John Tyler: Wikis


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John Tyler, Jr.

Daguerreotype of President Tyler taken in 1845 by Brady

In office
April 4, 1841 – March 4, 1845
Vice President None
Preceded by William Henry Harrison
Succeeded by James K. Polk

In office
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
President William Henry Harrison
Preceded by Richard Mentor Johnson
Succeeded by George Dallas

In office
December 10, 1825 – March 4, 1827
Preceded by James Pleasants
Succeeded by William Branch Giles

In office
March 3, 1835 – December 6, 1835
President Andrew Jackson
Preceded by George Poindexter
Succeeded by William R. King

In office
March 4, 1827 – February 29, 1836
Preceded by John Randolph of Roanoke
Succeeded by William C. Rives

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 23rd district
In office
December 17, 1816 – March 3, 1821
Preceded by John Clopton
Succeeded by Andrew Stevenson

Born March 29, 1790(1790-03-29)
Charles City County, Virginia
Died January 18, 1862 (aged 71)
Richmond, Virginia
Birth name John Tyler, Jr.
Political party Whig, independent, Democratic
Spouse(s) Letitia Christian (her death; 1813-1842)
Julia Gardiner (his death; 1844-1862)
Children Mary Tyler
Robert Tyler
John Tyler
Letitia Tyler
Elizabeth Tyler
Anne Contesse Tyler
Alice Tyler
Tazewell Tyler
David Gardiner Tyler
John Alexander Tyler
Julia Gardiner Tyler
Lachlan Tyler
Lyon Gardiner Tyler
Robert Fitzwalter Tyler
Pearl Tyler
(allegations of Tyler being the father of John Dunjee have also risen)
Alma mater The College of William and Mary
Occupation Lawyer
Religion Episcopal (possibly Deist)[3]
Military service
Service/branch Volunteer Military Company
Years of service 1813

John Tyler, Jr. (March 29, 1790 – January 18, 1862) was the tenth President of the United States (1841–1845) and the first to succeed to the office following the death of a predecessor.

A longtime Democratic-Republican, Tyler was nonetheless elected Vice President on the Whig ticket. Upon the death of President William Henry Harrison on April 4, 1841, only a month after his inauguration, the nation was briefly in a state of confusion regarding the process of succession. Ultimately the situation was settled with Tyler becoming President both in name and in fact. Tyler took the oath of office on April 6, 1841, setting a precedent that would govern future successions and eventually be codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment.

Once he became president, he stood against his party's platform and vetoed several of their proposals. In result, most of his cabinet resigned and the Whigs expelled him from their party.

Arguably the most famous and significant achievement of Tyler's administration was the annexation of the Republic of Texas in 1845. Tyler was the first president born after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, the only president to have held the office of President pro tempore of the Senate, and the only former president elected to office in the government of the Confederacy during the Civil War (though he died before he assumed said office).


Early life

John Tyler was born on March 29, 1790 in Charles City County, Virginia (the same county where William Henry Harrison was born).[1] Tyler's father was John Tyler, Sr., and his mother was Mary Armistead Tyler.[1]

Tyler was raised, along with seven siblings, to be a part of the region's elite gentry, receiving a very good education.[1] Tyler was brought up believing that the Constitution of the United States was to be strictly interpreted, and reportedly never lost this conviction.[2]

While Tyler was growing up, Tyler Sr., a friend of Thomas Jefferson, owned a tobacco plantation of over 1,000 acres (4 km2) served by dozens of slaves, and worked as a judge at the U.S. Circuit Court at Richmond, Virginia; Tyler Sr.'s advocacy of states' rights maintained his power.[1]

When Tyler was seven years old, his mother died from a stroke, and when he was twelve he entered the preparatory branch of the College of William and Mary, enrolling into the collegiate program there three years later.[1] Tyler graduated from the college in 1807, at age seventeen.[1]

Lawyer, the War of 1812, and early political career

John Tyler went on to study law with his father, who became Governor of Virginia (1808–1811). Tyler was admitted to the bar in 1809 and started practice in Charles City County. Tyler supported the United States' fight against Britain during the War of 1812, and he took command of a small militia company, though he saw no action.[1] He became a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1811, and in 1816 was named a member of the council of state.


U.S. House of Representatives

John Tyler was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Fourteenth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of John Clopton. Reelected to the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Congresses, Tyler served in the House of Representatives from December 17, 1816, to March 3, 1821. While in Congress, Tyler was a leader in opposing the Missouri Compromise.

Virginia politics

Tyler declined to be a candidate for renomination to Congress in 1820 because of impaired health. Instead, he became a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Charles City County, serving from 1823 to 1825. Tyler was then elected to be the Governor of Virginia (1825–1827). He was well known for opposing legislation which gave more power to the national government. In 1829 and 1830, he served as a member of the Virginia state constitutional convention.

