For The Madera Tribune
Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
It is a widely accepted belief among historians that what people THINK happened in the past is more important than what really DID happen. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the curse an Indian leader known as the Prophet placed on the occupants of the White House.
The Prophet and his twin brother, Tecumseh, led their Indian followers against General William Henry Harrison in the Battle of Tippecanoe and lost. As a result, the Prophet, with great ceremony, placed a curse on Harrison and those who followed him.
Nothing much was thought of the Prophet’s curse until Harrison was elected president of the United States in 1840. In March of 1841, the 69-year-old Indian fighter gave his inaugural speech in a pouring rain, caught pneumonia and died after a month in office. It was at that point that somebody recalled the curse of the prophet. Eyebrows were raised, and speculation ran rampant.
Then, when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, the people again remembered the curse of the Prophet and noticed something that the two fallen Presidents had in common. They both had been elected in a year ending in 0 — 20 years apart. Then when James A. Garfield, who had been elected in 1880, was shot, the curse of the Prophet was given even wider credence.
What could be more obvious? Fate had decreed that every President who was elected in a year ending in zero must die in office, and thus it was that every 20 years, the curse of the prophet was renewed.
William McKinley, elected in 1900, died in office. Warren Harding, elected in 1920, died in office. Franklin Roosevelt, elected in 1940, died in office. John F. Kennedy, elected in 1960 died in office.
Then came Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980. Would the curse of the Prophet hold true? A lot of folks thought so when he was shot. But Reagan pulled through, thus putting an end to, if not the curse of the prophet, at least the 140 year-old macabre belief that a series of strange coincidences had somehow been dictated by fate.