President Tyler - A Short Biography


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Tyler was elected for a full term without opposition in early The major issue of the Sixteenth Congress —21 was whether Missouri should be admitted to the Union, and whether slavery would be permitted in the new state.

John Tyler

Thus, slavery would be abolished through the action of individual states as the practice became rare, as had been done in some Northern states. It admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free one, and it also forbade slavery in states formed from the northern part of the territories. Throughout his time in Congress, he voted against bills which would restrict slavery in the territories. Tyler declined to seek renomination in late , citing ill health.

He privately acknowledged his dissatisfaction with the position, 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 left office on March 3, , endorsing his former opponent Stevenson for the seat, and returned to private law practice full-time. Restless and bored after two years at home practicing law, Tyler sought election to the House of Delegates in Neither member from Charles City County was seeking re-election, and Tyler was elected easily that April, finishing first among the three candidates seeking the two seats.

The congressional nominating caucus , an early system for choosing presidential candidates, was still used despite its growing unpopularity. Tyler tried to convince the lower house to endorse the caucus system and choose William H. Crawford as the Democratic-Republican candidate. Crawford captured the legislature's support, but Tyler's proposal was defeated. His most enduring effort in this second legislative tenure was saving the College of William and Mary, which risked closure from waning enrollment.

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. These were passed into law and were successful; by the school achieved its highest-ever enrollment. Tyler's political fortunes were growing; he was considered as a possible candidate in the legislative deliberation for the U. Tyler was elected —81 over John Floyd. The office of governor was powerless under the original Virginia Constitution — , 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 former president Jefferson, a Virginian, who had died on July 4, 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. He was appointed to the Committee on the Legislature. His service in various capacities at a state level included as president of the Virginia Colonization Society , and as rector and chancellor of the College of William and Mary.

In January , the General Assembly considered whether to elect U. Senator John Randolph for a full six-year term. 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.

The nationalists 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 sought the seat. Tyler repeatedly declined the offer, endorsing Randolph as the best candidate, but the political pressure continued to mount. Eventually he agreed to accept the seat if chosen.

On the day of the vote, one assemblyman argued there was no political difference between the two candidates—Tyler was merely more agreeable than Randolph. The incumbent's supporters, though, contended that Tyler's election would be a tacit endorsement of the Adams administration. The legislature selected Tyler in a vote of —, and he resigned his governorship on March 4, , as his Senate term began. By the time of Tyler's senatorial election, the campaign for president was in progress.

Adams, the incumbent president, was challenged by Gen. Tyler disliked both candidates for their willingness to increase the power of the federal government, but he was increasingly drawn to Jackson, hoping that he would not seek to spend as much federal money on internal improvements as Adams. When the Twentieth Congress began in December , [f] Tyler served alongside his Virginia colleague and friend Littleton Waller Tazewell , who shared his strict constructionist views and uneasy support of Jackson.

Throughout his tenure, Sen. Tyler vigorously opposed national infrastructure bills, feeling these were matters for individual states to decide. He and his Southern colleagues unsuccessfully opposed the protectionist Tariff of , known to its detractors as the "Tariff of Abominations".

Tyler suggested that the Tariff's only positive outcome would be a national political backlash, restoring a respect for states' rights. Tyler was soon at odds with President Jackson, frustrated by Jackson's newly emerging spoils system , describing it as an "electioneering weapon". He voted against many of the President's nominations when they appeared to be unconstitutional or motivated by patronage.

Opposing the nominations of a president of his own party was considered "an act of insurgency" against his party. In some matters Tyler was on good terms with Jackson. He defended Jackson for vetoing the Maysville Road funding project , which Jackson considered unconstitutional. Congress voted to recharter the bank in July , and Jackson vetoed the bill for both constitutional and practical reasons. Tyler voted to sustain the veto and endorsed the president in his successful bid for re-election.