During this period, a major realignment of American politics was taking place. Following the 1824 election, the dominant Democratic-Republican party, of which Tyler was a member, split into two factions. The Andrew Jackson faction would shortly evolve into the Democratic Party. The John Quincy Adams-Henry Clay faction would eventually coalesce into the Whig Party.

Tyler had supported Adams in 1824. Afterwards, however, because Adams supported nationally-funded internal improvements, Tyler joined the Jackson faction and became a Democrat.

U.S. Senate

Tyler was elected as a Jacksonian to the United States Senate in 1827. He was reelected in 1833 and served from March 4, 1827, to February 29, 1836, when he resigned.

Tyler supported Jackson in both the 1828 and 1832 elections, and backed him when he vetoed the Bank of the United States recharter in 1832. However, starting with the Nullification Crisis of 1832-33, Tyler drifted away from the Jacksonian Democrats. During the Nullification Crisis, Tyler opposed the force bill allowing Jackson to use armed force to collect tariff revenues in South Carolina. While other senators opposing the bill abstained, Tyler cast the only opposing vote as the bill passed 32-1.

By 1836, Tyler was closer to Henry Clay's newly formed Whigs than Jackson's Democrats. That year, Virginia's legislature instructed its senators to vote to expunge the Senate's 1834 censure of Jackson from the record. Rather than do so, Tyler resigned his seat.[3]

In the Senate, Tyler served as President pro tempore of the Senate during the Twenty-third Congress (the only President to have served as President pro tempore of the Senate), and was chair of the Committee on the District of Columbia (Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses), as well as the Committee on Manufactures (Twenty-third Congress).

1836 presidential election

In 1836, 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. Instead, Whigs in various states proposed three regional candidates, Daniel Webster, William Henry Harrison, and Hugh White. Tyler was named as a vice-presidential candidate and ran with Harrison in some states and White in others.[3] He finished third, receiving 47 electoral votes.

Return to Virginia politics

After leaving the U.S. Senate, Tyler served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1838 from Williamsburg. He was elected Speaker of the House in 1839.

1840 Presidential election

At the Whigs' convention, Tyler supported Henry Clay's presidential candidacy. After Clay was passed over for William Henry Harrison, Tyler was named as Harrison's running mate. Their opponent was Democratic incumbent Martin Van Buren.

The Whigs' 1840 campaign slogans of "Log Cabins and Hard Cider" and "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" 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 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%-47%. On March 4, 1841, Tyler was inaugurated as the tenth Vice-President of the United States.

Vice-Presidency 1841

Largely ignored by the men who were pressuring Harrison to give them jobs, Tyler stayed in Washington, D.C. only long enough to be inaugurated Vice President on March 4 and to preside over the next day's Senate confirmation of Harrison's cabinet. On March 5 he returned to his home in Williamsburg, Virginia, not even staying through the close of the Senate's session.[4] Harrison sought little of Tyler's advice, and Tyler reportedly offered none.[4] Secretary of State Daniel Webster sent word to Tyler of Harrison's illness on April 1; two days later, Richmond 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."[5]. 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 from the State Department — one of them Webster's son — arrived at Tyler's home bearing the message that Harrison had died the day before.[4][6]

Presidency 1841–1845

"His Accidency"

1888 illustration of Vice President Tyler receiving the news of President Harrison's death from Chief Clerk of the State Department Fletcher Webster.

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. The protocol was so uncertain that Secretary of State Daniel Webster discreetly requested the counsel of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (who declined, citing concerns about the separation of powers).[7]

By the time Tyler arrived in Washington at 4:00 a.m. on April 6, 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 in his hotel room with the cabinet looking on, then immediately calling them into a meeting where he asserted his authority by terminating Harrison's practice of making policy by cabinet consensus.[7]

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 these was Whig leader Henry Clay, who had intended to be a "power behind the throne" and exercise great influence over his fellow Whig Harrison and now transferred that ambition onto his close friend, Tyler.

