Mar-30-1981: Reagan Assassination Attempt and the Zero Year Jinx

Mar-30-1981: Reagan Survives Assassination Attempt

On March 30, 1981 John Hinkley fired at President Reagan as he left the Capitol Hilton, wounded the President as well as his press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, and D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty. All three survived, but Brady suffered brain damage and was permanently disabled, and died in August of 2014. His death was determined to be homicide because it was ultimately caused by the injury received in 1981.

One thing that did not survive the assassination attempt, however, was the purported jinx on President’s elected to office in years ending in zero that stretched back to 1840 covering 7 Presidents who died in office.

For one thing, the “jinx” was a bit of a stretch because two of the Presidents (Lincoln and Roosevelt) lived through the entire “zero year” term only to die after a subsequent reelection.  When Reagan left office alive and well in January 1989, the jinx was officially dead.

  • 1840 – William Henry Harrison
    Died of pneumonia in April 1841 one month after taking office.
  • 1860 – Abraham Lincoln
    First elected in 1860, he was assassinated in April 1865 a month into his second term.
  • 1880 – James Garfield
    Shot in July 1881, four months after taking office and died 11 weeks later.
  • 1900 – William McKinley
    Reelected in 1900, he was shot in September 1901 and died 8 days laters.
  • 1920 – Warren Harding
    Died in August 1923 of undetermined causes.
  • 1940 – Franklin Roosevelt
    Roosevelt was elected to a third term in 1940.  He died in April 1945 in the first year of his fourth term.
  • 1960 – John Kennedy
    Assassinated in November 1963.

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