Tyler's uneasy relationship with his party came to a head during the 22nd Congress , as the Nullification Crisis of —33 began. South Carolina, threatening secession , passed the Ordinance of Nullification in November , declaring the "Tariff of Abominations" null and void within its borders. This raised the constitutional question of whether states could nullify federal laws. President Jackson, who denied such a right, prepared to sign a Force Bill allowing the federal government to use military action to enforce the tariff. 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 outlining his views.

He supported Clay's Compromise Tariff , enacted that year, to gradually reduce the tariff over ten years, alleviating tensions between the states and the federal government. In voting against the Force Bill, Tyler knew he would permanently alienate the pro-Jackson faction of the Virginia legislature, even those who had tolerated his irregularity up to this point. This jeopardized his re-election in February , in which he faced the pro-administration Democrat James McDowell ; however, with Clay's endorsement, Tyler was re-elected by a margin of 12 votes.

Jackson further offended Tyler by moving to dissolve the Bank by executive fiat. Taney to transfer federal funds from the Bank to state-chartered banks without delay. Tyler saw this as "a flagrant assumption of power", a breach of contract, and a threat to the economy. After months of agonizing, he decided to join with Jackson's opponents.

Sitting on the Senate Finance Committee , he voted for two censure resolutions against the president in March On March 3, , with only hours remaining in the congressional session , the Whigs voted Tyler President pro tempore of the Senate as a symbolic gesture of approval. Shortly thereafter, the Democrats took control of the Virginia House of Delegates. Tyler was offered a judgeship in exchange for resigning his seat, but he declined. Tyler understood what was to come: By resolution of the Democratic-controlled legislature, Tyler could be instructed to vote for the bill.

If he disregarded the instructions, he would be violating his own principles: Giles and Brent for opposition to instructions," he noted. By mid-February he felt that his Senate career was likely at an end. He issued a letter of resignation to the Vice President, Van Buren, on February 29, , saying in part: I shall carry with me into retirement the principles which I brought with me into public life, and by the surrender of the high station to which I was called by the voice of the people of Virginia, I shall set an example to my children which shall teach them to regard as nothing place and office, when either is to be attained or held at the sacrifice of honor.

Early life and career

The congressional nominating caucus , an early system for choosing presidential candidates, was still used despite its growing unpopularity. He received an excellent education and graduated from the William and Mary College. Democratic-Republican — Democratic — Whig — Democratic-Republican None — — Tyler's second wife, Julia Gardiner Tyler, initiated the practice of playing "Hail to the Chief" whenever a president appears in public. With the vote split among three candidates, including Rives and Tyler, the Senate seat remained vacant for almost two years, until January

While Tyler wished to attend to his private life and family, he was soon occupied with the presidential election of He had been suggested as a vice presidential candidate since early , 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 Van Buren, Jackson's chosen successor. Instead, Whigs in various regions put forth their own preferred tickets, reflecting the party's tenuous coalition: The Whigs wanted to deny Van Buren a majority in the Electoral College, throwing the election into the House of Representatives, where deals could be made.

Tyler hoped electors would be unable to elect a vice president, and that he would be one of the top two vote-getters, from whom the Senate, under the Twelfth Amendment , must choose. Following the custom of the times—that candidates not appear to seek the office—Tyler stayed home throughout the campaign, and made no speeches. Harrison was the leading Whig candidate for president, but he lost to Van Buren. Tyler had been drawn into Virginia politics even as a U. From October to January , he served as a member of the state constitutional convention , a role which he had been 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 slaveowner 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 election, Tyler thought his political career was at an end, and planned to return to private law practice. In the fall of a friend sold him a sizable property in Williamsburg.

Unable to remain away from politics, Tyler successfully sought election to the House of Delegates and took his seat in He was a national political figure by this point, and his third delegate service touched on such national issues as the sale of public lands. In February , the General Assembly considered who should fill that seat, which was to expire the following month.