Once Harrison was dead, Clay was even more determined to hold sway over his successor. Amidst the constitutional uncertainties, Clay, "kept referring to Tyler as 'the Vice-President' and insisted that his administration would be more in the nature of a regency...[Tyler] quickly set the constitutional standard for later presidential successions by asserting that he was not merely "acting president" but had in fact acquired the full powers of the presidency...Tyler thundered at Clay: "Go you now, Mr. Clay, to your end of the avenue, where stands the Capitol, and there perform your duty to the country as you shall think proper. So help me God, I shall do mine at this end of it as I shall think proper."[8]

On June 1, 1841, impressed by his authoritative actions, both houses of Congress passed resolutions declaring Tyler the tenth 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 many times in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Yet it was not until 1967 that Tyler's action of assuming full powers of the presidency was legally codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment.[9]

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.[10]


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. The former Democrat shocked Congressional Whigs by vetoing virtually their entire agenda. Twice he vetoed Clay's legislation for a national banking act following the Panic of 1837 — 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 Samuel Southard, in the White House). The exception was Secretary of State Daniel Webster, who remained to finalize what became the 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty, as well as to demonstrate his independence from Clay.[11] Two days later, when the president stood firm, the Whigs in Congress officially expelled Tyler from the party, and advocated a one-term limit for presidents and limitations on the veto power.[12] Tyler was now a president without a party, making him one of only three Presidents (along with George Washington and Andrew Johnson) to have no party affiliation during part of his term.

For two years, Tyler struggled with the Whigs, eventually nominating 22 men to the six cabinet offices. But when he nominated John C. Calhoun 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, Secretary of War).

On Tyler's last full day in office, March 3, 1845, Congress overrode his veto of a bill relating to revenue cutters and steamers. This marked the first time any president's veto had been overridden.

Rhode Island's Dorr Rebellion

In May 1842, 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 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' were dispersing 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.[13] With their dispersion, they accepted the expansion of suffrage.

China, Hawaii, Britain, and the Native Americans

Tyler reportedly recognized the "coming importance of the Asian Pacific region to trade"[14], and sent lawyer Caleb Cushing to China, who negotiated the terms in the Treaty of Wanghia. This agreement gave the United States the same privileged trading rights with China that the British had successfully won in the Opium Wars. During the Opium Wars, the British had used new military technology from the Industrial Revolution to massacre and humiliate the Chinese into giving up control of important trading ports like Hong Kong.[citation needed] China allowed the United States similar concessions as a way to play one Western power against another, so that Britain could not monopolize their commercial power over China.[14] Tyler also applied the Monroe Doctrine to Hawaii, told Britain not to interfere there, and began the process of annexing Hawaii to the United States.[14]

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.[14] 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 nearly to war with each other on several occasions.[14] The treaty improved Anglo-American diplomatic relations.[14] However, Tyler was unsuccessful in concluding a treaty with the British to fix the boundaries of Oregon.[14]

Tyler brought the Second Seminole War to an end in 1842, and he also advocated the establishment of a chain of American forts from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to the Pacific.[14]

Impeachment attempt

After Tyler vetoed a tariff bill in June 1842, the House of Representatives initiated the first impeachment proceedings against a president in American history. A committee headed by former president John Quincy Adams, who was now a member of Congress, condemned Tyler's use of the veto and stated that Tyler should be impeached.[15] This was not only a matter of the Whigs supporting the bank and tariff legislation which Tyler vetoed. Until the presidency of the Whigs' archenemy Andrew Jackson, presidents vetoed bills rarely, and then generally on constitutional rather than policy grounds,[16] so Tyler's actions also went against the Whigs' idea of the presidency. Adams then proposed a constitutional amendment to change the two-thirds requirement to override a veto to a simple majority, but neither house passed such a measure.

On January 10, 1843, a resolution introduced by John Minor Botts, of Virginia, charged "John Tyler, Vice President acting as President" with nine counts of impeachable offenses, including corruption, official misconduct, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.[17] The resolution was defeated, 83-127.

In the elections of 1842, the Whigs lost control of the House (although they retained a majority in the Senate), and were therefore unable to pursue further impeachment proceedings.

USS Princeton accident

Second wife, Julia Gardiner Tyler

The last year of Tyler's presidency was marred by a freak accident that killed two of his Cabinet members. During a ceremonial cruise down the Potomac River on February 28, 1844, the main gun of the USS Princeton blew up during a demonstration firing. Tyler was unhurt, but Thomas Gilmer, the Secretary of the Navy, and Abel P. Upshur, who had succeeded Daniel Webster at the State Department nine months earlier, were instantly killed. Also killed or mortally wounded were Rep. Virgil Maxey of Maryland, Rep. David Gardiner of New York, Capt. Beverly Kennon, Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repairs, and the President’s valet, while some 20 others were injured.

Julia Gardiner, whom Tyler had met two years earlier at a reception, was also aboard the Princeton that day. Her father, David Gardiner, was among those killed during the explosion. Upon hearing of her father's death, Gardiner fainted into the President's arms.[18]

Tyler and Gardiner were married not long afterwards in New York City, on June 26, 1844. This made Tyler the first of three sitting presidents to be married in office. The other two were Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson.

