Presidential Twenty-Year Death Curse

As a follower of Astrology, I recently mentioned the twenty-year cycle of Jupiter and Saturn, a new cycle beginning on December 21, 2020. I looked at Snopes to see what they had to say about it and discovered the following article:

Claim: Does a death curse threaten U.S. presidents elected in years evenly divisible by 20?

Origins:   With two exceptions, since 1840, U.S. Presidents who have been elected in years ending in zero have been killed or have died of natural causes while in office. And one exception literally came within an inch of death.

It’s hard to know what to make of such a sequence, but folks have certainly tried over the years. Such a string of presidential mortality is deemed too improbable to have occurred naturally, giving rise to rumors about a fatal Indian curse among those unwilling to recognize that chaos sometimes takes the form of coincidence. Randomness is disquieting; Indian curses are, in comparison, the lesser of the evils because they at least support the illusion that there is order in our universe. In this odd way, belief in predestined fatalities is comforting.

1840 … William Henry Harrison
1860 … Abraham Lincoln
1880 … James A. Garfield
1900 … William McKinley
1920 … Warren G. Harding
1940 … Franklin D. Roosevelt
1960 … John F. Kennedy

William Henry Harrison, who was elected in 1840, died of pneumonia at the age of 68, exactly one month after his inauguration.

Abraham Lincoln, first elected in 1860, was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth just after embarking on his second term in office in 1865.

James A. Garfield won the 1880 election. He was shot in the back in a Washington railroad station waiting room in July 1881 and died of his wounds in September 1881.

William McKinley was re-elected in 1900. In September 1901, after giving a speech at an exposition in Buffalo, he was shot while shaking hands with wellwishers. McKinley died of his wounds a little more than a week later.

Warren G. Harding, elected in 1920, expired of a stroke or heart attack in 1923. It was long rumored his wife had poisoned him.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, re-elected in 1940 for a third term, suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage and died just after having started an unprecedented fourth term in 1945.

John F. Kennedy was elected in 1960 and assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963.

Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 but managed to cheat the Grim Reaper by a matter of an inch, the distance by which would-be assassin John Hinckley’s bullet missed his heart in 1981.

Maybe Reagan also broke the “every 20 years” curse. Or maybe it’s just sleeping.

Those who look to make sense of eerie coincidences have come up with an explanation to account for this string of deaths: an ancient Indian curse, supposedly administered by Tecumseh himself after suffering defeat at the hands in William Henry Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. (Tecumseh died in the 1813 Battle of the Thames, again fighting troops led by Harrison.) According to lore, the famed Indian chief cursed the Great White Fathers. No explanation is given for why the chief’s curse would only affect one presidency in five, but one cannot, after all, expect the fanciful to cover everything.

Another version attributes the curse to Tenskwatawa (also known as “The Prophet”), a Shawnee medicine man who was half-brother to Tecumseh. The hex was supposedly his revenge for the death of his half-sibling.

“Harrison will die I tell you,” the Prophet reportedly said. “And after him, every Great Chief chosen every 20 years thereafter will die. And when each one dies, let everyone remember the death of my people.”

Stirring words indeed, but there’s no reason to suppose they were actually uttered. No record of either Tecumseh or Tenskwatawa laying a whammy on American presidents has yet surfaced — it’s all undocumented folktale at this point and is as likely just someone’s imaginative backstory to the inexplicable as it is anything else.

Folks have been taking note of this string of presidential deaths for quite some time — it’s not a new snippet of spooky information recently dropped into the lap of the American people. A Ripley’s Believe It or Not book published in 1934 noted the coincidental twenty-year pattern of presidential deaths between 1840 and 1920, with question marks in place of a name for the upcoming 1940 entry indicating the presumption of a continuing pattern. The pattern did, of course, hold true again when Franklin Roosevelt, who had been re-elected in 1940, filled in that blank by dying in office in 1945.

As to what to make of the “curse,” it’s interesting to note that since 1840, only one President other than those supposedly felled by this ill-wishing has died in office: Zachary Taylor, who was elected in 1848 and died in 1850 of a stomach ailment. (Taylor’s body was exhumed in 1991 to investigate a theory that he had been poisoned with arsenic, but the results were negative). Also interesting is the notion that the curse is a prescient one, as two presidents who won elections in years ending in ‘0’ — Lincoln and Roosevelt — did not die until after beginning subsequent terms in office. Apparently the curse foresaw re-election for both of them.

The key to all this presidential demising possibly lies more within the realm of the stars than the rumored words of a dead Indian chief. Or at least so the astrologers would have us believe. According to Mark Dodich, an astrologer who has attempted to analyze the Curse of Tecumseh, the reason behind this force is one of “cosmic coincidence,” not Native American hexing. Dodich claims the curse’s effects overlap with the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn, whose orbits have lined up every twenty years.

One of the two 20-year pattern’s failures — President Ronald Reagan — is explained by the sign the alignment of these two planets occurred under. Alignments under the earth signs (Taurus, Capricorn, and Virgo) have led to dead presidents, but Reagan’s term of office occurred during an air sign, which accounted for his survival.

(My note: Nancy was consulting an Astrologer daily about his movements while they were in the White House – I believe the person in charge of his schedule was really confused about the odd directions she gave!)

According to Dodich, year 2000’s Jupiter-Saturn twinning once again occurred under the earth sign of Taurus, a phenomenon he says won’t happen again for another 600 years. It thus marks the end of a deadly cycle, but if Dodich was right about this curse thing, it would have sound the death knell for another president first. However, George W. Bush, the president elected in the supposed “curse” year of 2000, finished out two terms in good health.

I copied the preceding information from Snopes, but found the following information later, online. “The closest Bush came to death, thankfully, was on January 14, 2002, when he fainted after choking while eating a pretzel.”

Maybe he had a guardian angel watching over him.

The following is an excerpt from my post of Feb 27, 2008, over 12 years ago, about the Spiritual Reality of Astrology:

“For the past while, a series of aspects between the planets corresponding to what Astrologers call irrational degrees has been occurring, creating an opening between worlds, allowing alternate realities to disrupt our lives. Disruptive because they’re early precursors of accelerated changes that we know are coming although Astrologers cannot predict the outcome. On a personal level, when the forces of change seem to be trying to sweep us into deep waters, it is time to eliminate non-essentials from our lives, ridding ourselves of the poisons we’ve let creep into our bodies and minds, which have been steering us away from our inner truth and enlightenment. An activity that would help us to do this is chanting or singing, even if only in our minds, the simple words of a song written by Hal David and set to music by Burt Bacharach. “What the world needs now is love, sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love, not just for some but for everyone.” 

“I believe this is the message the Universe is trying to send us.  Because we have free will, it is up to us how we respond.  But we also know there are two sides to everything – will we respond by loving our fellow man and trying to do what’s best for the entire world, or will we grab all the glitter we can hold and run?  Either way is synchronistic, but please may we all make the better choice.

“If we can hold onto the best that is in us, if we can banish hatefulness and intolerance from our lives, we can claim the positive side of the coming world changes.”

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