The Best Biographies of John Tyler | My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

Rives had drifted away from his party, signalling a possible alliance with the Whigs. As Tyler had already fully rejected the Democrats, he expected the Whigs would support him. Still, many Whigs found Rives a more politically expedient choice, as they hoped to ally with the conservative wing of the Democratic Party in the presidential election. This strategy was supported by Whig leader Henry Clay, who nevertheless admired Tyler at that time. With the vote split among three candidates, including Rives and Tyler, the Senate seat remained vacant for almost two years, until January What has caused this great commotion, motion, Our country through?

And with them, we'll beat the little Van, Van, Van Van is a used-up man. When the Whig National Convention convened in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to choose the party's ticket, the United States was in the third year of a serious recession following the Panic of President Van Buren's ineffective efforts to deal with the situation cost him public support. With the Democratic Party torn into factions, the head of the Whig ticket would likely be the next president. Harrison, Clay, and General Winfield Scott all sought the nomination.

Tyler attended the convention and was with the Virginia delegation, although he had no official status. Because of bitterness over the unresolved Senate election, the Virginia delegation refused to make Tyler its favorite son candidate for vice president. Tyler himself did nothing to aid his chances. If his favored candidate for the presidential nomination, Clay, were successful, he would likely not be chosen for the second place on the ticket, which would probably go to a Northerner to assure geographic balance.

The convention deadlocked among the three main candidates, with Virginia's votes going to Clay. Many Northern Whigs opposed Clay, and some, including Pennsylvania's Thaddeus Stevens , showed the Virginians a letter written by Scott in which he apparently displayed abolitionist sentiments. The influential Virginia delegation then announced that Harrison was its second choice, causing most Scott supporters to abandon him in favor of Harrison, who gained the presidential nomination.

The vice presidential nomination was considered immaterial ; no president had failed to complete his elected term. Not much attention was given to the choice, and the specifics of how Tyler came to gain it are unclear. Chitwood pointed out that Tyler was a logical candidate: Tyler had been a vice-presidential candidate in , and having him on the ticket might win Virginia, the most populous state in the South.

One of the convention managers, New York publisher Thurlow Weed , alleged that "Tyler was finally taken because we could get nobody else to accept"—though he did not say this until after the subsequent break between President Tyler and the Whig Party. Tyler, as president, was accused of having gained the nomination by concealing his views, and responded that he had not been asked about them.

His biographer, Robert Seager II, held that Tyler was selected because of a dearth of alternative candidates. Seager concluded, "He was put on the ticket to draw the South to Harrison. No more, no less. There was no Whig platform —the party leaders decided that trying to put one together would tear the party apart. So the Whigs ran on their opposition to Van Buren, blaming him and his Democrats for the recession.

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But after Tyler's Democratic rival, Vice President Johnson, made a successful speaking tour, Tyler was called upon to travel from Williamsburg to Columbus, Ohio , and there address a local convention, in a speech intended to assure Northerners that he shared Harrison's views. In his journey of nearly two months, Tyler made speeches at rallies. He could not avoid questions, and after being heckled into an admission that he supported the Compromise Tariff many Whigs did not , resorted to quoting from Harrison's vague speeches.

In his two-hour speech at Columbus, Tyler entirely avoided the issue of the Bank of the United States, one of the major questions of the day. To win the election, Whig leaders decided they had to mobilize people across the country, including women, who could not then vote. This was the first time that an American political party included women in campaign activities on a widespread scale, and women in Tyler's Virginia were active on his behalf.

When the Democratic press depicted Harrison as an old soldier, who would turn aside from his campaign if given a barrel of hard cider to drink in his log cabin , the Whigs eagerly seized on the image, and the log cabin campaign was born. The fact that Harrison lived on a palatial estate along the Ohio River and that Tyler was well-to-do were ignored, while log cabin images appeared everywhere, from banners to whiskey bottles.

Cider was the favored beverage of many farmers and tradesmen, and Whigs claimed that Harrison preferred that drink of the common man. The presidential candidate's military service was emphasized, thus the well known campaign jingle, " Tippecanoe and Tyler Too ", referring to Harrison's victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Glee clubs sprouted all over the country, singing patriotic and inspirational songs: Van Buren took only seven scattered states out of The Whigs gained control of both houses of Congress.

