John Tyler

John Tyler

Encyclopedia
John Tyler was the tenth President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1841–1845). A native of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, Tyler served as a state legislator
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

, governor
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

, U.S. representative
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, and U.S. senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 before being elected Vice President
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 (1841). He was the first to succeed to the office of President following the death of a predecessor. Tyler's opposition to nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and emphatic support of states' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

 endeared him to his fellow Virginians but alienated him from most of the political allies that brought him to power in Washington. His presidency was crippled by opposition from both parties, and at the end of his life, he would join the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 in secession
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 from the United States.

Tyler was born to an aristocratic Virginia family of English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 descent and he came to national prominence at a time of political upheaval. By the 1820s the nation's only political party, the Democratic-Republicans
Democratic-Republican Party (United States)
The Democratic-Republican Party or Republican Party was an American political party founded in the early 1790s by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Political scientists use the former name, while historians prefer the latter one; contemporaries generally called the party the "Republicans", along...

, began to split into factions, none of which shared Tyler's strict constructionist ideals. His opposition to Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 leaders Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 and Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

 led him to be elected Vice President on the Whig
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 ticket. Upon the death of President William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

 on April 4, 1841, only a month after his inauguration
Inauguration
An inauguration is a formal ceremony to mark the beginning of a leader's term of office. An example is the ceremony in which the President of the United States officially takes the oath of office....

, a short Constitutional crisis arose over the succession process
United States presidential line of succession
The United States presidential line of succession defines who may become or act as President of the United States upon the incapacity, death, resignation, or removal from office of a sitting president or a president-elect.- Current order :This is a list of the current presidential line of...

. Tyler immediately moved into the White House, took the oath of office, and assumed full presidential powers, a precedent that would govern future successions and eventually be codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment
Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution deals with succession to the Presidency and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, as well as responding to Presidential disabilities...

.

Once he became president he stood against his party's platform and vetoed several of their proposals. As a result, most of his cabinet resigned, and the Whigs, dubbing him His Accidency, expelled him from the party. While he faced a stalemate on domestic policy, he still made several foreign policy achievements, signing the Webster–Ashburton Treaty with Britain and the Treaty of Wanghia
Treaty of Wanghia
The Treaty of Wanghia , is a diplomatic agreement between the Qing Dynasty of China and the United States, signed on 3 July 1844 in the Kun Iam Temple...

 with China. Tyler dedicated his last two years in office to his landmark accomplishment, the 1845 annexation of the Republic of Texas
Texas Annexation
In 1845, United States of America annexed the Republic of Texas and admitted it to the Union as the 28th state. The U.S. thus inherited Texas's border dispute with Mexico; this quickly led to the Mexican-American War, during which the U.S. captured additional territory , extending the nation's...

. With little hope for re-election, he created a third party to move public opinion in favor of annexation, which led to the 1844 presidential election of expansionist Democrat James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

 over Tyler opponents Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 and Van Buren.

Tyler essentially retired from electoral politics until the outbreak of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 in 1861. He sided with the Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 government, and won election to the Confederate House of Representatives shortly before his death. As a result of his opposition to the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

, his death was the only one in presidential history not to be officially mourned in Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. Although some have praised Tyler's political resolve, his presidency is generally held in low esteem by historians; today he is considered an obscure president, with little presence in the American cultural memory.

Early life and law career


John Tyler was born on March 29, 1790, in the early years of the newly established nation, and the first President to be born Under the Administration of a President. From birth he was politically tied to his future running mate William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

: both were born in Charles City County
Charles City County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,926 people, 2,670 households, and 1,975 families residing in the county. The population density was 38 people per square mile . There were 2,895 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, descended from aristocratic and politically entrenched families. The Tyler family proudly traced its lineage to colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg is an independent city located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, USA. As of the 2010 Census, the city had an estimated population of 14,068. It is bordered by James City County and York County, and is an independent city...

 in the mid-17th century. JohnTyler,Sr.
John Tyler, Sr.
John Tyler Sr. was a Virginia planter, judge, 15th Governor of Virginia and the father of the 10th President of the United States, John Tyler....

, popularly known as Judge Tyler, was a friend and college roommate of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and served in the Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

 alongside William's father Benjamin Harrison V
Benjamin Harrison V
Benjamin Harrison V was an American planter and revolutionary leader from Charles City County, Virginia. He earned his higher education at the College of William and Mary, and he was perhaps the first figure in the Harrison family to gain national attention...

. Judge Tyler served four years as Virginia Speaker of the House before becoming a state court judge. He would later serve as governor
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

 and as a judge on the U.S. District Court at Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

. His wife Mary was the daughter of a prominent plantation owner, Robert Armistead. She died of a stroke when her son John was seven years old.

The young Tyler was raised with his two brothers and five sisters on Greenway Plantation
Greenway Plantation
Greenway Plantation is a wood-frame, one-and-a-half-story plantation house that stands on the north side of Route 5 in Charles City County, Virginia...

, a 1200 acres (5 km²) estate with a six-room mansion his father had built.Formally, only the mansion was named Greenway. Various crops including wheat, corn, and tobacco were grown at Greenway by the Tylers' forty slaves. Tyler was an unhealthy child, very thin and prone to chronic diarrhea. Such afflictions would continue to burden him throughout his life. At the age of twelve, he entered the preparatory branch of the elite College of William and Mary
College of William and Mary
The College of William & Mary in Virginia is a public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States...

, continuing the Tyler family's tradition of attending the college. Tyler graduated from the school's collegiate branch in 1807, at age seventeen. Among the books that informed his economic views was Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

's The Wealth of Nations
The Wealth of Nations
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith...

. His political views were deeply shaped by Bishop James Madison, the college's president, who served as a second father and mentor to him.

After graduation Tyler went on study law with his father, who was a state judge at the time. Tyler was admitted to the bar
Bar (law)
Bar in a legal context has three possible meanings: the division of a courtroom between its working and public areas; the process of qualifying to practice law; and the legal profession.-Courtroom division:...

 at the age of 19, in violation of bar regulations: the judge who administered the bar exam neglected to inquire about his age. By this time his father had become Governor of Virginia
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

 (1808–1811), and the young Tyler started a practice in Richmond.

Start in Virginia politics


At the age of 21, Tyler was elected by his fellow Charles City County residents to the Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

, the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly
The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

. He served five successive one-year terms (and would return later in his career), seated on the Courts and Justice committee. The young politician's defining attributes were on display by the end of his first term: a strong support of states' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

 and opposition to a national bank. He joined fellow legislator Benjamin W. Leigh
Benjamin W. Leigh
Benjamin Watkins Leigh was an American lawyer and politician from Richmond, Virginia. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates and represented Virginia in the United States Senate. Benjamin Watkins Leigh was born in Chesterfield County on June 18, 1781, the son of the Reverend William Leigh...

 in pushing for the censure of U.S. Senators William Branch Giles
William Branch Giles
William Branch Giles ; the name is pronounced jyles) was an American statesman, long-term Senator from Virginia, and the 24th Governor of Virginia...

 and Richard Brent
Richard Brent (Virginia)
Richard Brent was an American planter, lawyer, and politician from Stafford County, Virginia. He represented Virginia in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.-External links:*...

 from Virginia, who had voted for the recharter of the First Bank of the United States
First Bank of the United States
The First Bank of the United States is a National Historic Landmark located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania within Independence National Historical Park.-Banking History:...

 against the legislature's instructions.

In addition to infighting over the national bank, the United States was facing ongoing hostilities with Britain in the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

. Tyler's education had impressed on him a strong sense of anti-British nationalism, and at the onset of the war he urged military action on the assembly floor. After the British capture of Hampton, Virginia
Hampton, Virginia
Hampton is an independent city that is not part of any county in Southeast Virginia. Its population is 137,436. As one of the seven major cities that compose the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, it is on the southeastern end of the Virginia Peninsula. Located on the Hampton Roads Beltway, it hosts...

 in the summer of 1813, Tyler eagerly organized a small militia company of county residents to defend Richmond, but no attack came their way and he dissolved the company two months later. That same year his father died, and Tyler inherited thirteen slaves along with his father's estate. In 1816 he resigned to serve on the Governor's Council of State
Council of State
The Council of State is a unique governmental body in a country or subdivision thereoff, though its nature may range from the formal name for the cabinet to a non-executive advisory body surrounding a head of state. It is sometimes regarded as the equivalent of a privy council.-Modern:*Belgian...

, a group of eight advisers elected by the legislature.

U.S. House of Representatives


Tyler's three terms in the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 would be his foray into national politics. The death of U.S. Representative John Clopton
John Clopton
John Clopton was a United States Representative from Virginia. Born in St. Peter's Parish , his father was William Clopton and his mother was Elizabeth Dorrell Ford , he graduated from the College of Philadelphia in 1776...

 in the fall of 1816 left a vacancy in the 23rd district
Virginia's 23rd congressional district
Virginia Congressional District 23 is an obsolete congressional district. It was eliminated in 1823 after the 1820 U.S. Census. Its last Congressman was Andrew Stevenson.-Representatives:- References :*...

 which Tyler was well positioned to fill. He faced his friend and political ally Andrew Stevenson
Andrew Stevenson
Andrew Stevenson was a Democratic politician in the United States. Educated at the College of William and Mary, he married three times. His second wife, Sarah Coles, was a cousin of Dolley Madison and sister of Edward Coles, a governor of Illinois...

, then Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, in the congressional election. The race was amicable despite the high political stakes. Tyler's political connections and campaigning skills won him the election by a slim margin. He was sworn in as a Democratic-RepublicanContemporaries generally called this the Republican Party, but modern political writers use Democratic-Republican to distinguish it from the modern-day Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

.
to the Fourteenth Congress
14th United States Congress
- Senate :* President: Vacant* President pro tempore: John Gaillard of South Carolina, first elected December 4, 1815- House of Representatives :* Speaker: Henry Clay of Kentucky-Members:This list is arranged by chamber, then by state...

 on December 17, 1816, to complete Clopton's term. He was re-elected to a full term the following spring.

While the Democratic-Republicans had a historical platform of states' rights, they had begun to adopt nationalist tendencies. In the wake of the War of 1812, Congress was pushing to fund the states' reconstruction and infrastructure projects. Tyler held fast to his strict constructionist beliefs, rejecting such proposals on both constitutional and personal grounds. Virginia was not "in so poor a condition as to require a charitable donation from Congress," he contended. He was chosen to participate in an audit of the Second Bank of the United States
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

 in 1818 as part of a five-person committee, and was appalled by perceived corruption within the bank. He argued for the annulment of the bank charter, although Congress rejected any such proposal. His first clash with then-General Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 followed Jackson's 1818 invasion of Florida during the First Seminole War. While praising Jackson's character, Tyler condemned the general's zealous behavior and his execution of two British subjects. Tyler was re-elected without opposition in early 1819.

The defining issue of the Sixteenth Congress
16th United States Congress
-House of Representatives:During this congress, one House seat was added for the new state of Alabama and one seat was reapportioned from Massachusetts to the new state of Maine. For the beginning of the next congress, six more seats from Massachusetts would be reapportioned to...

 (1819–21) was the admission of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 to the Union, and whether slavery would be permitted in the new state. Tyler was a slaveholder for his entire life, at one point keeping forty slaves at Greenway. While he regarded slavery as an evil, and never attempted to justify it, he never agreed with national emancipation, and never freed any of his slaves even at the dawn of the Civil War. The living conditions of his slaves are not well documented, but historians agree that he cared for their well-being and abstained from physical violence against them.

Tyler was a leader in opposing the Missouri Compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 of 1820, which would for the first time establish national boundaries for the establishment of slavery. In his view, the compromise served only to diminish and divide the states, while unnecessarily expanding federal authority. Acknowledging the ills of slavery, he argued that allowing it in Missouri would attract existing slave-owners from Southern states, dissipating the population of slaves and reducing each state's reliance on the practice. Thus, in his view, emancipation would occur organically at the state level without federal intervention. He voted against the Missouri Compromise—which passed regardless—and all bills which would restrict slavery in new territories.

Tyler declined to seek renomination to Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in late 1820, citing illness. He privately acknowledged his dissatisfaction with the office, as his opposing votes were largely symbolic and did little to change the political culture in Washington; he also observed that funding his children's education would be difficult on a Congressman's low salary. He resigned on March 4, 1821, endorsing his former opponent Stevenson for the seat, and returned to private law.

Return to state politics


He was soon drafted for a second stint in the Virginia House of Delegates, which lasted from December 1823 to December 1825. Upon taking office he found the chamber thrust into debate over the impending presidential election of 1824
United States presidential election, 1824
In the United States presidential election of 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected President on February 9, 1825, after the election was decided by the House of Representatives. The previous years had seen a one-party government in the United States, as the Federalist Party had dissolved, leaving...

. The congressional nominating caucus
Congressional nominating caucus
The Congressional nominating caucus is the name for informal meetings in which American congressmen would agree on who to nominate for the Presidency and Vice Presidency from their political party.-History:...

, an early system for choosing presidential candidates, was still in effect despite its growing unpopularity. Tyler attempted to bring the lower house to endorse the caucus system and choose William H. Crawford
William H. Crawford
William Harris Crawford was an American politician and judge during the early 19th century. He served as United States Secretary of War from 1815 to 1816 and United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1816 to 1825, and was a candidate for President of the United States in 1824.-Political...

 as the Democratic-Republican candidate. Despite the legislature's support of Crawford, opposition to the caucus system killed his proposal. Tyler's most lasting effort in this second legislative tenure was salvaging the College of William and Mary, which suffered from waning attendance and risked closure. Rather than move it from rural Williamsburg to the populous capital of Richmond, as some suggested, Tyler proposed that a series of administrative and financial reforms be enacted. His reforms were successfully adopted: by 1840 the school would see its highest-ever attendance.
Tyler's political fortunes were growing, with his name taken up for consideration in the 1824 U.S. Senate election. He was nominated in December 1825 for Governor of Virginia
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

, a position which was then appointed by the legislature. He was elected 131–81 over John Floyd
John Floyd (Virginia politician)
John Floyd was a Virginia politician and soldier. He represented Virginia in the United States House of Representatives and later served as the 25th Governor of Virginia....

, whose candidacy had little traction. The office of governor was determinately powerless under the original Virginia Constitution (1776–1830), lacking even veto authority. Tyler enjoyed a prominent oratorical platform but could do little to influence the legislature. His most visible act as governor was delivering the funeral address for President Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, a Virginia native who died on July 4, 1826.At the end of the speech, Tyler briefly lauded President John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

 of Massachusetts, who had died the same day.
Tyler was deeply devoted to Jefferson, and his ornate eulogy was well received.

Tyler's governorship was otherwise uneventful. He promoted states' rights and adamantly opposed any concentration of federal power. In order to thwart federal infrastructure proposals, he suggested Virginia actively expand its own road system. A proposal was made to expand the state's poorly funded public school system, but no significant action was taken. Tyler was re-elected unanimously to a second term in December 1826.

U.S. Senate


In January 1827 the Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly
The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

 was considering the impending re-election of U.S. Senator John Randolph
John Randolph of Roanoke
John Randolph , known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a planter and a Congressman from Virginia, serving in the House of Representatives , the Senate , and also as Minister to Russia...

. Randolph was a contentious figure: although he shared the staunch states' rights views held by most of the Virginia legislature, he had a reputation for fiery rhetoric and erratic behavior on the Senate floor, which put his allies in an awkward position. Furthermore, he had made enemies by fiercely opposing John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

 and Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

. The nationalist wing of the Democratic-Republican Party, who supported Adams and Clay, were a sizable minority in the Virginia legislature. They hoped to unseat Randolph by capturing the vote of states'-rights supporters who were uncomfortable with the senator's reputation. They approached Tyler, and promised their endorsement if he ran against Randolph. Tyler repeatedly declined the offer, endorsing Randolph as the best candidate, but the political pressure continued to mount. Eventually he conceded that he would accept the seat if chosen, and the legislature elected him in a vote of 115–110.On the day of the vote, it was argued by one assemblyman that there was no political difference between the two candidates—Tyler was simply a more agreeable character than the incumbent. Supporters of Randolph, however, contended that Tyler's election would be a tacit endorsement of the Adams administration. He resigned his governorship on March 4, 1827, as his Senate term began.

Tenuous alliance


By that time of Tyler's election, the Senate was already engaged in the 1828 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1828
The United States presidential election of 1828 featured a rematch between John Quincy Adams, now incumbent President, and Andrew Jackson, the runner-up in the 1824 election. With no other major candidates, Jackson and his chief ally Martin Van Buren consolidated their bases in the South and New...

. Adams, the incumbent president, was to be challenged by Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

. By now the party had splintered into Adams' National Republicans and the Jacksonian Democrats
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

. Tyler was repulsed by both candidates, each embodying the nationalist views he had always rejected. Still, he was increasingly drawn to Jackson, hoping that his administration would be less insistent on internal improvements
Internal improvements
Internal improvements is the term used historically in the United States for public works from the end of the American Revolution through much of the 19th century, mainly for the creation of a transportation infrastructure: roads, turnpikes, canals, harbors and navigation improvements...

 than Adams'. In considering Jackson he wrote, "Turning to him I may at least indulge in hope; looking on Adams I must despair."

The first session of the Twentieth Congress
20th United States Congress
-House of Representatives:-Leadership:- Senate :* President: John C. Calhoun * President pro tempore: Samuel Smith - House of Representatives :* Speaker: Andrew Stevenson -Members:This list is arranged by chamber, then by state...

 began in early December 1827.Tyler's name does not appear in the Senate voting records until late January of the following year, likely due to illness. Tyler served alongside his close friend Littleton Waller Tazewell
Littleton Waller Tazewell
Littleton Waller Tazewell was a U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator from and the 26th Governor of Virginia.Tazewell, son of Henry Tazewell, was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, where his grandfather Benjamin Waller was a lawyer who taught him Latin...

, a fellow Virginian who shared his strict constructionist views and uneasy support of Jackson. Throughout his tenure, Tyler vigorously opposed all bills which provided for national infrastructure projects. He and his Southern peers were appalled by the protective Tariff of 1828
Tariff of 1828
The Tariff of 1828 was a protective tariff passed by the Congress of the United States on May 19, 1828, designed to protect industry in the northern United States...

, promoted by Jackson's allies and known to its detractors as the "Tariff of Abominations". Tyler sorely suggested that the bill's only positive outcome would be a national political backlash, restoring a respect for states' rights.

Despite supporting Jackson in the previous election, Tyler would soon find points of disagreement with the Democratic president, who was inaugurated in March 1829. He was frustrated by Jackson's newly emerging spoils system
Spoils system
In the politics of the United States, a spoil system is a practice where a political party, after winning an election, gives government jobs to its voters as a reward for working toward victory, and as an incentive to keep working for the party—as opposed to a system of awarding offices on the...

, describing it as an "electioneering weapon". He voted against many of the president's nominations when they appeared to be based on patronage or did not follow Constitutional procedure. Such an act was considered "an act of insurgency" against his party. He was particularly offended by Jackson's use of the recess appointment
Recess appointment
A recess appointment is the appointment, by the President of the United States, of a senior federal official while the U.S. Senate is in recess. The U.S. Constitution requires that the most senior federal officers must be confirmed by the Senate before assuming office, but while the Senate is in...

 to install three treaty commissioners to meet with Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

; he authored a bill chastising the president for this use of executive power.

Still, Tyler attempted to remain on good terms with Jackson, only opposing him on principle rather than partisanship. He defended Jackson for vetoing the Maysville Road funding project
Maysville Road veto
The Maysville Road veto occurred on May 27, 1830, when President Andrew Jackson vetoed a bill which would allow the Federal government to purchase stock in the Maysville, Washington, Paris, and Lexington Turnpike Road Company, which had been organized to construct a road linking Lexington and the...

, which Jackson considered unconstitutional. He voted to confirm several of the president's appointments (including Jackson's future running mate Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

) amid strong opposition from the National Republicans. The leading issue in the 1832 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1832
The United States presidential election of 1832 saw incumbent President Andrew Jackson, candidate of the Democratic Party, easily win re-election against Henry Clay of Kentucky. Jackson won 219 of the 286 electoral votes cast, defeating Clay, the candidate of the National Republican Party, and...

 was the recharter of the Second Bank of the United States
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

, which both Tyler and Jackson opposed. Congress voted to recharter the bank in July 1832, and Jackson vetoed the bill for a mixture of constitutional and practical reasons. Tyler voted to sustain the veto and endorsed Jackson for re-election.

Break with Democrats


Tyler's uneasy relationship with his party came to a head during the 22nd Congress
22nd United States Congress
-House of Representatives:-Leadership:- Senate :* President:** John C. Calhoun , resigned December 28, 1832, thereafter vacant.* President pro tempore:** Samuel Smith , first elected December 5, 1831** Littleton W...

, as the Nullification Crisis
Nullification Crisis
The Nullification Crisis was a sectional crisis during the presidency of Andrew Jackson created by South Carolina's 1832 Ordinance of Nullification. This ordinance declared by the power of the State that the federal Tariff of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within...

 of 1832–33 began. The state of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, threatening secession
Secession in the United States
Secession in the United States can refer to secession of a state from the United States, secession of part of a state from that state to form a new state, or secession of an area from a city or county....

, passed the Ordinance of Nullification
Ordinance of Nullification
The Ordinance of Nullification declared the Tariff of 1828 and 1832 null and void within the state borders of South Carolina. It began the Nullification Crisis...

 in November 1832 declaring the "Tariff of Abominations" null and void within its borders. This raised the constitutional question of whether states had the right to nullify federal laws. President Jackson, who denied such a right, prepared to sign a Force Bill
Force Bill
The United States Force Bill, formally titled "An Act further to provide for the collection of duties on imports", 4 Stat. 632 , enacted by the 22nd U.S. Congress, consists of eight sections expanding Presidential power...

 allowing the federal government to use military action to enforce the tariff in South Carolina. Tyler, who sympathized with South Carolina's reasons for nullification, rejected Jackson's use of military force against a state and gave a speech in February 1833 outlining his views. He supported Henry Clay's attempts to craft the Compromise Tariff of 1833. This bill would gradually reduce the tariff over ten years, alleviating tensions between the states and the federal government.

In casting his vote against the Force Bill, Tyler knew he would permanently alienate the pro-Jackson factions of the Virginia legislature, even those who had tolerated his irregularity up to this point. This would jeopardize his re-election in February 1833
United States Senate elections, 1832
The United States Senate election of 1832 was an election which had the Anti-Jackson coalition assume control of the United States Senate from the Jacksonian coalition, despite Andrew Jackson's victory in the Presidential election....

, in which he faced the pro-administration Democrat James McDowell
James McDowell
James McDowell was a U.S. Congressman and the 29th Governor of Virginia from 1843 to 1846.McDowell was born at "Cherry Grove," near Rockbridge County, Virginia, on October 13, 1795...

. With Clay's endorsement, he was re-elected to a full term by a twelve-vote plurality; several legislators who had supported him only weeks beforehand were moved to vote against him as a result of the Force Bill vote.

Jackson further lost Tyler's support by moving to actively dissolve the bank. He issued an executive order in September 1833 directing Treasury Secretary Roger B. Taney
Roger B. Taney
Roger Brooke Taney was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States, holding that office from 1836 until his death in 1864. He was the first Roman Catholic to hold that office or sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. He was also the eleventh United States Attorney General. He is most...

 to immediately begin transferring funds from the bank to state-run banks. Tyler saw this as "a flagrant assumption of power", a breach of contract, and a threat to the economy. After months of agonizing over the decision, he decided to ally with Clay and the anti-Jackson factions of Congress on the bank issue, while still maintaining the bank's unconstitutionality. Sitting on the Senate Finance Committee
United States Senate Committee on Finance
The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance is a standing committee of the United States Senate. The Committee concerns itself with matters relating to taxation and other revenue measures generally, and those relating to the insular possessions; bonded debt of the United States; customs, collection...

, he voted for two censure resolutions against the president in March 1834. By this time, Tyler was formally in line with Clay's newly formed Whig Party
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

, which held control of the Senate. On March 3, 1835, with only hours remaining in the congressional session
23rd United States Congress
-House of Representatives:For the beginning of this congress, the size of the House was increased from 213 seats to 240 seats, following the 1830 United States Census .- Leadership :- Senate :* President: Martin Van Buren...

, the Whigs voted him President pro tempore of the Senate
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
The President pro tempore is the second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate. The United States Constitution states that the Vice President of the United States is the President of the Senate and the highest-ranking official of the Senate despite not being a member of the body...

 as a symbolic gesture of approval.

Shortly thereafter, the Democrats took control of the Virginia House of Delegates, and Tyler's seat in the Senate was threatened. That December, the legislature offered him a judgeship in exchange for resigning his seat, but he declined. Tyler understood what was to come: he would soon be forced by the legislature to cast a vote that went against his constitutional beliefs. Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 had repeatedly introduced a bill expunging the censure of Jackson from the record. With the support of Virginia's Democrats, Tyler could be instructed to vote for the bill. If he disregarded the instructions, he would be violating his own principles—"the first act of my political life was a censure on Messrs. Giles and Brent for opposition to instructions," he noted. Over the next few months he sought the advice of his friends, who gave him conflicting advice. By mid-February he felt that his Senate career was likely at an end. He issued a letter of resignation to the Vice-President on February 29, 1836, saying in part:

Presidential election, 1836



While Tyler wished to attend to his private life and family, he was soon swept up in the presidential election of 1836.
United States presidential election, 1836
The United States presidential election of 1836 ushered Martin Van Buren into the White House. It is predominantly remembered for three reasons:...

 He had been speculated as a vice-presidential contender since early 1835, and the same day the Virginia Democrats issued the expunging instruction, the Virginia Whigs nominated him as their candidate. The new Whig Party was not organized enough to hold a national convention and name a single ticket against Jackson's chosen successor, Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

. Instead, Whigs in various regions each put forth their own preferred ticket, reflecting the party's tenuous coalition: the Massachusetts Whigs nominated Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

 and Francis Granger
Francis Granger
Francis Granger was a Representative from New York. He was the son of Gideon Granger, another Postmaster General, and the first cousin of Amos P. Granger.-Biography:...

, the Anti-Masons
Anti-Masonic Party
The Anti-Masonic Party was the first "third party" in the United States. It strongly opposed Freemasonry and was founded as a single-issue party aspiring to become a major party....

 of the Northern and border states backed William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

 and Granger, and the states' rights advocates of the middle and lower South nominated Hugh Lawson White
Hugh Lawson White
Hugh Lawson White was a prominent American politician during the first third of the 19th century. He succeeded Andrew Jackson and served in the United States Senate, representing Tennessee, from 1825 until his resignation in 1840, and was a Whig candidate for President in 1836...

 and John Tyler. Tyler, despite his strong following at the Virginia and Ohio conventions, only received 47 electoral votes in the November 1836 election, trailing both Granger and the Democratic candidate, Richard Mentor Johnson
Richard Mentor Johnson
Richard Mentor Johnson was the ninth Vice President of the United States, serving in the administration of Martin Van Buren . He was the only vice-president ever elected by the United States Senate under the provisions of the Twelfth Amendment. Johnson also represented Kentucky in the U.S...