Annexation of Texas

Tyler tried to form a new political party, but needed more support before it could be established.[19] Tyler hoped to gain such support by leading a drive for the annexation of Texas by the United States.[19]

Texas had declared independence from Mexico in 1836. Although Texas had succeeded in maintaining its independence as a result of its victory in the Texas Revolution, Mexico still considered it part of its territory, and threatened war with the United States should the US annex Texas.[19] Another problem was that many Americans worried that annexing Texas, which permitted slavery, would upset the sectional balance within Congress.[19]

Tyler believed that annexing Texas was a way he could achieve political respectability. His new party, the Democratic Republicans, used the slogan "Tyler and Texas!"[19]

In what is considered "a serious tactical error that ruined the scheme [of establishing political respectability for him]"[19], Tyler appointed John C. Calhoun in 1844 as his Secretary of State. Calhoun, as Secretary of State, was responsible for the negotiations with Texas over its admission to the Union. Calhoun was a leading advocate of slavery, and his attempts to get an annexation treaty passed were resisted by abolitionists as a result.[19]

Martin Van Buren also worked, behind the scenes of American politics, to ensure the annexation treaty was not approved, in an attempt to avenge his loss to Harrison and Tyler in the last presidential election.[19] Even with the support of Andrew Jackson for the treaty, the United States Senate rejected it, 16-35.[19]

Tyler wanted the issue of the annexation of Texas to be the foundation of his reelection campaign. After the annexation treaty was rejected, Tyler called for Congress to annex Texas by joint resolution rather than by treaty. Tyler eventually dropped out of the race, but after fellow expansionist James Polk won the election, 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."[20]

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.[19]

After some debate,[21] Texas accepted the terms, and entered the union on December 29, 1845, as the 28th state.

Reelection attempt

Uncle Sam and his Servants
An anti-Tyler satire lampoons President Tyler's efforts to secure a second term against challengers Whig Henry Clay and Democrat James K. Polk. Clay, Polk, John C. Calhoun and Andrew Jackson attempt to get in as Tyler pushes the door shut on them. Uncle Sam demands that Tyler stop and let Clay in.

Having left the Democrats and been renounced by the Whigs, Tyler's hopes for a second term depended on running at the helm of a third party. Tyler "created his own new party, built on a core of officeholders,"[22] and was nominated for the presidency in May 1844. At the same time, the Senate was considering Tyler's treaty to annex Texas, which it voted down the next month.

The major party nominees were widely expected to be former president Martin Van Buren for the Democrats and Tyler's nemesis, Henry Clay, for the Whigs.[22] Both Van Buren and Clay publicly opposed annexing Texas. Clay was indeed nominated, but Van Buren's stand cost him his party's nomination.[23] Instead, the Democrats nominated James Polk on a pro-annexation platform.

Accordingly, Tyler withdrew from the race in August 1844 and threw his support to Polk. Polk won a narrow victory in November, enabling Tyler to claim a popular mandate for annexing Texas.

Judicial appointments

Supreme Court

Two vacancies occurred on the Supreme Court during Tyler's presidency, as Justices Smith Thompson and Henry Baldwin 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, Reuben Walworth, Edward King and John M. Read (King was rejected twice). One reason cited for the Senate's actions was the hope that Whig Henry Clay would fill the vacancies after winning the 1844 presidential election.[24]

Finally, in February 1845, with less than a month in his term, Tyler's nomination of Samuel Nelson 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 James Polk's nominee, Robert Grier, was confirmed in 1846.[25]

Tyler's four unsuccessful nominees are the most by a president.

Other courts

Tyler was able to appoint only six other federal judges, all to United States district courts:

Judge Court Began active
Ended active
Halyburton, James DandridgeJames Dandridge Halyburton E.D.Va. 01844-06-15 June 15, 1844 01861-04-24 April 24, 1861
Huntington, Elisha MillsElisha Mills Huntington D. Ind. 01842-05-02 May 2, 1842 01862-10-26 October 26, 1862
McCaleb, Theodore HowardTheodore Howard McCaleb E.D.La.
01841-09-03 September 3, 1841 01861-01-28 January 28, 1861[27]
Prentiss, SamuelSamuel Prentiss D.Vt. 01842-04-08 April 8, 1842 01857-01-15 January 15, 1857
Randall, ArchibaldArchibald Randall E.D.Pa. 01842-03-08 March 8, 1842 01846-06-08 June 8, 1846
Sprague, PelegPeleg Sprague D.Mass. 01841-07-16 July 16, 1841 01865-03-13 March 13, 1865


On Tyler's last full day in office, March 3, 1845, Florida was admitted to the Union as the 27th state.

