The Curse of Tippecanoe is a phrase that is used to describe the in office death of a US president elected in years divisible by twenty, starting in 1840. The “curse” is said to have originated after the Battle of Tippecanoe when the Native American leader, Tenskwatawa, cursed all future presidents elected in office the same year as William Henry Harrison. The “curse” was first widely noted in a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” book published in 1931. All presidents elected into office in a year ending in zero up until Ronald Reagan did in fact die during their first or second term. This fact is what gained the phrase popularity. Since the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 no president has died whilst in office.
Tune into this episode from “Informed”, an educational series distributed to Public Television PBS Member stations, for insight into this little known piece of American history.