. Harrison was the leading Whig candidate for president, but he lost to van Buren.

Later state politics


Tyler had been drawn into Virginia politics even as a U.S. Senator. From October 1829 to January 1830, he served as a member of the state constitutional convention
Constitutional convention (political meeting)
A constitutional convention is now a gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. A general constitutional convention is called to create the first constitution of a political unit or to entirely replace an existing constitution...

, a role which he was reluctant to accept. The original Virginia Constitution gave outsize influence to the state's more conservative eastern counties, as it allocated an equal number of legislators to each county (regardless of population) and only granted suffrage to property owners. The convention gave the more populous and liberal counties of western Virginia an opportunity to expand their influence. Tyler, a slave-owner from eastern Virginia, supported the existing system. He largely remained on the sidelines during the debate, however, not wishing to alienate any of the state's political factions. He was focused on his Senate career, which required a broad base of support, and gave speeches during the convention promoting compromise and unity.

After the 1836 election, Tyler expected his political career was at an end, and he had designs on returning to private law. In the fall of 1837 a friend sold him a sizable property in Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg is an independent city located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, USA. As of the 2010 Census, the city had an estimated population of 14,068. It is bordered by James City County and York County, and is an independent city...

. He had barely settled in, however, when he was again elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. He took office in 1838 and his peers unanimously elected him Speaker. Tyler was a national political figure by this point, and his third delegate service touched on such national issues as disposal of public lands.

In February 1839, the legislature again considered a U.S. Senate election, this time the seat of incumbent William Cabell Rives
William Cabell Rives
William Cabell Rives was an American lawyer, politician and diplomat from Albemarle County, Virginia. He represented Virginia as a Jackson Democrat in both the U.S. House and Senate and also served as the U.S. minister to France....

, a Conservative Democrat who had succeeded Tyler. Rives had drifted away from his party, signalling a possible alliance with the Whigs. As Tyler had already fully rejected his party, he expected the Whigs would consider him as a candidate instead. Still, the Whigs found Rives a more politically expedient choice, as they hoped to draw a useful coalition with the Conservative Democrats for the 1840 presidential election. This strategy was espoused by Whig leader Henry Clay, who otherwise admired Tyler.Henry A. Wise
Henry A. Wise
Henry Alexander Wise was an American politician and governor of Virginia, as well as a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.-Early life:...

 would later recall a proposed deal by Henry Clay to elect Rives for Senate and Tyler for the 1840 vice-presidency, but the veracity of his anecdote is unclear.
Tyler was turned down for the nomination, while in-party squabbles delayed Rives' re-election until January 1841.

Presidential election, 1840



At the Whigs' convention of 1840, Tyler supported Henry Clay's presidential candidacy. After Clay had been passed over in favor of William Henry Harrison, Tyler was named Harrison's running mate. Their opponent was Democratic incumbent Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

. The Whigs' 1840 campaign slogans of "Log Cabins and Hard Cider" and "Tippecanoe and Tyler too
Tippecanoe and Tyler too
"Tippecanoe and Tyler too", originally published as "Tip and Ty", was a very popular and influential campaign song of the Whig Party's colorful Log Cabin Campaign in the 1840 United States presidential election...

" are among the most famous in American politics. "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" not only offered the slight sectionalism that would further be apparent in the presidency of Tyler, but also the nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 that was imperative to gain the American vote.

Harrison and Tyler won the election by an electoral vote of 234-60 and a popular vote of 53 percent to 47 percent. On March 4, 1841, Tyler was inaugurated as the 9th Vice President of the United States.

Vice-presidency, 1841



Tyler was sworn in on March 4, Harrison drawing the crowd's attention at the inauguration. Once sworn in, Tyler delivered only a five-minute bromide about states' rights before the new President stepped in to give his two-hour address. Expecting few responsibilities, the Vice President stayed in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 only long enough to preside over the Senate confirmation of Harrison's cabinet. He then quietly repaired to his home in Williamsburg, Virginia. Historian Robert Seager II later wrote, "Had William Henry Harrison lived, John Tyler would undoubtedly have been as obscure as any Vice-President in American history."

Harrison, meanwhile, struggled to keep up with the demands of Henry Clay and others who sought offices and influence in his administration. He did not seek Tyler's advice regarding cabinet appointments, and Tyler reportedly offered none, only hoping that it "be cast of the proper material" and avoid factionalism and patronage. Harrison's old age and fading health were no secret during the campaign, and the question of the presidential succession was on every politician's mind. The first few weeks of the presidency took a clear toll on Harrison's health, and after being caught in a rainstorm in late March he began to succumb to pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 and pleurisy
Pleurisy
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Among other things, infections are the most common cause of pleurisy....

.

Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

 sent word to Tyler of Harrison's illness on April 1; two days later, Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

 attorney James Lyons wrote with the news that the President had taken a turn for the worse, remarking that "I shall not be surprised to hear by tomorrow's mail that Gen'l Harrison is no more." Tyler determined not to travel to Washington, not wanting to appear unseemly in anticipating the President's death. However, at dawn on April 5, two couriers—Webster's son Fletcher
Fletcher Webster
Daniel Fletcher Webster, commonly known as Fletcher Webster was the son of renowned politician Daniel Webster and Grace Fletcher Webster...

, Chief Clerk of the State Department, and a Senate officer named Mr. Beall—arrived at Tyler's home bearing the message that Harrison had died the day before.

"His Accidency"



Harrison's unprecedented death in office caused considerable disarray regarding his successor. The Constitution of the United States stated only that:


In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President.


This led to the question of whether the office of the presidency itself "devolved" upon Vice President Tyler, or merely its powers and duties. By the time Tyler arrived in Washington at 4:00 a.m. on April 6, 1841, he had firmly resolved that he was now, in name and fact, the President of the United States, and acted on this determination by taking the oath of office
President of the United States oath of office
The oath of office of the President of the United States is an oath or affirmation required by the United States Constitution before the President begins the execution of the office...

 in his hotel room. He considered the oath redundant to his oath as vice president, but wished to quell any doubt over his accession. Immediately after his inauguration, Tyler called Harrison's cabinet into a meeting, having decided to retain its members. Webster informed him of Harrison's practice of making policy by a majority vote. The cabinet fully expected the new president to continue this practice. Tyler was astounded and immediately corrected them:


I beg your pardon, gentlemen; I am very glad to have in my Cabinet such able statesmen as you have proved yourselves to be. And I shall be pleased to avail myself of your counsel and advice. But I can never consent to being dictated to as to what I shall or shall not do. I, as President, shall be responsible for my administration. I hope to have your hearty co-operation in carrying out its measures. So long as you see fit to do this, I shall be glad to have you with me. When you think otherwise, your resignations will be accepted.


He delivered a de facto inaugural address on April 9 reasserting his fundamental tenets of Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian Democracy, so named after its leading advocate Thomas Jefferson, is a term used to describe one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party which Jefferson...

 and limited federal power. Tyler's claim was not immediately accepted by opposition
Opposition (parliamentary)
Parliamentary opposition is a form of political opposition to a designated government, particularly in a Westminster-based parliamentary system. Note that this article uses the term government as it is used in Parliamentary systems, i.e. meaning the administration or the cabinet rather than the state...

 members in Congress such as John Quincy Adams, who argued for Tyler to assume a role as a caretaker under the title of "Acting President"
Acting President of the United States
Acting President of the United States is a reference to a person who is legitimately exercising the Presidential powers even though that person does not hold the office of the President of the United States in his own right....

, or remain Vice President in name. Among those who questioned Tyler's authority was Whig leader Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

, who had intended to be "the real power behind a fumbling throne" and exercise considerable influence over Harrison and now transferred that ambition onto his close friend, Tyler. He saw Tyler as the "Vice-President" and his presidency as a mere "regency
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

".

On June 1, impressed by his authoritative actions, both houses of Congress passed resolutions declaring Tyler the 10th President of the United States. Tyler had thus become the first U.S. vice president to assume the office of president upon the death of his predecessor, establishing a precedent that would be followed seven times in the 19th and 20th centuries. Yet it was not until 1967 that Tyler's action of assuming both the full powers and the title of the presidency was legally codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment
Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution deals with succession to the Presidency and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, as well as responding to Presidential disabilities...

.

Although his accession was given approval by both the Cabinet and, later, the Senate and House, Tyler's detractors (who, ironically, would eventually include many of the Cabinet members and members of Congress who had legitimized his presidency) never fully accepted him as President. He was referred to by many nicknames, including "His Accidency," a reference to his having become President, not through election, but by the accidental circumstances regarding his nomination and Harrison's death. However, Tyler never wavered from his conviction that he was the rightful president; when his political opponents sent correspondence to the White House addressed to the "Vice President" or "Acting President," Tyler had it returned unopened.

Economic policy and party conflicts



Tyler quickly found himself at odds with his former political supporters. Harrison had been expected to adhere closely to Whig Party policies and to work closely with Whig leaders, particularly Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

. The former Democrat shocked Congressional Whigs by vetoing most of their entire agenda. Twice he vetoed Clay's legislation for a national banking act following the Panic of 1837
Panic of 1837
The Panic of 1837 was a financial crisis or market correction in the United States built on a speculative fever. The end of the Second Bank of the United States had produced a period of runaway inflation, but on May 10, 1837 in New York City, every bank began to accept payment only in specie ,...

 – even after the bill had been tailored to meet his stated objections in the first veto – leaving the government deadlocked.

On September 11, 1841, following the second bank veto, members of the cabinet entered Tyler's office one by one and resigned – an orchestration by Clay to force Tyler's resignation (and place his own lieutenant, Senate President Pro Tempore
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
The President pro tempore is the second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate. The United States Constitution states that the Vice President of the United States is the President of the Senate and the highest-ranking official of the Senate despite not being a member of the body...

 Samuel L. Southard
Samuel L. Southard
Samuel Lewis Southard was a prominent U.S. statesman of the early 19th century, serving as a U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Navy, and the 10th Governor of New Jersey.-History:...

, in the White House). The exception was Secretary of State Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

, who remained to finalize what became the 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty
Webster-Ashburton Treaty
The Webster–Ashburton Treaty, signed August 9, 1842, was a treaty resolving several border issues between the United States and the British North American colonies...

, as well as to demonstrate his independence from Clay. Two days later, when the president stood firm, the Whigs in Congress officially expelled Tyler from the party. A national backlash ensued, as Tyler was lambasted by Whig newspapers and received hundreds of letters threatening his assassination.

Tariff and distribution debate


By mid-1841 the federal government faced a projected budget deficit of $11 million. Tyler recognized the need for higher tariffs, but wished to stay within the 20-percent rate created by the Compromise Tariff of 1833. He also supported a plan to distribute to the states any revenue from the sales of public land, as an emergency measure to manage the states' growing debt, even though this would cut revenue to the federal government. The Whigs supported high protectionist tariffs and national funding of state infrastructure, and so there was enough overlap to forge a compromise. The Distribution Act of 1841 created a distribution program with a proviso requiring tariffs to remain below 20 percent; a second bill enacted the top rate on previously low-tax goods. Despite these measures, by March 1842 it had become clear that the federal government was still in dire fiscal straits. In a recommendation to Congress, Tyler lamented that it would be necessary to override the Compromise Tariff of 1833 and raise rates beyond the 20 percent limit. Under the previous deal, this would suspend the distribution program, reverting funds back to the federal government.

The defiant Whig Congress would not raise tariffs if it would affect the distribution of funds to states. In June 1842 they passed two instances of a bill which would raise tariffs and unconditionally extend the distribution program. Tyler found it "highly impolitic, if not unconstitutional" to abandon a revenue source (sales of public lands) while trying to resolve a deficit crisis. He vetoed both bills, burning any remaining bridges between himself and the Whigs.

Impeachment attempt


Shortly after the tariff veto, the House of Representatives initiated the first impeachment
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 proceedings against a president in American history. This was not only a matter of the Whigs supporting the bank and tariff legislation which Tyler vetoed. Until the presidency of the Whigs' arch-enemy Andrew Jackson, presidents vetoed bills rarely, and then generally on constitutional rather than policy grounds, so Tyler's actions also went against the Whigs' idea of the presidency. A resolution was introduced by John Minor Botts of Virginia on July 10, 1842. It levied several charges against the president and would appoint a nine-member committee investigating his behavior, with the expectation of a formal impeachment recommendation. Clay found this measure prematurely aggressive, favoring a more moderate progression toward Tyler's "inevitable" impeachment. The Botts bill was tabled until the following January, when it was rejected, 127-83.

A House select committee
Select committee
A select committee is a special subcommittee of a legislature or assembly governed under a committee system, like Robert's Rules of Order. They are often investigative in nature, collecting data or evidence for a law or problem, and will dissolve immediately after they report their findings to...

 headed by former president John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

, who was now a member of Congress, condemned Tyler's use of the veto and assailed his character. While the committee's report did not formally recommend impeachment, it clearly established the possibility. In August 1842, by a vote of 98–90, the House endorsed the committee's report. Adams sponsored a constitutional amendment to change the two-thirds requirement to override a veto to a simple majority, but neither house passed such a measure. The Whigs were unable to pursue further impeachment proceedings in the subsequent 28th Congress, as in the elections of 1842 they lost control of the House (although they retained a majority in the Senate). Near the end of Tyler's term in office, on March 3, 1845, Congress overrode his veto of a minor bill relating to revenue cutters. This marked the first time any president's veto had been overridden.

Cabinet and judicial appointments


For two years, Tyler struggled with the Whigs, eventually nominating 19 men to the six cabinet offices. When he nominated John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

 in 1844 as Secretary of State, to reform the Democrats, the gravitational swing of the Whigs to identify with "the North" and the Democrats as the party of "the South" led the way to the sectional party politics of the next decade. Tyler's final Cabinet consisted of five Southerners and one Northerner (William Wilkins
William Wilkins (U.S. politician)
William Wilkins was an American lawyer, jurist, and politician from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During his career, he served in both houses of the Pennsylvania State Legislature, and in all three branches of the United States federal government, including service as a United States federal judge, as...

, Secretary of War).

Four of Tyler's Cabinet nominees were rejected, the most of any president. These were Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing was an American diplomat who served as a U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts and Attorney General under President Franklin Pierce.-Early life:...

 (Treasury), David Henshaw
David Henshaw
David Henshaw was the 14th United States Secretary of the Navy.Henshaw was born in Leicester, Massachusetts in 1791 and educated at Leicester Academy. Trained as a druggist, he achieved notable success in that field, then expanded his energies into banking, transportation and politics...

 (Navy) James Porter
James Madison Porter
James Madison Porter , a Pennsylvanian, was the 18th United States Secretary of War and a founder of Lafayette College....

 (War), and James S. Green
James S. Green (New Jersey lawyer)
James Sproat Green was an American lawyer who served as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 1835 to 1850. He was the father of New Jersey Governor Robert Stockton Green.-Biography:...

 (Treasury). Henshaw and Porter served as recess appointees before their rejections. Tyler aggravated this problem when he repeatedly renominated Cushing. As a result, Cushing was rejected three times in one day, March 4, 1843, the last day of the 27th Congress.
Judicial Appointments
Court Name Term
U.S.S.C.
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

Samuel Nelson
Samuel Nelson
Samuel Nelson was an American attorney and an Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States....

E.D.Va.
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is one of two United States district courts serving the Commonwealth of Virginia...

James D. Halyburton
James Dandridge Halyburton
James Dandridge Halyburton was a United States federal judge.Born in New Kent County, Virginia, Halyburton attended the University of Virginia School of Law and received an A.B. from Harvard College in 1823. He entered private practice in New Kent County in 1824, also serving briefly as a member...

D. Ind. Elisha M. Huntington
Elisha Mills Huntington
Elisha Mills Huntington was an American lawyer, politician, prosecutor, judge and federal jurist.Born in Butternuts, New York, Huntington moved to Terre Haute, Indiana to join his older brother Nathaniel Huntington. He read law and was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1827 on his 21st birthday...

E.D.La.
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana is a federal trial court based in New Orleans. Like all U.S...


W.D.La.
United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana is a United States federal court with jurisdiction over approximately two thirds of the state of Louisiana, with courts in Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport...

McCaleb was assigned as the judge for both the Eastern and Western Districts of Louisiana, a common practice at the time.
Theodore H. McCaleb
Theodore Howard McCaleb
Theodore Howard McCaleb was a United States federal judge.Born in Claiborne County, Mississippi, McCaleb attended Yale College, and read law to enter the Bar in 1832...

On February 13, 1845, the two District of Louisiana were re-combined into a single District; McCaleb was reassigned to this District by operation of law
Operation of law
The phrase "by operation of law" is a legal term that indicates that a right or liability has been created for a party, irrespective of the intent of that party, because it is dictated by existing legal principles. For example, if a person dies without a will, his heirs are determined by operation...

; on March 3, 1849, the District was again split, and McCaleb was assigned to the Eastern District only.
D.Vt.
United States District Court for the District of Vermont
The United States District Court for the District of Vermont is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction is the federal district of Vermont. The court has locations in Brattleboro, Burlington, and Rutland. The Court was created under the Judiciary Act of 1791 under the jurisdiction of the...

Samuel Prentiss
Samuel Prentiss
Samuel Prentiss was a United States Senator from Vermont and later a United States federal judge.Born in Stonington, Connecticut, he moved to Northfield, Massachusetts in 1786; he completed preparatory studies and was instructed in the classics by a private tutor...

E.D.Pa.
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is one of the original 13 federal judiciary districts created by the Judiciary Act of 1789...

Archibald Randall
Archibald Randall
Archibald Randall was a United States federal judge.Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Randall read law to enter the Bar in 1818. He was in private practice in Philadelphia from 1820 to 1842. He was a clerk of the Philadelphia Select Council, Pennsylvania from 1830 to 1833...

D.Mass.
United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts is the federal district court whose jurisdiction is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA. The first court session was held in Boston in 1789. The second term was held in Salem in 1790 and until 1813 court session locations...

Peleg Sprague


Two vacancies occurred on the Supreme Court during Tyler's presidency, as Justices Smith Thompson
Smith Thompson
Smith Thompson was a United States Secretary of the Navy from 1818 to 1823, and a United States Supreme Court Associate Justice from 1823 until his death in 1843....

 and Henry Baldwin
Henry Baldwin (judge)
Henry Baldwin was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from January 18, 1830, to April 21, 1844.-Biography:...

 died in 1843 and 1844, respectively. Tyler, ever at odds with Congress – including the Whig-controlled Senate – nominated several men to the Supreme Court to fill these seats. However, the Senate successively voted against confirming John Canfield Spencer
John Canfield Spencer
John Canfield Spencer was an American lawyer, politician, judge and United States Cabinet secretary in the administration of President John Tyler.-Early life:...

, Reuben Walworth, Edward King
Edward King (jurist)
Edward King was a prominent 19th century lawyer and jurist, perhaps best known today as having twice been unsuccessfully nominated to the United States Supreme Court....

 and John M. Read
John M. Read
John Meredith Read was an American lawyer, jurist, and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was one of the founders of the Republican Party and Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.-Early life:...

 (King was rejected twice). One reason cited for the Senate's actions was the hope that Whig Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 would fill the vacancies after winning the 1844 presidential election. Tyler's four unsuccessful nominees are the most by a president.

Finally, in February 1845, with less than a month remaining in his term, Tyler's nomination of Samuel Nelson
Samuel Nelson
Samuel Nelson was an American attorney and an Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States....

 to Thompson's seat was confirmed by the Senate. Nelson's successful confirmation was a surprise. Nelson, although a Democrat, had a reputation as a careful and noncontroversial jurist. Baldwin's seat remained vacant until Polk's nominee, Robert Grier
Robert Cooper Grier
Robert Cooper Grier , was an American jurist who served on the Supreme Court of the United States.-Early life, education, and career:...

, was confirmed in 1846.

Tyler was able to appoint only six other federal judges, all to United States district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

s.

Foreign and military affairs


Tyler's difficulties in domestic policy were matched by adept accomplishments in foreign policy. He had long been an advocate of expansionism
Expansionism
In general, expansionism consists of expansionist policies of governments and states. While some have linked the term to promoting economic growth , more commonly expansionism refers to the doctrine of a state expanding its territorial base usually, though not necessarily, by means of military...

 toward the Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 and free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

, and was fond of evoking themes of national destiny and the spread of liberty in support of these policies. His presidency was largely continuous with Jackson's earlier efforts to promote American commerce across the Pacific. Eager to compete with Great Britain in international markets, he sent lawyer Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing was an American diplomat who served as a U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts and Attorney General under President Franklin Pierce.-Early life:...

 to China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, where he negotiated the terms of the Treaty of Wanghia
Treaty of Wanghia
The Treaty of Wanghia , is a diplomatic agreement between the Qing Dynasty of China and the United States, signed on 3 July 1844 in the Kun Iam Temple...

 (1844). The same year, he sent Henry Wheaton as a minister to Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, where he negotiated and signed a trade agreement with the German Zollverein
Zollverein
thumb|upright=1.2|The German Zollverein 1834–1919blue = Prussia in 1834 grey= Included region until 1866yellow= Excluded after 1866red = Borders of the German Union of 1828 pink= Relevant others until 1834...

. This treaty was rejected by the Whigs, mainly as a show of hostility toward the Tyler administration. The President also applied the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

 to Hawaii, told Britain not to interfere there, and began the process towards the eventual annexation of Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 by the United States.

In 1842, the Secretary of State, Daniel Webster, negotiated the Webster–Ashburton Treaty with Britain which concluded where the border between Maine and Canada lay. The issue of where the border lay had caused tension between the United States and Britain for a notable amount of time and had brought the two countries to the brink of war on several occasions. The treaty improved Anglo-American diplomatic relations. However, Tyler was unsuccessful in concluding a treaty with the British to fix the boundaries of Oregon. On Tyler's last full day in office, March 3, 1845, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 was admitted to the Union as the 27th state.

Tyler advocated an increase in military strength. His administration drew the praise of naval leaders, who saw a marked increase in naval warships. Tyler brought the long, bloody Second Seminole War
Second Seminole War
The Second Seminole War, also known as the Florida War, was a conflict from 1835 to 1842 in Florida between various groups of Native Americans collectively known as Seminoles and the United States, part of a series of conflicts called the Seminole Wars...

 to an end in 1842, and expressed interest in the civilizing, so to speak, of the Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

. He also advocated the establishment of a chain of American forts from Council Bluffs, Iowa
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Council Bluffs, known until 1852 as Kanesville, Iowathe historic starting point of the Mormon Trail and eventual northernmost anchor town of the other emigrant trailsis a city in and the county seat of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States and is on the east bank of the Missouri River across...

, to the Pacific.

In May 1842, when the Dorr Rebellion
Dorr Rebellion
The Dorr Rebellion was a short-lived armed insurrection in the U.S. state of Rhode Island led by Thomas Wilson Dorr, who was agitating for changes to the state's electoral system.- Precursors :...

 in Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

 came to a head, Tyler pondered the request of the governor and legislature to send federal troops to help it suppress the Dorrite insurgents. The insurgents under Thomas Dorr had armed themselves and proposed to install a new state constitution. Before such acts, Rhode Island had been following the same constitutional structure that was established in 1663. Tyler called for calm on both sides, and recommended the governor enlarge the franchise to let most men vote. Tyler promised that in case an actual insurrection should break out in Rhode Island he would employ force to aid the regular, or Charter, government. He made it clear that federal assistance would be given, not to prevent, but only to put down insurrection, and would not be available until violence had been committed. After listening to reports from his confidential agents, Tyler decided that the 'lawless assemblages' had dispersed and expressed his confidence in a "temper of conciliation as well as of energy and decision." He did not send any federal forces. The rebels fled the state when the state militia marched against them. With their dispersion, they accepted the expansion of suffrage.

Annexation of Texas



Tyler, an advocate of Western expansionism, made the annexation of the Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

 part of his platform soon after becoming President. Texas had declared independence from Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 in the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

 of 1836, although Mexico still refused to acknowledge it as a sovereign state. The people of Texas actively pursued joining the Union, but Jackson and Van Buren had been reluctant to inflame tensions over slavery by annexing another Southern state. Tyler, on the other hand, intended annexation to be the focal point of his administration. Secretary Webster, opposed, convinced Tyler to focus on Pacific initiatives until later in his term.


Early attempts


In early 1843, having completed the Webster–Ashburton treaty and other diplomatic efforts, Tyler felt ready to pursue Texas. Now lacking a party base, he saw annexation of the republic as his only pathway to independent re-election in 1844. For the first time in his career he was willing to play "political hardball" to see it through. As a trial balloon
Trial balloon
A trial balloon is information sent out to the media in order to observe the reaction of an audience. It can be used by companies sending out press releases to judge reaction by customers, or it can be used by politicians who deliberately leak information on a policy change under consideration...

 he dispatched his ally Thomas Walker Gilmer
Thomas Walker Gilmer
Thomas Walker Gilmer was an American statesman.-Personal life:Gilmer was born to George and Eliza Gilmer at their farm, "Gilmerton", in Albemarle County, Virginia. He was taught by private tutors in Charlottesville and Staunton, and studied law in Liberty , Virginia.Gilmer practiced law in...

, then a U.S. Representative from Virginia, to publish a letter defending annexation, which was well received. Despite his successful relationship with Webster, Tyler knew he would need a Secretary of State who supported the Texas initiative, and so he forced Webster's resignation and installed Hugh S. Legaré
Hugh S. Legaré
Hugh Swinton Legaré was an American lawyer and politician.-Biography:Legaré was born in Charleston, South Carolina, of Huguenot and Scottish ancestry....

 as an interim successor.

With the help of newly appointed Treasury Secretary
United States Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also with some issues of national security and defense. This position in the Federal Government of the United...

 John C. Spencer, he cleared out an array of officeholders, replacing them with pro-annexation partisans, in a reversal of his former stand against patronage. He elicited the help of political organizer Michael Walsh
Michael Walsh (New York)
Michael Walsh was a United States Representative from New York.-Early life:Born in Youghal, Cork, Ireland, he completed preparatory studies, was graduated from Trinity College, Dublin and emigrated to the United States, settling in Baltimore, Maryland...

 to build a political machine
Political machine
A political machine is a political organization in which an authoritative boss or small group commands the support of a corps of supporters and businesses , who receive rewards for their efforts...

 in New York. In exchange for an appointment as consul to Hawaii
United States Minister to Hawaii
The Minister to Hawaii was an office of the United States Department of State to the Kingdom of Hawaii during the period of 1810 to 1898. Appointed by the President of the United States with the consent of Congress, the Minister to Hawaii was equivalent in rank to the present-day ambassador of the...

