John Tyler – Tenth President of United States of America – The Replacement of William Henry Harrison – Accomplished the annexation of Texas – 1790 CE – 1862 CE

John Tyler became the tenth President of the United States when William Henry Harrison died. He would not have otherwise been nominated or selected to be President of the United States, being an outsider in both major political parties, but in the end John Tyler served as president for almost 4 full years before being replaced by James K Polk. Before rising to the presidency, John Tyler served Virginia as Governor, Senator and Congressman. John Tyler’s presidency is generally remembered unfavorably however he is noted as having accomplished the annexation of Texas.

John Tyler – Tenth President of United States of America – 1841 – 1845

John Tyler – Early Life as Yet Another Virginia Aristocrat

Like Harrison, Jefferson and Washington before him, John Tyler hailed from a well-to-do Virginia family. In fact John Tyler’s father was college roommates with Thomas Jefferson. John’s mother died when he was seven years old. John Tyler passed the bar and became a lawyer at the age of 19 and soon entered into the world of politics.

John Tyler as Governor of Virginia 1826 CE

John Tyler – Political Career

In 1811, at the ripe young age of 21, John Tyler was elected a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.  By the age of 26, he was in the US House of Representatives after defeating a close personal friend in a special election. His time in Congress was marked by his personal belief in state rights and distaste for perceived corruption within the federal bank. This led him to align with the crusading Andrew Jackson. John Tyler owned slaves and believed slavery to be a matter for the states to decide, which led him to oppose the Missouri Compromise which effectively ended the western expansion of slavery. In 1825, John Tyler turned his local popularity into a term as Virginia’s Governor and two years later he won a seat in the US Senate. John Tyler was not quite so popular in Washington D.C., where he was a vocal critic of President Quincy Adams and Senator Clay, the two main powerbrokers in the government. John Tyler remained in the Senate, as an outsider, until 1836 when he resigned citing a conflict of principles.

John Tyler – A Vice President Stumbles into Big Things

The 1839 Whig National Convention featured three candidates all vying to be nominated as president: Henry Clay, representing the South, William Henry Harrison representing the frontier and General Winfield Scott representing the North. After multiple ballots, William Henry Harrison was finally nominated and after all the chaos and stress, the vice-presidential nomination was barely even considered to be important. Although no record remains of how it happened exactly, John Tyler, who grew up in the same town as William Henry Harrison, was selected as the vice presidential nominee. It is possible that Tyler was selected because no one else could be persuaded to accept the job. Of course it became very important only a few months later when William Henry Harrison died and Tyler would assume the role of president.

John Tyler – The Accidental President ‘His Accidency’

William Henry Harrison’s untimely death very nearly caused a constitutional crisis. A president had never before been unable to fulfill his term of office, and the no one was certain how to handle  transition of power. The crisis was averted when John Tyler arrived on the day after William Henry Harrison died and had himself sworn in as president. John Tyler was opposed by members of both parties and his presidency was mired in partisan struggle. John Tyler was forced to veto legislation from his own party and was unable to get his cabinet secretaries approved by the Senate. By 1842 Tyler had decided to dedicate his presidency to one mission, the annexation of Texas. For two years, John Tyler worked on that singular goal, forgoing reelection and instead endorsing a rival who supported anexation. That rival, James K Polk, would become the next president. Days before Polk was to be sworn in, Texas would join the United States as the 28th state.

Map of United States around 1845 CE

John Tyler – Post Presidency and Death

John Tyler lived to see the beginning of the American Civil War, a catastrophe he worked to prevent. Prior to the outbreak of war, John Tyler worked with the Virginia Peace Conference to stave off bloodshed. However, when the Peace Conference broke down, John Tyler decided to support succession and was a signatory to the Virginia Ordinance of Secession.

Grave of John Tyler

In January, 1862, John Tyler who was already suffering from ill health, collapsed from exhaustion and never recovered. His last words were ‘I am going. Perhaps it is best.

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