Administration and Cabinet

The Tyler Cabinet
Office Name Term
President John Tyler 1841–1845
Vice President None 1841–1845
Secretary of State Daniel Webster (W) 1841–1843
Abel P. Upshur (W) 1843–1844
John C. Calhoun (D) 1844–1845
Secretary of Treasury Thomas Ewing, Sr. (W) 1841
Walter Forward (W) 1841–1843
John C. Spencer (W) 1843–1844
George M. Bibb (D) 1844–1845
Secretary of War John Bell (W) 1841
John C. Spencer (W) 1841–1843
James M. Porter (W) 1843–1844
William Wilkins (D) 1844–1845
Attorney General John J. Crittenden (W) 1841
Hugh S. Legaré (D) 1841–1843
John Nelson (W) 1843–1845
Postmaster General Francis Granger (W) 1841
Charles A. Wickliffe (W) 1841–1845
Secretary of the Navy George E. Badger (W) 1841
Abel P. Upshur (W) 1841–1843
David Henshaw (D) 1843–1844
Thomas W. Gilmer (D) 1844
John Y. Mason (D) 1844–1845

Four of Tyler's Cabinet nominees were rejected, the most of any president. These were Caleb Cushing (Treasury), David Henshaw (Navy) James Porter (War), and James S. Green (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 3, 1843, the last day of the 27th Congress.[24]


Tyler retired to a Virginia plantation located on the James River in Charles City County, Virginia and originally named "Walnut Grove." He renamed it "Sherwood Forest" to signify that he had been "outlawed" by the Whig party. He withdrew from electoral politics, though his advice continued to be sought by states-rights Democrats.

A daguerreotype of John Tyler circa 1850.

Tyler and the Civil War

On the eve of the Civil War, Tyler reentered public life to sponsor and chair the Virginia Peace Convention, held in Washington, D.C. in February 1861 as an effort to devise means to prevent a war. Tyler had long been an advocate of states' rights, believing that the question of a state's "free" or "slave" status ought to be decided at the state level, with no input from federal government. The convention sought a compromise to avoid civil war while the Confederate Constitution was being drawn up at the Montgomery Convention. When war broke out, Tyler unhesitatingly sided with the Confederacy, and became a delegate to the Provisional Confederate Congress in 1861. He was then elected to the House of Representatives of the Confederate Congress, but died in Richmond, Virginia before he could assume office.

Tyler's death was the only one in presidential history not to be officially mourned in Washington, because of his allegiance to the Confederacy. Tyler is also sometimes considered the only president to die outside the United States because his place of death, Richmond, Virginia, was part of the Confederate States at the time. Tyler's favorite horse named "The General" is buried at his Sherwood Forest Plantation with a gravestone which reads, "Here lies the body of my good horse 'The General.' For twenty years he bore me around the circuit of my practice and in all that time he never made a blunder. Would that his master could say the same."[28]

Personal life

Marriage and children

John Tyler was married twice and had 15 legitimate children.

Tyler's grave at Hollywood Cemetery

His first wife was Letitia Christian Tyler (November 12, 1790 – September 10, 1842), with whom he had eight children:

Letitia died in the White House in September 1842.

His second wife was Julia Gardiner Tyler (July 23, 1820 – July 10, 1889), with whom he had seven children:

His granddaughter Julia Gardiner Tyler Wilson, daughter of Lyon Gardiner Tyler, was one of the founders of Kappa Delta Sorority.

Tyler was a slaveholder for his entire life. John Dunjee claimed to be the illegitimate son of John Tyler, a child of Tyler and one of his female slaves. Early in his presidency Tyler was attacked by a newspaper alleging he had fathered (and sold) several sons with his slaves, prompting a response from the Tyler administration linked newspaper the Madisonian.[29]

As of 2009, Tyler has two living grandsons through his son Lyon Gardiner Tyler (1853–1935). Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr., was born in 1924, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler was born in 1928.[30]

Health and death

Throughout Tyler's life, he suffered from poor health. Frequent colds occurred every winter as he aged. After his exit from the White House, he fell victim to repeated cases of dysentery. He has been quoted as having many aches and pains in the last eight years of his life. In 1862, after complaining of chills and dizziness, he vomited and collapsed during the Congress of Confederacy. He was revived, yet the next day he admitted to the same symptoms. It was likely that John Tyler died of a stroke. His final words were "I am going now, perhaps it is for the best." Tyler is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA.