As vice president-elect , Tyler remained quietly at his home in Williamsburg. He privately expressed hopes that Harrison would prove decisive and not allow intrigue in the Cabinet, especially in the first days of the administration. Harrison, beset by office seekers and the demands of Senator Clay, twice sent letters to Tyler asking his advice as to whether a Van Buren appointee should be dismissed. In both cases, Tyler recommended against, and Harrison wrote, "Mr. Tyler says they ought not to be removed, and I will not remove them.

Tyler was sworn in on March 4, , in the Senate chamber, and delivered a three-minute speech about states' rights before swearing in the new senators and attending President Harrison's inauguration. Following Harrison's two-hour speech on that freezing March 4, the Vice President returned to the Senate to receive the President's Cabinet nominations, presiding over the confirmations the following day—a total of two hours as President of the Senate.

Expecting few responsibilities, he then left Washington, quietly returning to his home in Williamsburg. Harrison, meanwhile, struggled to keep up with the demands of Henry Clay and others who sought offices and influence in his administration.

Succession to the presidency

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 toll on Harrison's health, and after being caught in a rainstorm in late March he came down with pneumonia and pleurisy. At dawn on April 5, Webster's son Fletcher , Chief Clerk of the State Department, arrived at Tyler's plantation with a letter from Webster, informing the new president of Harrison's death the morning before.

Harrison's death in office was an unprecedented event that caused considerable uncertainty regarding presidential succession. Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the United States Constitution, which governed intra-term presidential succession at the time now superseded by the Twenty-fifth Amendment , states that:. Interpreting this Constitutional prescription led to the question of whether the actual office of president devolved upon Vice President Tyler, or merely its powers and duties.

He considered the oath redundant to his oath as vice president, but wished to quell any doubt over his accession. 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. Tyler delivered an inaugural address before the Congress on April 9, in which he reasserted his belief in fundamental tenets of Jeffersonian democracy and limited federal power.

Tyler's claim to be president was not immediately accepted by opposition members of Congress such as John Quincy Adams , who felt that Tyler should be a caretaker under the title of "Acting President" , or remain vice president in name. Ratification of the decision by Congress came through the customary notification that it makes to the president, that it is in session and available to receive messages.

In both houses, unsuccessful amendments were offered to strike the word "president" in favor of language including the term "vice president" to refer to Tyler. Mississippi Senator Robert J.

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Walker , in opposition, stated that the idea that Tyler was still vice president and could preside over the Senate was absurd. Tyler's opponents never fully accepted him as president. He was referred to by many mocking nicknames, including "His Accidency". Harrison had been expected to adhere to Whig Party policies and to defer to party congressional leaders, particularly Clay.

When Tyler succeeded him, he initially concurred with the new Whig Congress, signing into law the preemption bill granting "squatters' sovereignty" to settlers on public land, a Distribution Act discussed below , a new bankruptcy law, and the repeal of the Independent Treasury. But when it came to the great banking question, Tyler was soon at odds with the Congressional Whigs, and twice vetoed Clay's legislation for a national banking act.

Although the second bill was originally tailored to meet his objections in the first veto, its final version did not. This practice, designed to protect Clay from having a successful incumbent president as a rival for the Whig nomination in , became known as "heading Captain Tyler", a term coined by Whig Representative John Minor Botts of Virginia. Tyler proposed an alternative fiscal plan known as the "Exchequer", but Clay's friends who controlled the Congress would have none of it. On September 11, after 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 Samuel L.

Southard , in the White House. The only exception was Webster, who remained to finalize what became the Webster—Ashburton Treaty , and to demonstrate his independence from Clay. Tyler was lambasted by Whig newspapers and received hundreds of letters threatening his assassination. Tyler recognized the need for higher tariffs, but wished to stay within the 20 percent rate created by the Compromise Tariff.

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 federal revenue. 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 created a distribution program, with a ceiling on tariffs at 20 percent; a second bill increased tariffs to that figure on previously low-tax goods.

