John Tyler

John Tyler

Infobox President | name=John Tyler

caption=Daguerreotype of President Tyler taken in 1845 by Brady
order=10th President of the United States
term_start=April 4, 1841
term_end=March 4, 1845
predecessor=William Henry Harrison
successor=James K. Polk
birth_date=birth date|mf=yes|1790|3|29
birth_place=Charles City County, Virginia
death_date=death date and age|mf=yes|1862|01|18|1790|03|29
death_place=Richmond, Virginia
spouse=Letitia Christian Tyler (1st wife)
Julia Gardiner Tyler (2nd wife)

party=Whig, independent, Democratic
religion=Episcopal (possibly Deist) []
alma_mater =The College of William and Mary

order2=10th Vice President of the United States
term_start2=March 4, 1841
term_end2=April 4, 1841
president2=William Henry Harrison
predecessor2=Richard Mentor Johnson
successor2=George Dallas
order3= 23rd Governor of Virginia
term_start3= December 10, 1825
term_end3= March 4, 1827
predecessor3= James Pleasants
successor3= William Branch Giles
jr/sr4=United States Senator
term_start4= March 4, 1827
term_end4= February 29, 1836
predecessor4= John Randolph of Roanoke
successor4= William C. Rives
order5= 39th President pro tempore of the United States Senate
term_start5= March 3, 1835
term_end5= December 6, 1835
president5=Andrew Jackson
predecessor5= George Poindexter
successor5= William R. King

John Tyler, Jr. (March 29, 1790ndash January 18, 1862) was the tenth President of the United States (1841-1845), and the first ever to obtain that office via succession.

A long-time Democrat-Republican, Tyler was nonetheless elected Vice President on the Whig ticket. Upon the death of President William Henry Harrison 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, and Tyler took the presidential oath of office on April 6, 1841, initiating a custom that would govern future successions. It was not until 1967 that Tyler's action of assuming full powers of the presidency was legally codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment.

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, and the only president to have held the office of president "pro tempore" of the Senate.

Early life

John Tyler was born the son of John Tyler, Sr. (1747-1813) and Mary Armistead (1761-1797), in Charles City County, Virginia, as the second of eight children, and reputedly a descendant of Wat Tyler.Fact|date=March 2008 He is the first President born after the ratification of the Constitution of the United States, making him the first President to be "born" a United States citizen. He was educated at the College of William and Mary and went on to study law with his father, who became Governor of Virginia (1808-1811). Tyler was admitted to the bar in 1809 and commenced practice in Charles City County. He served as a captain of a volunteer military company in 1813, became a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1811, and in 1816 was named a member of the council of state.

Early political career

US 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. He was reelected to the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Congresses and served from December 17, 1816 to March 3, 1821 in the House of Representatives.

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, serving from 1823-1825. Tyler was then elected to be the Governor of Virginia (1825-1827). He was popularly known as voting against nationalist legislations and for his open opposition of the Compromise. In 1829 and 1830, he served as a member of the Virginia state constitutional convention.

US Senate

Tyler was elected as a Jacksonian (later Anti-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. He 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 chairman of the Committee on the District of Columbia (Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses), as well as the Committee on Manufactures (Twenty-third Congress) and a member of the Virginia State House of Delegates in 1839.

Presidency 1841-1845

"His Accidency"

Tyler was drawn into the newly-organized Whig Party with an offer to be that party's vice-presidential nominee in 1840, as running mate to William Henry Harrison. Their 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. The Whigs won the election, and Tyler was inaugurated vice-president on March 4, 1841.Barely a month later, Harrison died of illness—the first time that a sitting American president had died in office. Harrison's death caused considerable disarray regarding Harrison's successor. The Constitution of the United States asserted 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"

which led to the question: Was it the office itself which "devolved" upon Vice-President Tyler or merely the Powers and Duties of said Office? The problem was exacerbated by the fact that Harrison had been a Whig and Tyler had been a career Democrat. Tyler asserted that he was now, in name and fact, the President of the United States. Opposition members in Congress argued for Tyler to assume a role as an acting caretaker that would continue to use only the title Vice President. Others said that Tyler should be acting president. But members of the Harrison cabinet, as well as some members of Congress, feared that an "acting" leader’s ability to successfully run the country would be compromised. They supported Tyler’s claim to the office, and Tyler took the presidential oath of office on April 6, 1841, becoming the first U.S. vice president to assume the office of president upon the death of his predecessor. It was not until 1967 that Tyler's action of assuming full powers of the presidency was legally codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment.

