Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Curse of Tippecanoe

Curse of Tippecanoe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The name Curse of Tippecanoe (also known as Tecumseh's Curse, the Presidential Curse, Zero-Year Curse, the Twenty-Year Curse, or the Twenty-Year Presidential Jinx) is used to describe the regular death in office of presidents elected in years divisible by twenty, from William Henry Harrison (elected in 1840) through John Kennedy (1960). Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, was shot and survived; George Walker Bush (2000) survived an attempt on his life unharmed.

Contents [hide]
1 The curse
2 Media mentions
3 Exceptions
4 Presidents in the line of the alleged curse
5 See also
6 References
7 External links

The curse

The curse, first widely noted in a Ripley's Believe It or Not book published in 1931,[1] began with the death of William Henry Harrison, who died in 1841 after having been elected in 1840. For the next 120 years, presidents elected during years ending in a zero (occurring every 20 years) ultimately died while serving in office, from Harrison to John F. Kennedy (elected 1960, died 1963).

The name "Curse of Tippecanoe" derives from the 1811 battle. As governor of the Indiana Territory, William Harrison used questionable tactics in the negotiation of the 1809 Treaty of Fort Wayne with Native Americans, in which they ceded large tracts of land to the U.S. government.[2] The treaty further angered the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, and brought government soldiers and Native Americans to the brink of war in a period known as Tecumseh's War. Tecumseh and his brother organized a group of Indian tribes designed to resist the westward expansion of the United States. In 1811, Tecumseh's forces, led by his brother, attacked Harrison's army in the Battle of Tippecanoe, earning Harrison fame and the nickname "Old Tippecanoe".[2] Harrison strengthened his reputation even more by defeating the British at the Battle of the Thames during the War of 1812.[2] In a fictional account of the aftermath of the battle, Tecumseh's brother Tenskwatawa, known as the Prophet, supposedly set a curse against Harrison and future White House occupants who became president during years with the same end number as Harrison. This fictional account is the basis of the curse legend.[3]

Media mentions

After the observation by Ripley, talk of the curse resurfaced as the next cursed election year approached. A similar oddities cartoon feature, Strange as it Seems by John Hix, appeared prior to Election Day 1940, with "CURSE OVER THE WHITE HOUSE!"[4] A list, running from "1840 - Harrison" to "1920 - Harding" was followed by the ominous "1940 - ??????" and the note that "In the last 100 years, Every U.S. President Elected at 20-Year Intervals Has Died In Office!" Ed Koterba, author of a syndicated column called "Assignment Washington", referred to the subject again in 1960.[5]

As 1980 approached, the curse was sufficiently well-known, and Americans wondered whether the winner of that election would follow the pattern. The Library of Congress conducted a study in the summer of 1980 about the origin of the tale, and concluded that "although the story has been well-known for years, there are no documented sources and no published mentions of it".[citation needed] Running for re-election in 1980, President Jimmy Carter was asked about the curse at a campaign stop in Dayton on October 2 of that year. Taking questions from the crowd, Carter replied, "I'm not afraid. If I knew it was going to happen, I would go ahead and be President and do the best I could, for the last day I could."[6]


The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 was not followed by his death in office, despite being seriously wounded in an assassination attempt within months of his inauguration. Days after Reagan survived the shooting, columnist Jack Anderson wrote "Reagan and the Eerie Zero Factor" and noted that the 40th president had either disproved the superstition, or had nine lives.[7] Reagan, the oldest man to be elected President, also survived treatment for colon cancer while in office. He left office on January 20, 1989, and ultimately died of Alzheimer's Disease on June 5, 2004, at the age of 93.

Reagan's would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., was found by a jury to be insane, but there was no evidence that he was motivated by a belief in the curse. Moreover, every president from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush faced at least one assassination attempt.