Despite these measures, by March it had become clear that the federal government was still in dire fiscal straits. The root of the trouble was an economic crisis—initiated by the Panic of —which was entering its sixth year in A speculative bubble had burst in —39, causing a collapse of the financial sector and a subsequent depression. The country became deeply divided over the best response to the crisis. Conditions got even worse in early because a deadline was looming. A decade earlier, when the economy was strong, Congress had promised Southern states that there would be a reduction in hated federal tariffs.

Northern states welcomed tariffs, which protected their infant industries. But the South had no industrial base and depended on open access to British markets for their cotton. Under the previous deal, this would suspend the distribution program, with all revenues going to the federal government.

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The defiant Whig Congress would not raise tariffs in a way that would affect the distribution of funds to states. In June they passed two bills that would raise tariffs and unconditionally extend the distribution program. Believing it improper to continue distribution at a time when federal revenue shortage necessitated increasing the tariff, Tyler vetoed both bills, burning any remaining bridges between himself and the Whigs.

As some action was necessary, Whigs in Congress, led by the House Ways and Means chairman Millard Fillmore , passed in each house by one vote a bill restoring tariffs to levels and ending the distribution program. Tyler signed the Tariff of on August 30, pocket vetoing a separate bill to restore distribution. Shortly after the tariff vetoes, Whigs in the House of Representatives initiated that body's first impeachment proceedings against a president.

The congressional ill will towards Tyler derived from the basis for his vetoes; until the presidency of the Whigs' arch-enemy Andrew Jackson, presidents rarely vetoed bills, and then only on grounds of constitutionality. Tyler's actions were in opposition to the presumed authority of Congress to make policy. It levied several charges against Tyler and called for a nine-member committee to investigate his behavior, with the expectation of a formal impeachment recommendation.

Clay found this measure prematurely aggressive, and favored a more moderate progression toward Tyler's "inevitable" impeachment. The Botts resolution was tabled until the following January when it was rejected by a vote of to A House select committee headed by John Quincy Adams, an ardent abolitionist who disliked slaveholders like Tyler, condemned the president's use of the veto and assailed his character.

While the committee's report did not formally recommend impeachment, it clearly established the possibility, and in August the House endorsed the committee's report. Adams sponsored a constitutional amendment to change both houses' two-thirds requirement for overriding vetoes to a simple majority, but neither house approved. Near the end of Tyler's term in office, on March 3, , Congress overrode his veto of a minor bill relating to revenue cutters —the first override of a presidential veto. The battles between Tyler and the Whigs in Congress resulted in a number of his cabinet nominees being rejected.

The Best Biographies of John Tyler

He received little support from Democrats and, without much support from either major party in Congress, a number of his nominations were rejected without regard for the qualifications of the nominee. It was then unprecedented to reject a president's nominees for his Cabinet though in , James Madison withheld the nomination of Albert Gallatin as Secretary of State because of opposition in the Senate.

Four of Tyler's Cabinet nominees were rejected, the most of any president. Henshaw and Porter served as recess appointees before their rejections. Tyler repeatedly renominated Cushing, who was rejected three times in one day, March 3, , the last day of the 27th Congress. Tyler's difficulties in domestic policy contrasted with notable accomplishments in foreign policy. He had long been an advocate of expansionism toward the Pacific and free trade , and was fond of evoking themes of national destiny and the spread of liberty in support of these policies.

This treaty was rejected by the Whigs, mainly as a show of hostility toward the Tyler administration. In an special message to Congress, the president also applied the Monroe Doctrine to Hawaii dubbed the "Tyler Doctrine" , [] told Britain not to interfere there, and began a process that led to the eventual annexation of Hawaii by the United States.