Despite the fact that his accession was given approval by both the Cabinet and, later, the Senate, Tyler’s detractors 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.


Tyler's Presidency was rarely taken seriously in his time, as suggested by the nickname, "His Accidency". Further, 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. But Tyler, the life-long 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, leaving the government deadlocked. Tyler was officially expelled from the Whig Party only a few months after taking office, and became known as "the man without a party." The entire cabinet he had inherited from Harrison resigned in September, with the exception of Daniel Webster, Secretary of State. Webster remained to finalize the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842, as well as to demonstrate his independence from Clay.
Julia Gardiner Tyler] For two years, Tyler struggled with the Whigs, but when he nominated John C. Calhoun 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 was the first president to have a veto overridden by Congress, on a bill relating to revenue cutters and steamers. The override took place on Tyler's last full day in office, March 3, 1845.

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. Julia Gardiner, whom Tyler had met two years earlier at a reception, and who would go on to become his second wife, 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. [Paletta, Lu Ann and Worth, Fred L. (1988). "The World Almanac of Presidential Facts". ] Tyler and Gardiner were married not long afterwards in New York City, on June 26, 1844.

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. Previous to 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. [Chitwood pp 326-30] With their dispersion, they accepted the expansion of suffrage.

Impeachment attempt

concluded that Tyler had misused the veto, but the impeachment resolution did not pass. Fact|date=July 2008

Annexation of Texas

Tyler advocated annexation of Texas to the Union. Many Whigs opposed this expansion because it would upset the balance between North and South and risked war with Mexico. However the Whigs lost the 1844 election to James K. Polk, who favored annexation. When the Senate blocked a treaty (which needed a 2/3 vote), Tyler pushed Congress to annex Texas through an adopted joint resolution. The tactic worked and it passed the House 132-72 and the Senate 27-25. The Missouri Compromise helped to promise security to the west of the United States with the line of 36°30'N. Such meant that any states north of the line would be free and those south of the line would be open to slavery. The option to potentially have four more states south of the line, left the House ready and willing to pass the bill. On March 3, Tyler sent instructions to his representative in Texas, Andrew Jackson Donelson, to announce the annexation. The next day, he left office. Even with a brief period of skeptical instinct, Polk told Donelson to carry out the orders of Tyler. Texas formally joined the Union on December 29, 1845, when James K. Polk was President.

upreme Court appointments

Tyler, ever at odds with Congress—including the Whig-controlled Senate—nominated several men to the Supreme Court to replace Justice Smith Thompson. However, the Senate successively voted against confirming John Spencer, Ruben Walworth, Edward King and John Read (King was actually rejected twice). Finally, in February of 1845, with less than a month in his term, Tyler's nomination of Samuel Nelson was confirmed by the Senate. Nelson's successful confirmation was a surprise. But Nelson, although a Democrat, had a reputation as a careful and noncontroversial jurist.