Like the presidents who had died in office, Reagan was succeeded in office by his vice president, George H. W. Bush, which was historically unusual given that Bush was the first incumbent vice president in 152 years to assume the presidency by direct election. The last incumbent vice president to win election had been Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison's immediate predecessor in office.

The next president in the line of the curse, George W. Bush in 2000, was unharmed in an assassination attempt in 2005[8] and finished out his final term on January 20, 2009.

The only president who died in office without being elected in a "cursed" year was Zachary Taylor, who was elected in 1848 and died in 1850.

Presidents in the line of the alleged curse

Elected President Term of death Term of election Cause of death or attempted assassinations Date of death
1840 William Henry Harrison First First Pneumonia 1841-04-04
1860 Abraham Lincoln Second First Assassinated 1865-04-15
1880 James A. Garfield First First Assassinated 1881-09-19
1900 William McKinley Second Second Assassinated 1901-09-14
1920 Warren G. Harding First First Uncertain: Heart attack or stroke 1923-08-02
1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt Fourth Third Cerebral hemorrhage 1945-04-12
1960 John F. Kennedy First First Assassinated 1963-11-22
1980 Ronald Reagan n/a First Attempted assassination - injured but not killed 2004-06-05
(Did not die in office)
2000 George W. Bush n/a First Attempted assassination - uninjured Currently living
(Did not die in office)

[edit] See alsoList of Presidents of the United States who died in office
[edit] References1.^ Ripley's Believe it or Not, 2nd Series (Simon & Schuster, 1931); an updated reference is on page 140 of the Pocket Books paperback edition of 1948
2.^ a b c The New Big Book Of U.S. Presidents By Todd Davis, Marc Frey
3.^ Randi Henderson and Tom Nugent, "The Zero Curse: More than just a coincidence?" (reprinted from the Baltimore Sun), November 2, 1980, in Syracuse Herald-American, p C-3
4.^ Oakland Tribune, November 5, 1940, p12
5.^ "Pennsylvania Avenue Ponderings", Hammond Times, February 25, 1960, p18
6.^ Henderson and Nugent
7.^ The Sunday Intelligencer (Doylestown, PA), April 5, 1981, p 8
8.^ - Bush grenade attacker gets life - Jan 11, 2006
[edit] External linksThe Curse of Tecumseh on
The Mortal Presidency: Film and Documentary Shapell Manuscript Foundation
Explanation of the curse based on astrology
Ripley's Believe It or Not, 1934

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Popular opinion about the Presidents

George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt are consistently ranked at the top of the lists. Often ranked just below those three are Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. The remaining places in the top 10 are often rounded out by Harry S. Truman, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower, and Andrew Jackson. The bottom ten often include Warren G. Harding, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison, Millard Fillmore, Ulysses Grant, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Richard Nixon. Both William Henry Harrison (32 days) and James A. Garfield (incapacitated after 119 days) died shortly after taking office, and are therefore sometimes omitted from the rankings as a result. It is not clear if their lower quartile rankings are meant to show that they are considered poor performers or rather that they have no record by which to rank them any higher.

Political scientist Walter Dean Burnham noted the "dichotomous or schizoid profiles" of presidents, which can make some hard to classify. Historian Alan Brinkley said, "There are presidents who could be considered both failures and great or near great (for example, Nixon)". James MacGregor Burns observed of Nixon, "How can one evaluate such an idiosyncratic president, so brilliant and so morally lacking?"

David H. Donald, noted biographer of Lincoln, relates that when he met John F. Kennedy in 1962, Kennedy voiced his deep dissatisfaction and resentment with historians who had rated some of his predecessors. Kennedy said, "No one has a right to grade a President—even poor James Buchanan—who has not sat in his chair, examined the mail and information that came across his desk, and learned why he made his decisions."

C-SPAN poll

In addition to conducting a historian survey, C-Span also conducted a presidential leadership survey of 1145 viewers in December 1999.