That issue had caused tension between the United States and Britain for decades and had brought the two countries to the brink of war on several occasions. Though the treaty improved Anglo-American diplomatic relations, [] Tyler was nevertheless unsuccessful in concluding a treaty with the British to fix the boundaries of Oregon. Tyler advocated an increase in military strength and this drew praise from naval leaders, who saw a marked increase in warships. Tyler brought the long, bloody Second Seminole War to an end in , and expressed interest in the forced cultural assimilation of Native Americans.

In May when the Dorr Rebellion in Rhode Island came to a head, Tyler pondered the request of the governor and legislature to send in federal troops to help suppress it. 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 Tyler called for calm on both sides, and recommended that 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 only to put down an insurrection once underway, and would not be available until violence had taken place. 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" without need of federal forces.

The rebels fled the state when the state militia marched against them, but the incident led to broader suffrage in the state. Two vacancies occurred on the Supreme Court during Tyler's presidency, as Justices Smith Thompson and Henry Baldwin died in and , 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 C. Read Walworth was rejected three times, King rejected twice. One reason cited for the Senate's actions was the hope that Clay would fill the vacancies after winning the presidential election.

Finally, in February , with less than a month remaining in his term, Tyler's nomination of Samuel Nelson to Thompson's seat was confirmed by the Senate—Nelson, a Democrat, had a reputation as a careful and noncontroversial jurist. Still, his confirmation came as a surprise. Baldwin's seat remained vacant until James K. Polk 's nominee, Robert Grier , was confirmed in Tyler was able to appoint only six other federal judges, all to United States district courts.

Tyler made the annexation of the Republic of Texas part of his agenda soon after becoming president. Texas had declared independence from Mexico in the Texas Revolution of , although Mexico still refused to acknowledge its sovereignty. 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.

Though Tyler intended annexation to be the focal point of his administration, Secretary Webster was opposed, and convinced Tyler to concentrate on Pacific initiatives until later in his term. Crapol notes that during the presidency of James Monroe , Tyler then in the House of Representatives had suggested slavery was a "dark cloud" hovering over the Union, and that it would be "well to disperse this cloud" so that with fewer blacks in the older slave states, a process of gradual emancipation would begin in Virginia and other upper Southern states.

Freehling, however, wrote that Tyler's official motivation in annexing Texas was to outmaneuver suspected efforts by Great Britain to promote an emancipation of slaves in Texas that would weaken the institution in the United States. In early , 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 For the first time in his career he was willing to play "political hardball" to see it through.

As a trial balloon he dispatched his ally Thomas Walker Gilmer , then a U. 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. With the work on the British treaty now completed, he forced Webster's resignation and installed Hugh S. With the help of newly appointed Treasury Secretary John C. Spencer , Tyler 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 to build a political machine in New York. In exchange for an appointment as consul to Hawaii , journalist Alexander G. Abell wrote a flattering biography, Life of John Tyler , which was printed in large quantities and given to postmasters to distribute. The positive reception of the public at these events contrasted with his ostracism back in Washington. Tyler appointed Abel P. Upshur , a popular Secretary of the Navy and close adviser, as his new Secretary of State, and nominated Gilmer to fill Upshur's 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 garner support among Northern voters, who were wary of admitting a new pro-slavery state. The republic remained skeptical, and finalization of the treaty took until the end of February.

Aboard the ship were guests, including Tyler and his cabinet, as was the world's largest naval gun, the "Peacemaker. Several hours later, Captain Robert F. Stockton 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: Tyler was unhurt, having remained safely below deck, but a number of others were killed instantly, including his crucial cabinet members, Gilmer and Upshur.

Also killed or mortally wounded were Virgil Maxcy of Maryland, Rep. The death of David Gardiner had a devastating effect on his daughter, Julia , who fainted and was carried to safety by the president himself. For Tyler, any hope of completing the Texas plan before November and with it, any hope of re-election was instantly dashed. 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.

In what the Miller Center of Public Affairs considers "a serious tactical error that ruined the scheme [of establishing political respectability for him]", [] Tyler appointed former Vice President John C. Calhoun in early March as his Secretary of State. Tyler's good friend, Virginia Representative Henry A. Wise , wrote that following the Princeton disaster, Wise on his own volition extended Calhoun the position as a self-appointed emissary of the president and Calhoun accepted.

