The Curse of Tecumseh
“And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.” 2 Samuel 6:3 KJV
I have an uncle (my mother’s brother) who is just a little older than I am. When I was younger we use to play together all the time. He lived out in the country and we would have a good time playing in the woods. One of the things we would play was cowboys and Indians.
It’s probably not politically correct to even talk about Indians this way today, but it kept us busy for hours. Our little playful conflicts were probably not too much different than our nation’s earliest beginnings. We were a growing nation and we needed land to expand. But the Indians were settled into the land we wanted to expand into. The result: conflict.
Tecumseh was a Shawnee Indian warrior. Tenskwatawa, the Prophet, was his younger brother. Tecumseh was tired of the Americans taking all of the Indian’s land and he helped form a confederacy of different Indian tribes to halt this expansion. His nemesis was the governor of the Indiana Territory.
Tecumseh once wandered close to the Governor’s house with 400 armed Indians with hopes of killing the Governor. In return, the Governor and 900-1000 armed men once went to battle with Tecumseh near the Tippecanoe River. The victorious Americans even burned the Indian’s homes. Then, in the Battle of Thames, Tecumseh was killed and shortly thereafter the Indian confederacy surrendered.
I guess they didn’t have lemon laws in Biblical times. Uzzah and Ahio had just gotten a new cart and they were just about ready to transport some very important cargo. They hooked up the old ox and they were ready to go. Excitement was everywhere.
Many years before very specific instructions were given for the construction of the cargo that was placed on this cart. Following that, there came the instructions for its care. Some seemed strange or even extremely picky. But they needed to be followed. If they weren’t followed what would happen? They would feel the curse or they might even experience death.
Legend and folklore often has no real foundation. How it really happens or if it really happened at all is often suspect. So it is with the curse of Tecumseh. Some say he cursed the Great White Fathers (the American Presidents). Some say his brother, the Prophet, even said, “(The Governor) will die I tell you. And after him, every Great Chief chosen every 20 years thereafter will die. And when each one dies, let everyone remember the death of my people (the Indians).”
The special cargo in the Bible was the Ark of the Covenant. Uzzah and his new cart were carrying the Ark per King David’s instruction. Then they hit a hole or something and the special cargo started falling out of the cart. Uzzah’s natural reaction was to reach for the cargo and stop it from falling and that is just what he did. Once he touched the Ark of the Covenant, it was as though the curse flowed through him. Death was the consequence of this curse. And Uzzah died on the spot.
The Governor would one day become the President of the United States or the Great White Father, as the Indians called the President. The Governor for whom Tecumseh spoke was the Governor of the Indiana Territory. His name was William Henry Harrison. One day Harrison would become President of the United States. President William Henry Harrison would start a chain of events known as the Curse of Tecumseh. Starting with Harrison, every President elected in a year ending in zero (which happens every twenty years) has died in office. That was until President Reagan broke the curse by being elected in 1980 and he survived both of his two terms. In fact, the only President who died in office not being elected in a year ending in zero is Zachary Taylor (elected in 1848).
Those Great White Fathers (Presidents) who died in office and the zero years they were elected:
1840 William Henry Harrison
1860 Abraham Lincoln
1880 James A. Garfield
1900 William McKinley
1920 Warren G. Harding
1940 Franklin Roosevelt
1960 John F. Kennedy
No one will really know if the Curse of Tecumseh was real. We know there was a warning of death if you touched the Ark of the Covenant. Uzzah found out the hard way that there were no exceptions to this rule. Death would result if the instructions were not followed. So I guess Uzzah experienced the Curse of the Ark of the Covenant.
God’s warning about sin has come to us and the consequences of not following that warning is a curse we call death. We need to take it seriously.
Prayer: Father, Often we look at trends or bad things happening to us as curses against us. Maybe, instead, complete obedience might prevent the problems from happening in the first place. Help me to always obey Your instructions. Amen.