1.Abraham Lincoln
2.George Washington
3.Theodore Roosevelt
4.Franklin D. Roosevelt
5.Thomas Jefferson
6.Ronald Reagan
7.Harry S. Truman
8.Dwight D. Eisenhower
9.James Monroe
10.James Madison
11.John Adams
12.John F. Kennedy
13.Woodrow Wilson
14.Andrew Jackson
15.John Quincy Adams
16.George H.W. Bush
17.James K. Polk
18.William McKinley
19.Lyndon B. Johnson
20.Richard Nixon
21.Grover Cleveland
22.Calvin Coolidge
23.Gerald Ford
24.William Howard Taft
25.Zachary Taylor
26.Rutherford B. Hayes
27.Jimmy Carter
28.James A. Garfield
29.Ulysses S. Grant
30.Martin Van Buren
31.Benjamin Harrison
32.John Tyler
33.Herbert Hoover
34.Chester A. Arthur
35.William Henry Harrison
36.Bill Clinton
37.Millard Fillmore
38.Andrew Johnson
39.Franklin Pierce
40.Warren G. Harding
41.James Buchanan

ABC poll

An ABC News poll about presidential greatness, taken 16–20 February 2000, asked 1,012 adults in the US, "Who do you think was the greatest American president?"

1.Abraham Lincoln (19%)
2.John F. Kennedy (17%)
3.Franklin Roosevelt (11%)
4.No opinion (10%)
5.Ronald Reagan (9%)
6.George Washington (8%)
7.Bill Clinton (7%)
8.Theodore Roosevelt (4%)
9.George H.W. Bush (4%)
10.Thomas Jefferson (3%)
11.Harry Truman (2%)
12.Richard Nixon (2%)
13.Jimmy Carter (1%)
14.Dwight Eisenhower (1%)

Washington College poll

A Washington College poll about presidential greatness, taken February 11, 2005, asked 800 adults in the US, "Thinking about all the presidents of the United States throughout history to the present, who would you say was America's greatest president?"

1.Abraham Lincoln (20%)
2.Ronald Reagan (15%)
3.Franklin D. Roosevelt (12%)
4.John F. Kennedy (11%)
5.Bill Clinton (10%)
6.Other/Don't Know (9%)
7.George W. Bush (8%)
8.George Washington (6%)
9.Theodore Roosevelt (3%)
10.Dwight Eisenhower (3%)
11.Jimmy Carter (2%)
12.Thomas Jefferson (2%)
13.Richard Nixon (1%)
14.John Adams (<1%) 15.Andrew Jackson (<1%) 16.Lyndon B. Johnson (<1%) Gallup poll A Gallup poll about presidential greatness, taken February 2–5, 2011, asked 1015 adults in the US, "Who do you regard as the greatest United States president?" 1.Ronald Reagan (19%) 2.Abraham Lincoln (14%) 3.Bill Clinton (13%) 4.John F. Kennedy (11%)
5.George Washington (10%)
6.Franklin Roosevelt (8%)
7.Barack Obama (5%)
8.No opinion (5%)
9.Theodore Roosevelt (3%)
10.Harry Truman (3%)
11.George W. Bush (2%)
12.Thomas Jefferson (2%)
13.Jimmy Carter (1%)
14.Dwight Eisenhower (1%)
15.George H. W. Bush (1%)
17.None (1%)
18.Andrew Jackson (0%)
19.Lyndon Johnson (0%)
20.Richard Nixon (0%)

Rasmussen Reports poll

A Rasmussen Reports poll taken June 13–24 of 2007 asked 1,000 randomly selected adults to rate America's presidents. Six presidents—George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy—were rated favorably by at least 80% of respondents.