, journalist Alexander G. Abell wrote a flattering biography, Life of John Tyler, which was printed in large quantities and given to postmasters throughout the country to distribute. Seeking to rehabilitate his public image, Tyler embarked on a nationwide campaign tour in the spring of 1843. The positive reception of the public at these events contrasted starkly with his ostracism back in Washington. The tour centered around the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument
Bunker Hill Monument
-External links:****: cultural context**...

 in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

. Shortly after the dedication, Tyler learned of Legaré's sudden death, which dampened the festivities and forced him to cancel the rest of the tour.

He appointed Abel P. Upshur
Abel P. Upshur
Abel Parker Upshur was an American lawyer, judge and politician from Virginia. Upshur was active in Virginia state politics and later served as Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of State during the Whig administration of President John Tyler...

, a popular Secretary of the Navy and close adviser, as his new Secretary of State, and nominated Gilmer to fill his former office. Tyler and Upshur began quiet negotiations with the Texas government, promising military protection from Mexico in exchange for a commitment to annexation. Secrecy was necessary, as the Constitution required Congressional approval for such military commitments. Upshur planted rumors of possible British designs on Texas to drum up support among Northern voters, who were wary of admitting a new pro-slavery state. By January 1844 Upshur told the Texas government that he had found a large majority of Senators in favor of an annexation treaty. The republic remained skeptical, and finalization of the treaty took until the end of February.

USS Princeton disaster



It was only one day after completing the treaty that Upshur and Gilmer were killed in a freak accident. A ceremonial cruise down the Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

 was held aboard the newly built USS Princeton
USS Princeton (1843)
The first Princeton was the first screw steam warship in the United States Navy. She was launched in 1843, decommissioned in 1847, and broken up in 1849....

 on February 28, 1844. Aboard the ship were 400 guests, including Tyler and his cabinet, as was the world's largest naval gun, the "Peacemaker". The gun was ceremoniously fired several times in the afternoon to the delight of the onlookers, who then filed downstairs to offer a toast. Several hours later, Captain Robert F. Stockton
Robert F. Stockton
Robert Field Stockton was a United States naval commodore, notable in the capture of California during the Mexican-American War. He was a naval innovator and an early advocate for a propeller-driven, steam-powered navy. Stockton was from a notable political family and also served as a U.S...

 was convinced by the crowd to fire one more shot. As the guests moved up to the deck, Tyler paused briefly to watch his son-in-law, William Waller, sing a ditty.

At once an explosion was heard from above: the gun had malfunctioned. Tyler was unhurt, having remained safely below deck, but a number of others were instantly killed, including his crucial cabinet members, Gilmer and Upshur. Also killed or mortally wounded were Virgil Maxcy
Virgil Maxcy
Virgil Maxcy was an American political figure. He was born in Massachusetts, and spent his adult years in Maryland. He was killed in 1844 in a shipboard accident, when a cannon exploded aboard the USS Princeton.-Early life:...

 of Maryland, Rep. David Gardiner
David Gardiner
David Gardiner was the father of Julia Gardiner Tyler, wife of U.S. President John Tyler.-Life:Gardiner was a descendant of Lion Gardiner and lived on Gardiners Island in East Hampton, New York...

 of New York, Commodore Beverly Kennon, Chief of Construction of the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, and Tyler's black slave and body servant. For Tyler, any hope of completing the Texas plan before November (and with it, any hope of re-election) was instantly dashed. Historian Edward P. Crapol later wrote that "Prior to the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln," the Princeton disaster "unquestionably was the most severe and debilitating tragedy ever to confront a president of the United States."

Ratification and 1844 election


In what the Miller Center of Public Affairs
Miller Center of Public Affairs
The Miller Center of Public Affairs is a non-partisan research institute that is part of the University of Virginia.Founded in 1975, the Miller Center is a leading public policy institution that serves as a national meeting place where engaged citizens, scholars, students, media representatives and...

 considers "a serious tactical error that ruined the scheme [of establishing political respectability for him]", Tyler appointed former Vice President John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

 in early March 1844 as his Secretary of State. Calhoun was a leading advocate of slavery, and his attempts to get an annexation treaty passed were resisted by abolitionists as a result. When the text of the treaty was leaked to the public, and found to implicitly endorse both slavery and a possible confrontation with Mexico, public opposition grew. Both Clay and Van Buren, the respective frontrunners for the Whig and Democratic nominations, took a stance against annexation.

Tyler knew, with virtually no chance of re-election, that the only way to salvage his presidency and legacy was to move public opinion in favor of the Texas issue. He formed a third party, the Democratic-Republicans, using the officeholders and political networks he had built over the previous year. The Tyler supporters, holding signs reading "Tyler and Texas!", held their nominating convention in Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

 in May 1844, just as the Democratic Party was holding its presidential nomination. With their high visibility and energy they were able to force the Democrats' hand in favor of annexation. Ballot after ballot, Van Buren failed to win the necessary super-majority of Democratic votes, and slowly fell in the ranking. It was not until the ninth ballot that the Democrats discovered an obscure pro-annexation candidate named James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

. They found him to be perfectly suited for their platform, and he was nominated with two-thirds of the vote. Tyler considered his work vindicated, and implied in an acceptance letter that annexation was his true priority rather than re-election.

Tyler was unfazed when the Senate rejected his treaty by a vote of 16–35 in June 1844, as he felt that annexation was now within reach. He called for Congress to annex Texas by joint resolution rather than by treaty. Satisfied with the prospects of success, he dropped out of the race in August and endorsed Polk for the presidency. Polk's narrow victory over Clay in the November election was seen by the Tyler administration as a mandate
Mandate (politics)
In politics, a mandate is the authority granted by a constituency to act as its representative.The concept of a government having a legitimate mandate to govern via the fair winning of a democratic election is a central idea of democracy...

 for completing the resolution. Tyler announced in his annual message to Congress that "a controlling majority of the people and a large majority of the states have declared in favor of immediate annexation." In late February 1845, the House by a substantial margin and the Senate by a bare 27–25 majority approved a joint resolution offering terms of annexation to Texas. On March 1, three days before the end of his term, Tyler signed the bill into law. After some debate, Texas accepted the terms and entered the union on December 29, 1845, as the 28th state.

Post-presidency and death


Tyler retired to a Virginia plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

, originally named Walnut Grove (or "the Grove"), located on the James River
James River (Virginia)
The James River is a river in the U.S. state of Virginia. It is long, extending to if one includes the Jackson River, the longer of its two source tributaries. The James River drains a catchment comprising . The watershed includes about 4% open water and an area with a population of 2.5 million...

 in Charles City County, Virginia
Charles City County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,926 people, 2,670 households, and 1,975 families residing in the county. The population density was 38 people per square mile . There were 2,895 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile...

. He renamed it Sherwood Forest
Sherwood Forest Plantation
Sherwood Forest Plantation, also known as John Tyler House, is located on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. It is located on State Route 5, a scenic byway which runs between the independent cities of Richmond and Williamsburg...

, in a reference to the folk legend Robin Hood
Robin Hood
Robin Hood was a heroic outlaw in English folklore. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor", assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his "Merry Men". Traditionally, Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes....

, to signify that he had been "outlawed" by the Whig Party. He did not take farming lightly and worked hard to maintain large yields throughout the 1840s. His neighbors, largely Whigs, appointed him "overseer" of his road in 1847 in an effort to mock him. To their displeasure he treated the title seriously, frequently summoning his neighbors' slaves to attend to road work, and continued to bear the title even after his neighbors asked him to stop. He withdrew from electoral politics, rarely receiving visits from his friends. He was asked to give an occasional public speech, but was not sought out as an adviser. One notable speech was at the unveiling of a monument to Henry Clay; acknowledging the political battles between the two, he spoke highly of his former colleague.

On the eve of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, Tyler re-entered public life as sponsor and chairman of the Virginia Peace Convention
Peace conference of 1861
The Peace Conference of 1861 was a meeting of more than 100 of the leading politicians of the antebellum United States held in Washington, D.C., in February 1861 that was meant to prevent what ultimately became the Civil War. The success of President Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party in the...

, held in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 in February 1861 as an effort to devise means to prevent a war. The convention sought a compromise to avoid civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 while the Confederate Constitution
Confederate States Constitution
The Constitution of the Confederate States of America was the supreme law of the Confederate States of America, as adopted on March 11, 1861 and in effect through the conclusion of the American Civil War. The Confederacy also operated under a Provisional Constitution from February 8, 1861 to March...

 was being drawn up at the Montgomery Convention
Montgomery Convention
The Montgomery Convention marked the formal beginning of the Confederate States of America. Convened in Montgomery, Alabama the Convention organized a provisional government for the Confederacy and created the Constitution of the Confederate States of America....

. When the convention's proposals were rejected by Congress, Tyler abandoned hope of compromise and saw secession as the only option. He was sanguine about a peaceful secession, predicting that a clean split of all Southern states would not result in war. When war ultimately broke out, Tyler unhesitatingly sided with the Confederacy and became a delegate to the Provisional Confederate Congress
Provisional Confederate Congress
The Provisional Confederate Congress, for a time the legislative branch of the Confederate States of America, was the body which drafted the Confederate Constitution, elected Jefferson Davis President of the Confederacy, and designed the first Confederate flag...

 from February 4, 1861. He was then elected to the House of Representatives of the Confederate Congress. On January 5, 1862, he left for Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

 in anticipation of his congressional service, but he would not live to see the opening sessions.

Throughout Tyler's life, he suffered from poor health. As he aged, he suffered more frequently from colds during the winter. After his exit from the White House, he fell victim to repeated cases of dysentery. He had many aches and pains in the last eight years of his life. On January 12, 1862, after complaining of chills and dizziness, he vomited and collapsed. He was revived, yet the next day he admitted to the same symptoms. He was treated for the rest of the week, but his health did not improve, and he made plans to return to Sherwood Forest on the 18th. As he lay in bed the previous night he began suffocating, and Julia summoned his doctor. Just after midnight, Tyler took a last sip of brandy
Brandy
Brandy is a spirit produced by distilling wine. Brandy generally contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume and is typically taken as an after-dinner drink...

, and told his doctor, "I am going. Perhaps it is best." It is believed that he had suffered a stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

. Tyler is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, by the side of former President James Monroe
James Monroe
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States . Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation...

.

Tyler's death was the only one in presidential history not to be officially recognized in Washington, because of his allegiance to the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. He had requested a simple burial, but Confederate President Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

 and his fellows delivered a grand, politically pointed funeral, painting Tyler as a hero to the Confederacy. Tyler's favorite horse named "The General" is buried at his Sherwood Forest Plantation
Sherwood Forest Plantation
Sherwood Forest Plantation, also known as John Tyler House, is located on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. It is located on State Route 5, a scenic byway which runs between the independent cities of Richmond and Williamsburg...

 with a gravestone which reads,
Here lie the bones of my old horse, "General,"

Who served his master faithfully for twenty-one years,

And never made a blunder.

Would that his master could say the same!

Family and personal life


With his two wives, Tyler fathered more children than any other president in history. His first wife was Letitia Christian Tyler
Letitia Christian Tyler
Letitia Christian Tyler , first wife of John Tyler, was First Lady of the United States from 1841 until her death.-Early Life and Marriage:...

 (November 12, 1790 – September 10, 1842), with whom he had eight children:
  1. Mary Tyler (1815–47)
  2. Robert Tyler
    Robert Tyler
    Robert Tyler was the eldest son of United States President John Tyler and Letitia Christian Tyler. He served as the Confederate Register of the Treasury during the American Civil War He also served as his father's private secretary during his administration. Afterwards, he served as the editor...

     (1816–77)
  3. John Tyler, Jr. (1819–96)
  4. Letitia Tyler Semple
    Letitia Tyler Semple
    Letitia Tyler Semple was the daughter of John Tyler and Letitia Christian Tyler. She acted as unofficial First Lady in 1844.-External links:* at Find a Grave...

     (1821–1907)
  5. Elizabeth Tyler
    Elizabeth Tyler
    Elizabeth Tyler was one of fifteen children of John Tyler, tenth President of the United States. She was born in 1823 to John Tyler and Letitia Christian, his first wife....

     (1823–50)
  6. Anne Contesse Tyler (1825)
  7. Alice Tyler (1827–54)
  8. Tazewell Tyler (1830–74)

Tyler's wife Letitia died in the White House in September 1842.


His second wife was Julia Gardiner Tyler
Julia Gardiner Tyler
Julia Gardiner Tyler , second wife of John Tyler, was First Lady of the United States from June 26, 1844, to March 4, 1845.-Early life:...

 (July 23, 1820 – July 10, 1889), with whom he had seven children:
  1. David Gardiner Tyler
    David Gardiner Tyler
    David Gardiner Tyler , was a U.S. Democratic Party politician.-Early life:He was born in East Hampton, New York and was the first child born to former President John Tyler and his second wife, Julia Gardiner Tyler. He was named after his late maternal grandfather, David Gardiner. As a child, he...

     (1846–1927)
  2. John Alexander Tyler
    John Alexander Tyler
    John Alexander "Alex" Tyler was the second son of John Tyler and his second wife, Julia Tyler. At age 14 he ran away from home and enlisted in the Confederate Army, John Alexander "Alex" Tyler (April 7, 1848 - September 1, 1883) was the second son of John Tyler and his second wife, Julia Tyler. ...

     (1848–83)
  3. Julia Gardiner Tyler Spencer (1849–71)
  4. Lachlan Tyler (1851–1902)
  5. Lyon Gardiner Tyler
    Lyon Gardiner Tyler
    Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Sr. was a U.S. educator and historian.-Biography:He was the son of President John Tyler and First Lady Julia Gardiner Tyler, born at Sherwood Forest Plantation. He graduated in 1875 at the University of Virginia...

     (1853–1935)
  6. Robert Fitzwalter Tyler (1856–1927)
  7. Pearl Tyler (1860–1947)


Early in his presidency, Tyler was attacked by abolitionist publisher Joshua Leavitt
Joshua Leavitt
Rev. Joshua Leavitt was an American Congregationalist minister and former lawyer who became a prominent writer, editor and publisher of abolitionist literature. He was also a spokesman for the Liberty Party and a prominent campaigner for cheap postage...

, who alleged that Tyler had fathered (and sold) several sons with his slaves, prompting a response from the Tyler administration–linked newspaper The Madisonian. A number of African American families today have an oral tradition of descent from Tyler, but no evidence of such a link has ever surfaced.

As of August 2011, Tyler has two living grandsons through his son Lyon Gardiner Tyler. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr., was born in 1924, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler was born in 1928. Harrison Tyler maintains the family home, "Sherwood Forest."

Legacy


The Tyler presidency is generally held in low esteem by historians. Edward P. Crapol began his biography John Tyler, the Accidental President (2006) by noting: "Other biographers and historians have argued that John Tyler was a hapless and inept chief executive whose presidency was seriously flawed." In The Republican Vision of John Tyler (2003), Dan Monroe observed that the Tyler presidency "is generally ranked as one of the least successful". Robert Seager II wrote in And Tyler Too: A Biography of John and Julia Gardiner Tyler (1963) that Tyler "was neither a great President nor a great intellectual," adding that despite a few achievements, "his administration has been and must be counted an unsuccessful one by any modern measure of accomplishment". A survey of 65 historians, conducted by C-SPAN
C-SPAN
C-SPAN , an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable television network that offers coverage of federal government proceedings and other public affairs programming via its three television channels , one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming...

 in 2009, ranked Tyler as 35th of 42 men to hold the office.
Despite his poor image, some have argued that Tyler's accomplishments and political resolve warrant a more favorable treatment. Tyler's assumption of complete presidential powers "set a hugely important precedent", according to a biographical sketch by the University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

's Miller Center of Public Affairs
Miller Center of Public Affairs
The Miller Center of Public Affairs is a non-partisan research institute that is part of the University of Virginia.Founded in 1975, the Miller Center is a leading public policy institution that serves as a national meeting place where engaged citizens, scholars, students, media representatives and...

. The article also noted that "Tyler could claim an ambitious, successful foreign policy presidency, due largely to the efforts of Secretary of State Webster." Monroe credits Tyler with "achievements like the Webster–Ashburton treaty which heralded the prospect of improved relations with Great Britain, and the annexation of Texas, which added millions of acres to the national domain." Crapol argued that Tyler "was a stronger and more effective president than generally remembered," while Seager wrote, "I find him to be a courageous, principled man, a fair and honest fighter for his beliefs. He was a President without a party."

Tyler has been the namesake of several U.S. locations, including the city of Tyler, Texas
Tyler, Texas
Tyler is a city in and the county seat of Smith County, Texas, in the United States. It takes its name from President John Tyler . The city had a population of 109,000 in 2010, according to the United States Census Bureau...

 and its John Tyler High School
John Tyler High School
John Tyler High School is a public, co-educational secondary school in Tyler, Texas. It is part of the Tyler Independent School District and serves 9th through 12th grade...

, along with John Tyler Community College
John Tyler Community College
John Tyler Community College is a two-year, public institution of higher education and is the fifth largest of the 23 community colleges in Virginia. John Tyler is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and offers 17 associate degree programs,...

 in Virginia, located near Tyler's home. While academics have both praised and criticized Tyler, the general American public has little awareness of him at all. Several writers have noted that Tyler is among the nation's most obscure presidents. As Seager remarked, "His countrymen generally remember him, if they have heard of him at all, as the rhyming end of a catchy campaign slogan."

See also


  • Second Party System
    Second Party System
    The Second Party System is a term of periodization used by historians and political scientists to name the political party system existing in the United States from about 1828 to 1854...

  • Dorr Rebellion
    Dorr Rebellion
    The Dorr Rebellion was a short-lived armed insurrection in the U.S. state of Rhode Island led by Thomas Wilson Dorr, who was agitating for changes to the state's electoral system.- Precursors :...

  • U.S. presidential election, 1840
  • Sherwood Forest Plantation
    Sherwood Forest Plantation
    Sherwood Forest Plantation, also known as John Tyler House, is located on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. It is located on State Route 5, a scenic byway which runs between the independent cities of Richmond and Williamsburg...

  • List of Presidents of the United States
  • US Presidents on US postage stamps

Ancestors


John Tyler (March 29, 1790 – January 18, 1862) was the tenth President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1841–1845). A native of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, Tyler served as a state legislator
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

, governor
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

, U.S. representative
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, and U.S. senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 before being elected Vice President
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 (1841). He was the first to succeed to the office of President following the death of a predecessor. Tyler's opposition to nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and emphatic support of states' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

 endeared him to his fellow Virginians but alienated him from most of the political allies that brought him to power in Washington. His presidency was crippled by opposition from both parties, and at the end of his life, he would join the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 in secession
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 from the United States.

Tyler was born to an aristocratic Virginia family of English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 descent and he came to national prominence at a time of political upheaval. By the 1820s the nation's only political party, the Democratic-Republicans
Democratic-Republican Party (United States)
The Democratic-Republican Party or Republican Party was an American political party founded in the early 1790s by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Political scientists use the former name, while historians prefer the latter one; contemporaries generally called the party the "Republicans", along...

, began to split into factions, none of which shared Tyler's strict constructionist ideals. His opposition to Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 leaders Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 and Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

 led him to be elected Vice President on the Whig
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 ticket. Upon the death of President William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

 on April 4, 1841, only a month after his inauguration
Inauguration
An inauguration is a formal ceremony to mark the beginning of a leader's term of office. An example is the ceremony in which the President of the United States officially takes the oath of office....

, a short Constitutional crisis arose over the succession process
United States presidential line of succession
The United States presidential line of succession defines who may become or act as President of the United States upon the incapacity, death, resignation, or removal from office of a sitting president or a president-elect.- Current order :This is a list of the current presidential line of...

. Tyler immediately moved into the White House, took the oath of office, and assumed full presidential powers, a precedent that would govern future successions and eventually be codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment
Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution deals with succession to the Presidency and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, as well as responding to Presidential disabilities...

.

Once he became president he stood against his party's platform and vetoed several of their proposals. As a result, most of his cabinet resigned, and the Whigs, dubbing him His Accidency, expelled him from the party. While he faced a stalemate on domestic policy, he still made several foreign policy achievements, signing the Webster–Ashburton Treaty with Britain and the Treaty of Wanghia
Treaty of Wanghia
The Treaty of Wanghia , is a diplomatic agreement between the Qing Dynasty of China and the United States, signed on 3 July 1844 in the Kun Iam Temple...

 with China. Tyler dedicated his last two years in office to his landmark accomplishment, the 1845 annexation of the Republic of Texas
Texas Annexation
In 1845, United States of America annexed the Republic of Texas and admitted it to the Union as the 28th state. The U.S. thus inherited Texas's border dispute with Mexico; this quickly led to the Mexican-American War, during which the U.S. captured additional territory , extending the nation's...

. With little hope for re-election, he created a third party to move public opinion in favor of annexation, which led to the 1844 presidential election of expansionist Democrat James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

 over Tyler opponents Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 and Van Buren.

Tyler essentially retired from electoral politics until the outbreak of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 in 1861. He sided with the Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 government, and won election to the Confederate House of Representatives shortly before his death. As a result of his opposition to the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

, his death was the only one in presidential history not to be officially mourned in Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. Although some have praised Tyler's political resolve, his presidency is generally held in low esteem by historians; today he is considered an obscure president, with little presence in the American cultural memory.

Early life and law career


John Tyler was born on March 29, 1790, in the early years of the newly established nation, and the first President to be born Under the Administration of a President. From birth he was politically tied to his future running mate William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

: both were born in Charles City County
Charles City County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,926 people, 2,670 households, and 1,975 families residing in the county. The population density was 38 people per square mile . There were 2,895 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, descended from aristocratic and politically entrenched families. The Tyler family proudly traced its lineage to colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg is an independent city located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, USA. As of the 2010 Census, the city had an estimated population of 14,068. It is bordered by James City County and York County, and is an independent city...

 in the mid-17th century. JohnTyler,Sr.
John Tyler, Sr.
John Tyler Sr. was a Virginia planter, judge, 15th Governor of Virginia and the father of the 10th President of the United States, John Tyler....

, popularly known as Judge Tyler, was a friend and college roommate of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and served in the Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

 alongside William's father Benjamin Harrison V
Benjamin Harrison V
Benjamin Harrison V was an American planter and revolutionary leader from Charles City County, Virginia. He earned his higher education at the College of William and Mary, and he was perhaps the first figure in the Harrison family to gain national attention...

. Judge Tyler served four years as Virginia Speaker of the House before becoming a state court judge. He would later serve as governor
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

 and as a judge on the U.S. District Court at Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

. His wife Mary was the daughter of a prominent plantation owner, Robert Armistead. She died of a stroke when her son John was seven years old.

The young Tyler was raised with his two brothers and five sisters on Greenway Plantation
Greenway Plantation
Greenway Plantation is a wood-frame, one-and-a-half-story plantation house that stands on the north side of Route 5 in Charles City County, Virginia...

, a 1200 acres (5 km²) estate with a six-room mansion his father had built.Formally, only the mansion was named Greenway. Various crops including wheat, corn, and tobacco were grown at Greenway by the Tylers' forty slaves. Tyler was an unhealthy child, very thin and prone to chronic diarrhea. Such afflictions would continue to burden him throughout his life. At the age of twelve, he entered the preparatory branch of the elite College of William and Mary
College of William and Mary
The College of William & Mary in Virginia is a public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States...

, continuing the Tyler family's tradition of attending the college. Tyler graduated from the school's collegiate branch in 1807, at age seventeen. Among the books that informed his economic views was Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

's The Wealth of Nations
The Wealth of Nations
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith...

. His political views were deeply shaped by Bishop James Madison, the college's president, who served as a second father and mentor to him.

After graduation Tyler went on study law with his father, who was a state judge at the time. Tyler was admitted to the bar
Bar (law)
Bar in a legal context has three possible meanings: the division of a courtroom between its working and public areas; the process of qualifying to practice law; and the legal profession.-Courtroom division:...

 at the age of 19, in violation of bar regulations: the judge who administered the bar exam neglected to inquire about his age. By this time his father had become Governor of Virginia
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

 (1808–1811), and the young Tyler started a practice in Richmond.

Start in Virginia politics


At the age of 21, Tyler was elected by his fellow Charles City County residents to the Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

, the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly
The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

. He served five successive one-year terms (and would return later in his career), seated on the Courts and Justice committee. The young politician's defining attributes were on display by the end of his first term: a strong support of states' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

 and opposition to a national bank. He joined fellow legislator Benjamin W. Leigh
Benjamin W. Leigh
Benjamin Watkins Leigh was an American lawyer and politician from Richmond, Virginia. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates and represented Virginia in the United States Senate. Benjamin Watkins Leigh was born in Chesterfield County on June 18, 1781, the son of the Reverend William Leigh...

 in pushing for the censure of U.S. Senators William Branch Giles
William Branch Giles
William Branch Giles ; the name is pronounced jyles) was an American statesman, long-term Senator from Virginia, and the 24th Governor of Virginia...

 and Richard Brent
Richard Brent (Virginia)
Richard Brent was an American planter, lawyer, and politician from Stafford County, Virginia. He represented Virginia in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.-External links:*...

 from Virginia, who had voted for the recharter of the First Bank of the United States
First Bank of the United States
The First Bank of the United States is a National Historic Landmark located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania within Independence National Historical Park.-Banking History:...

 against the legislature's instructions.

In addition to infighting over the national bank, the United States was facing ongoing hostilities with Britain in the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

. Tyler's education had impressed on him a strong sense of anti-British nationalism, and at the onset of the war he urged military action on the assembly floor. After the British capture of Hampton, Virginia
Hampton, Virginia
Hampton is an independent city that is not part of any county in Southeast Virginia. Its population is 137,436. As one of the seven major cities that compose the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, it is on the southeastern end of the Virginia Peninsula. Located on the Hampton Roads Beltway, it hosts...

 in the summer of 1813, Tyler eagerly organized a small militia company of county residents to defend Richmond, but no attack came their way and he dissolved the company two months later. That same year his father died, and Tyler inherited thirteen slaves along with his father's estate. In 1816 he resigned to serve on the Governor's Council of State
Council of State
The Council of State is a unique governmental body in a country or subdivision thereoff, though its nature may range from the formal name for the cabinet to a non-executive advisory body surrounding a head of state. It is sometimes regarded as the equivalent of a privy council.-Modern:*Belgian...

, a group of eight advisers elected by the legislature.

U.S. House of Representatives


Tyler's three terms in the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 would be his foray into national politics. The death of U.S. Representative John Clopton
John Clopton
John Clopton was a United States Representative from Virginia. Born in St. Peter's Parish , his father was William Clopton and his mother was Elizabeth Dorrell Ford , he graduated from the College of Philadelphia in 1776...

 in the fall of 1816 left a vacancy in the 23rd district
Virginia's 23rd congressional district
Virginia Congressional District 23 is an obsolete congressional district. It was eliminated in 1823 after the 1820 U.S. Census. Its last Congressman was Andrew Stevenson.-Representatives:- References :*...

 which Tyler was well positioned to fill. He faced his friend and political ally Andrew Stevenson
Andrew Stevenson
Andrew Stevenson was a Democratic politician in the United States. Educated at the College of William and Mary, he married three times. His second wife, Sarah Coles, was a cousin of Dolley Madison and sister of Edward Coles, a governor of Illinois...