According to the White House's biography of him, Tyler "strengthened the Presidency"[2], but also "increased sectional cleavage that led toward civil war".[2] Tyler was and is also considered to have, by claiming "the right to a fully functioning and empowered presidency instead of relinquishing the office or accepting limits on his powers",[31] established a precedent for future Presidents of the United States.[31] With regards to Tyler's foreign policies, it is argued that "Tyler could claim an ambitious, successful foreign policy presidency, due largely to the efforts of Secretary of State Webster."[14] The city of Tyler, Texas is named after him.[32]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "John Tyler: Life Before the Presidency". Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  2. ^ a b c "White House Biography of John Tyler". Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  3. ^ a b The Complete Book of Presidents (2001 edition), by William A. DeGregorio, pg. 154
  4. ^ a b c "John Tyler: Campaigns and Elections". Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  5. ^ Crapol, p. 7
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ a b Hatfield, Mark O., with the Senate Historical Office. Vice Presidents of the United States, 1789-1993 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997), pp. 137-146.
  8. ^ Borman, Walter R., "Polk" (Random House, 2008). p.58
  9. ^ Crapol, p.13
  10. ^ Crapol, p.10.
  11. ^ A History of Presidential Elections, by Eugene H. Roseboom (1970 edition), pg. 124
  12. ^ The Presidents: A Reference History, edited by Henry F. Graff, 2nd edition (1996), pg. 147 (essay by Richard P. McCormick)
  13. ^ Chitwood pp 326-30
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i "John Tyler: Foreign Affairs". Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  15. ^ The Presidents: A Reference History, edited by Henry F. Graff, 2nd edition (1996), pg. 148 (essay by Richard P. McCormick)
  16. ^ The Presidents: A Reference History, edited by Henry F. Graff, 2nd edition (1996), pg. 115 (essay by Richard B. Latner)
  17. ^ Presidential Fact Book, by Joseph Nathan Kane (1999), pg. 67
  18. ^ Paletta, Lu Ann and Worth, Fred L. (1988). "The World Almanac of Presidential Facts".
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "John Tyler: Domestic Policies". Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  20. ^ The Presidents: A Reference History, edited by Henry F. Graff, 2nd edition (1996), pg. 153 (essay by Richard P. McCormick)
  21. ^ The Presidents: A Reference History, edited by Henry F. Graff, 2nd edition (1996), pg. 160-61 (essay by David M. Pletcher)
  22. ^ a b The Presidents: A Reference History, edited by Henry F. Graff, 2nd edition (1996), pg. 152 (essay by Richard P. McCormick)
  23. ^ A History of Presidential Elections(1970 edition), by Eugene H. Roseboom, pg. 127-28
  24. ^ a b
  25. ^ [2]
  26. ^ McCaleb was assigned as the judge for both the Eastern and Western Districts of Louisiana, a common practice at the time.
  27. ^ 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; on March 3, 1849, the District was again split, and McCaleb was assigned to the Eastern District only.
  28. ^ Paletta, Lu Ann and Worth, Fred L. (1988). "The World Almanac of Presidential Facts".
  29. ^ John Tyler. Accessed 07 September 2009.
  30. ^ "Genealogy of John Tyler at Sherwood Forest Plantation". Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  31. ^ a b "John Tyler: Impact and Legacy". Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  32. ^ Lamb, Brian; the C-SPAN staff (2000). Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. Washington, DC: National Cable Satellite Corporation. ISBN 1-881846-07-5. 


  • White House website John Tyler biography, 2007.
  • Chitwood, Oliver Perry. John Tyler, Champion of the Old South. University of North Carolina Press: 1939.
  • Crapol, Edward P. John Tyler, the Accidental President. The University of North Carolina Press 2006. ISBN 978-0807830413.
  • Crapol, Edward P. "John Tyler and the Pursuit of National Destiny." Journal of the Early Republic 1997 17(3): 467-491. ISSN 0275-1275.
  • Kruman, Marc W., and Alan Brinkley, editor. The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency: John Tyler. Houghton Mifflin Company: 2004. ISBN 978-0395788899.
  • Macmahon, Edward B. and Leonard Curry. Medical Cover-Ups in the White House. Farragut Publishing Company: 1987. ISBN 978-0918535016.
  • Monroe, Dan. The Republican Vision of John Tyler Texas A&M University Press: 2003. ISBN 1-58544-216-X.
  • Peterson, Norma Lois. The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. University Press of Kansas: 1989. ISBN 978-0700604005.
  • Schouler, James. History of the United States of America: Under the Constitution vol. 4. 1831-1847. Democrats and Whigs. (1917) online edition

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
William Henry Harrison
President of the United States
April 4, 1841¹ – March 4, 1845
Succeeded by
James K. Polk
Preceded by
Richard M. Johnson
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
Title next held by
George M. Dallas
Preceded by
George Poindexter
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
March 3, 1835 – December 6, 1835
Succeeded by
William R. King
Preceded by
James Pleasants
Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
William Branch Giles
United States Senate
Preceded by
John Randolph
United States Senator (Class 1) from Virginia
Served alongside: Littleton W. Tazewell, William C. Rives,
Benjamin W. Leigh
Succeeded by
William C. Rives
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Clopton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 23rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Andrew Stevenson
Party political offices
New political party Whig Party vice presidential candidate
1836³, 1840
Succeeded by
Theodore Frelinghuysen
Academic offices
Preceded by
George Washington
Chancellor of The College of William & Mary
Succeeded by
Hugh Blair Grigsby
Notes and references
1. Tyler did not take the oath of office until April 6.
2. Tyler was elected in 1861, but died before taking office.
3. The Whig Party ran regional candidates in 1836. Tyler ran in the Southern states, and Francis Granger ran in the Northern states.