President Favorable Unfavorable
George Washington 94 2
Abraham Lincoln 92 4
Thomas Jefferson 89 4
Theodore Roosevelt 84 8
Franklin D. Roosevelt 81 12
John F. Kennedy 80 13
John Adams 74 9
James Madison 73 8
Ronald Reagan 72 22
Dwight D. Eisenhower 72 15
Harry S. Truman 70 14
Andrew Jackson 69 14
Gerald Ford 62 26
John Quincy Adams 59 7
Ulysses S. Grant 58 24
George H.W. Bush 57 41
Jimmy Carter 57 34
William Taft 57 15
Woodrow Wilson 56 19
Bill Clinton 55 41
James Monroe 49 10
Herbert Hoover 48 34
Lyndon B. Johnson 45 42
Andrew Johnson 45 26
Chester Arthur 43 17
James A. Garfield 42 16
William McKinley 42 24
George W. Bush 41 59
Grover Cleveland 40 26
Calvin Coolidge 38 31
Rutherford B. Hayes 38 19
Richard Nixon 32 60
Benjamin Harrison 30 35
Warren Harding 29 33
James Buchanan 28 32
James Polk 27 21
Zachary Taylor 26 18
Martin Van Buren 23 19
William Henry Harrison 21 16
Franklin Pierce 17 25
Millard Fillmore 17 25
John Tyler 9 15

Recent president polls

These polls evaluate Presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower and later succession.

Harris Interactive poll

A Harris poll, taken January 16-23, 2012, asked 2,016 adults what they think of previous U.S. presidents.

"Looking at the list of presidents since World War II, which one do you think is the best president?"

1.Ronald Reagan (25%)
2.Franklin Roosevelt (19%)
3.John F. Kennedy (15%)
4.Bill Clinton (12%)
5.Dwight Eisenhower (4%)
6.Harry Truman (4%)
7.Barack Obama (4%)
8.George W. Bush (2%)
9.Jimmy Carter (2%)
10.Lyndon Johnson (1%)
11.George H.W. Bush (1%)
12.Richard Nixon (1%)
13.Gerald Ford (1%)
14.Not Sure (10%)

"Looking at the list of presidents since World War II, which one do you think is the worst president?"

1.George W. Bush (27%)
2.Barack Obama (22%)
3.Richard Nixon (12%)
4.Bill Clinton (5%)
5.Jimmy Carter (5%)
6.Ronald Reagan (4%)
7.George H.W. Bush (4%)
8.Lyndon Johnson (2%)
9.John F. Kennedy (2%)
10.Harry Truman (2%)
11.Franklin Roosevelt (1%)
12.Gerald Ford (1%)
13.Dwight Eisenhower (1%)
14.Not Sure (12%)

"Which one of the following presidents do you think was the best overall president in our history?"

1.Abraham Lincoln (27%)
2.Ronald Reagan (22%)
3.George Washington (12%)
4.John F. Kennedy (5%)
5.Bill Clinton (5%)
6.Franklin Roosevelt (4%)
7.Barack Obama (4%)
8.Thomas Jefferson (2%)
9.George W. Bush (2%)
10.Harry Truman (2%)
11.Theodore Roosevelt (1%)
12.Dwight Eisenhower (1%)
13.Jimmy Carter (1%)
George H.W. Bush, John Adams, Richard Nixon, Andrew Jackson, Lyndon Johnson, Calvin Coolidge, Woodrow Wilson and Gerald Ford all received less than 0.5 percent. Eight percent of respondents were not sure.

Gallup poll

A Gallup Poll, taken February 2-5, 2012, asked 1029 adults in the US, "How do you think each of the following presidents will go down in history—as an outstanding president, above average, average, below average, or poor?"

Result Barack Obama George W. Bush Bill Clinton George H.W. Bush Ronald Reagan Jimmy Carter Gerald Ford Richard Nixon
Gallup poll 2012 1. outstanding 10% 7% 18% 6% 27% 5% 5% 3%
2. above average 28% 18% 42% 29% 42% 20% 16% 11%
3. average 26% 28% 28% 44% 20% 34% 54% 28%
4. below average 17% 22% 7% 11% 6% 22% 15% 32%
5. poor 18% 25% 5% 9% 4% 16% 4% 23%
no opinion 1% - - 1% 1% 3% 6% 3%

Gallup poll

A Gallup poll, taken on November 19–21, 2010, asked Americans to say, based on what they know or remember about the nine most recent former presidents, whether they approve or disapprove of how each handled his job in office.