, then Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, in the congressional election. The race was amicable despite the high political stakes. Tyler's political connections and campaigning skills won him the election by a slim margin. He was sworn in as a Democratic-RepublicanContemporaries generally called this the Republican Party, but modern political writers use Democratic-Republican to distinguish it from the modern-day Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

.
to the Fourteenth Congress
14th United States Congress
- Senate :* President: Vacant* President pro tempore: John Gaillard of South Carolina, first elected December 4, 1815- House of Representatives :* Speaker: Henry Clay of Kentucky-Members:This list is arranged by chamber, then by state...

 on December 17, 1816, to complete Clopton's term. He was re-elected to a full term the following spring.

While the Democratic-Republicans had a historical platform of states' rights, they had begun to adopt nationalist tendencies. In the wake of the War of 1812, Congress was pushing to fund the states' reconstruction and infrastructure projects. Tyler held fast to his strict constructionist beliefs, rejecting such proposals on both constitutional and personal grounds. Virginia was not "in so poor a condition as to require a charitable donation from Congress," he contended. He was chosen to participate in an audit of the Second Bank of the United States
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

 in 1818 as part of a five-person committee, and was appalled by perceived corruption within the bank. He argued for the annulment of the bank charter, although Congress rejected any such proposal. His first clash with then-General Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 followed Jackson's 1818 invasion of Florida during the First Seminole War. While praising Jackson's character, Tyler condemned the general's zealous behavior and his execution of two British subjects. Tyler was re-elected without opposition in early 1819.

The defining issue of the Sixteenth Congress
16th United States Congress
-House of Representatives:During this congress, one House seat was added for the new state of Alabama and one seat was reapportioned from Massachusetts to the new state of Maine. For the beginning of the next congress, six more seats from Massachusetts would be reapportioned to...

 (1819–21) was the admission of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 to the Union, and whether slavery would be permitted in the new state. Tyler was a slaveholder for his entire life, at one point keeping forty slaves at Greenway. While he regarded slavery as an evil, and never attempted to justify it, he never agreed with national emancipation, and never freed any of his slaves even at the dawn of the Civil War. The living conditions of his slaves are not well documented, but historians agree that he cared for their well-being and abstained from physical violence against them.

Tyler was a leader in opposing the Missouri Compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 of 1820, which would for the first time establish national boundaries for the establishment of slavery. In his view, the compromise served only to diminish and divide the states, while unnecessarily expanding federal authority. Acknowledging the ills of slavery, he argued that allowing it in Missouri would attract existing slave-owners from Southern states, dissipating the population of slaves and reducing each state's reliance on the practice. Thus, in his view, emancipation would occur organically at the state level without federal intervention. He voted against the Missouri Compromise—which passed regardless—and all bills which would restrict slavery in new territories.

Tyler declined to seek renomination to Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in late 1820, citing illness. He privately acknowledged his dissatisfaction with the office, as his opposing votes were largely symbolic and did little to change the political culture in Washington; he also observed that funding his children's education would be difficult on a Congressman's low salary. He resigned on March 4, 1821, endorsing his former opponent Stevenson for the seat, and returned to private law.

Return to state politics


He was soon drafted for a second stint in the Virginia House of Delegates, which lasted from December 1823 to December 1825. Upon taking office he found the chamber thrust into debate over the impending presidential election of 1824
United States presidential election, 1824
In the United States presidential election of 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected President on February 9, 1825, after the election was decided by the House of Representatives. The previous years had seen a one-party government in the United States, as the Federalist Party had dissolved, leaving...

. The congressional nominating caucus
Congressional nominating caucus
The Congressional nominating caucus is the name for informal meetings in which American congressmen would agree on who to nominate for the Presidency and Vice Presidency from their political party.-History:...

, an early system for choosing presidential candidates, was still in effect despite its growing unpopularity. Tyler attempted to bring the lower house to endorse the caucus system and choose William H. Crawford
William H. Crawford
William Harris Crawford was an American politician and judge during the early 19th century. He served as United States Secretary of War from 1815 to 1816 and United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1816 to 1825, and was a candidate for President of the United States in 1824.-Political...

 as the Democratic-Republican candidate. Despite the legislature's support of Crawford, opposition to the caucus system killed his proposal. Tyler's most lasting effort in this second legislative tenure was salvaging the College of William and Mary, which suffered from waning attendance and risked closure. Rather than move it from rural Williamsburg to the populous capital of Richmond, as some suggested, Tyler proposed that a series of administrative and financial reforms be enacted. His reforms were successfully adopted: by 1840 the school would see its highest-ever attendance.
Tyler's political fortunes were growing, with his name taken up for consideration in the 1824 U.S. Senate election. He was nominated in December 1825 for Governor of Virginia
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

, a position which was then appointed by the legislature. He was elected 131–81 over John Floyd
John Floyd (Virginia politician)
John Floyd was a Virginia politician and soldier. He represented Virginia in the United States House of Representatives and later served as the 25th Governor of Virginia....

, whose candidacy had little traction. The office of governor was determinately powerless under the original Virginia Constitution (1776–1830), lacking even veto authority. Tyler enjoyed a prominent oratorical platform but could do little to influence the legislature. His most visible act as governor was delivering the funeral address for President Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, a Virginia native who died on July 4, 1826.At the end of the speech, Tyler briefly lauded President John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

 of Massachusetts, who had died the same day.
Tyler was deeply devoted to Jefferson, and his ornate eulogy was well received.

Tyler's governorship was otherwise uneventful. He promoted states' rights and adamantly opposed any concentration of federal power. In order to thwart federal infrastructure proposals, he suggested Virginia actively expand its own road system. A proposal was made to expand the state's poorly funded public school system, but no significant action was taken. Tyler was re-elected unanimously to a second term in December 1826.

U.S. Senate


In January 1827 the Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly
The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

 was considering the impending re-election of U.S. Senator John Randolph
John Randolph of Roanoke
John Randolph , known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a planter and a Congressman from Virginia, serving in the House of Representatives , the Senate , and also as Minister to Russia...

. Randolph was a contentious figure: although he shared the staunch states' rights views held by most of the Virginia legislature, he had a reputation for fiery rhetoric and erratic behavior on the Senate floor, which put his allies in an awkward position. Furthermore, he had made enemies by fiercely opposing John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

 and Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

. The nationalist wing of the Democratic-Republican Party, who supported Adams and Clay, were a sizable minority in the Virginia legislature. They hoped to unseat Randolph by capturing the vote of states'-rights supporters who were uncomfortable with the senator's reputation. They approached Tyler, and promised their endorsement if he ran against Randolph. Tyler repeatedly declined the offer, endorsing Randolph as the best candidate, but the political pressure continued to mount. Eventually he conceded that he would accept the seat if chosen, and the legislature elected him in a vote of 115–110.On the day of the vote, it was argued by one assemblyman that there was no political difference between the two candidates—Tyler was simply a more agreeable character than the incumbent. Supporters of Randolph, however, contended that Tyler's election would be a tacit endorsement of the Adams administration. He resigned his governorship on March 4, 1827, as his Senate term began.

Tenuous alliance


By that time of Tyler's election, the Senate was already engaged in the 1828 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1828
The United States presidential election of 1828 featured a rematch between John Quincy Adams, now incumbent President, and Andrew Jackson, the runner-up in the 1824 election. With no other major candidates, Jackson and his chief ally Martin Van Buren consolidated their bases in the South and New...

. Adams, the incumbent president, was to be challenged by Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

. By now the party had splintered into Adams' National Republicans and the Jacksonian Democrats
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

. Tyler was repulsed by both candidates, each embodying the nationalist views he had always rejected. Still, he was increasingly drawn to Jackson, hoping that his administration would be less insistent on internal improvements
Internal improvements
Internal improvements is the term used historically in the United States for public works from the end of the American Revolution through much of the 19th century, mainly for the creation of a transportation infrastructure: roads, turnpikes, canals, harbors and navigation improvements...

 than Adams'. In considering Jackson he wrote, "Turning to him I may at least indulge in hope; looking on Adams I must despair."

The first session of the Twentieth Congress
20th United States Congress
-House of Representatives:-Leadership:- Senate :* President: John C. Calhoun * President pro tempore: Samuel Smith - House of Representatives :* Speaker: Andrew Stevenson -Members:This list is arranged by chamber, then by state...

 began in early December 1827.Tyler's name does not appear in the Senate voting records until late January of the following year, likely due to illness. Tyler served alongside his close friend Littleton Waller Tazewell
Littleton Waller Tazewell
Littleton Waller Tazewell was a U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator from and the 26th Governor of Virginia.Tazewell, son of Henry Tazewell, was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, where his grandfather Benjamin Waller was a lawyer who taught him Latin...

, a fellow Virginian who shared his strict constructionist views and uneasy support of Jackson. Throughout his tenure, Tyler vigorously opposed all bills which provided for national infrastructure projects. He and his Southern peers were appalled by the protective Tariff of 1828
Tariff of 1828
The Tariff of 1828 was a protective tariff passed by the Congress of the United States on May 19, 1828, designed to protect industry in the northern United States...

, promoted by Jackson's allies and known to its detractors as the "Tariff of Abominations". Tyler sorely suggested that the bill's only positive outcome would be a national political backlash, restoring a respect for states' rights.

Despite supporting Jackson in the previous election, Tyler would soon find points of disagreement with the Democratic president, who was inaugurated in March 1829. He was frustrated by Jackson's newly emerging spoils system
Spoils system
In the politics of the United States, a spoil system is a practice where a political party, after winning an election, gives government jobs to its voters as a reward for working toward victory, and as an incentive to keep working for the party—as opposed to a system of awarding offices on the...

, describing it as an "electioneering weapon". He voted against many of the president's nominations when they appeared to be based on patronage or did not follow Constitutional procedure. Such an act was considered "an act of insurgency" against his party. He was particularly offended by Jackson's use of the recess appointment
Recess appointment
A recess appointment is the appointment, by the President of the United States, of a senior federal official while the U.S. Senate is in recess. The U.S. Constitution requires that the most senior federal officers must be confirmed by the Senate before assuming office, but while the Senate is in...

 to install three treaty commissioners to meet with Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

; he authored a bill chastising the president for this use of executive power.

Still, Tyler attempted to remain on good terms with Jackson, only opposing him on principle rather than partisanship. He defended Jackson for vetoing the Maysville Road funding project
Maysville Road veto
The Maysville Road veto occurred on May 27, 1830, when President Andrew Jackson vetoed a bill which would allow the Federal government to purchase stock in the Maysville, Washington, Paris, and Lexington Turnpike Road Company, which had been organized to construct a road linking Lexington and the...

, which Jackson considered unconstitutional. He voted to confirm several of the president's appointments (including Jackson's future running mate Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

) amid strong opposition from the National Republicans. The leading issue in the 1832 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1832
The United States presidential election of 1832 saw incumbent President Andrew Jackson, candidate of the Democratic Party, easily win re-election against Henry Clay of Kentucky. Jackson won 219 of the 286 electoral votes cast, defeating Clay, the candidate of the National Republican Party, and...

 was the recharter of the Second Bank of the United States
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

, which both Tyler and Jackson opposed. Congress voted to recharter the bank in July 1832, and Jackson vetoed the bill for a mixture of constitutional and practical reasons. Tyler voted to sustain the veto and endorsed Jackson for re-election.

Break with Democrats


Tyler's uneasy relationship with his party came to a head during the 22nd Congress
22nd United States Congress
-House of Representatives:-Leadership:- Senate :* President:** John C. Calhoun , resigned December 28, 1832, thereafter vacant.* President pro tempore:** Samuel Smith , first elected December 5, 1831** Littleton W...

, as the Nullification Crisis
Nullification Crisis
The Nullification Crisis was a sectional crisis during the presidency of Andrew Jackson created by South Carolina's 1832 Ordinance of Nullification. This ordinance declared by the power of the State that the federal Tariff of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within...

 of 1832–33 began. The state of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, threatening secession
Secession in the United States
Secession in the United States can refer to secession of a state from the United States, secession of part of a state from that state to form a new state, or secession of an area from a city or county....

, passed the Ordinance of Nullification
Ordinance of Nullification
The Ordinance of Nullification declared the Tariff of 1828 and 1832 null and void within the state borders of South Carolina. It began the Nullification Crisis...

 in November 1832 declaring the "Tariff of Abominations" null and void within its borders. This raised the constitutional question of whether states had the right to nullify federal laws. President Jackson, who denied such a right, prepared to sign a Force Bill
Force Bill
The United States Force Bill, formally titled "An Act further to provide for the collection of duties on imports", 4 Stat. 632 , enacted by the 22nd U.S. Congress, consists of eight sections expanding Presidential power...

 allowing the federal government to use military action to enforce the tariff in South Carolina. Tyler, who sympathized with South Carolina's reasons for nullification, rejected Jackson's use of military force against a state and gave a speech in February 1833 outlining his views. He supported Henry Clay's attempts to craft the Compromise Tariff of 1833. This bill would gradually reduce the tariff over ten years, alleviating tensions between the states and the federal government.

In casting his vote against the Force Bill, Tyler knew he would permanently alienate the pro-Jackson factions of the Virginia legislature, even those who had tolerated his irregularity up to this point. This would jeopardize his re-election in February 1833
United States Senate elections, 1832
The United States Senate election of 1832 was an election which had the Anti-Jackson coalition assume control of the United States Senate from the Jacksonian coalition, despite Andrew Jackson's victory in the Presidential election....

, in which he faced the pro-administration Democrat James McDowell
James McDowell
James McDowell was a U.S. Congressman and the 29th Governor of Virginia from 1843 to 1846.McDowell was born at "Cherry Grove," near Rockbridge County, Virginia, on October 13, 1795...

. With Clay's endorsement, he was re-elected to a full term by a twelve-vote plurality; several legislators who had supported him only weeks beforehand were moved to vote against him as a result of the Force Bill vote.

Jackson further lost Tyler's support by moving to actively dissolve the bank. He issued an executive order in September 1833 directing Treasury Secretary Roger B. Taney
Roger B. Taney
Roger Brooke Taney was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States, holding that office from 1836 until his death in 1864. He was the first Roman Catholic to hold that office or sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. He was also the eleventh United States Attorney General. He is most...

 to immediately begin transferring funds from the bank to state-run banks. Tyler saw this as "a flagrant assumption of power", a breach of contract, and a threat to the economy. After months of agonizing over the decision, he decided to ally with Clay and the anti-Jackson factions of Congress on the bank issue, while still maintaining the bank's unconstitutionality. Sitting on the Senate Finance Committee
United States Senate Committee on Finance
The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance is a standing committee of the United States Senate. The Committee concerns itself with matters relating to taxation and other revenue measures generally, and those relating to the insular possessions; bonded debt of the United States; customs, collection...

, he voted for two censure resolutions against the president in March 1834. By this time, Tyler was formally in line with Clay's newly formed Whig Party
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

, which held control of the Senate. On March 3, 1835, with only hours remaining in the congressional session
23rd United States Congress
-House of Representatives:For the beginning of this congress, the size of the House was increased from 213 seats to 240 seats, following the 1830 United States Census .- Leadership :- Senate :* President: Martin Van Buren...

, the Whigs voted him President pro tempore of the Senate
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
The President pro tempore is the second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate. The United States Constitution states that the Vice President of the United States is the President of the Senate and the highest-ranking official of the Senate despite not being a member of the body...

 as a symbolic gesture of approval.

Shortly thereafter, the Democrats took control of the Virginia House of Delegates, and Tyler's seat in the Senate was threatened. That December, the legislature offered him a judgeship in exchange for resigning his seat, but he declined. Tyler understood what was to come: he would soon be forced by the legislature to cast a vote that went against his constitutional beliefs. Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 had repeatedly introduced a bill expunging the censure of Jackson from the record. With the support of Virginia's Democrats, Tyler could be instructed to vote for the bill. If he disregarded the instructions, he would be violating his own principles—"the first act of my political life was a censure on Messrs. Giles and Brent for opposition to instructions," he noted. Over the next few months he sought the advice of his friends, who gave him conflicting advice. By mid-February he felt that his Senate career was likely at an end. He issued a letter of resignation to the Vice-President on February 29, 1836, saying in part:

Presidential election, 1836



While Tyler wished to attend to his private life and family, he was soon swept up in the presidential election of 1836.
United States presidential election, 1836
The United States presidential election of 1836 ushered Martin Van Buren into the White House. It is predominantly remembered for three reasons:...

 He had been speculated as a vice-presidential contender since early 1835, and the same day the Virginia Democrats issued the expunging instruction, the Virginia Whigs nominated him as their candidate. The new Whig Party was not organized enough to hold a national convention and name a single ticket against Jackson's chosen successor, Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

. Instead, Whigs in various regions each put forth their own preferred ticket, reflecting the party's tenuous coalition: the Massachusetts Whigs nominated Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

 and Francis Granger
Francis Granger
Francis Granger was a Representative from New York. He was the son of Gideon Granger, another Postmaster General, and the first cousin of Amos P. Granger.-Biography:...

, the Anti-Masons
Anti-Masonic Party
The Anti-Masonic Party was the first "third party" in the United States. It strongly opposed Freemasonry and was founded as a single-issue party aspiring to become a major party....

 of the Northern and border states backed William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

 and Granger, and the states' rights advocates of the middle and lower South nominated Hugh Lawson White
Hugh Lawson White
Hugh Lawson White was a prominent American politician during the first third of the 19th century. He succeeded Andrew Jackson and served in the United States Senate, representing Tennessee, from 1825 until his resignation in 1840, and was a Whig candidate for President in 1836...

 and John Tyler. Tyler, despite his strong following at the Virginia and Ohio conventions, only received 47 electoral votes in the November 1836 election, trailing both Granger and the Democratic candidate, Richard Mentor Johnson
Richard Mentor Johnson
Richard Mentor Johnson was the ninth Vice President of the United States, serving in the administration of Martin Van Buren . He was the only vice-president ever elected by the United States Senate under the provisions of the Twelfth Amendment. Johnson also represented Kentucky in the U.S...

. Harrison was the leading Whig candidate for president, but he lost to van Buren.

Later state politics


Tyler had been drawn into Virginia politics even as a U.S. Senator. From October 1829 to January 1830, he served as a member of the state constitutional convention
Constitutional convention (political meeting)
A constitutional convention is now a gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. A general constitutional convention is called to create the first constitution of a political unit or to entirely replace an existing constitution...

, a role which he was reluctant to accept. The original Virginia Constitution gave outsize influence to the state's more conservative eastern counties, as it allocated an equal number of legislators to each county (regardless of population) and only granted suffrage to property owners. The convention gave the more populous and liberal counties of western Virginia an opportunity to expand their influence. Tyler, a slave-owner from eastern Virginia, supported the existing system. He largely remained on the sidelines during the debate, however, not wishing to alienate any of the state's political factions. He was focused on his Senate career, which required a broad base of support, and gave speeches during the convention promoting compromise and unity.

After the 1836 election, Tyler expected his political career was at an end, and he had designs on returning to private law. In the fall of 1837 a friend sold him a sizable property in Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg is an independent city located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, USA. As of the 2010 Census, the city had an estimated population of 14,068. It is bordered by James City County and York County, and is an independent city...

. He had barely settled in, however, when he was again elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. He took office in 1838 and his peers unanimously elected him Speaker. Tyler was a national political figure by this point, and his third delegate service touched on such national issues as disposal of public lands.

In February 1839, the legislature again considered a U.S. Senate election, this time the seat of incumbent William Cabell Rives
William Cabell Rives
William Cabell Rives was an American lawyer, politician and diplomat from Albemarle County, Virginia. He represented Virginia as a Jackson Democrat in both the U.S. House and Senate and also served as the U.S. minister to France....

, a Conservative Democrat who had succeeded Tyler. Rives had drifted away from his party, signalling a possible alliance with the Whigs. As Tyler had already fully rejected his party, he expected the Whigs would consider him as a candidate instead. Still, the Whigs found Rives a more politically expedient choice, as they hoped to draw a useful coalition with the Conservative Democrats for the 1840 presidential election. This strategy was espoused by Whig leader Henry Clay, who otherwise admired Tyler.Henry A. Wise
Henry A. Wise
Henry Alexander Wise was an American politician and governor of Virginia, as well as a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.-Early life:...

 would later recall a proposed deal by Henry Clay to elect Rives for Senate and Tyler for the 1840 vice-presidency, but the veracity of his anecdote is unclear.
Tyler was turned down for the nomination, while in-party squabbles delayed Rives' re-election until January 1841.

Presidential election, 1840



At the Whigs' convention of 1840, Tyler supported Henry Clay's presidential candidacy. After Clay had been passed over in favor of William Henry Harrison, Tyler was named Harrison's running mate. Their opponent was Democratic incumbent Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

. The Whigs' 1840 campaign slogans of "Log Cabins and Hard Cider" and "Tippecanoe and Tyler too
Tippecanoe and Tyler too
"Tippecanoe and Tyler too", originally published as "Tip and Ty", was a very popular and influential campaign song of the Whig Party's colorful Log Cabin Campaign in the 1840 United States presidential election...

" are among the most famous in American politics. "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" not only offered the slight sectionalism that would further be apparent in the presidency of Tyler, but also the nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 that was imperative to gain the American vote.

Harrison and Tyler won the election by an electoral vote of 234-60 and a popular vote of 53 percent to 47 percent. On March 4, 1841, Tyler was inaugurated as the 9th Vice President of the United States.

Vice-presidency, 1841



Tyler was sworn in on March 4, Harrison drawing the crowd's attention at the inauguration. Once sworn in, Tyler delivered only a five-minute bromide about states' rights before the new President stepped in to give his two-hour address. Expecting few responsibilities, the Vice President stayed in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 only long enough to preside over the Senate confirmation of Harrison's cabinet. He then quietly repaired to his home in Williamsburg, Virginia. Historian Robert Seager II later wrote, "Had William Henry Harrison lived, John Tyler would undoubtedly have been as obscure as any Vice-President in American history."

Harrison, meanwhile, struggled to keep up with the demands of Henry Clay and others who sought offices and influence in his administration. He did not seek Tyler's advice regarding cabinet appointments, and Tyler reportedly offered none, only hoping that it "be cast of the proper material" and avoid factionalism and patronage. Harrison's old age and fading health were no secret during the campaign, and the question of the presidential succession was on every politician's mind. The first few weeks of the presidency took a clear toll on Harrison's health, and after being caught in a rainstorm in late March he began to succumb to pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 and pleurisy
Pleurisy
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Among other things, infections are the most common cause of pleurisy....

.

Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

 sent word to Tyler of Harrison's illness on April 1; two days later, Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

 attorney James Lyons wrote with the news that the President had taken a turn for the worse, remarking that "I shall not be surprised to hear by tomorrow's mail that Gen'l Harrison is no more." Tyler determined not to travel to Washington, not wanting to appear unseemly in anticipating the President's death. However, at dawn on April 5, two couriers—Webster's son Fletcher
Fletcher Webster
Daniel Fletcher Webster, commonly known as Fletcher Webster was the son of renowned politician Daniel Webster and Grace Fletcher Webster...

, Chief Clerk of the State Department, and a Senate officer named Mr. Beall—arrived at Tyler's home bearing the message that Harrison had died the day before.

"His Accidency"



Harrison's unprecedented death in office caused considerable disarray regarding his successor. The Constitution of the United States stated only that:


In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President.


This led to the question of whether the office of the presidency itself "devolved" upon Vice President Tyler, or merely its powers and duties. By the time Tyler arrived in Washington at 4:00 a.m. on April 6, 1841, he had firmly resolved that he was now, in name and fact, the President of the United States, and acted on this determination by taking the oath of office
President of the United States oath of office
The oath of office of the President of the United States is an oath or affirmation required by the United States Constitution before the President begins the execution of the office...

 in his hotel room. He considered the oath redundant to his oath as vice president, but wished to quell any doubt over his accession. Immediately after his inauguration, Tyler called Harrison's cabinet into a meeting, having decided to retain its members. Webster informed him of Harrison's practice of making policy by a majority vote. The cabinet fully expected the new president to continue this practice. Tyler was astounded and immediately corrected them:


I beg your pardon, gentlemen; I am very glad to have in my Cabinet such able statesmen as you have proved yourselves to be. And I shall be pleased to avail myself of your counsel and advice. But I can never consent to being dictated to as to what I shall or shall not do. I, as President, shall be responsible for my administration. I hope to have your hearty co-operation in carrying out its measures. So long as you see fit to do this, I shall be glad to have you with me. When you think otherwise, your resignations will be accepted.


He delivered a de facto inaugural address on April 9 reasserting his fundamental tenets of Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian Democracy, so named after its leading advocate Thomas Jefferson, is a term used to describe one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party which Jefferson...

 and limited federal power. Tyler's claim was not immediately accepted by opposition
Opposition (parliamentary)
Parliamentary opposition is a form of political opposition to a designated government, particularly in a Westminster-based parliamentary system. Note that this article uses the term government as it is used in Parliamentary systems, i.e. meaning the administration or the cabinet rather than the state...

 members in Congress such as John Quincy Adams, who argued for Tyler to assume a role as a caretaker under the title of "Acting President"
Acting President of the United States
Acting President of the United States is a reference to a person who is legitimately exercising the Presidential powers even though that person does not hold the office of the President of the United States in his own right....

, or remain Vice President in name. Among those who questioned Tyler's authority was Whig leader Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

, who had intended to be "the real power behind a fumbling throne" and exercise considerable influence over Harrison and now transferred that ambition onto his close friend, Tyler. He saw Tyler as the "Vice-President" and his presidency as a mere "regency
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

".

On June 1, impressed by his authoritative actions, both houses of Congress passed resolutions declaring Tyler the 10th President of the United States. Tyler had thus become the first U.S. vice president to assume the office of president upon the death of his predecessor, establishing a precedent that would be followed seven times in the 19th and 20th centuries. Yet it was not until 1967 that Tyler's action of assuming both the full powers and the title of the presidency was legally codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment
Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution deals with succession to the Presidency and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, as well as responding to Presidential disabilities...

.

Although his accession was given approval by both the Cabinet and, later, the Senate and House, Tyler's detractors (who, ironically, would eventually include many of the Cabinet members and members of Congress who had legitimized his presidency) never fully accepted him as President. He was referred to by many nicknames, including "His Accidency," a reference to his having become President, not through election, but by the accidental circumstances regarding his nomination and Harrison's death. However, Tyler never wavered from his conviction that he was the rightful president; when his political opponents sent correspondence to the White House addressed to the "Vice President" or "Acting President," Tyler had it returned unopened.