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

Administration and Cabinet

Infobox U.S. Cabinet
President=John Tyler
President start=1841
President end=1845
Vice President="None"
Vice President start=1841
Vice President end=1845
State=Daniel Webster (W)
State start=1841
State end=1843
State 2=Abel P. Upshur (W)
State start 2=1843
State end 2=1844
State 3=John C. Calhoun (D)
State start 3=1844
State end 3=1845
War=John Bell (W)
War date=1841
War 2=John C. Spencer (W)
War start 2=1841
War end 2=1843
War 3=James M. Porter (W)
War start 3=1843
War end 3=1844
War 4=William Wilkins (D)
War start 4=1844
War end 4=1845
Treasury=Thomas Ewing, Sr. (W)
Treasury date=1841
Treasury 2=Walter Forward (W)
Treasury start 2=1841
Treasury end 2=1843
Treasury 3=John C. Spencer (W)
Treasury start 3=1843
Treasury end 3=1844
Treasury 4=George M. Bibb (D)
Treasury start 4=1844
Treasury end 4=1845
Justice=John J. Crittenden (W)
Justice date=1841
Justice 2=Hugh S. Legaré (D)
Justice start 2=1841
Justice end 2=1843
Justice 3=John Nelson (W)
Justice start 3=1843
Justice end 3=1845
Post=Francis Granger (W)
Post date=1841
Post 2=Charles A. Wickliffe (W)
Post start 2=1841
Post end 2=1845
Navy=George E. Badger (W)
Navy date=1841
Navy 2=Abel P. Upshur (W)
Navy start 2=1841
Navy end 2=1843
Navy 3=David Henshaw (D)
Navy start 3=1843
Navy end 3=1844
Navy 4=Thomas W. Gilmer (D)
Navy date 4=1844
Navy 5=John Y. Mason (D)
Navy start 5=1844
Navy end 5=1845


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.

Tyler and the Civil War

On the eve of the Civil War, Tyler re-entered 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 the impending 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 seeing that 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 me blunder. Would that his master could say the same." [Paletta, Lu Ann and Worth, Fred L. (1988). "The World Almanac of Presidential Facts". ]

Personal life

Marriage and children

John Tyler was married twice and had fifteen legitimate children.His first wife was Letitia Christian Tyler, with whom he had eight children (Mary Tyler (1815-47); Robert Tyler (1816-77); John Tyler (1819-96); Letitia Tyler (1821-1907); Elizabeth Tyler (1823-50); Anne Contesse Tyler (1825); Alice Tyler (1827-54); Tazewell Tyler (1830-74)). 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 (David Gardiner Tyler (1846-1927); John Alexander Tyler (1848-83); Julia Gardiner Tyler (1849-71); Lachlan Tyler (1851-1902); Lyon Gardiner Tyler (1853-1935); Robert Fitzwalter Tyler (1856-1927); Pearl Tyler (1860-1947)).

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. There was also a mulatto woman who frequently traveled with the Tyler family who was alleged to be the president's daughter.

As of 2008 Tyler has one grandson, Harrison Ruffin Tyler (son of Lyon Gardiner Tyler), who is still alive. Lyon Gardiner Tyler was born in 1854 and Harrison Ruffin Tyler was born in 1928. (See: "Tyler Genealogy" at the Sherwood Forest website.) []

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, Virginia.


is named for him. [cite book |last=Lamb |first=Brian |coauthors=the C-SPAN staff |title=Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites |location=Washington, DC |publisher=National Cable Satellite Corporation |year=2000 |id=ISBN 1-881846-07-5 ]

ee also

* Second Party System
* Dorr Rebellion
* U.S. presidential election, 1840
* Sherwood Forest Plantation



* [ 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

* [ Official Whitehouse biography]
*worldcat id|id=lccn-n50-81085
* [ Biography by Appleton's and Stanley L. Klos]
* [ U.S. Senate Historian's Office: Vice Presidents of the United States--John Tyler]
* [ POTUS - John Tyler]
* [ Tyler's letters refusing government intervention, April and May, 1842]
* [ List of Descendants]
* [ First State of the Union Address]
* [ Second State of the Union Address]
* [ Third State of the Union Address]
* [ Fourth State of the Union Address]
* [ John Tyler's Health and Medical History]
* [ Hollywood Cemetery - John Tyler's final resting place]
* [ John Tyler's Grandson Still Does Tours in the Old Tyler Home]
* [ Extensive essay on John Tyler and shorter essays on each member of his cabinet and First Lady from the Miller Center of Public Affairs]

NAME = Tyler, John
SHORT DESCRIPTION = American lawyer, politician
DATE OF BIRTH = March 29, 1790
PLACE OF BIRTH = Charles City County, Virginia
DATE OF DEATH = January 18, 1862
PLACE OF DEATH = Richmond, Virginia, United States

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