John Tyler Biography

John Tyler was born in Charles City County, Va., on March 29, 1790. William and Mary Graduate. Served in the House of Representatives from 1817 - 1821. Governor of Virginia from 1825-27. Elected vice president in 1840. Tyler succeeded to become President after Harrison's death. Died on Jan. 18, 1862.

John Tyler Biography:
John Tyler, Jr. (March 29, 1790 - January 18, 1862) was the tenth President of the United States (1841-1845), and the first ever to obtain that office via succession. He was also the first and one of only two (along with Andrew Johnson) to have no party affiliation during part of his term. A long-time Democrat-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, 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.

John Tyler was born on March 29, 1790 in Charles City County, Virginia, the same county where William Henry Harrison, the future President of the United States under whom Tyler would serve as Vice-President, was born. Tyler's father was John Tyler, Sr. and his mother was Mary Armistead Tyler. Tyler was raised, along with seven siblings, to be a part of the region's elite gentry, receiving a very good education. Tyler was brought up believing that the Constitution of the United States was to be strictly interpreted, and reportedly never lost this conviction. Whilst Tyler was growing up Tyler Sr., a friend of Thomas Jefferson, owned a tabacco plantation of over a thousand acres serviced by dozens of slaves, and also worked as a judge at the U.S. Circuit Court at Richmond, Virginia; Tyler Sr.'s advocacy of states' rights maintained his power. 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 the collegiate program there three years later. Tyler graduated from the college in 1807, at age seventeen.

He 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. 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. He became a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1811, and in 1816 was named a member of the council of state.

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.

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.

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 and was chairman of the Committee on the District of Columbia as well as the Committee on Manufactures (Twenty-third Congress) and a member of the Virginia State House of Delegates in 1839.

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.

Largely ignored by the men who were pressuring Harrison to give them jobs, Tyler went from Washington D.C. back to his home in Virginia shortly after the inauguration day. Harrison sought little of Tyler's advice, and Tyler reportedly offered none. On April 4, 1841, a month after Tyler had become Vice-President, Harrison died, and Tyler was informed at his home the next morning by the son of Harrison's Secretary of State.

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 leaderís ability to successfully run the country would be compromised. They supported Tylerís claim to the office, and Tyler took the presidential oath of office on April 6, 1841, confirming his 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 and House, Tylerís 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 Harrisonís death. Because of Harrison's faultering health and advanced age at the time of his election -- only Andrew Jackson, age seventy, had been older at the end of his second term -- Henry Clay a Whig was determined to become the "pwer behind the throne" and exercise a heavy influence over the president who was also a Whig. The sudden death of Harrison and the ascention of Tyler did not, did not change Clay's ambition. Once Harrison was dead, Clay was even more determinded to hold sway over his successor.

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.

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. Tyler and Gardiner were married not long afterwards in New York City, on June 26, 1844.

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. He did not send any federal forces. The rebels fled the state when the state militia marched against them. With their dispersion, they accepted the expansion of suffrage.

Tyler reportedly recognized the "coming importance of the Asian Pacific region to trade", and sent a diplomatic mission to China, which successfully established consular and commerical relations between China and the United States, allowing the United States to gain the same trading concessions from China that Britian had. Tyler also applied the Monroe Doctrine to Hawaii, told Britian not to interfere there, and begun the process of annexing Hawaii to the United States. In 1842 the Secretary of State, Daniel Webster, negotiated the Webster-Ashburton Treaty with Britain which concluded where the border between Maine and Canada lay. The issue of where the border lay had caused tension between the United States and Britain for a notable amount of time, and had brought the two countries narrowly to war with each other on several occasions. The treaty improved Anglo-American diplomatic relations. 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. Tyler was unsuccessful in concluding a treaty with the British to fix the boundaries of Oregon.

In 1843, after he vetoed a tariff bill, the House of Representatives considered the first impeachment resolution against a president in American history.

Tyler tried to form a new political party, but it needed more support before it could be established. Tyler hoped to gain more support, by leading a drive for advocating the annexation of Texas by the United States. Texas had declared independence from Mexico in 1836, and though Texas had succeeded in maintaining its independence as a result of its victory in the Texas Revolution, Mexico still considered it their territory, and Mexico threatened war with the United States should Tyler's wish of annexation be implemented. Many Americans were worried that annexing Texas, a slave state, into the United States may upset the sectional balance within Congress. Tyler believed that annexing Texas was a way he could achieve political respectability. His new party, the Democratic Republicans, was formed with the slogan "Tyler and Texas!" In what is considered "a serious tactical error that ruined the scheme of establishing political respectability for him", 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. The reason why this is considered to be such an error, is because Calhoun was an advocate of slavery, and his attempts to get an annexation treaty passed were resisted by abolitionists as a result. 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 Tyler in the last presidential election. Even with with the support of Andrew Jackson for the treaty, the Senate of the United States failed to pass it. Tyler wanted the issue of the annexation of Texas to be the foundation of his re-election campaign, and consequently submitted an annexation bill to the House of Representatives, and to the Senate, and both subsequently approved it. Tyler signed the bill into law on March 1 1845, three days before the end of his term as President of the United States.

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

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.

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.

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. Tyler is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

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