Economic policy and party conflicts



Tyler quickly found himself at odds with his former political supporters. Harrison had been expected to adhere closely to Whig Party policies and to work closely with Whig leaders, particularly Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

. The former Democrat shocked Congressional Whigs by vetoing most of their entire agenda. Twice he vetoed Clay's legislation for a national banking act following the Panic of 1837
Panic of 1837
The Panic of 1837 was a financial crisis or market correction in the United States built on a speculative fever. The end of the Second Bank of the United States had produced a period of runaway inflation, but on May 10, 1837 in New York City, every bank began to accept payment only in specie ,...

 – even after the bill had been tailored to meet his stated objections in the first veto – leaving the government deadlocked.

On September 11, 1841, following the second bank veto, members of the cabinet entered Tyler's office one by one and resigned – an orchestration by Clay to force Tyler's resignation (and place his own lieutenant, Senate President Pro Tempore
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
The President pro tempore is the second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate. The United States Constitution states that the Vice President of the United States is the President of the Senate and the highest-ranking official of the Senate despite not being a member of the body...

 Samuel L. Southard
Samuel L. Southard
Samuel Lewis Southard was a prominent U.S. statesman of the early 19th century, serving as a U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Navy, and the 10th Governor of New Jersey.-History:...

, in the White House). The exception was Secretary of State Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

, who remained to finalize what became the 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty
Webster-Ashburton Treaty
The Webster–Ashburton Treaty, signed August 9, 1842, was a treaty resolving several border issues between the United States and the British North American colonies...

, as well as to demonstrate his independence from Clay. Two days later, when the president stood firm, the Whigs in Congress officially expelled Tyler from the party. A national backlash ensued, as Tyler was lambasted by Whig newspapers and received hundreds of letters threatening his assassination.

Tariff and distribution debate


By mid-1841 the federal government faced a projected budget deficit of $11 million. Tyler recognized the need for higher tariffs, but wished to stay within the 20-percent rate created by the Compromise Tariff of 1833. He also supported a plan to distribute to the states any revenue from the sales of public land, as an emergency measure to manage the states' growing debt, even though this would cut revenue to the federal government. The Whigs supported high protectionist tariffs and national funding of state infrastructure, and so there was enough overlap to forge a compromise. The Distribution Act of 1841 created a distribution program with a proviso requiring tariffs to remain below 20 percent; a second bill enacted the top rate on previously low-tax goods. Despite these measures, by March 1842 it had become clear that the federal government was still in dire fiscal straits. In a recommendation to Congress, Tyler lamented that it would be necessary to override the Compromise Tariff of 1833 and raise rates beyond the 20 percent limit. Under the previous deal, this would suspend the distribution program, reverting funds back to the federal government.

The defiant Whig Congress would not raise tariffs if it would affect the distribution of funds to states. In June 1842 they passed two instances of a bill which would raise tariffs and unconditionally extend the distribution program. Tyler found it "highly impolitic, if not unconstitutional" to abandon a revenue source (sales of public lands) while trying to resolve a deficit crisis. He vetoed both bills, burning any remaining bridges between himself and the Whigs.

Impeachment attempt


Shortly after the tariff veto, the House of Representatives initiated the first impeachment
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 proceedings against a president in American history. This was not only a matter of the Whigs supporting the bank and tariff legislation which Tyler vetoed. Until the presidency of the Whigs' arch-enemy Andrew Jackson, presidents vetoed bills rarely, and then generally on constitutional rather than policy grounds, so Tyler's actions also went against the Whigs' idea of the presidency. A resolution was introduced by John Minor Botts of Virginia on July 10, 1842. It levied several charges against the president and would appoint a nine-member committee investigating his behavior, with the expectation of a formal impeachment recommendation. Clay found this measure prematurely aggressive, favoring a more moderate progression toward Tyler's "inevitable" impeachment. The Botts bill was tabled until the following January, when it was rejected, 127-83.

A House select committee
Select committee
A select committee is a special subcommittee of a legislature or assembly governed under a committee system, like Robert's Rules of Order. They are often investigative in nature, collecting data or evidence for a law or problem, and will dissolve immediately after they report their findings to...

 headed by former president John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

, who was now a member of Congress, condemned Tyler's use of the veto and assailed his character. While the committee's report did not formally recommend impeachment, it clearly established the possibility. In August 1842, by a vote of 98–90, the House endorsed the committee's report. Adams sponsored a constitutional amendment to change the two-thirds requirement to override a veto to a simple majority, but neither house passed such a measure. The Whigs were unable to pursue further impeachment proceedings in the subsequent 28th Congress, as in the elections of 1842 they lost control of the House (although they retained a majority in the Senate). Near the end of Tyler's term in office, on March 3, 1845, Congress overrode his veto of a minor bill relating to revenue cutters. This marked the first time any president's veto had been overridden.

Cabinet and judicial appointments


For two years, Tyler struggled with the Whigs, eventually nominating 19 men to the six cabinet offices. When he nominated John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

 in 1844 as Secretary of State, to reform the Democrats, the gravitational swing of the Whigs to identify with "the North" and the Democrats as the party of "the South" led the way to the sectional party politics of the next decade. Tyler's final Cabinet consisted of five Southerners and one Northerner (William Wilkins
William Wilkins (U.S. politician)
William Wilkins was an American lawyer, jurist, and politician from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During his career, he served in both houses of the Pennsylvania State Legislature, and in all three branches of the United States federal government, including service as a United States federal judge, as...

, Secretary of War).

Four of Tyler's Cabinet nominees were rejected, the most of any president. These were Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing was an American diplomat who served as a U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts and Attorney General under President Franklin Pierce.-Early life:...

 (Treasury), David Henshaw
David Henshaw
David Henshaw was the 14th United States Secretary of the Navy.Henshaw was born in Leicester, Massachusetts in 1791 and educated at Leicester Academy. Trained as a druggist, he achieved notable success in that field, then expanded his energies into banking, transportation and politics...

 (Navy) James Porter
James Madison Porter
James Madison Porter , a Pennsylvanian, was the 18th United States Secretary of War and a founder of Lafayette College....

 (War), and James S. Green
James S. Green (New Jersey lawyer)
James Sproat Green was an American lawyer who served as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 1835 to 1850. He was the father of New Jersey Governor Robert Stockton Green.-Biography:...

 (Treasury). Henshaw and Porter served as recess appointees before their rejections. Tyler aggravated this problem when he repeatedly renominated Cushing. As a result, Cushing was rejected three times in one day, March 4, 1843, the last day of the 27th Congress.
Judicial Appointments
Court Name Term
U.S.S.C.
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

Samuel Nelson
Samuel Nelson
Samuel Nelson was an American attorney and an Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States....

E.D.Va.
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is one of two United States district courts serving the Commonwealth of Virginia...

James D. Halyburton
James Dandridge Halyburton
James Dandridge Halyburton was a United States federal judge.Born in New Kent County, Virginia, Halyburton attended the University of Virginia School of Law and received an A.B. from Harvard College in 1823. He entered private practice in New Kent County in 1824, also serving briefly as a member...

D. Ind. Elisha M. Huntington
Elisha Mills Huntington
Elisha Mills Huntington was an American lawyer, politician, prosecutor, judge and federal jurist.Born in Butternuts, New York, Huntington moved to Terre Haute, Indiana to join his older brother Nathaniel Huntington. He read law and was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1827 on his 21st birthday...

E.D.La.
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana is a federal trial court based in New Orleans. Like all U.S...


W.D.La.
United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana is a United States federal court with jurisdiction over approximately two thirds of the state of Louisiana, with courts in Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport...

McCaleb was assigned as the judge for both the Eastern and Western Districts of Louisiana, a common practice at the time.
Theodore H. McCaleb
Theodore Howard McCaleb
Theodore Howard McCaleb was a United States federal judge.Born in Claiborne County, Mississippi, McCaleb attended Yale College, and read law to enter the Bar in 1832...

On February 13, 1845, the two District of Louisiana were re-combined into a single District; McCaleb was reassigned to this District by operation of law
Operation of law
The phrase "by operation of law" is a legal term that indicates that a right or liability has been created for a party, irrespective of the intent of that party, because it is dictated by existing legal principles. For example, if a person dies without a will, his heirs are determined by operation...

; on March 3, 1849, the District was again split, and McCaleb was assigned to the Eastern District only.
D.Vt.
United States District Court for the District of Vermont
The United States District Court for the District of Vermont is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction is the federal district of Vermont. The court has locations in Brattleboro, Burlington, and Rutland. The Court was created under the Judiciary Act of 1791 under the jurisdiction of the...

Samuel Prentiss
Samuel Prentiss
Samuel Prentiss was a United States Senator from Vermont and later a United States federal judge.Born in Stonington, Connecticut, he moved to Northfield, Massachusetts in 1786; he completed preparatory studies and was instructed in the classics by a private tutor...

E.D.Pa.
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is one of the original 13 federal judiciary districts created by the Judiciary Act of 1789...

Archibald Randall
Archibald Randall
Archibald Randall was a United States federal judge.Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Randall read law to enter the Bar in 1818. He was in private practice in Philadelphia from 1820 to 1842. He was a clerk of the Philadelphia Select Council, Pennsylvania from 1830 to 1833...

D.Mass.
United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts is the federal district court whose jurisdiction is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA. The first court session was held in Boston in 1789. The second term was held in Salem in 1790 and until 1813 court session locations...

Peleg Sprague


Two vacancies occurred on the Supreme Court during Tyler's presidency, as Justices Smith Thompson
Smith Thompson
Smith Thompson was a United States Secretary of the Navy from 1818 to 1823, and a United States Supreme Court Associate Justice from 1823 until his death in 1843....

 and Henry Baldwin
Henry Baldwin (judge)
Henry Baldwin was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from January 18, 1830, to April 21, 1844.-Biography:...

 died in 1843 and 1844, respectively. Tyler, ever at odds with Congress – including the Whig-controlled Senate – nominated several men to the Supreme Court to fill these seats. However, the Senate successively voted against confirming John Canfield Spencer
John Canfield Spencer
John Canfield Spencer was an American lawyer, politician, judge and United States Cabinet secretary in the administration of President John Tyler.-Early life:...

, Reuben Walworth, Edward King
Edward King (jurist)
Edward King was a prominent 19th century lawyer and jurist, perhaps best known today as having twice been unsuccessfully nominated to the United States Supreme Court....

 and John M. Read
John M. Read
John Meredith Read was an American lawyer, jurist, and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was one of the founders of the Republican Party and Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.-Early life:...

 (King was rejected twice). One reason cited for the Senate's actions was the hope that Whig Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 would fill the vacancies after winning the 1844 presidential election. Tyler's four unsuccessful nominees are the most by a president.

Finally, in February 1845, with less than a month remaining in his term, Tyler's nomination of Samuel Nelson
Samuel Nelson
Samuel Nelson was an American attorney and an Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States....

 to Thompson's seat was confirmed by the Senate. Nelson's successful confirmation was a surprise. Nelson, although a Democrat, had a reputation as a careful and noncontroversial jurist. Baldwin's seat remained vacant until Polk's nominee, Robert Grier
Robert Cooper Grier
Robert Cooper Grier , was an American jurist who served on the Supreme Court of the United States.-Early life, education, and career:...

, was confirmed in 1846.

Tyler was able to appoint only six other federal judges, all to United States district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

s.

Foreign and military affairs


Tyler's difficulties in domestic policy were matched by adept accomplishments in foreign policy. He had long been an advocate of expansionism
Expansionism
In general, expansionism consists of expansionist policies of governments and states. While some have linked the term to promoting economic growth , more commonly expansionism refers to the doctrine of a state expanding its territorial base usually, though not necessarily, by means of military...

 toward the Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 and free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

, and was fond of evoking themes of national destiny and the spread of liberty in support of these policies. His presidency was largely continuous with Jackson's earlier efforts to promote American commerce across the Pacific. Eager to compete with Great Britain in international markets, he sent lawyer Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing was an American diplomat who served as a U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts and Attorney General under President Franklin Pierce.-Early life:...

 to China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, where he negotiated the terms of the Treaty of Wanghia
Treaty of Wanghia
The Treaty of Wanghia , is a diplomatic agreement between the Qing Dynasty of China and the United States, signed on 3 July 1844 in the Kun Iam Temple...

 (1844). The same year, he sent Henry Wheaton as a minister to Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, where he negotiated and signed a trade agreement with the German Zollverein
Zollverein
thumb|upright=1.2|The German Zollverein 1834–1919blue = Prussia in 1834 grey= Included region until 1866yellow= Excluded after 1866red = Borders of the German Union of 1828 pink= Relevant others until 1834...

. This treaty was rejected by the Whigs, mainly as a show of hostility toward the Tyler administration. The President also applied the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

 to Hawaii, told Britain not to interfere there, and began the process towards the eventual annexation of Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 by the United States.

In 1842, the Secretary of State, Daniel Webster, negotiated the Webster–Ashburton Treaty with Britain which concluded where the border between Maine and Canada lay. The issue of where the border lay had caused tension between the United States and Britain for a notable amount of time and had brought the two countries to the brink of war on several occasions. The treaty improved Anglo-American diplomatic relations. However, Tyler was unsuccessful in concluding a treaty with the British to fix the boundaries of Oregon. On Tyler's last full day in office, March 3, 1845, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 was admitted to the Union as the 27th state.

Tyler advocated an increase in military strength. His administration drew the praise of naval leaders, who saw a marked increase in naval warships. Tyler brought the long, bloody Second Seminole War
Second Seminole War
The Second Seminole War, also known as the Florida War, was a conflict from 1835 to 1842 in Florida between various groups of Native Americans collectively known as Seminoles and the United States, part of a series of conflicts called the Seminole Wars...

 to an end in 1842, and expressed interest in the civilizing, so to speak, of the Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

. He also advocated the establishment of a chain of American forts from Council Bluffs, Iowa
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Council Bluffs, known until 1852 as Kanesville, Iowathe historic starting point of the Mormon Trail and eventual northernmost anchor town of the other emigrant trailsis a city in and the county seat of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States and is on the east bank of the Missouri River across...

, to the Pacific.

In May 1842, when the Dorr Rebellion
Dorr Rebellion
The Dorr Rebellion was a short-lived armed insurrection in the U.S. state of Rhode Island led by Thomas Wilson Dorr, who was agitating for changes to the state's electoral system.- Precursors :...

 in Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

 came to a head, Tyler pondered the request of the governor and legislature to send federal troops to help it suppress the Dorrite insurgents. The insurgents under Thomas Dorr had armed themselves and proposed to install a new state constitution. Before such acts, Rhode Island had been following the same constitutional structure that was established in 1663. Tyler called for calm on both sides, and recommended the governor enlarge the franchise to let most men vote. Tyler promised that in case an actual insurrection should break out in Rhode Island he would employ force to aid the regular, or Charter, government. He made it clear that federal assistance would be given, not to prevent, but only to put down insurrection, and would not be available until violence had been committed. After listening to reports from his confidential agents, Tyler decided that the 'lawless assemblages' had dispersed and expressed his confidence in a "temper of conciliation as well as of energy and decision." He did not send any federal forces. The rebels fled the state when the state militia marched against them. With their dispersion, they accepted the expansion of suffrage.

Annexation of Texas



Tyler, an advocate of Western expansionism, made the annexation of the Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

 part of his platform soon after becoming President. Texas had declared independence from Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 in the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

 of 1836, although Mexico still refused to acknowledge it as a sovereign state. The people of Texas actively pursued joining the Union, but Jackson and Van Buren had been reluctant to inflame tensions over slavery by annexing another Southern state. Tyler, on the other hand, intended annexation to be the focal point of his administration. Secretary Webster, opposed, convinced Tyler to focus on Pacific initiatives until later in his term.


Early attempts


In early 1843, having completed the Webster–Ashburton treaty and other diplomatic efforts, Tyler felt ready to pursue Texas. Now lacking a party base, he saw annexation of the republic as his only pathway to independent re-election in 1844. For the first time in his career he was willing to play "political hardball" to see it through. As a trial balloon
Trial balloon
A trial balloon is information sent out to the media in order to observe the reaction of an audience. It can be used by companies sending out press releases to judge reaction by customers, or it can be used by politicians who deliberately leak information on a policy change under consideration...

 he dispatched his ally Thomas Walker Gilmer
Thomas Walker Gilmer
Thomas Walker Gilmer was an American statesman.-Personal life:Gilmer was born to George and Eliza Gilmer at their farm, "Gilmerton", in Albemarle County, Virginia. He was taught by private tutors in Charlottesville and Staunton, and studied law in Liberty , Virginia.Gilmer practiced law in...

, then a U.S. Representative from Virginia, to publish a letter defending annexation, which was well received. Despite his successful relationship with Webster, Tyler knew he would need a Secretary of State who supported the Texas initiative, and so he forced Webster's resignation and installed Hugh S. Legaré
Hugh S. Legaré
Hugh Swinton Legaré was an American lawyer and politician.-Biography:Legaré was born in Charleston, South Carolina, of Huguenot and Scottish ancestry....

 as an interim successor.

With the help of newly appointed Treasury Secretary
United States Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also with some issues of national security and defense. This position in the Federal Government of the United...

 John C. Spencer, he cleared out an array of officeholders, replacing them with pro-annexation partisans, in a reversal of his former stand against patronage. He elicited the help of political organizer Michael Walsh
Michael Walsh (New York)
Michael Walsh was a United States Representative from New York.-Early life:Born in Youghal, Cork, Ireland, he completed preparatory studies, was graduated from Trinity College, Dublin and emigrated to the United States, settling in Baltimore, Maryland...

 to build a political machine
Political machine
A political machine is a political organization in which an authoritative boss or small group commands the support of a corps of supporters and businesses , who receive rewards for their efforts...

 in New York. In exchange for an appointment as consul to Hawaii
United States Minister to Hawaii
The Minister to Hawaii was an office of the United States Department of State to the Kingdom of Hawaii during the period of 1810 to 1898. Appointed by the President of the United States with the consent of Congress, the Minister to Hawaii was equivalent in rank to the present-day ambassador of the...

, journalist Alexander G. Abell wrote a flattering biography, Life of John Tyler, which was printed in large quantities and given to postmasters throughout the country to distribute. Seeking to rehabilitate his public image, Tyler embarked on a nationwide campaign tour in the spring of 1843. The positive reception of the public at these events contrasted starkly with his ostracism back in Washington. The tour centered around the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument
Bunker Hill Monument
-External links:****: cultural context**...

 in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

. Shortly after the dedication, Tyler learned of Legaré's sudden death, which dampened the festivities and forced him to cancel the rest of the tour.

He appointed Abel P. Upshur
Abel P. Upshur
Abel Parker Upshur was an American lawyer, judge and politician from Virginia. Upshur was active in Virginia state politics and later served as Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of State during the Whig administration of President John Tyler...

, a popular Secretary of the Navy and close adviser, as his new Secretary of State, and nominated Gilmer to fill his former office. Tyler and Upshur began quiet negotiations with the Texas government, promising military protection from Mexico in exchange for a commitment to annexation. Secrecy was necessary, as the Constitution required Congressional approval for such military commitments. Upshur planted rumors of possible British designs on Texas to drum up support among Northern voters, who were wary of admitting a new pro-slavery state. By January 1844 Upshur told the Texas government that he had found a large majority of Senators in favor of an annexation treaty. The republic remained skeptical, and finalization of the treaty took until the end of February.

USS Princeton disaster



It was only one day after completing the treaty that Upshur and Gilmer were killed in a freak accident. A ceremonial cruise down the Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

 was held aboard the newly built USS Princeton
USS Princeton (1843)
The first Princeton was the first screw steam warship in the United States Navy. She was launched in 1843, decommissioned in 1847, and broken up in 1849....

 on February 28, 1844. Aboard the ship were 400 guests, including Tyler and his cabinet, as was the world's largest naval gun, the "Peacemaker". The gun was ceremoniously fired several times in the afternoon to the delight of the onlookers, who then filed downstairs to offer a toast. Several hours later, Captain Robert F. Stockton
Robert F. Stockton
Robert Field Stockton was a United States naval commodore, notable in the capture of California during the Mexican-American War. He was a naval innovator and an early advocate for a propeller-driven, steam-powered navy. Stockton was from a notable political family and also served as a U.S...

 was convinced by the crowd to fire one more shot. As the guests moved up to the deck, Tyler paused briefly to watch his son-in-law, William Waller, sing a ditty.

At once an explosion was heard from above: the gun had malfunctioned. Tyler was unhurt, having remained safely below deck, but a number of others were instantly killed, including his crucial cabinet members, Gilmer and Upshur. Also killed or mortally wounded were Virgil Maxcy
Virgil Maxcy
Virgil Maxcy was an American political figure. He was born in Massachusetts, and spent his adult years in Maryland. He was killed in 1844 in a shipboard accident, when a cannon exploded aboard the USS Princeton.-Early life:...

 of Maryland, Rep. David Gardiner
David Gardiner
David Gardiner was the father of Julia Gardiner Tyler, wife of U.S. President John Tyler.-Life:Gardiner was a descendant of Lion Gardiner and lived on Gardiners Island in East Hampton, New York...

 of New York, Commodore Beverly Kennon, Chief of Construction of the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, and Tyler's black slave and body servant. For Tyler, any hope of completing the Texas plan before November (and with it, any hope of re-election) was instantly dashed. Historian Edward P. Crapol later wrote that "Prior to the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln," the Princeton disaster "unquestionably was the most severe and debilitating tragedy ever to confront a president of the United States."

Ratification and 1844 election


In what the Miller Center of Public Affairs
Miller Center of Public Affairs
The Miller Center of Public Affairs is a non-partisan research institute that is part of the University of Virginia.Founded in 1975, the Miller Center is a leading public policy institution that serves as a national meeting place where engaged citizens, scholars, students, media representatives and...

 considers "a serious tactical error that ruined the scheme [of establishing political respectability for him]", Tyler appointed former Vice President John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

 in early March 1844 as his Secretary of State. Calhoun was a leading advocate of slavery, and his attempts to get an annexation treaty passed were resisted by abolitionists as a result. When the text of the treaty was leaked to the public, and found to implicitly endorse both slavery and a possible confrontation with Mexico, public opposition grew. Both Clay and Van Buren, the respective frontrunners for the Whig and Democratic nominations, took a stance against annexation.

Tyler knew, with virtually no chance of re-election, that the only way to salvage his presidency and legacy was to move public opinion in favor of the Texas issue. He formed a third party, the Democratic-Republicans, using the officeholders and political networks he had built over the previous year. The Tyler supporters, holding signs reading "Tyler and Texas!", held their nominating convention in Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

 in May 1844, just as the Democratic Party was holding its presidential nomination. With their high visibility and energy they were able to force the Democrats' hand in favor of annexation. Ballot after ballot, Van Buren failed to win the necessary super-majority of Democratic votes, and slowly fell in the ranking. It was not until the ninth ballot that the Democrats discovered an obscure pro-annexation candidate named James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

. They found him to be perfectly suited for their platform, and he was nominated with two-thirds of the vote. Tyler considered his work vindicated, and implied in an acceptance letter that annexation was his true priority rather than re-election.

Tyler was unfazed when the Senate rejected his treaty by a vote of 16–35 in June 1844, as he felt that annexation was now within reach. He called for Congress to annex Texas by joint resolution rather than by treaty. Satisfied with the prospects of success, he dropped out of the race in August and endorsed Polk for the presidency. Polk's narrow victory over Clay in the November election was seen by the Tyler administration as a mandate
Mandate (politics)
In politics, a mandate is the authority granted by a constituency to act as its representative.The concept of a government having a legitimate mandate to govern via the fair winning of a democratic election is a central idea of democracy...

 for completing the resolution. Tyler announced in his annual message to Congress that "a controlling majority of the people and a large majority of the states have declared in favor of immediate annexation." In late February 1845, the House by a substantial margin and the Senate by a bare 27–25 majority approved a joint resolution offering terms of annexation to Texas. On March 1, three days before the end of his term, Tyler signed the bill into law. After some debate, Texas accepted the terms and entered the union on December 29, 1845, as the 28th state.

Post-presidency and death


Tyler retired to a Virginia plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

, originally named Walnut Grove (or "the Grove"), located on the James River
James River (Virginia)
The James River is a river in the U.S. state of Virginia. It is long, extending to if one includes the Jackson River, the longer of its two source tributaries. The James River drains a catchment comprising . The watershed includes about 4% open water and an area with a population of 2.5 million...

 in Charles City County, Virginia
Charles City County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,926 people, 2,670 households, and 1,975 families residing in the county. The population density was 38 people per square mile . There were 2,895 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile...

. He renamed it Sherwood Forest
Sherwood Forest Plantation
Sherwood Forest Plantation, also known as John Tyler House, is located on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. It is located on State Route 5, a scenic byway which runs between the independent cities of Richmond and Williamsburg...

, in a reference to the folk legend Robin Hood
Robin Hood
Robin Hood was a heroic outlaw in English folklore. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor", assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his "Merry Men". Traditionally, Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes....

, to signify that he had been "outlawed" by the Whig Party. He did not take farming lightly and worked hard to maintain large yields throughout the 1840s. His neighbors, largely Whigs, appointed him "overseer" of his road in 1847 in an effort to mock him. To their displeasure he treated the title seriously, frequently summoning his neighbors' slaves to attend to road work, and continued to bear the title even after his neighbors asked him to stop. He withdrew from electoral politics, rarely receiving visits from his friends. He was asked to give an occasional public speech, but was not sought out as an adviser. One notable speech was at the unveiling of a monument to Henry Clay; acknowledging the political battles between the two, he spoke highly of his former colleague.

On the eve of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, Tyler re-entered public life as sponsor and chairman of the Virginia Peace Convention
Peace conference of 1861
The Peace Conference of 1861 was a meeting of more than 100 of the leading politicians of the antebellum United States held in Washington, D.C., in February 1861 that was meant to prevent what ultimately became the Civil War. The success of President Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party in the...

, held in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 in February 1861 as an effort to devise means to prevent a war. The convention sought a compromise to avoid civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 while the Confederate Constitution
Confederate States Constitution
The Constitution of the Confederate States of America was the supreme law of the Confederate States of America, as adopted on March 11, 1861 and in effect through the conclusion of the American Civil War. The Confederacy also operated under a Provisional Constitution from February 8, 1861 to March...

 was being drawn up at the Montgomery Convention
Montgomery Convention
The Montgomery Convention marked the formal beginning of the Confederate States of America. Convened in Montgomery, Alabama the Convention organized a provisional government for the Confederacy and created the Constitution of the Confederate States of America....

. When the convention's proposals were rejected by Congress, Tyler abandoned hope of compromise and saw secession as the only option. He was sanguine about a peaceful secession, predicting that a clean split of all Southern states would not result in war. When war ultimately broke out, Tyler unhesitatingly sided with the Confederacy and became a delegate to the Provisional Confederate Congress
Provisional Confederate Congress
The Provisional Confederate Congress, for a time the legislative branch of the Confederate States of America, was the body which drafted the Confederate Constitution, elected Jefferson Davis President of the Confederacy, and designed the first Confederate flag...

 from February 4, 1861. He was then elected to the House of Representatives of the Confederate Congress. On January 5, 1862, he left for Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

 in anticipation of his congressional service, but he would not live to see the opening sessions.

