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There has been a very unusual historical occurrence involving the presidency since the early 19th Century. Every candidate that had run for the office of President of the United States in an election year at the beginning of a decade has either been assassinated, died, or had been shot while in office. This historical anomaly is very peculiar going into the election of 2000, and should perhaps give the respective candidates pause.
Starting with the election of 1840, candidate General William Henry Harrison was easily elected as the celebrated military hero of the most recent Indian Wars. The hero over the Indians at the battle of Tippencanoe, became president and John Tyler became vice president. During his inauguration ceremony the weather was cold and rainy. The new President contracted pneumonia and died only one month into his term.
In 1860, candidate Abraham Lincoln was elected President and had to preside over America’s greatest crisis. He was reelected in 1864 and saw the Civil War come to a successful conclusion. At his second inaugural address, Lincoln said “with malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; bind up the nations wounds.” Shortly after the war’s end, a fanatical Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, assassinated him.
In 1880, Ohio Congressman James A. Garfield won the election despite a very slim lead in popular votes, however, won easily in electoral votes. He was in office less than four months when President Garfield was fatally shot by a disappointed office seeker. His Vice President, Chester A. Arthur, succeeded him.
In 1900, the Republicans re-nominated William McKinley, who was given credit for the economic prosperity, and pledged to maintain the “full dinner pail.” During his presidency the United States had embarked on an imperialist policy after the Spanish-American War.
At a business exposition in Buffalo, New York, President McKinley was assassinated sex months after his second inauguration by an anarchist.
In 1920, Senator Warren G. Harding captured the public mood with his promise of a “return to normalcy.” An easygoing man, Harding possessed a limited understanding of national problems. President Harding was an honest but pilable man who, like President Grant was unable to protect his postwar administration from scandal. His presidency has been recognized as one of the most scandal ridden prior to Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
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