Two hundred and six years ago, Territorial Governor of Indiana William Henry Harrison smashed the forces of the Indian Confederacy being formed by Tecumseh. His victory would propel him into the White House three decades later. His thirty-one day tenure, before dying of pneumonia, is the shortest presidential term on record.
An odd coincidence in American history is the death of every President in office beginning with William Henry Harrison and ending with John F. Kennedy elected in a year ending in zero. A myth was developed ascribing this to a curse put on William Henry Harrison by the brother of the great Indian leader Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa, better known as the Prophet:
“‘Harrison will not win this year to be the Great Chief. But he may win next year. If he does…He will not finish his term. He will die in his office.’ ‘No president has ever died in office,’ declared a visitor. ‘But Harrison will die I tell you. And when he dies you will remember my brother Tecumseh’s death. You think that I have lost my powers. I who caused the sun to darken and Red Men to give up firewater. But I tell you Harrison will die. And after him, every Great Chief chosen every 20 years thereafter will die. And when each one dies, let everyone remember the death of our people.'”
It was all hogwash of course, but until Reagan and Bush 43 completed their terms it is surprising the number of people who gave at least some credence to a curse being on the Presidency.