Throughout Tyler's life, he suffered from poor health. As he aged, he suffered more frequently from colds during the winter. After his exit from the White House, he fell victim to repeated cases of dysentery. He had many aches and pains in the last eight years of his life. On January 12, 1862, after complaining of chills and dizziness, he vomited and collapsed. He was revived, yet the next day he admitted to the same symptoms. He was treated for the rest of the week, but his health did not improve, and he made plans to return to Sherwood Forest on the 18th. As he lay in bed the previous night he began suffocating, and Julia summoned his doctor. Just after midnight, Tyler took a last sip of brandy
Brandy
Brandy is a spirit produced by distilling wine. Brandy generally contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume and is typically taken as an after-dinner drink...

, and told his doctor, "I am going. Perhaps it is best." It is believed that he had suffered a stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

. Tyler is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, by the side of former President James Monroe
James Monroe
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States . Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation...

.

Tyler's death was the only one in presidential history not to be officially recognized in Washington, because of his allegiance to the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. He had requested a simple burial, but Confederate President Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

 and his fellows delivered a grand, politically pointed funeral, painting Tyler as a hero to the Confederacy. Tyler's favorite horse named "The General" is buried at his Sherwood Forest Plantation
Sherwood Forest Plantation
Sherwood Forest Plantation, also known as John Tyler House, is located on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. It is located on State Route 5, a scenic byway which runs between the independent cities of Richmond and Williamsburg...

 with a gravestone which reads,
Here lie the bones of my old horse, "General,"

Who served his master faithfully for twenty-one years,

And never made a blunder.

Would that his master could say the same!

Family and personal life


With his two wives, Tyler fathered more children than any other president in history. His first wife was Letitia Christian Tyler
Letitia Christian Tyler
Letitia Christian Tyler , first wife of John Tyler, was First Lady of the United States from 1841 until her death.-Early Life and Marriage:...

 (November 12, 1790 – September 10, 1842), with whom he had eight children:
  1. Mary Tyler (1815–47)
  2. Robert Tyler
    Robert Tyler
    Robert Tyler was the eldest son of United States President John Tyler and Letitia Christian Tyler. He served as the Confederate Register of the Treasury during the American Civil War He also served as his father's private secretary during his administration. Afterwards, he served as the editor...

     (1816–77)
  3. John Tyler, Jr. (1819–96)
  4. Letitia Tyler Semple
    Letitia Tyler Semple
    Letitia Tyler Semple was the daughter of John Tyler and Letitia Christian Tyler. She acted as unofficial First Lady in 1844.-External links:* at Find a Grave...

     (1821–1907)
  5. Elizabeth Tyler
    Elizabeth Tyler
    Elizabeth Tyler was one of fifteen children of John Tyler, tenth President of the United States. She was born in 1823 to John Tyler and Letitia Christian, his first wife....

     (1823–50)
  6. Anne Contesse Tyler (1825)
  7. Alice Tyler (1827–54)
  8. Tazewell Tyler (1830–74)

Tyler's wife Letitia died in the White House in September 1842.


His second wife was Julia Gardiner Tyler
Julia Gardiner Tyler
Julia Gardiner Tyler , second wife of John Tyler, was First Lady of the United States from June 26, 1844, to March 4, 1845.-Early life:...

 (July 23, 1820 – July 10, 1889), with whom he had seven children:
  1. David Gardiner Tyler
    David Gardiner Tyler
    David Gardiner Tyler , was a U.S. Democratic Party politician.-Early life:He was born in East Hampton, New York and was the first child born to former President John Tyler and his second wife, Julia Gardiner Tyler. He was named after his late maternal grandfather, David Gardiner. As a child, he...

     (1846–1927)
  2. John Alexander Tyler
    John Alexander Tyler
    John Alexander "Alex" Tyler was the second son of John Tyler and his second wife, Julia Tyler. At age 14 he ran away from home and enlisted in the Confederate Army, John Alexander "Alex" Tyler (April 7, 1848 - September 1, 1883) was the second son of John Tyler and his second wife, Julia Tyler. ...

     (1848–83)
  3. Julia Gardiner Tyler Spencer (1849–71)
  4. Lachlan Tyler (1851–1902)
  5. Lyon Gardiner Tyler
    Lyon Gardiner Tyler
    Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Sr. was a U.S. educator and historian.-Biography:He was the son of President John Tyler and First Lady Julia Gardiner Tyler, born at Sherwood Forest Plantation. He graduated in 1875 at the University of Virginia...

     (1853–1935)
  6. Robert Fitzwalter Tyler (1856–1927)
  7. Pearl Tyler (1860–1947)


Early in his presidency, Tyler was attacked by abolitionist publisher Joshua Leavitt
Joshua Leavitt
Rev. Joshua Leavitt was an American Congregationalist minister and former lawyer who became a prominent writer, editor and publisher of abolitionist literature. He was also a spokesman for the Liberty Party and a prominent campaigner for cheap postage...

, who alleged that Tyler had fathered (and sold) several sons with his slaves, prompting a response from the Tyler administration–linked newspaper The Madisonian. A number of African American families today have an oral tradition of descent from Tyler, but no evidence of such a link has ever surfaced.

As of August 2011, Tyler has two living grandsons through his son Lyon Gardiner Tyler. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr., was born in 1924, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler was born in 1928. Harrison Tyler maintains the family home, "Sherwood Forest."

Legacy


The Tyler presidency is generally held in low esteem by historians. Edward P. Crapol began his biography John Tyler, the Accidental President (2006) by noting: "Other biographers and historians have argued that John Tyler was a hapless and inept chief executive whose presidency was seriously flawed." In The Republican Vision of John Tyler (2003), Dan Monroe observed that the Tyler presidency "is generally ranked as one of the least successful". Robert Seager II wrote in And Tyler Too: A Biography of John and Julia Gardiner Tyler (1963) that Tyler "was neither a great President nor a great intellectual," adding that despite a few achievements, "his administration has been and must be counted an unsuccessful one by any modern measure of accomplishment". A survey of 65 historians, conducted by C-SPAN
C-SPAN
C-SPAN , an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable television network that offers coverage of federal government proceedings and other public affairs programming via its three television channels , one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming...

 in 2009, ranked Tyler as 35th of 42 men to hold the office.
Despite his poor image, some have argued that Tyler's accomplishments and political resolve warrant a more favorable treatment. Tyler's assumption of complete presidential powers "set a hugely important precedent", according to a biographical sketch by the University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

's Miller Center of Public Affairs
Miller Center of Public Affairs
The Miller Center of Public Affairs is a non-partisan research institute that is part of the University of Virginia.Founded in 1975, the Miller Center is a leading public policy institution that serves as a national meeting place where engaged citizens, scholars, students, media representatives and...

. The article also noted that "Tyler could claim an ambitious, successful foreign policy presidency, due largely to the efforts of Secretary of State Webster." Monroe credits Tyler with "achievements like the Webster–Ashburton treaty which heralded the prospect of improved relations with Great Britain, and the annexation of Texas, which added millions of acres to the national domain." Crapol argued that Tyler "was a stronger and more effective president than generally remembered," while Seager wrote, "I find him to be a courageous, principled man, a fair and honest fighter for his beliefs. He was a President without a party."

Tyler has been the namesake of several U.S. locations, including the city of Tyler, Texas
Tyler, Texas
Tyler is a city in and the county seat of Smith County, Texas, in the United States. It takes its name from President John Tyler . The city had a population of 109,000 in 2010, according to the United States Census Bureau...

 and its John Tyler High School
John Tyler High School
John Tyler High School is a public, co-educational secondary school in Tyler, Texas. It is part of the Tyler Independent School District and serves 9th through 12th grade...

, along with John Tyler Community College
John Tyler Community College
John Tyler Community College is a two-year, public institution of higher education and is the fifth largest of the 23 community colleges in Virginia. John Tyler is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and offers 17 associate degree programs,...

 in Virginia, located near Tyler's home. While academics have both praised and criticized Tyler, the general American public has little awareness of him at all. Several writers have noted that Tyler is among the nation's most obscure presidents. As Seager remarked, "His countrymen generally remember him, if they have heard of him at all, as the rhyming end of a catchy campaign slogan."

See also


  • Second Party System
    Second Party System
    The Second Party System is a term of periodization used by historians and political scientists to name the political party system existing in the United States from about 1828 to 1854...

  • Dorr Rebellion
    Dorr Rebellion
    The Dorr Rebellion was a short-lived armed insurrection in the U.S. state of Rhode Island led by Thomas Wilson Dorr, who was agitating for changes to the state's electoral system.- Precursors :...

  • U.S. presidential election, 1840
  • Sherwood Forest Plantation
    Sherwood Forest Plantation
    Sherwood Forest Plantation, also known as John Tyler House, is located on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. It is located on State Route 5, a scenic byway which runs between the independent cities of Richmond and Williamsburg...

  • List of Presidents of the United States
  • US Presidents on US postage stamps

Ancestors


John Tyler (March 29, 1790 – January 18, 1862) was the tenth President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1841–1845). A native of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, Tyler served as a state legislator
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

, governor
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

, U.S. representative
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, and U.S. senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 before being elected Vice President
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 (1841). He was the first to succeed to the office of President following the death of a predecessor. Tyler's opposition to nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and emphatic support of states' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

 endeared him to his fellow Virginians but alienated him from most of the political allies that brought him to power in Washington. His presidency was crippled by opposition from both parties, and at the end of his life, he would join the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 in secession
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 from the United States.

Tyler was born to an aristocratic Virginia family of English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 descent and he came to national prominence at a time of political upheaval. By the 1820s the nation's only political party, the Democratic-Republicans
Democratic-Republican Party (United States)
The Democratic-Republican Party or Republican Party was an American political party founded in the early 1790s by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Political scientists use the former name, while historians prefer the latter one; contemporaries generally called the party the "Republicans", along...

, began to split into factions, none of which shared Tyler's strict constructionist ideals. His opposition to Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 leaders Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 and Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

 led him to be elected Vice President on the Whig
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 ticket. Upon the death of President William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

 on April 4, 1841, only a month after his inauguration
Inauguration
An inauguration is a formal ceremony to mark the beginning of a leader's term of office. An example is the ceremony in which the President of the United States officially takes the oath of office....

, a short Constitutional crisis arose over the succession process
United States presidential line of succession
The United States presidential line of succession defines who may become or act as President of the United States upon the incapacity, death, resignation, or removal from office of a sitting president or a president-elect.- Current order :This is a list of the current presidential line of...

. Tyler immediately moved into the White House, took the oath of office, and assumed full presidential powers, a precedent that would govern future successions and eventually be codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment
Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution deals with succession to the Presidency and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, as well as responding to Presidential disabilities...

.

Once he became president he stood against his party's platform and vetoed several of their proposals. As a result, most of his cabinet resigned, and the Whigs, dubbing him His Accidency, expelled him from the party. While he faced a stalemate on domestic policy, he still made several foreign policy achievements, signing the Webster–Ashburton Treaty with Britain and the Treaty of Wanghia
Treaty of Wanghia
The Treaty of Wanghia , is a diplomatic agreement between the Qing Dynasty of China and the United States, signed on 3 July 1844 in the Kun Iam Temple...

 with China. Tyler dedicated his last two years in office to his landmark accomplishment, the 1845 annexation of the Republic of Texas
Texas Annexation
In 1845, United States of America annexed the Republic of Texas and admitted it to the Union as the 28th state. The U.S. thus inherited Texas's border dispute with Mexico; this quickly led to the Mexican-American War, during which the U.S. captured additional territory , extending the nation's...

. With little hope for re-election, he created a third party to move public opinion in favor of annexation, which led to the 1844 presidential election of expansionist Democrat James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

 over Tyler opponents Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 and Van Buren.

Tyler essentially retired from electoral politics until the outbreak of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 in 1861. He sided with the Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 government, and won election to the Confederate House of Representatives shortly before his death. As a result of his opposition to the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

, his death was the only one in presidential history not to be officially mourned in Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. Although some have praised Tyler's political resolve, his presidency is generally held in low esteem by historians; today he is considered an obscure president, with little presence in the American cultural memory.

Early life and law career


John Tyler was born on March 29, 1790, in the early years of the newly established nation, and the first President to be born Under the Administration of a President. From birth he was politically tied to his future running mate William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

: both were born in Charles City County
Charles City County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,926 people, 2,670 households, and 1,975 families residing in the county. The population density was 38 people per square mile . There were 2,895 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, descended from aristocratic and politically entrenched families. The Tyler family proudly traced its lineage to colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg is an independent city located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, USA. As of the 2010 Census, the city had an estimated population of 14,068. It is bordered by James City County and York County, and is an independent city...

 in the mid-17th century. JohnTyler,Sr.
John Tyler, Sr.
John Tyler Sr. was a Virginia planter, judge, 15th Governor of Virginia and the father of the 10th President of the United States, John Tyler....

, popularly known as Judge Tyler, was a friend and college roommate of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and served in the Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

 alongside William's father Benjamin Harrison V
Benjamin Harrison V
Benjamin Harrison V was an American planter and revolutionary leader from Charles City County, Virginia. He earned his higher education at the College of William and Mary, and he was perhaps the first figure in the Harrison family to gain national attention...

. Judge Tyler served four years as Virginia Speaker of the House before becoming a state court judge. He would later serve as governor
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

 and as a judge on the U.S. District Court at Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

. His wife Mary was the daughter of a prominent plantation owner, Robert Armistead. She died of a stroke when her son John was seven years old.

The young Tyler was raised with his two brothers and five sisters on Greenway Plantation
Greenway Plantation
Greenway Plantation is a wood-frame, one-and-a-half-story plantation house that stands on the north side of Route 5 in Charles City County, Virginia...

, a 1200 acres (5 km²) estate with a six-room mansion his father had built.Formally, only the mansion was named Greenway. Various crops including wheat, corn, and tobacco were grown at Greenway by the Tylers' forty slaves. Tyler was an unhealthy child, very thin and prone to chronic diarrhea. Such afflictions would continue to burden him throughout his life. At the age of twelve, he entered the preparatory branch of the elite College of William and Mary
College of William and Mary
The College of William & Mary in Virginia is a public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States...

, continuing the Tyler family's tradition of attending the college. Tyler graduated from the school's collegiate branch in 1807, at age seventeen. Among the books that informed his economic views was Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

's The Wealth of Nations
The Wealth of Nations
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith...

. His political views were deeply shaped by Bishop James Madison, the college's president, who served as a second father and mentor to him.

After graduation Tyler went on study law with his father, who was a state judge at the time. Tyler was admitted to the bar
Bar (law)
Bar in a legal context has three possible meanings: the division of a courtroom between its working and public areas; the process of qualifying to practice law; and the legal profession.-Courtroom division:...

 at the age of 19, in violation of bar regulations: the judge who administered the bar exam neglected to inquire about his age. By this time his father had become Governor of Virginia
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

 (1808–1811), and the young Tyler started a practice in Richmond.

Start in Virginia politics


At the age of 21, Tyler was elected by his fellow Charles City County residents to the Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

, the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly
The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

. He served five successive one-year terms (and would return later in his career), seated on the Courts and Justice committee. The young politician's defining attributes were on display by the end of his first term: a strong support of states' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

 and opposition to a national bank. He joined fellow legislator Benjamin W. Leigh
Benjamin W. Leigh
Benjamin Watkins Leigh was an American lawyer and politician from Richmond, Virginia. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates and represented Virginia in the United States Senate. Benjamin Watkins Leigh was born in Chesterfield County on June 18, 1781, the son of the Reverend William Leigh...

 in pushing for the censure of U.S. Senators William Branch Giles
William Branch Giles
William Branch Giles ; the name is pronounced jyles) was an American statesman, long-term Senator from Virginia, and the 24th Governor of Virginia...

 and Richard Brent
Richard Brent (Virginia)
Richard Brent was an American planter, lawyer, and politician from Stafford County, Virginia. He represented Virginia in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.-External links:*...

 from Virginia, who had voted for the recharter of the First Bank of the United States
First Bank of the United States
The First Bank of the United States is a National Historic Landmark located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania within Independence National Historical Park.-Banking History:...

 against the legislature's instructions.

In addition to infighting over the national bank, the United States was facing ongoing hostilities with Britain in the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

. Tyler's education had impressed on him a strong sense of anti-British nationalism, and at the onset of the war he urged military action on the assembly floor. After the British capture of Hampton, Virginia
Hampton, Virginia
Hampton is an independent city that is not part of any county in Southeast Virginia. Its population is 137,436. As one of the seven major cities that compose the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, it is on the southeastern end of the Virginia Peninsula. Located on the Hampton Roads Beltway, it hosts...

 in the summer of 1813, Tyler eagerly organized a small militia company of county residents to defend Richmond, but no attack came their way and he dissolved the company two months later. That same year his father died, and Tyler inherited thirteen slaves along with his father's estate. In 1816 he resigned to serve on the Governor's Council of State
Council of State
The Council of State is a unique governmental body in a country or subdivision thereoff, though its nature may range from the formal name for the cabinet to a non-executive advisory body surrounding a head of state. It is sometimes regarded as the equivalent of a privy council.-Modern:*Belgian...

, a group of eight advisers elected by the legislature.

U.S. House of Representatives


Tyler's three terms in the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 would be his foray into national politics. The death of U.S. Representative John Clopton
John Clopton
John Clopton was a United States Representative from Virginia. Born in St. Peter's Parish , his father was William Clopton and his mother was Elizabeth Dorrell Ford , he graduated from the College of Philadelphia in 1776...

 in the fall of 1816 left a vacancy in the 23rd district
Virginia's 23rd congressional district
Virginia Congressional District 23 is an obsolete congressional district. It was eliminated in 1823 after the 1820 U.S. Census. Its last Congressman was Andrew Stevenson.-Representatives:- References :*...

 which Tyler was well positioned to fill. He faced his friend and political ally Andrew Stevenson
Andrew Stevenson
Andrew Stevenson was a Democratic politician in the United States. Educated at the College of William and Mary, he married three times. His second wife, Sarah Coles, was a cousin of Dolley Madison and sister of Edward Coles, a governor of Illinois...

, then Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, in the congressional election. The race was amicable despite the high political stakes. Tyler's political connections and campaigning skills won him the election by a slim margin. He was sworn in as a Democratic-RepublicanContemporaries generally called this the Republican Party, but modern political writers use Democratic-Republican to distinguish it from the modern-day Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

.
to the Fourteenth Congress
14th United States Congress
- Senate :* President: Vacant* President pro tempore: John Gaillard of South Carolina, first elected December 4, 1815- House of Representatives :* Speaker: Henry Clay of Kentucky-Members:This list is arranged by chamber, then by state...

 on December 17, 1816, to complete Clopton's term. He was re-elected to a full term the following spring.

While the Democratic-Republicans had a historical platform of states' rights, they had begun to adopt nationalist tendencies. In the wake of the War of 1812, Congress was pushing to fund the states' reconstruction and infrastructure projects. Tyler held fast to his strict constructionist beliefs, rejecting such proposals on both constitutional and personal grounds. Virginia was not "in so poor a condition as to require a charitable donation from Congress," he contended. He was chosen to participate in an audit of the Second Bank of the United States
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

 in 1818 as part of a five-person committee, and was appalled by perceived corruption within the bank. He argued for the annulment of the bank charter, although Congress rejected any such proposal. His first clash with then-General Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 followed Jackson's 1818 invasion of Florida during the First Seminole War. While praising Jackson's character, Tyler condemned the general's zealous behavior and his execution of two British subjects. Tyler was re-elected without opposition in early 1819.

The defining issue of the Sixteenth Congress
16th United States Congress
-House of Representatives:During this congress, one House seat was added for the new state of Alabama and one seat was reapportioned from Massachusetts to the new state of Maine. For the beginning of the next congress, six more seats from Massachusetts would be reapportioned to...

 (1819–21) was the admission of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 to the Union, and whether slavery would be permitted in the new state. Tyler was a slaveholder for his entire life, at one point keeping forty slaves at Greenway. While he regarded slavery as an evil, and never attempted to justify it, he never agreed with national emancipation, and never freed any of his slaves even at the dawn of the Civil War. The living conditions of his slaves are not well documented, but historians agree that he cared for their well-being and abstained from physical violence against them.

Tyler was a leader in opposing the Missouri Compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 of 1820, which would for the first time establish national boundaries for the establishment of slavery. In his view, the compromise served only to diminish and divide the states, while unnecessarily expanding federal authority. Acknowledging the ills of slavery, he argued that allowing it in Missouri would attract existing slave-owners from Southern states, dissipating the population of slaves and reducing each state's reliance on the practice. Thus, in his view, emancipation would occur organically at the state level without federal intervention. He voted against the Missouri Compromise—which passed regardless—and all bills which would restrict slavery in new territories.

Tyler declined to seek renomination to Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in late 1820, citing illness. He privately acknowledged his dissatisfaction with the office, as his opposing votes were largely symbolic and did little to change the political culture in Washington; he also observed that funding his children's education would be difficult on a Congressman's low salary. He resigned on March 4, 1821, endorsing his former opponent Stevenson for the seat, and returned to private law.

Return to state politics


He was soon drafted for a second stint in the Virginia House of Delegates, which lasted from December 1823 to December 1825. Upon taking office he found the chamber thrust into debate over the impending presidential election of 1824
United States presidential election, 1824
In the United States presidential election of 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected President on February 9, 1825, after the election was decided by the House of Representatives. The previous years had seen a one-party government in the United States, as the Federalist Party had dissolved, leaving...

. The congressional nominating caucus
Congressional nominating caucus
The Congressional nominating caucus is the name for informal meetings in which American congressmen would agree on who to nominate for the Presidency and Vice Presidency from their political party.-History:...

, an early system for choosing presidential candidates, was still in effect despite its growing unpopularity. Tyler attempted to bring the lower house to endorse the caucus system and choose William H. Crawford
William H. Crawford
William Harris Crawford was an American politician and judge during the early 19th century. He served as United States Secretary of War from 1815 to 1816 and United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1816 to 1825, and was a candidate for President of the United States in 1824.-Political...

 as the Democratic-Republican candidate. Despite the legislature's support of Crawford, opposition to the caucus system killed his proposal. Tyler's most lasting effort in this second legislative tenure was salvaging the College of William and Mary, which suffered from waning attendance and risked closure. Rather than move it from rural Williamsburg to the populous capital of Richmond, as some suggested, Tyler proposed that a series of administrative and financial reforms be enacted. His reforms were successfully adopted: by 1840 the school would see its highest-ever attendance.
Tyler's political fortunes were growing, with his name taken up for consideration in the 1824 U.S. Senate election. He was nominated in December 1825 for Governor of Virginia
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

, a position which was then appointed by the legislature. He was elected 131–81 over John Floyd
John Floyd (Virginia politician)
John Floyd was a Virginia politician and soldier. He represented Virginia in the United States House of Representatives and later served as the 25th Governor of Virginia....

, whose candidacy had little traction. The office of governor was determinately powerless under the original Virginia Constitution (1776–1830), lacking even veto authority. Tyler enjoyed a prominent oratorical platform but could do little to influence the legislature. His most visible act as governor was delivering the funeral address for President Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, a Virginia native who died on July 4, 1826.At the end of the speech, Tyler briefly lauded President John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

 of Massachusetts, who had died the same day.
Tyler was deeply devoted to Jefferson, and his ornate eulogy was well received.

Tyler's governorship was otherwise uneventful. He promoted states' rights and adamantly opposed any concentration of federal power. In order to thwart federal infrastructure proposals, he suggested Virginia actively expand its own road system. A proposal was made to expand the state's poorly funded public school system, but no significant action was taken. Tyler was re-elected unanimously to a second term in December 1826.

U.S. Senate


In January 1827 the Virginia General Assembly
Virginia General Assembly
The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

 was considering the impending re-election of U.S. Senator John Randolph
John Randolph of Roanoke
John Randolph , known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a planter and a Congressman from Virginia, serving in the House of Representatives , the Senate , and also as Minister to Russia...

. Randolph was a contentious figure: although he shared the staunch states' rights views held by most of the Virginia legislature, he had a reputation for fiery rhetoric and erratic behavior on the Senate floor, which put his allies in an awkward position. Furthermore, he had made enemies by fiercely opposing John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

 and Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

. The nationalist wing of the Democratic-Republican Party, who supported Adams and Clay, were a sizable minority in the Virginia legislature. They hoped to unseat Randolph by capturing the vote of states'-rights supporters who were uncomfortable with the senator's reputation. They approached Tyler, and promised their endorsement if he ran against Randolph. Tyler repeatedly declined the offer, endorsing Randolph as the best candidate, but the political pressure continued to mount. Eventually he conceded that he would accept the seat if chosen, and the legislature elected him in a vote of 115–110.On the day of the vote, it was argued by one assemblyman that there was no political difference between the two candidates—Tyler was simply a more agreeable character than the incumbent. Supporters of Randolph, however, contended that Tyler's election would be a tacit endorsement of the Adams administration. He resigned his governorship on March 4, 1827, as his Senate term began.

Tenuous alliance


By that time of Tyler's election, the Senate was already engaged in the 1828 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1828
The United States presidential election of 1828 featured a rematch between John Quincy Adams, now incumbent President, and Andrew Jackson, the runner-up in the 1824 election. With no other major candidates, Jackson and his chief ally Martin Van Buren consolidated their bases in the South and New...

. Adams, the incumbent president, was to be challenged by Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

. By now the party had splintered into Adams' National Republicans and the Jacksonian Democrats
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

. Tyler was repulsed by both candidates, each embodying the nationalist views he had always rejected. Still, he was increasingly drawn to Jackson, hoping that his administration would be less insistent on internal improvements
Internal improvements
Internal improvements is the term used historically in the United States for public works from the end of the American Revolution through much of the 19th century, mainly for the creation of a transportation infrastructure: roads, turnpikes, canals, harbors and navigation improvements...

 than Adams'. In considering Jackson he wrote, "Turning to him I may at least indulge in hope; looking on Adams I must despair."

The first session of the Twentieth Congress
20th United States Congress
-House of Representatives:-Leadership:- Senate :* President: John C. Calhoun * President pro tempore: Samuel Smith - House of Representatives :* Speaker: Andrew Stevenson -Members:This list is arranged by chamber, then by state...

 began in early December 1827.Tyler's name does not appear in the Senate voting records until late January of the following year, likely due to illness. Tyler served alongside his close friend Littleton Waller Tazewell
Littleton Waller Tazewell
Littleton Waller Tazewell was a U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator from and the 26th Governor of Virginia.Tazewell, son of Henry Tazewell, was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, where his grandfather Benjamin Waller was a lawyer who taught him Latin...

