United States Presidents and Death or Assassination: The Zero Factor Part 2

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

Sen. John F. Kennedy's reply is an interesting footnote to history, especially coming from a man who made his mark as a student of history as well as a statesman:

"The historical curiosity...," he wrote, "is indeed, thought-provoking: 'Since 1840 every man who has entered the White House in a year ending with a zero has not lived to leave the White House alive.' ... As to 'what effect, if any, this will have on your future presidential aspirations,' I feel that the future will have to necessarily answer this for itself-both as to my aspirations and my fate should I have the privilege of occupying the White House.

"On face value, I daresay, should anyone take this phenomenon to heart ... anyone, that is, who aspires to change his address to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. ... that most probably the landlord would be left with a 'For Rent' sign hanging on the gate-house door."

The original of this letter has been donated to the Library of Presidential Papers by Rep. Seymour Halpern (Dem.-N.Y.), who acquired it through a dealer. The library, a private, nonprofit institution, was opened in New York in 1967.

The assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, shocked the world. A relatively young, dynamic, brilliant world leader had been cut down during his most vigorous years. His supposed assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was killed 2 days later in Dallas, Tex. With Kennedy's death in office, the zero factor had again surfaced.

Only Thomas Jefferson, elected in 1800, and James Monroe, elected in 1820, escaped the zero factor. And Zachary Taylor was the solitary President to die in office without benefit of the zero factor. He was elected in 1848-but note: he died in 1850.

Astrologers theorize that the zero factor is in some way connected with the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter orbits the sun approximately every 12 years and Saturn in approximately 28, and they meet every 20 years on the same degree of the zodiac. Astrological theory is that whenever a President is elected to office under the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction, he will die in office.

In any event, since 1840 the zero factor has repeatedly spelled tragedy for American Presidents. Will it again bring a tragedy in 1980? Only time will tell.

Editor's note: President Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, was subject to an assassination attempt by a mentally ill man, but he survived the attack. George W. Bush elected in the year 2000 so far has been safe, so perhaps the Zero Factor has been factored out of the Presidential equation.

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