1.John F. Kennedy (85% approval/10% disapproval)
2.Ronald Reagan (74% approval/24% disapproval)
3.Bill Clinton (69% approval/30% disapproval)
4.George H. W. Bush (64% approval/34% disapproval)
5.Gerald Ford (61% approval/26% disapproval)
6.Jimmy Carter (52% approval/42% disapproval)
7.Lyndon B. Johnson (49% approval/36% disapproval)
8.George W. Bush (47% approval/51% disapproval)
9.Richard Nixon (29% approval/65% disapproval)

Vision Critical/Angus Reid poll

A Vision Critical/Angus Reid poll, taken on February 18–19, 2011, asked respondents about 12 former and current presidents and whether they were a good or bad president.

1.John F. Kennedy (80% approval/6% disapproval)
2.Ronald Reagan (72% approval/16% disapproval)
3.Bill Clinton (65% approval/24% disapproval)
4.Dwight D. Eisenhower (61% approval/6% disapproval)
5.Harry S. Truman (57% approval/7% disapproval)
6.Jimmy Carter (47% approval/28% disapproval)
7.George H.W. Bush (44% approval/38% disapproval)
8.Barack Obama (41% approval/33% disapproval)
9.Gerald Ford (37% approval/25% disapproval)
10.Lyndon B. Johnson (33% approval/27% disapproval)
11.George W. Bush (30% approval/55% disapproval)
12.Richard Nixon (24% approval/54% disapproval)

Inspired by Presidents Day 2012 :)

I find the Presidents utterly fascinating- who wouldn't? The family connections: the Adams, the Harrisons, the Roosevelts, the Bushes; the four assassinated Presidents: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and, of course, JFK; Grover Cleveland, the only President to serve a non-consecutive second term; FDR, the only President to serve more than 2 terms (he was elected to 4); Presidents known by initials: TR, FDR, JFK, LBJ; Presidents known by first names: Jimmy, Bill, and Barack; Presidents known by nicknames: Landslide (or Lyin') Lyndon, Tricky Dick, Slick Willie; Gerald Ford, the only man to serve as both an unelected Vice President and an unelected President; Presidents who also served as Vice President: George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman, Calvin Coolidge, Teddy Roosevelt, Chester Arthur, Andrew Johnson, Millard Fillmore, John Tyler, Martin Van Buren, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams; and so on.
There have been 43 people sworn into office, and 44 presidencies, as Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms and is counted chronologically as both the 22nd and 24th president. Of the individuals elected as president, four died in office of natural causes (William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren G. Harding, and Franklin D. Roosevelt), four were assassinated (Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy) and one resigned (Richard Nixon).

Vice presidents who became presidents

There have been 14 vice presidents who have become President of the United States, about 23% of all the vice presidents. 26% of the presidents were previously vice president.

John Adams, elected president in 1796.
Thomas Jefferson, elected president in 1800.
Martin Van Buren, elected President in 1836.
John Tyler, became president when William Henry Harrison died in office.
Millard Fillmore, became president when Zachary Taylor died in office.
Andrew Johnson, became president when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in office.
Chester A. Arthur, became president when James A. Garfield was assassinated in office.
Theodore Roosevelt, became president when William McKinley was assassinated in office.
Calvin Coolidge, became president when Warren G. Harding died in office.
Harry S. Truman, became president when Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office.
Lyndon B. Johnson, became president when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in office.
Richard Nixon, elected president in 1968. He is the only person on this list who was not serving as vice president when he became president.
Gerald Ford, became president in 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned.
George H. W. Bush, elected President in 1988.