, a fellow Virginian who shared his strict constructionist views and uneasy support of Jackson. Throughout his tenure, Tyler vigorously opposed all bills which provided for national infrastructure projects. He and his Southern peers were appalled by the protective Tariff of 1828
Tariff of 1828
The Tariff of 1828 was a protective tariff passed by the Congress of the United States on May 19, 1828, designed to protect industry in the northern United States...

, promoted by Jackson's allies and known to its detractors as the "Tariff of Abominations". Tyler sorely suggested that the bill's only positive outcome would be a national political backlash, restoring a respect for states' rights.

Despite supporting Jackson in the previous election, Tyler would soon find points of disagreement with the Democratic president, who was inaugurated in March 1829. He was frustrated by Jackson's newly emerging spoils system
Spoils system
In the politics of the United States, a spoil system is a practice where a political party, after winning an election, gives government jobs to its voters as a reward for working toward victory, and as an incentive to keep working for the party—as opposed to a system of awarding offices on the...

, describing it as an "electioneering weapon". He voted against many of the president's nominations when they appeared to be based on patronage or did not follow Constitutional procedure. Such an act was considered "an act of insurgency" against his party. He was particularly offended by Jackson's use of the recess appointment
Recess appointment
A recess appointment is the appointment, by the President of the United States, of a senior federal official while the U.S. Senate is in recess. The U.S. Constitution requires that the most senior federal officers must be confirmed by the Senate before assuming office, but while the Senate is in...

 to install three treaty commissioners to meet with Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

; he authored a bill chastising the president for this use of executive power.

Still, Tyler attempted to remain on good terms with Jackson, only opposing him on principle rather than partisanship. He defended Jackson for vetoing the Maysville Road funding project
Maysville Road veto
The Maysville Road veto occurred on May 27, 1830, when President Andrew Jackson vetoed a bill which would allow the Federal government to purchase stock in the Maysville, Washington, Paris, and Lexington Turnpike Road Company, which had been organized to construct a road linking Lexington and the...

, which Jackson considered unconstitutional. He voted to confirm several of the president's appointments (including Jackson's future running mate Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

) amid strong opposition from the National Republicans. The leading issue in the 1832 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1832
The United States presidential election of 1832 saw incumbent President Andrew Jackson, candidate of the Democratic Party, easily win re-election against Henry Clay of Kentucky. Jackson won 219 of the 286 electoral votes cast, defeating Clay, the candidate of the National Republican Party, and...

 was the recharter of the Second Bank of the United States
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

, which both Tyler and Jackson opposed. Congress voted to recharter the bank in July 1832, and Jackson vetoed the bill for a mixture of constitutional and practical reasons. Tyler voted to sustain the veto and endorsed Jackson for re-election.

Break with Democrats


Tyler's uneasy relationship with his party came to a head during the 22nd Congress
22nd United States Congress
-House of Representatives:-Leadership:- Senate :* President:** John C. Calhoun , resigned December 28, 1832, thereafter vacant.* President pro tempore:** Samuel Smith , first elected December 5, 1831** Littleton W...

, as the Nullification Crisis
Nullification Crisis
The Nullification Crisis was a sectional crisis during the presidency of Andrew Jackson created by South Carolina's 1832 Ordinance of Nullification. This ordinance declared by the power of the State that the federal Tariff of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within...

 of 1832–33 began. The state of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, threatening secession
Secession in the United States
Secession in the United States can refer to secession of a state from the United States, secession of part of a state from that state to form a new state, or secession of an area from a city or county....

, passed the Ordinance of Nullification
Ordinance of Nullification
The Ordinance of Nullification declared the Tariff of 1828 and 1832 null and void within the state borders of South Carolina. It began the Nullification Crisis...

 in November 1832 declaring the "Tariff of Abominations" null and void within its borders. This raised the constitutional question of whether states had the right to nullify federal laws. President Jackson, who denied such a right, prepared to sign a Force Bill
Force Bill
The United States Force Bill, formally titled "An Act further to provide for the collection of duties on imports", 4 Stat. 632 , enacted by the 22nd U.S. Congress, consists of eight sections expanding Presidential power...

 allowing the federal government to use military action to enforce the tariff in South Carolina. Tyler, who sympathized with South Carolina's reasons for nullification, rejected Jackson's use of military force against a state and gave a speech in February 1833 outlining his views. He supported Henry Clay's attempts to craft the Compromise Tariff of 1833. This bill would gradually reduce the tariff over ten years, alleviating tensions between the states and the federal government.

In casting his vote against the Force Bill, Tyler knew he would permanently alienate the pro-Jackson factions of the Virginia legislature, even those who had tolerated his irregularity up to this point. This would jeopardize his re-election in February 1833
United States Senate elections, 1832
The United States Senate election of 1832 was an election which had the Anti-Jackson coalition assume control of the United States Senate from the Jacksonian coalition, despite Andrew Jackson's victory in the Presidential election....

, in which he faced the pro-administration Democrat James McDowell
James McDowell
James McDowell was a U.S. Congressman and the 29th Governor of Virginia from 1843 to 1846.McDowell was born at "Cherry Grove," near Rockbridge County, Virginia, on October 13, 1795...

. With Clay's endorsement, he was re-elected to a full term by a twelve-vote plurality; several legislators who had supported him only weeks beforehand were moved to vote against him as a result of the Force Bill vote.

Jackson further lost Tyler's support by moving to actively dissolve the bank. He issued an executive order in September 1833 directing Treasury Secretary Roger B. Taney
Roger B. Taney
Roger Brooke Taney was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States, holding that office from 1836 until his death in 1864. He was the first Roman Catholic to hold that office or sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. He was also the eleventh United States Attorney General. He is most...

 to immediately begin transferring funds from the bank to state-run banks. Tyler saw this as "a flagrant assumption of power", a breach of contract, and a threat to the economy. After months of agonizing over the decision, he decided to ally with Clay and the anti-Jackson factions of Congress on the bank issue, while still maintaining the bank's unconstitutionality. Sitting on the Senate Finance Committee
United States Senate Committee on Finance
The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance is a standing committee of the United States Senate. The Committee concerns itself with matters relating to taxation and other revenue measures generally, and those relating to the insular possessions; bonded debt of the United States; customs, collection...

, he voted for two censure resolutions against the president in March 1834. By this time, Tyler was formally in line with Clay's newly formed Whig Party
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

, which held control of the Senate. On March 3, 1835, with only hours remaining in the congressional session
23rd United States Congress
-House of Representatives:For the beginning of this congress, the size of the House was increased from 213 seats to 240 seats, following the 1830 United States Census .- Leadership :- Senate :* President: Martin Van Buren...

, the Whigs voted him President pro tempore of the Senate
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
The President pro tempore is the second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate. The United States Constitution states that the Vice President of the United States is the President of the Senate and the highest-ranking official of the Senate despite not being a member of the body...

 as a symbolic gesture of approval.

Shortly thereafter, the Democrats took control of the Virginia House of Delegates, and Tyler's seat in the Senate was threatened. That December, the legislature offered him a judgeship in exchange for resigning his seat, but he declined. Tyler understood what was to come: he would soon be forced by the legislature to cast a vote that went against his constitutional beliefs. Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 had repeatedly introduced a bill expunging the censure of Jackson from the record. With the support of Virginia's Democrats, Tyler could be instructed to vote for the bill. If he disregarded the instructions, he would be violating his own principles—"the first act of my political life was a censure on Messrs. Giles and Brent for opposition to instructions," he noted. Over the next few months he sought the advice of his friends, who gave him conflicting advice. By mid-February he felt that his Senate career was likely at an end. He issued a letter of resignation to the Vice-President on February 29, 1836, saying in part:

Presidential election, 1836



While Tyler wished to attend to his private life and family, he was soon swept up in the presidential election of 1836.
United States presidential election, 1836
The United States presidential election of 1836 ushered Martin Van Buren into the White House. It is predominantly remembered for three reasons:...

 He had been speculated as a vice-presidential contender since early 1835, and the same day the Virginia Democrats issued the expunging instruction, the Virginia Whigs nominated him as their candidate. The new Whig Party was not organized enough to hold a national convention and name a single ticket against Jackson's chosen successor, Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

. Instead, Whigs in various regions each put forth their own preferred ticket, reflecting the party's tenuous coalition: the Massachusetts Whigs nominated Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

 and Francis Granger
Francis Granger
Francis Granger was a Representative from New York. He was the son of Gideon Granger, another Postmaster General, and the first cousin of Amos P. Granger.-Biography:...

, the Anti-Masons
Anti-Masonic Party
The Anti-Masonic Party was the first "third party" in the United States. It strongly opposed Freemasonry and was founded as a single-issue party aspiring to become a major party....

 of the Northern and border states backed William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

 and Granger, and the states' rights advocates of the middle and lower South nominated Hugh Lawson White
Hugh Lawson White
Hugh Lawson White was a prominent American politician during the first third of the 19th century. He succeeded Andrew Jackson and served in the United States Senate, representing Tennessee, from 1825 until his resignation in 1840, and was a Whig candidate for President in 1836...

 and John Tyler. Tyler, despite his strong following at the Virginia and Ohio conventions, only received 47 electoral votes in the November 1836 election, trailing both Granger and the Democratic candidate, Richard Mentor Johnson
Richard Mentor Johnson
Richard Mentor Johnson was the ninth Vice President of the United States, serving in the administration of Martin Van Buren . He was the only vice-president ever elected by the United States Senate under the provisions of the Twelfth Amendment. Johnson also represented Kentucky in the U.S...

. Harrison was the leading Whig candidate for president, but he lost to van Buren.

Later state politics


Tyler had been drawn into Virginia politics even as a U.S. Senator. From October 1829 to January 1830, he served as a member of the state constitutional convention
Constitutional convention (political meeting)
A constitutional convention is now a gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. A general constitutional convention is called to create the first constitution of a political unit or to entirely replace an existing constitution...

, a role which he was reluctant to accept. The original Virginia Constitution gave outsize influence to the state's more conservative eastern counties, as it allocated an equal number of legislators to each county (regardless of population) and only granted suffrage to property owners. The convention gave the more populous and liberal counties of western Virginia an opportunity to expand their influence. Tyler, a slave-owner from eastern Virginia, supported the existing system. He largely remained on the sidelines during the debate, however, not wishing to alienate any of the state's political factions. He was focused on his Senate career, which required a broad base of support, and gave speeches during the convention promoting compromise and unity.

After the 1836 election, Tyler expected his political career was at an end, and he had designs on returning to private law. In the fall of 1837 a friend sold him a sizable property in Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg is an independent city located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, USA. As of the 2010 Census, the city had an estimated population of 14,068. It is bordered by James City County and York County, and is an independent city...

. He had barely settled in, however, when he was again elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. He took office in 1838 and his peers unanimously elected him Speaker. Tyler was a national political figure by this point, and his third delegate service touched on such national issues as disposal of public lands.

In February 1839, the legislature again considered a U.S. Senate election, this time the seat of incumbent William Cabell Rives
William Cabell Rives
William Cabell Rives was an American lawyer, politician and diplomat from Albemarle County, Virginia. He represented Virginia as a Jackson Democrat in both the U.S. House and Senate and also served as the U.S. minister to France....

, a Conservative Democrat who had succeeded Tyler. Rives had drifted away from his party, signalling a possible alliance with the Whigs. As Tyler had already fully rejected his party, he expected the Whigs would consider him as a candidate instead. Still, the Whigs found Rives a more politically expedient choice, as they hoped to draw a useful coalition with the Conservative Democrats for the 1840 presidential election. This strategy was espoused by Whig leader Henry Clay, who otherwise admired Tyler.Henry A. Wise
Henry A. Wise
Henry Alexander Wise was an American politician and governor of Virginia, as well as a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.-Early life:...

 would later recall a proposed deal by Henry Clay to elect Rives for Senate and Tyler for the 1840 vice-presidency, but the veracity of his anecdote is unclear.
Tyler was turned down for the nomination, while in-party squabbles delayed Rives' re-election until January 1841.

Presidential election, 1840



At the Whigs' convention of 1840, Tyler supported Henry Clay's presidential candidacy. After Clay had been passed over in favor of William Henry Harrison, Tyler was named Harrison's running mate. Their opponent was Democratic incumbent Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

. The Whigs' 1840 campaign slogans of "Log Cabins and Hard Cider" and "Tippecanoe and Tyler too
Tippecanoe and Tyler too
"Tippecanoe and Tyler too", originally published as "Tip and Ty", was a very popular and influential campaign song of the Whig Party's colorful Log Cabin Campaign in the 1840 United States presidential election...

" are among the most famous in American politics. "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" not only offered the slight sectionalism that would further be apparent in the presidency of Tyler, but also the nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 that was imperative to gain the American vote.

Harrison and Tyler won the election by an electoral vote of 234-60 and a popular vote of 53 percent to 47 percent. On March 4, 1841, Tyler was inaugurated as the 9th Vice President of the United States.

Vice-presidency, 1841



Tyler was sworn in on March 4, Harrison drawing the crowd's attention at the inauguration. Once sworn in, Tyler delivered only a five-minute bromide about states' rights before the new President stepped in to give his two-hour address. Expecting few responsibilities, the Vice President stayed in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 only long enough to preside over the Senate confirmation of Harrison's cabinet. He then quietly repaired to his home in Williamsburg, Virginia. Historian Robert Seager II later wrote, "Had William Henry Harrison lived, John Tyler would undoubtedly have been as obscure as any Vice-President in American history."

Harrison, meanwhile, struggled to keep up with the demands of Henry Clay and others who sought offices and influence in his administration. He did not seek Tyler's advice regarding cabinet appointments, and Tyler reportedly offered none, only hoping that it "be cast of the proper material" and avoid factionalism and patronage. Harrison's old age and fading health were no secret during the campaign, and the question of the presidential succession was on every politician's mind. The first few weeks of the presidency took a clear toll on Harrison's health, and after being caught in a rainstorm in late March he began to succumb to pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 and pleurisy
Pleurisy
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Among other things, infections are the most common cause of pleurisy....

.

Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

 sent word to Tyler of Harrison's illness on April 1; two days later, Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

 attorney James Lyons wrote with the news that the President had taken a turn for the worse, remarking that "I shall not be surprised to hear by tomorrow's mail that Gen'l Harrison is no more." Tyler determined not to travel to Washington, not wanting to appear unseemly in anticipating the President's death. However, at dawn on April 5, two couriers—Webster's son Fletcher
Fletcher Webster
Daniel Fletcher Webster, commonly known as Fletcher Webster was the son of renowned politician Daniel Webster and Grace Fletcher Webster...

, Chief Clerk of the State Department, and a Senate officer named Mr. Beall—arrived at Tyler's home bearing the message that Harrison had died the day before.

"His Accidency"



Harrison's unprecedented death in office caused considerable disarray regarding his successor. The Constitution of the United States stated only that:


In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President.


This led to the question of whether the office of the presidency itself "devolved" upon Vice President Tyler, or merely its powers and duties. By the time Tyler arrived in Washington at 4:00 a.m. on April 6, 1841, he had firmly resolved that he was now, in name and fact, the President of the United States, and acted on this determination by taking the oath of office
President of the United States oath of office
The oath of office of the President of the United States is an oath or affirmation required by the United States Constitution before the President begins the execution of the office...

 in his hotel room. He considered the oath redundant to his oath as vice president, but wished to quell any doubt over his accession. Immediately after his inauguration, Tyler called Harrison's cabinet into a meeting, having decided to retain its members. Webster informed him of Harrison's practice of making policy by a majority vote. The cabinet fully expected the new president to continue this practice. Tyler was astounded and immediately corrected them:


I beg your pardon, gentlemen; I am very glad to have in my Cabinet such able statesmen as you have proved yourselves to be. And I shall be pleased to avail myself of your counsel and advice. But I can never consent to being dictated to as to what I shall or shall not do. I, as President, shall be responsible for my administration. I hope to have your hearty co-operation in carrying out its measures. So long as you see fit to do this, I shall be glad to have you with me. When you think otherwise, your resignations will be accepted.


He delivered a de facto inaugural address on April 9 reasserting his fundamental tenets of Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian Democracy, so named after its leading advocate Thomas Jefferson, is a term used to describe one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party which Jefferson...

 and limited federal power. Tyler's claim was not immediately accepted by opposition
Opposition (parliamentary)
Parliamentary opposition is a form of political opposition to a designated government, particularly in a Westminster-based parliamentary system. Note that this article uses the term government as it is used in Parliamentary systems, i.e. meaning the administration or the cabinet rather than the state...

 members in Congress such as John Quincy Adams, who argued for Tyler to assume a role as a caretaker under the title of "Acting President"
Acting President of the United States
Acting President of the United States is a reference to a person who is legitimately exercising the Presidential powers even though that person does not hold the office of the President of the United States in his own right....

, or remain Vice President in name. Among those who questioned Tyler's authority was Whig leader Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

, who had intended to be "the real power behind a fumbling throne" and exercise considerable influence over Harrison and now transferred that ambition onto his close friend, Tyler. He saw Tyler as the "Vice-President" and his presidency as a mere "regency
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

".

On June 1, impressed by his authoritative actions, both houses of Congress passed resolutions declaring Tyler the 10th President of the United States. Tyler had thus become the first U.S. vice president to assume the office of president upon the death of his predecessor, establishing a precedent that would be followed seven times in the 19th and 20th centuries. Yet it was not until 1967 that Tyler's action of assuming both the full powers and the title of the presidency was legally codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment
Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution deals with succession to the Presidency and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, as well as responding to Presidential disabilities...

.

Although his accession was given approval by both the Cabinet and, later, the Senate and House, Tyler's detractors (who, ironically, would eventually include many of the Cabinet members and members of Congress who had legitimized his presidency) never fully accepted him as President. He was referred to by many nicknames, including "His Accidency," a reference to his having become President, not through election, but by the accidental circumstances regarding his nomination and Harrison's death. However, Tyler never wavered from his conviction that he was the rightful president; when his political opponents sent correspondence to the White House addressed to the "Vice President" or "Acting President," Tyler had it returned unopened.

Economic policy and party conflicts



Tyler quickly found himself at odds with his former political supporters. Harrison had been expected to adhere closely to Whig Party policies and to work closely with Whig leaders, particularly Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

. The former Democrat shocked Congressional Whigs by vetoing most of their entire agenda. Twice he vetoed Clay's legislation for a national banking act following the Panic of 1837
Panic of 1837
The Panic of 1837 was a financial crisis or market correction in the United States built on a speculative fever. The end of the Second Bank of the United States had produced a period of runaway inflation, but on May 10, 1837 in New York City, every bank began to accept payment only in specie ,...

 – even after the bill had been tailored to meet his stated objections in the first veto – leaving the government deadlocked.

On September 11, 1841, following the second bank veto, members of the cabinet entered Tyler's office one by one and resigned – an orchestration by Clay to force Tyler's resignation (and place his own lieutenant, Senate President Pro Tempore
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
The President pro tempore is the second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate. The United States Constitution states that the Vice President of the United States is the President of the Senate and the highest-ranking official of the Senate despite not being a member of the body...

 Samuel L. Southard
Samuel L. Southard
Samuel Lewis Southard was a prominent U.S. statesman of the early 19th century, serving as a U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Navy, and the 10th Governor of New Jersey.-History:...

, in the White House). The exception was Secretary of State Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

, who remained to finalize what became the 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty
Webster-Ashburton Treaty
The Webster–Ashburton Treaty, signed August 9, 1842, was a treaty resolving several border issues between the United States and the British North American colonies...

, as well as to demonstrate his independence from Clay. Two days later, when the president stood firm, the Whigs in Congress officially expelled Tyler from the party. A national backlash ensued, as Tyler was lambasted by Whig newspapers and received hundreds of letters threatening his assassination.

Tariff and distribution debate


By mid-1841 the federal government faced a projected budget deficit of $11 million. Tyler recognized the need for higher tariffs, but wished to stay within the 20-percent rate created by the Compromise Tariff of 1833. He also supported a plan to distribute to the states any revenue from the sales of public land, as an emergency measure to manage the states' growing debt, even though this would cut revenue to the federal government. The Whigs supported high protectionist tariffs and national funding of state infrastructure, and so there was enough overlap to forge a compromise. The Distribution Act of 1841 created a distribution program with a proviso requiring tariffs to remain below 20 percent; a second bill enacted the top rate on previously low-tax goods. Despite these measures, by March 1842 it had become clear that the federal government was still in dire fiscal straits. In a recommendation to Congress, Tyler lamented that it would be necessary to override the Compromise Tariff of 1833 and raise rates beyond the 20 percent limit. Under the previous deal, this would suspend the distribution program, reverting funds back to the federal government.

The defiant Whig Congress would not raise tariffs if it would affect the distribution of funds to states. In June 1842 they passed two instances of a bill which would raise tariffs and unconditionally extend the distribution program. Tyler found it "highly impolitic, if not unconstitutional" to abandon a revenue source (sales of public lands) while trying to resolve a deficit crisis. He vetoed both bills, burning any remaining bridges between himself and the Whigs.

Impeachment attempt


Shortly after the tariff veto, the House of Representatives initiated the first impeachment
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 proceedings against a president in American history. This was not only a matter of the Whigs supporting the bank and tariff legislation which Tyler vetoed. Until the presidency of the Whigs' arch-enemy Andrew Jackson, presidents vetoed bills rarely, and then generally on constitutional rather than policy grounds, so Tyler's actions also went against the Whigs' idea of the presidency. A resolution was introduced by John Minor Botts of Virginia on July 10, 1842. It levied several charges against the president and would appoint a nine-member committee investigating his behavior, with the expectation of a formal impeachment recommendation. Clay found this measure prematurely aggressive, favoring a more moderate progression toward Tyler's "inevitable" impeachment. The Botts bill was tabled until the following January, when it was rejected, 127-83.

A House select committee
Select committee
A select committee is a special subcommittee of a legislature or assembly governed under a committee system, like Robert's Rules of Order. They are often investigative in nature, collecting data or evidence for a law or problem, and will dissolve immediately after they report their findings to...

 headed by former president John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

, who was now a member of Congress, condemned Tyler's use of the veto and assailed his character. While the committee's report did not formally recommend impeachment, it clearly established the possibility. In August 1842, by a vote of 98–90, the House endorsed the committee's report. Adams sponsored a constitutional amendment to change the two-thirds requirement to override a veto to a simple majority, but neither house passed such a measure. The Whigs were unable to pursue further impeachment proceedings in the subsequent 28th Congress, as in the elections of 1842 they lost control of the House (although they retained a majority in the Senate). Near the end of Tyler's term in office, on March 3, 1845, Congress overrode his veto of a minor bill relating to revenue cutters. This marked the first time any president's veto had been overridden.

Cabinet and judicial appointments


For two years, Tyler struggled with the Whigs, eventually nominating 19 men to the six cabinet offices. When he nominated John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

 in 1844 as Secretary of State, to reform the Democrats, the gravitational swing of the Whigs to identify with "the North" and the Democrats as the party of "the South" led the way to the sectional party politics of the next decade. Tyler's final Cabinet consisted of five Southerners and one Northerner (William Wilkins
William Wilkins (U.S. politician)
William Wilkins was an American lawyer, jurist, and politician from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During his career, he served in both houses of the Pennsylvania State Legislature, and in all three branches of the United States federal government, including service as a United States federal judge, as...

, Secretary of War).

Four of Tyler's Cabinet nominees were rejected, the most of any president. These were Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing was an American diplomat who served as a U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts and Attorney General under President Franklin Pierce.-Early life:...

 (Treasury), David Henshaw
David Henshaw
David Henshaw was the 14th United States Secretary of the Navy.Henshaw was born in Leicester, Massachusetts in 1791 and educated at Leicester Academy. Trained as a druggist, he achieved notable success in that field, then expanded his energies into banking, transportation and politics...

 (Navy) James Porter
James Madison Porter
James Madison Porter , a Pennsylvanian, was the 18th United States Secretary of War and a founder of Lafayette College....

 (War), and James S. Green
James S. Green (New Jersey lawyer)
James Sproat Green was an American lawyer who served as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 1835 to 1850. He was the father of New Jersey Governor Robert Stockton Green.-Biography:...

 (Treasury). Henshaw and Porter served as recess appointees before their rejections. Tyler aggravated this problem when he repeatedly renominated Cushing. As a result, Cushing was rejected three times in one day, March 4, 1843, the last day of the 27th Congress.
Judicial Appointments
Court Name Term
U.S.S.C.
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

Samuel Nelson
Samuel Nelson
Samuel Nelson was an American attorney and an Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States....

E.D.Va.
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is one of two United States district courts serving the Commonwealth of Virginia...

James D. Halyburton
James Dandridge Halyburton
James Dandridge Halyburton was a United States federal judge.Born in New Kent County, Virginia, Halyburton attended the University of Virginia School of Law and received an A.B. from Harvard College in 1823. He entered private practice in New Kent County in 1824, also serving briefly as a member...

D. Ind. Elisha M. Huntington
Elisha Mills Huntington
Elisha Mills Huntington was an American lawyer, politician, prosecutor, judge and federal jurist.Born in Butternuts, New York, Huntington moved to Terre Haute, Indiana to join his older brother Nathaniel Huntington. He read law and was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1827 on his 21st birthday...

E.D.La.
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana is a federal trial court based in New Orleans. Like all U.S...


W.D.La.
United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana is a United States federal court with jurisdiction over approximately two thirds of the state of Louisiana, with courts in Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport...

McCaleb was assigned as the judge for both the Eastern and Western Districts of Louisiana, a common practice at the time.
Theodore H. McCaleb
Theodore Howard McCaleb
Theodore Howard McCaleb was a United States federal judge.Born in Claiborne County, Mississippi, McCaleb attended Yale College, and read law to enter the Bar in 1832...

On February 13, 1845, the two District of Louisiana were re-combined into a single District; McCaleb was reassigned to this District by operation of law
Operation of law
The phrase "by operation of law" is a legal term that indicates that a right or liability has been created for a party, irrespective of the intent of that party, because it is dictated by existing legal principles. For example, if a person dies without a will, his heirs are determined by operation...

; on March 3, 1849, the District was again split, and McCaleb was assigned to the Eastern District only.
D.Vt.
United States District Court for the District of Vermont
The United States District Court for the District of Vermont is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction is the federal district of Vermont. The court has locations in Brattleboro, Burlington, and Rutland. The Court was created under the Judiciary Act of 1791 under the jurisdiction of the...

Samuel Prentiss
Samuel Prentiss
Samuel Prentiss was a United States Senator from Vermont and later a United States federal judge.Born in Stonington, Connecticut, he moved to Northfield, Massachusetts in 1786; he completed preparatory studies and was instructed in the classics by a private tutor...

E.D.Pa.
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is one of the original 13 federal judiciary districts created by the Judiciary Act of 1789...

Archibald Randall
Archibald Randall
Archibald Randall was a United States federal judge.Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Randall read law to enter the Bar in 1818. He was in private practice in Philadelphia from 1820 to 1842. He was a clerk of the Philadelphia Select Council, Pennsylvania from 1830 to 1833...

