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John Tyler: 10th President

Updated on January 2, 2018
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Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past. Without it, we are destined to repeat the past.

Portrait of President Tyler

Source

Pre Presidency Life

John Tyler was born March 29, 1790 to a plantation owner in Virginia. He enjoyed reading, writing, and playing the violin. He graduated when he was 17 from the College of William and Mary. By 19, he practiced law, which eventually led him to serve in the House of Representatives from 1816 to 1821. He had strong opinions and willfully voiced his objections, including being a very vocal objector to the Missouri Compromise. After leaving the House, he served as the Governor of Virginia and eventually became Vice President to William Henry Harrison.

Tyler's Presidency and Fight Against the Whigs

Unfortunately, William Henry Harrison died only a few short weeks after his inauguration in April of 1841. No President before Harrison had ever died while in office. It was decided that the Vice President, John Tyler, would become "Acting President."

Although Tyler argued that there should be an actual President, if they wanted him to be taken seriously and he should be given the full title, responsibilities, and powers. Soon thereafter, he officially became the 10th President of the United States and gave an Inaugural Address, making him the first Vice-President to become Executive Chief after his predecessor died.

Due to his strong demeanor many disliked him, and he became known as "His Accidency," since he was never actually elected president. Once president, opposition between him and the Whig party soon began. At the time of his Inauguration, both houses of Congress were ruled by the Whig party with Kentucky Senator Henry Clay acting as a strong influential leader. The Whig party believed that executive power became too strong when Andrew Jackson was in office and felt that the president should be guided by their "constitutional advisers" in all their actions.

Tyler felt a very strong belief in adhering strictly to the Constitution. When Clay presented that he wanted to start a national bank, Congress having been primarily Whig members, passed the bill. Tyler felt this stood against the Constitution itself and vetoed it only ten days after it was passed. Congress came up with another banking system, Tyler vetoed that as well, which placed him at great opposition with not only Congress, but the Whig party that had elected him and Harrison. Only two days after he vetoed the second bill, all of his cabinet members resigned with the exception of Secretary of State Daniel Webster. Tyler was then ousted from the Whig party.

Despite an inability to agree on the idea of a national bank, the Whig party and Tyler did see eye-to-eye on several things and accomplished a lot before the party ousted him. They passed the "Log Cabin" bill that allowed settlers to claim 160 acres of land, paying $1.25 per acre, before it was offered for sale publicly. He also signed a tariff bill that protected northern manufacturers.

Unfortunately, bitterness from the banking vetoes still caused a lot of tension despite all the good they were able to accomplish. One year later, Tyler vetoed a tariff bill that caused an uproar and resulted in the first impeachment resolution to be introduced in the House of Representatives. John Quincy Adams headed a committee that reported that the President had misused his veto power. The impeachment resolution eventually failed.

Despite the drama that filled Congress and the Presidential office during this time, Tyler accomplished a lot. He successfully ended war with the Seminole Indians in Florida and entered into a treaty with China that allowed for trade between the two countries.

He suffered a great personal loss during his time in office, when his first wife Letitia Christian died from a stroke in 1842. She was the first first-lady to die while her husband was in office. They had eight children together, one having died during infancy. While still in office, he married 21-year-old Julia Gardiner, who became the youngest first-lady. He was 54 years old when they married. They went on to have seven children together, which meant that he fathered 15 children in all, the most of any president.

By the end of his term, he had replaced his original Cabinet that contained Whig members with southern conservatives. In 1862, he died while serving as a member of the Confederate House of Representatives.

Official White Horse Portrait

Source

Fun Facts

  • He was the first Vice President to become President after his predecessor died.
  • He was the first president to get married while in office. After his first wife, Liticia who was the first first-lady to die while their husband was in office, died, he remarried a year and nine months later to Julia Gardiner on June 26,1844 at a New York City ceremony. She became the youngest first-lady at 21.
  • First president to have the House of Representatives to bring an impeachment resolution against a president. This ultimately failed.
  • He sired more children than any other president, with 15 children. 8 from his first wife, and 7 from his second.

Excerpt from the History Channel

Basic Facts

Question
Answer
Born
March 29, 1790 - Viriginia
President Number
10th
Party
Whig and Democratic
Military Service
Volunteer Military Company
Wars Served
none
Age at Beginning of Presidency
51 years old
Term of Office
April 6, 1841 - March 3, 1845
How Long Served as President
4 years
Vice-President
none
Age and Year of Death
January 18, 1862 (aged 71)
Cause of Death
most likely a stroke

Tomb of John Tyler

Source

Sources

  • Beschloss, M., & Sidey, H. (2009). John Tyler. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/johntyler
  • President John Tyler weds his second wife. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2016, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/president-john-tyler-weds-his-second-wife
  • Profiles of U.S. Presidents. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2016, from http://www.presidentprofiles.com/Washington-Johnson/William-Henry-Harrison-and-John-Tyler-Tyler-s-conflicts-with-clay-s-whigs.html
  • Sullivan, G. (2001). Mr. President: A book of U.S. presidents. New York: Scholastic.
  • What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2016, from https://www.whitehousehistory.org/questions/what-are-some-interesting-facts-about-presidents-first-ladies

© 2016 Angela Michelle Schultz

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