United States Presidents and Death or Assasination: The Zero Factor Part 1

About the anomaly in United States history that Presidents elected in years ending with 0 have a bad habit of dying before leaving office.

The Zero Factor

Since 1840, no U.S. President elected in a year ending in a zero has left the White House alive. This chilling and bizarre coincidence has become known as the zero factor.

In 1840, William Henry Harrison was elected President. He promptly caught a cold that developed into pneumonia, and he died only one month after his Inauguration.

The victor in the 1860 presidential election was an Illinois lawyer named Abraham Lincoln. He was reelected in 1864, while the country was embroiled in the War between the States. Five days after the South surrendered, while the President was attending the theater in Washington, actor John Wilkes Booth shot him in the back of the head. The next morning Mr. Lincoln died, the 2nd victim of the zero factor. Booth had fled the theater after the shooting, but 12 days later, he was cornered in a barn near the town of Bowling Green, Va. There he was either shot to death or he committed suicide.

James A. Garfield was elected President in 1880. On July 2, 1881, Mr. Garfield was shot by Charles J. Guiteau, who had applied unsuccessfully for the post of U.S. Consul in Paris. Mr. Garfield died in the resort town of Elberon, N.J., on September 19, 1881. He had been in office slightly more than 6 months. Guiteau was arrested, tried, and hanged in Washington on June 30, 1882.

The victorious presidential candidate in 1900 was William McKinley. At the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., on September 6, 1901, President McKinley was fired upon by an anarchist named Leon Czolgosz. As the President was being taken away in an ambulance, he said weakly, "Let no one hurt him." McKinley died in a hospital in Buffalo on September 14, 1901. Czolgosz was tried, found Guilty, and executed in an Auburn, N.Y., prison on October 29, 1901.

The winner in the 1920 presidential race was Warren G. Harding. While on a speaking tour in the West, he was suddenly taken ill and he died in San Francisco on August 2, 1923. Over 50 years have now passed, and during that time there has been much speculation about the cause of Harding's death.

The next presidential election that took place in a year ending in a zero was that of 1940. The victor was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was elected for his 3rd consecutive time. He won again in 1944, the only U.S. President in history to be elected to 4 terms. On April 12, 1945, while he was working at his desk in the Summer White House in Warm Springs, Ga., Mr. Roosevelt collapsed. A few hours later, he was dead.

As the 1960 presidential campaign got under way, those persons who had either thrown their hats into the ring or who were prominently mentioned as probable candidates were contacted by letter in order to get their reactions to the zero factor.

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