When Wise went to tell Tyler what he had done, the president was angry but felt that the action had to stand. 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, it met political opposition from the Whigs, who opposed anything that might enhance Tyler's status, as well as from foes of slavery and those who feared a confrontation with Mexico, which had announced that it would view annexation as a hostile act by the United States.

Both Clay and Van Buren, the respective frontrunners for the Whig and Democratic nominations, decided in a private meeting at Van Buren's home to come out against annexation. Following Tyler's break with the Whigs in , he attempted a return to his old Democratic party, but its members, especially the followers of Van Buren, were not ready to accept him.

He knew that, with little chance of election, the only way to salvage his presidential legacy was to move public opinion in favor of the Texas issue. President Harrison died of pneumonia within a month of taking the oath. John Tyler was in an awkward position. Tyler delivered a de facto inaugural address on 9 April reasserting his fundamental tenets of Jeffersonian democracy and limited federal power. Tyler's claim was not immediately accepted by opposition 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", or remain Vice President in name.

Among those who questioned Tyler's authority was Whig leader Henry Clay, who had intended to be "the real power behind a fumbling throne" and exercise considerable influence over Harrison, and who now transferred that ambition onto his close friend, Tyler. He saw Tyler as the "Vice-President" and his presidency as a mere "regency". On 1 June, 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. Vice President to assume the office of President upon the death of the incumbent, establishing a precedent that would be followed seven times in the 19th and 20th centuries. 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.

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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. 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. The Whig cabinet moved to take control from the President.

At the first cabinet meeting, Secretary of State Daniel Webster told Tyler that his predecessor had settled questions by majority vote of the cabinet. Tyler responded that he alone would be responsible for his administration, and he called for the resignation of anyone who did not accept his view. Tyler wanted to pursue his own domestic program, which came much closer to the ideas of the Democrats.

He did not command a majority in Congress, and the Whigs proceeded to pass their own banking bill, which he vetoed twice. As a result, the Whig cabinet resigned, and the Whig party issued a statement disassociating itself from the Tyler administration. Whigs demanded that he resign and be succeeded by the president pro tempore of the Senate who would hold office until a special election could be held. Tyler refused and made recess appointments of Democrats to his cabinet. Eventually, the Whigs passed a resolution of censure against Tyler, claiming that his veto on policy grounds was unconstitutional.

Tyler was effective even though he was a President without a party. The seemingly powerless president still remained potent enough to score a triumph: But Tyler was afraid that Texas, if not annexed, would ally with England to secure protection against Mexico and would be forced to emancipate its relatively few slaves in order to seal the English bargain. Following Tyler's break with the Whigs in , he had begun to shift back to his old Democratic party, but its members, especially the followers of Van Buren, were not ready to receive him.

He knew that with little chance of election, 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 and started promoting his candidacy throughout the early months of The Tyler supporters, holding signs reading " Tyler and Texas! With their high visibility and energy they were able to push the Democrats 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. 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 election.

Tyler was unfazed when the Whig-controlled Senate rejected his Texas treaty by a vote of in June , as he felt that annexation was now within reach. He called for Congress to annex Texas by joint resolution rather than by treaty. Former President Andrew Jackson, a staunch supporter of annexation, persuaded Polk to welcome Tyler back into the Democratic party and ordered Democratic editors to cease their attacks on him. Satisfied by these developments, Tyler 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 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. 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, , as the 28th state.

John Tyler’s Early Life and Family

Learn more about John Tyler, the strong-willed 10th president of the United States, at tufyzufugivi.tk Synopsis; Early Life; Career Success. John Tyler: John Tyler, 10th president of the United States (–45), who took Learn more about Tyler's life and career. Key events in the life of John Tyler.

He renamed it Sherwood Forest, in a reference to the folk legend Robin Hood, 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 s. His neighbors, largely Whigs, appointed him " overseer " of his road in in an effort to mock him.