D.Mass.
United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts is the federal district court whose jurisdiction is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA. The first court session was held in Boston in 1789. The second term was held in Salem in 1790 and until 1813 court session locations...

Peleg Sprague


Two vacancies occurred on the Supreme Court during Tyler's presidency, as Justices Smith Thompson
Smith Thompson
Smith Thompson was a United States Secretary of the Navy from 1818 to 1823, and a United States Supreme Court Associate Justice from 1823 until his death in 1843....

 and Henry Baldwin
Henry Baldwin (judge)
Henry Baldwin was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from January 18, 1830, to April 21, 1844.-Biography:...

 died in 1843 and 1844, respectively. Tyler, ever at odds with Congress – including the Whig-controlled Senate – nominated several men to the Supreme Court to fill these seats. However, the Senate successively voted against confirming John Canfield Spencer
John Canfield Spencer
John Canfield Spencer was an American lawyer, politician, judge and United States Cabinet secretary in the administration of President John Tyler.-Early life:...

, Reuben Walworth, Edward King
Edward King (jurist)
Edward King was a prominent 19th century lawyer and jurist, perhaps best known today as having twice been unsuccessfully nominated to the United States Supreme Court....

 and John M. Read
John M. Read
John Meredith Read was an American lawyer, jurist, and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was one of the founders of the Republican Party and Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.-Early life:...

 (King was rejected twice). One reason cited for the Senate's actions was the hope that Whig Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 would fill the vacancies after winning the 1844 presidential election. Tyler's four unsuccessful nominees are the most by a president.

Finally, in February 1845, with less than a month remaining in his term, Tyler's nomination of Samuel Nelson
Samuel Nelson
Samuel Nelson was an American attorney and an Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States....

 to Thompson's seat was confirmed by the Senate. Nelson's successful confirmation was a surprise. Nelson, although a Democrat, had a reputation as a careful and noncontroversial jurist. Baldwin's seat remained vacant until Polk's nominee, Robert Grier
Robert Cooper Grier
Robert Cooper Grier , was an American jurist who served on the Supreme Court of the United States.-Early life, education, and career:...

, was confirmed in 1846.

Tyler was able to appoint only six other federal judges, all to United States district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

s.

Foreign and military affairs


Tyler's difficulties in domestic policy were matched by adept accomplishments in foreign policy. He had long been an advocate of expansionism
Expansionism
In general, expansionism consists of expansionist policies of governments and states. While some have linked the term to promoting economic growth , more commonly expansionism refers to the doctrine of a state expanding its territorial base usually, though not necessarily, by means of military...

 toward the Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 and free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

, and was fond of evoking themes of national destiny and the spread of liberty in support of these policies. His presidency was largely continuous with Jackson's earlier efforts to promote American commerce across the Pacific. Eager to compete with Great Britain in international markets, he sent lawyer Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing
Caleb Cushing was an American diplomat who served as a U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts and Attorney General under President Franklin Pierce.-Early life:...

 to China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, where he negotiated the terms of the Treaty of Wanghia
Treaty of Wanghia
The Treaty of Wanghia , is a diplomatic agreement between the Qing Dynasty of China and the United States, signed on 3 July 1844 in the Kun Iam Temple...

 (1844). The same year, he sent Henry Wheaton as a minister to Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, where he negotiated and signed a trade agreement with the German Zollverein
Zollverein
thumb|upright=1.2|The German Zollverein 1834–1919blue = Prussia in 1834 grey= Included region until 1866yellow= Excluded after 1866red = Borders of the German Union of 1828 pink= Relevant others until 1834...

. This treaty was rejected by the Whigs, mainly as a show of hostility toward the Tyler administration. The President also applied the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

 to Hawaii, told Britain not to interfere there, and began the process towards the eventual annexation of Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 by the United States.

In 1842, the Secretary of State, Daniel Webster, negotiated the Webster–Ashburton Treaty with Britain which concluded where the border between Maine and Canada lay. The issue of where the border lay had caused tension between the United States and Britain for a notable amount of time and had brought the two countries to the brink of war on several occasions. The treaty improved Anglo-American diplomatic relations. However, Tyler was unsuccessful in concluding a treaty with the British to fix the boundaries of Oregon. On Tyler's last full day in office, March 3, 1845, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 was admitted to the Union as the 27th state.

Tyler advocated an increase in military strength. His administration drew the praise of naval leaders, who saw a marked increase in naval warships. Tyler brought the long, bloody Second Seminole War
Second Seminole War
The Second Seminole War, also known as the Florida War, was a conflict from 1835 to 1842 in Florida between various groups of Native Americans collectively known as Seminoles and the United States, part of a series of conflicts called the Seminole Wars...

 to an end in 1842, and expressed interest in the civilizing, so to speak, of the Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

. He also advocated the establishment of a chain of American forts from Council Bluffs, Iowa
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Council Bluffs, known until 1852 as Kanesville, Iowathe historic starting point of the Mormon Trail and eventual northernmost anchor town of the other emigrant trailsis a city in and the county seat of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States and is on the east bank of the Missouri River across...

, to the Pacific.

In May 1842, when the Dorr Rebellion
Dorr Rebellion
The Dorr Rebellion was a short-lived armed insurrection in the U.S. state of Rhode Island led by Thomas Wilson Dorr, who was agitating for changes to the state's electoral system.- Precursors :...

 in Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

 came to a head, Tyler pondered the request of the governor and legislature to send federal troops to help it suppress the Dorrite insurgents. The insurgents under Thomas Dorr had armed themselves and proposed to install a new state constitution. Before such acts, Rhode Island had been following the same constitutional structure that was established in 1663. Tyler called for calm on both sides, and recommended the governor enlarge the franchise to let most men vote. Tyler promised that in case an actual insurrection should break out in Rhode Island he would employ force to aid the regular, or Charter, government. He made it clear that federal assistance would be given, not to prevent, but only to put down insurrection, and would not be available until violence had been committed. After listening to reports from his confidential agents, Tyler decided that the 'lawless assemblages' had dispersed and expressed his confidence in a "temper of conciliation as well as of energy and decision." He did not send any federal forces. The rebels fled the state when the state militia marched against them. With their dispersion, they accepted the expansion of suffrage.

Annexation of Texas



Tyler, an advocate of Western expansionism, made the annexation of the Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

 part of his platform soon after becoming President. Texas had declared independence from Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 in the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

 of 1836, although Mexico still refused to acknowledge it as a sovereign state. The people of Texas actively pursued joining the Union, but Jackson and Van Buren had been reluctant to inflame tensions over slavery by annexing another Southern state. Tyler, on the other hand, intended annexation to be the focal point of his administration. Secretary Webster, opposed, convinced Tyler to focus on Pacific initiatives until later in his term.


Early attempts


In early 1843, having completed the Webster–Ashburton treaty and other diplomatic efforts, Tyler felt ready to pursue Texas. Now lacking a party base, he saw annexation of the republic as his only pathway to independent re-election in 1844. For the first time in his career he was willing to play "political hardball" to see it through. As a trial balloon
Trial balloon
A trial balloon is information sent out to the media in order to observe the reaction of an audience. It can be used by companies sending out press releases to judge reaction by customers, or it can be used by politicians who deliberately leak information on a policy change under consideration...

 he dispatched his ally Thomas Walker Gilmer
Thomas Walker Gilmer
Thomas Walker Gilmer was an American statesman.-Personal life:Gilmer was born to George and Eliza Gilmer at their farm, "Gilmerton", in Albemarle County, Virginia. He was taught by private tutors in Charlottesville and Staunton, and studied law in Liberty , Virginia.Gilmer practiced law in...

, then a U.S. Representative from Virginia, to publish a letter defending annexation, which was well received. Despite his successful relationship with Webster, Tyler knew he would need a Secretary of State who supported the Texas initiative, and so he forced Webster's resignation and installed Hugh S. Legaré
Hugh S. Legaré
Hugh Swinton Legaré was an American lawyer and politician.-Biography:Legaré was born in Charleston, South Carolina, of Huguenot and Scottish ancestry....

 as an interim successor.

With the help of newly appointed Treasury Secretary
United States Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also with some issues of national security and defense. This position in the Federal Government of the United...

 John C. Spencer, he cleared out an array of officeholders, replacing them with pro-annexation partisans, in a reversal of his former stand against patronage. He elicited the help of political organizer Michael Walsh
Michael Walsh (New York)
Michael Walsh was a United States Representative from New York.-Early life:Born in Youghal, Cork, Ireland, he completed preparatory studies, was graduated from Trinity College, Dublin and emigrated to the United States, settling in Baltimore, Maryland...

 to build a political machine
Political machine
A political machine is a political organization in which an authoritative boss or small group commands the support of a corps of supporters and businesses , who receive rewards for their efforts...

 in New York. In exchange for an appointment as consul to Hawaii
United States Minister to Hawaii
The Minister to Hawaii was an office of the United States Department of State to the Kingdom of Hawaii during the period of 1810 to 1898. Appointed by the President of the United States with the consent of Congress, the Minister to Hawaii was equivalent in rank to the present-day ambassador of the...

, journalist Alexander G. Abell wrote a flattering biography, Life of John Tyler, which was printed in large quantities and given to postmasters throughout the country to distribute. Seeking to rehabilitate his public image, Tyler embarked on a nationwide campaign tour in the spring of 1843. The positive reception of the public at these events contrasted starkly with his ostracism back in Washington. The tour centered around the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument
Bunker Hill Monument
-External links:****: cultural context**...

 in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

. Shortly after the dedication, Tyler learned of Legaré's sudden death, which dampened the festivities and forced him to cancel the rest of the tour.

He appointed Abel P. Upshur
Abel P. Upshur
Abel Parker Upshur was an American lawyer, judge and politician from Virginia. Upshur was active in Virginia state politics and later served as Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of State during the Whig administration of President John Tyler...

, a popular Secretary of the Navy and close adviser, as his new Secretary of State, and nominated Gilmer to fill his former office. Tyler and Upshur began quiet negotiations with the Texas government, promising military protection from Mexico in exchange for a commitment to annexation. Secrecy was necessary, as the Constitution required Congressional approval for such military commitments. Upshur planted rumors of possible British designs on Texas to drum up support among Northern voters, who were wary of admitting a new pro-slavery state. By January 1844 Upshur told the Texas government that he had found a large majority of Senators in favor of an annexation treaty. The republic remained skeptical, and finalization of the treaty took until the end of February.

USS Princeton disaster



It was only one day after completing the treaty that Upshur and Gilmer were killed in a freak accident. A ceremonial cruise down the Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

 was held aboard the newly built USS Princeton
USS Princeton (1843)
The first Princeton was the first screw steam warship in the United States Navy. She was launched in 1843, decommissioned in 1847, and broken up in 1849....

 on February 28, 1844. Aboard the ship were 400 guests, including Tyler and his cabinet, as was the world's largest naval gun, the "Peacemaker". The gun was ceremoniously fired several times in the afternoon to the delight of the onlookers, who then filed downstairs to offer a toast. Several hours later, Captain Robert F. Stockton
Robert F. Stockton
Robert Field Stockton was a United States naval commodore, notable in the capture of California during the Mexican-American War. He was a naval innovator and an early advocate for a propeller-driven, steam-powered navy. Stockton was from a notable political family and also served as a U.S...

 was convinced by the crowd to fire one more shot. As the guests moved up to the deck, Tyler paused briefly to watch his son-in-law, William Waller, sing a ditty.

At once an explosion was heard from above: the gun had malfunctioned. Tyler was unhurt, having remained safely below deck, but a number of others were instantly killed, including his crucial cabinet members, Gilmer and Upshur. Also killed or mortally wounded were Virgil Maxcy
Virgil Maxcy
Virgil Maxcy was an American political figure. He was born in Massachusetts, and spent his adult years in Maryland. He was killed in 1844 in a shipboard accident, when a cannon exploded aboard the USS Princeton.-Early life:...

 of Maryland, Rep. David Gardiner
David Gardiner
David Gardiner was the father of Julia Gardiner Tyler, wife of U.S. President John Tyler.-Life:Gardiner was a descendant of Lion Gardiner and lived on Gardiners Island in East Hampton, New York...

 of New York, Commodore Beverly Kennon, Chief of Construction of the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, and Tyler's black slave and body servant. For Tyler, any hope of completing the Texas plan before November (and with it, any hope of re-election) was instantly dashed. Historian Edward P. Crapol later wrote that "Prior to the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln," the Princeton disaster "unquestionably was the most severe and debilitating tragedy ever to confront a president of the United States."

Ratification and 1844 election


In what the Miller Center of Public Affairs
Miller Center of Public Affairs
The Miller Center of Public Affairs is a non-partisan research institute that is part of the University of Virginia.Founded in 1975, the Miller Center is a leading public policy institution that serves as a national meeting place where engaged citizens, scholars, students, media representatives and...

 considers "a serious tactical error that ruined the scheme [of establishing political respectability for him]", Tyler appointed former Vice President John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

 in early March 1844 as his Secretary of State. Calhoun was a leading advocate of slavery, and his attempts to get an annexation treaty passed were resisted by abolitionists as a result. When the text of the treaty was leaked to the public, and found to implicitly endorse both slavery and a possible confrontation with Mexico, public opposition grew. Both Clay and Van Buren, the respective frontrunners for the Whig and Democratic nominations, took a stance against annexation.

Tyler knew, with virtually no chance of re-election, that the only way to salvage his presidency and legacy was to move public opinion in favor of the Texas issue. He formed a third party, the Democratic-Republicans, using the officeholders and political networks he had built over the previous year. The Tyler supporters, holding signs reading "Tyler and Texas!", held their nominating convention in Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

 in May 1844, just as the Democratic Party was holding its presidential nomination. With their high visibility and energy they were able to force the Democrats' hand in favor of annexation. Ballot after ballot, Van Buren failed to win the necessary super-majority of Democratic votes, and slowly fell in the ranking. It was not until the ninth ballot that the Democrats discovered an obscure pro-annexation candidate named James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

. They found him to be perfectly suited for their platform, and he was nominated with two-thirds of the vote. Tyler considered his work vindicated, and implied in an acceptance letter that annexation was his true priority rather than re-election.

Tyler was unfazed when the Senate rejected his treaty by a vote of 16–35 in June 1844, as he felt that annexation was now within reach. He called for Congress to annex Texas by joint resolution rather than by treaty. Satisfied with the prospects of success, he dropped out of the race in August and endorsed Polk for the presidency. Polk's narrow victory over Clay in the November election was seen by the Tyler administration as a mandate
Mandate (politics)
In politics, a mandate is the authority granted by a constituency to act as its representative.The concept of a government having a legitimate mandate to govern via the fair winning of a democratic election is a central idea of democracy...

 for completing the resolution. Tyler announced in his annual message to Congress that "a controlling majority of the people and a large majority of the states have declared in favor of immediate annexation." In late February 1845, the House by a substantial margin and the Senate by a bare 27–25 majority approved a joint resolution offering terms of annexation to Texas. On March 1, three days before the end of his term, Tyler signed the bill into law. After some debate, Texas accepted the terms and entered the union on December 29, 1845, as the 28th state.

Post-presidency and death


Tyler retired to a Virginia plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

, originally named Walnut Grove (or "the Grove"), located on the James River
James River (Virginia)
The James River is a river in the U.S. state of Virginia. It is long, extending to if one includes the Jackson River, the longer of its two source tributaries. The James River drains a catchment comprising . The watershed includes about 4% open water and an area with a population of 2.5 million...

 in Charles City County, Virginia
Charles City County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,926 people, 2,670 households, and 1,975 families residing in the county. The population density was 38 people per square mile . There were 2,895 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile...

. He renamed it Sherwood Forest
Sherwood Forest Plantation
Sherwood Forest Plantation, also known as John Tyler House, is located on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. It is located on State Route 5, a scenic byway which runs between the independent cities of Richmond and Williamsburg...

, in a reference to the folk legend Robin Hood
Robin Hood
Robin Hood was a heroic outlaw in English folklore. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor", assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his "Merry Men". Traditionally, Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes....

, to signify that he had been "outlawed" by the Whig Party. He did not take farming lightly and worked hard to maintain large yields throughout the 1840s. His neighbors, largely Whigs, appointed him "overseer" of his road in 1847 in an effort to mock him. To their displeasure he treated the title seriously, frequently summoning his neighbors' slaves to attend to road work, and continued to bear the title even after his neighbors asked him to stop. He withdrew from electoral politics, rarely receiving visits from his friends. He was asked to give an occasional public speech, but was not sought out as an adviser. One notable speech was at the unveiling of a monument to Henry Clay; acknowledging the political battles between the two, he spoke highly of his former colleague.

On the eve of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, Tyler re-entered public life as sponsor and chairman of the Virginia Peace Convention
Peace conference of 1861
The Peace Conference of 1861 was a meeting of more than 100 of the leading politicians of the antebellum United States held in Washington, D.C., in February 1861 that was meant to prevent what ultimately became the Civil War. The success of President Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party in the...

, held in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 in February 1861 as an effort to devise means to prevent a war. The convention sought a compromise to avoid civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 while the Confederate Constitution
Confederate States Constitution
The Constitution of the Confederate States of America was the supreme law of the Confederate States of America, as adopted on March 11, 1861 and in effect through the conclusion of the American Civil War. The Confederacy also operated under a Provisional Constitution from February 8, 1861 to March...

 was being drawn up at the Montgomery Convention
Montgomery Convention
The Montgomery Convention marked the formal beginning of the Confederate States of America. Convened in Montgomery, Alabama the Convention organized a provisional government for the Confederacy and created the Constitution of the Confederate States of America....

. When the convention's proposals were rejected by Congress, Tyler abandoned hope of compromise and saw secession as the only option. He was sanguine about a peaceful secession, predicting that a clean split of all Southern states would not result in war. When war ultimately broke out, Tyler unhesitatingly sided with the Confederacy and became a delegate to the Provisional Confederate Congress
Provisional Confederate Congress
The Provisional Confederate Congress, for a time the legislative branch of the Confederate States of America, was the body which drafted the Confederate Constitution, elected Jefferson Davis President of the Confederacy, and designed the first Confederate flag...

 from February 4, 1861. He was then elected to the House of Representatives of the Confederate Congress. On January 5, 1862, he left for Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

 in anticipation of his congressional service, but he would not live to see the opening sessions.

Throughout Tyler's life, he suffered from poor health. As he aged, he suffered more frequently from colds during the winter. After his exit from the White House, he fell victim to repeated cases of dysentery. He had many aches and pains in the last eight years of his life. On January 12, 1862, after complaining of chills and dizziness, he vomited and collapsed. He was revived, yet the next day he admitted to the same symptoms. He was treated for the rest of the week, but his health did not improve, and he made plans to return to Sherwood Forest on the 18th. As he lay in bed the previous night he began suffocating, and Julia summoned his doctor. Just after midnight, Tyler took a last sip of brandy
Brandy
Brandy is a spirit produced by distilling wine. Brandy generally contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume and is typically taken as an after-dinner drink...

, and told his doctor, "I am going. Perhaps it is best." It is believed that he had suffered a stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

. Tyler is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, by the side of former President James Monroe
James Monroe
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States . Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation...

.

Tyler's death was the only one in presidential history not to be officially recognized in Washington, because of his allegiance to the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. He had requested a simple burial, but Confederate President Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

 and his fellows delivered a grand, politically pointed funeral, painting Tyler as a hero to the Confederacy. Tyler's favorite horse named "The General" is buried at his Sherwood Forest Plantation
Sherwood Forest Plantation
Sherwood Forest Plantation, also known as John Tyler House, is located on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. It is located on State Route 5, a scenic byway which runs between the independent cities of Richmond and Williamsburg...

 with a gravestone which reads,
Here lie the bones of my old horse, "General,"

Who served his master faithfully for twenty-one years,

And never made a blunder.

Would that his master could say the same!

Family and personal life


With his two wives, Tyler fathered more children than any other president in history. His first wife was Letitia Christian Tyler
Letitia Christian Tyler
Letitia Christian Tyler , first wife of John Tyler, was First Lady of the United States from 1841 until her death.-Early Life and Marriage:...

 (November 12, 1790 – September 10, 1842), with whom he had eight children:
  1. Mary Tyler (1815–47)
  2. Robert Tyler
    Robert Tyler
    Robert Tyler was the eldest son of United States President John Tyler and Letitia Christian Tyler. He served as the Confederate Register of the Treasury during the American Civil War He also served as his father's private secretary during his administration. Afterwards, he served as the editor...

     (1816–77)
  3. John Tyler, Jr. (1819–96)
  4. Letitia Tyler Semple
    Letitia Tyler Semple
    Letitia Tyler Semple was the daughter of John Tyler and Letitia Christian Tyler. She acted as unofficial First Lady in 1844.-External links:* at Find a Grave...

     (1821–1907)
  5. Elizabeth Tyler
    Elizabeth Tyler
    Elizabeth Tyler was one of fifteen children of John Tyler, tenth President of the United States. She was born in 1823 to John Tyler and Letitia Christian, his first wife....

     (1823–50)
  6. Anne Contesse Tyler (1825)
  7. Alice Tyler (1827–54)
  8. Tazewell Tyler (1830–74)

Tyler's wife Letitia died in the White House in September 1842.


His second wife was Julia Gardiner Tyler
Julia Gardiner Tyler
Julia Gardiner Tyler , second wife of John Tyler, was First Lady of the United States from June 26, 1844, to March 4, 1845.-Early life:...

 (July 23, 1820 – July 10, 1889), with whom he had seven children:
  1. David Gardiner Tyler
    David Gardiner Tyler
    David Gardiner Tyler , was a U.S. Democratic Party politician.-Early life:He was born in East Hampton, New York and was the first child born to former President John Tyler and his second wife, Julia Gardiner Tyler. He was named after his late maternal grandfather, David Gardiner. As a child, he...

     (1846–1927)
  2. John Alexander Tyler
    John Alexander Tyler
    John Alexander "Alex" Tyler was the second son of John Tyler and his second wife, Julia Tyler. At age 14 he ran away from home and enlisted in the Confederate Army, John Alexander "Alex" Tyler (April 7, 1848 - September 1, 1883) was the second son of John Tyler and his second wife, Julia Tyler. ...

     (1848–83)
  3. Julia Gardiner Tyler Spencer (1849–71)
  4. Lachlan Tyler (1851–1902)
  5. Lyon Gardiner Tyler
    Lyon Gardiner Tyler
    Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Sr. was a U.S. educator and historian.-Biography:He was the son of President John Tyler and First Lady Julia Gardiner Tyler, born at Sherwood Forest Plantation. He graduated in 1875 at the University of Virginia...

     (1853–1935)
  6. Robert Fitzwalter Tyler (1856–1927)
  7. Pearl Tyler (1860–1947)


Early in his presidency, Tyler was attacked by abolitionist publisher Joshua Leavitt
Joshua Leavitt
Rev. Joshua Leavitt was an American Congregationalist minister and former lawyer who became a prominent writer, editor and publisher of abolitionist literature. He was also a spokesman for the Liberty Party and a prominent campaigner for cheap postage...

, who alleged that Tyler had fathered (and sold) several sons with his slaves, prompting a response from the Tyler administration–linked newspaper The Madisonian. A number of African American families today have an oral tradition of descent from Tyler, but no evidence of such a link has ever surfaced.

As of August 2011, Tyler has two living grandsons through his son Lyon Gardiner Tyler. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr., was born in 1924, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler was born in 1928. Harrison Tyler maintains the family home, "Sherwood Forest."

Legacy


The Tyler presidency is generally held in low esteem by historians. Edward P. Crapol began his biography John Tyler, the Accidental President (2006) by noting: "Other biographers and historians have argued that John Tyler was a hapless and inept chief executive whose presidency was seriously flawed." In The Republican Vision of John Tyler (2003), Dan Monroe observed that the Tyler presidency "is generally ranked as one of the least successful". Robert Seager II wrote in And Tyler Too: A Biography of John and Julia Gardiner Tyler (1963) that Tyler "was neither a great President nor a great intellectual," adding that despite a few achievements, "his administration has been and must be counted an unsuccessful one by any modern measure of accomplishment". A survey of 65 historians, conducted by C-SPAN
C-SPAN
C-SPAN , an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable television network that offers coverage of federal government proceedings and other public affairs programming via its three television channels , one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming...

 in 2009, ranked Tyler as 35th of 42 men to hold the office.
Despite his poor image, some have argued that Tyler's accomplishments and political resolve warrant a more favorable treatment. Tyler's assumption of complete presidential powers "set a hugely important precedent", according to a biographical sketch by the University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

's Miller Center of Public Affairs
Miller Center of Public Affairs
The Miller Center of Public Affairs is a non-partisan research institute that is part of the University of Virginia.Founded in 1975, the Miller Center is a leading public policy institution that serves as a national meeting place where engaged citizens, scholars, students, media representatives and...

. The article also noted that "Tyler could claim an ambitious, successful foreign policy presidency, due largely to the efforts of Secretary of State Webster." Monroe credits Tyler with "achievements like the Webster–Ashburton treaty which heralded the prospect of improved relations with Great Britain, and the annexation of Texas, which added millions of acres to the national domain." Crapol argued that Tyler "was a stronger and more effective president than generally remembered," while Seager wrote, "I find him to be a courageous, principled man, a fair and honest fighter for his beliefs. He was a President without a party."

Tyler has been the namesake of several U.S. locations, including the city of Tyler, Texas
Tyler, Texas
Tyler is a city in and the county seat of Smith County, Texas, in the United States. It takes its name from President John Tyler . The city had a population of 109,000 in 2010, according to the United States Census Bureau...

 and its John Tyler High School
John Tyler High School
John Tyler High School is a public, co-educational secondary school in Tyler, Texas. It is part of the Tyler Independent School District and serves 9th through 12th grade...

, along with John Tyler Community College
John Tyler Community College
John Tyler Community College is a two-year, public institution of higher education and is the fifth largest of the 23 community colleges in Virginia. John Tyler is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and offers 17 associate degree programs,...

 in Virginia, located near Tyler's home. While academics have both praised and criticized Tyler, the general American public has little awareness of him at all. Several writers have noted that Tyler is among the nation's most obscure presidents. As Seager remarked, "His countrymen generally remember him, if they have heard of him at all, as the rhyming end of a catchy campaign slogan."

See also


  • Second Party System
    Second Party System
    The Second Party System is a term of periodization used by historians and political scientists to name the political party system existing in the United States from about 1828 to 1854...

  • Dorr Rebellion
    Dorr Rebellion
    The Dorr Rebellion was a short-lived armed insurrection in the U.S. state of Rhode Island led by Thomas Wilson Dorr, who was agitating for changes to the state's electoral system.- Precursors :...

  • U.S. presidential election, 1840
  • Sherwood Forest Plantation
    Sherwood Forest Plantation
    Sherwood Forest Plantation, also known as John Tyler House, is located on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. It is located on State Route 5, a scenic byway which runs between the independent cities of Richmond and Williamsburg...

  • List of Presidents of the United States
  • US Presidents on US postage stamps

Ancestors