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Popularity, I have always thought, may aptly be compared to a coquette - the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace.

John Tyler (March 29, 1790January 18, 1862) was the tenth (1841) Vice President of the United States, and the tenth (1841-1845) President of the United States. He was the second President born after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the first to assume the office of President following the death of his predecessor.


  • Popularity, I have always thought, may aptly be compared to a coquette - the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace.
    • Message to the House (18 December 1816)
  • Let it, then, be henceforth proclaimed to the world, that man's conscience was created free; that he is no longer accountable to his fellow man for his religious opinions, being responsible therefore only to his God.
    • Funeral oration for Thomas Jefferson (11 July 1826)
  • Patronage is the sword and cannon by which war may be made on the liberty of the human race.
    • Speech in Congress (24 February 1834) against the policies of Andrew Jackson
  • 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.
    • Cabinet meeting (1841), as retold by John Alexander Tyler
  • So far as it depends on the course of this government, our relations of good will and friendship will be sedulously cultivated with all nations.
    • First annual message to Congress (1 June 1841)
  • Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality.
    • First annual message to Congress (1 June 1841)
  • In 1840 I was called from my farm to undertake the administration of public affairs and I foresaw that I was called to a bed of thorns. I now leave that bed which has afforded me little rest, and eagerly seek repose in the quiet enjoyments of rural life.
    • Farewell remarks (1845)
  • If the tide of defamation and abuse shall turn, and my administration come to be praised, future Vice-Presidents who may succeed to the Presidency may feel some slight encouragement to pursue an independent course.
    • Letter to Robert Tyler (12 March 1848)


