken Day, who encountered President Jimmy Carter during a 1980 campaign stop in Dayton, Ohio.
Day famously asked Carter if he was concerned about potentially being the next president to be elected or reelected in a year subject to the Curse of Tippecanoe.
“I’ve seen those predictions; I’m willing to take a chance,” replied Carter.
Also in Dayton that day, Baier recounted, was John Hinckley Jr., a disturbed man who sought to impress actress Jodie Foster by committing a violent public act.
Reagan later defeated Carter in the 1980 contest, and was leaving the Washington Hilton when Hinckley fired six shots in his direction. The president was hit and rushed to a hospital. Several members of his detail were wounded, including White House Press Secretary James Brady, who was paralyzed.
Since Reagan’s attempted assassination, the Curse of Tippecanoe has not been witnessed, however some historians point to President George W. Bush’s 2005 trip to the nation of Georgia.
A Georgian man, Vladimir Arutyunian, lobbed a grenade at the podium where Bush was speaking with President Mikhail Saakashvili in the capital Tbilisi. The ordnance, however, did not detonate and Arutyunian was arrested.
President Joe Biden is the subsequent president elected in an aught year.
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