External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JOHN TYLER (1790-1862), tenth president of the United States, was born at Greenway, Charles City county, Virginia, on the 29th of March 1790. He was the second son of John Tyler (1747-1813), governor of Virginia in1808-1811and United States district judge in 1812-1813. The family was of English descent, but the claim of relationship to the famous Wat Tyler, though always stoutly maintained by President Tyler, cannot be substantiated. John Tyler the younger entered the grammarschool of the College of William and Mary, at Williamsburg, in 1802, and graduated in 1807. Two years later he was admitted to the bar. His public life began in 1811, when he was elected a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Here he served for five years, being chosen also in 1815 a member of the council of state. In 1813 he raised a company for the defence of Richmond against the British, serving subsequently in minor operations elsewhere. From December 1816 to March 1821 he was a member of the national House of Representatives. A Republican in politics, and a firm believer in the doctrines of strict construction and state sovereignty which Thomas Jefferson had been principally instrumental in formulating, he opposed consistently the demand for internal improvements and increased tariff duties, and declined to follow Henry Clay in the proposed recognition of the independence of the Spanish colonies in South America and in the Missouri Compromise legislation. For the conduct of Jackson in Florida, in the summary execution of Arbuthnot and Ambrister, he had only strong condemnation. He declined a re-election to the House in 1821. In1823-1825he was again a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and in 1825-1827 was governor of the state. In 1827 he was elected to the United States Senate to succeed John Randolph. In 1829-1830 he also served as a member of the Virginia constitutional convention. His career as senator was marked by a degree of independence which at times made his party position uncertain, notwithstanding the fact that his political ideas continued to be those of a thoroughgoing strict constructionist. Believing protective tariff duties to be unconstitutional, he voted against the "tariff of abominations" in 1828, and also against the tariff of 1832, since the latter measure, though reducing duties, showed no abandonment of the protective principle. The compromise tariff of 1833, made necessary by the hostile attitude of South Carolina, owed its inception largely to him, but he voted against the "force bill," an act for enforcing the collection of duties, being the only senator whose vote was so recorded. His hostility to a high tariff policy, however, did not prevent him from condemning the South Carolina ordinance of nullification; and in the presidential election of 1832 he supported Andrew Jackson, to whose political principles and methods, as to those of his advisers, he was invincibly opposed, as the "least objectionable" of the various candidates.. The vigorous course of the president towards South Carolina, however, led him, after 1833, to act more and more with the opposition which presently became the Whig party; but he was never at heart a Whig, at least as Whig principles came later to be defined, and his place is with the Democrats of the Calhoun school. He sought to incorporate in a new code for the District of Columbia, in 1832, a prohibition of the slave trade in the district, at the same time opposing the abolition of slavery there without the consent of Maryland and Virginia, which had originally ceded the district to the United States. In the controversy over the removal of the government deposits from the Bank of the United States he sided with the bank, and voted for Clay's resolution censuring Jackson for his course in the matter. In 1833 he was again elected to the Senate, notwithstanding the criticism of his independent attitude and the wide approval of Jackson's policy in regard to the bank. In the election of 1836 he was supported as a candidate for the vice-presidency by the friends of Hugh L. White of Tennessee, the Democratic candidate opposed to Martin Van Buren, and received 47 votes, none of them from Virginia. When the legislature of Virginia voted instructions to its senators to support Senator Thomas H. Benton's resolution expunging from the journal of the Senate the resolution of censure, Tyler, though admitting the right of instruction, could not conscientiously obey the mandate, and on the 29th of February 1836 he resigned his seat. He was by this time reckoned a Whig, and his refusal to favour the Van Buren administration lent colour to that view. In 1838 he became once more a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and in the same year was chosen president of the Virginia Colonization Society, of which he had long been a vice-president. In 1839 he made an unsuccessful contest for the United States senatorship. In December of that year the Whigs, relying upon his record in Congress as a sufficient declaration of political faith, nominated him for vice-president on the ticket with William Henry Harrison, expecting that the nomination would win support for the party in the South. Harrison and Tyler each received 234 electoral votes and were elected. On the 4th of April 1841, one month after the inauguration, Harrison died, and Tyler became president. The detailed discussion of the events of his administration, 1841-1845, belongs to the history of the United States (see United States: History). He retained Harrison's cabinet until his veto of the bill for a "fiscal corporation" led to the resignation of all the members except Daniel Webster, who was bringing to a close the negotiations with Lord Ashburton for the settlement of the north-eastern boundary dispute; and he not only opposed the recognition of the spoils system in appointments and removals, but kept at their posts some of the ablest of the ministers abroad. He stood, however, as it were, midway between the two great parties, without the leadership or support of either; Van Buren, whose influence in the practical working of politics was still great, refused to recognize him as a Democrat, and the Whigs repudiated him as a Whig; while with Clay leading the majority in Congress, harmony between that body and the executive was from the first impossible. The annexation of Texas, achieved just before the close of his administration, seemed to commend him for a second term on that issue, and in May 1844 he was renominated by a convention of Democrats, irregularly chosen, at Baltimore. The majority of the annexationists, however, would not support him, and he had further to meet the opposition of Van Buren, who had failed to secure the nomination in the regular Democratic convention, and of James K. Polk, the regular Democratic nominee. Tyler accepted the Baltimore nomination, but on the 20th of August withdrew from the contest. From this time until the eve of the Civil War he held no public office, but his opinions on political questions continued to be sought, and he was much in demand as a speaker on public occasions. In December 1860, when South Carolina adopted its ordinance of secession, Tyler, though sympathizing with the state, took': firm ground against disunion and exerted himself in behalf of peace. The legislature of Virginia appointed him a commissioner to confer with President Buchanan and arrange, if possible, for the maintenance of the status quo in the matter of Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbour; but his efforts were unavailing. He did not abate his activity, however, and the Peace Congress which assembled at Washington on the 4th of February 1861, pursuant to a resolution of the Virginia legislature, and over which he presided, was largely the result of his labours. The constitutional amendment proposed by the conference, however, did not meet with his approbation, and his action in signing and transmitting the resolution to Congress was merely formal. On the 13th of February, while absent in Washington on this mission, he was elected to the Virginia convention at Richmond, and took his seat on the Ist of March. In the convention he advocated immediate secession as the only proper course under the circumstances. He continued to serve as a member of the convention until it adjourned in December, in the meantime acting as one of the commissioners to negotiate a temporary union between Virginia and the Confederate States of America. He was also a member of the provisional Confederate Congress from May 1861, when the capital of the Confederacy was removed from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond. He was elected a member of the House of Representatives of the permanent Congress, but died on the 18th of January 1862, in Richmond, before that body assembled.

President Tyler was twice married, first in 1813 to Miss Letitia Christian (1790-1842), and second in 1844 to Miss Julia Gardiner (1820-1889). His SOD, Lyon Gardiner Tyler (b. 1853), graduated at the university of Virginia in 1875, and practised law at Richmond, Virginia, from 1882 to 1888, when he became president of the College of William and Mary. Among his publications, besides Letters and Times of the Tylers, are Parties and Patronage in the United States (1890); Cradle of the Republic (1900); England in America (1906) in the "American Nation" series, and Williamsburg, the Old Colonial Capital (1908).

The principal authority for the life of Tyler, aside from speeches, messages and other documents, is Lyon G. Tyler, Letters and Times of the Tylers (3 vols., Richmond, Va., 1884-1896). (W. MAC D.*)

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