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John Tyler

John Tyler

John Tyler (1790-1862), tenth president of the United States, was the first vice president to succeed to the presidency. His administration was marked by great conflict over the Texas question.

John Tyler was born on March 29, 1790, at Greenway Plantation in Charles City County, Va. His father, John Tyler, was governor of Virginia and a judge of the U.S. District Court. Young Tyler attended several preparatory schools and graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1807. He then studied law and was licensed to practice at the age of 19.

At 21 Tyler was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates; he served from 1811 to 1815. He subsequently was elected to the Virginia Council of State, to the U.S. House of Representatives, to the governorship of Virginia, and to the U.S. Senate (1827-1834). During these years Tyler emerged as one of the chief proponents of the states'-rights doctrine. He opposed internal improvements at Federal expense, a tariff to protect native industries, and a national banking system.

Like most politics of his day, Tyler's political activities were molded by the confused party situation existing during the 1820s and 1830s, as the long-dominant Jeffersonian Republican party dissolved. In the election of 1828 Tyler supported Andrew Jackson but found himself in opposition to Jackson soon after the inauguration. Tyler was against the President's threat to use force against South Carolina in order to enforce the tariff nullified in 1832. Tyler also attacked Jackson for what he considered to be his high-handed way of withdrawing governmental deposits from the Bank of the United States. Oddly, by alienating himself from the administration, Tyler found himself aligned with Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and the other Northern nationalists who had created the Whig party.

In 1839 the Whigs, whose presidential candidate was William Henry Harrison of Ohio, sought to balance the ticket with Tyler as their vice-presidential candidate. Because his views bore little relationship to those of the rest of his party, Tyler skillfully sidestepped the major issues during the campaign. Despite his presence on the ticket, the Whigs lost Virginia; however, they won nationally.

Harrison's death a month after his inauguration created a minor constitutional crisis and a major political one. Tyler was the first vice president to succeed to the presidency, and the question was raised as to whether he was actually president or just the vice president acting as president. Tyler established the precedent that the vice president succeeded to the powers and honors of the office as if he had been elected in his own right.

Although Tyler inherited governmental powers, he lost control of his party. As a misplaced Democrat within the Whig party, he had great difficulty with the congressional leaders of his party, especially Henry Clay. The split was most evident on three issues: the Bank of the United States, the tariff, and a proposal to distribute among the states the revenue secured from the sale of public lands. Tyler twice vetoed the charter passed by Congress for the creation of a Third Bank of the United States. He made several positive suggestions, however, for a substitute—including creation of a Bank of the District of Columbia with less power than that of the Second Bank of the United States. Tyler also vetoed a tariff and distribution bill that he contended violated the principles of the compromise tariff of 1833 (which had ended South Carolina's nullification threat).

Tyler's increasing isolation from the Whig party was hastened by the resignation on Sept. 11, 1841, of all the members of the Cabinet appointed by Harrison, except Secretary of State Daniel Webster. Webster remained until May 1843 in order to complete negotiations with England over a long-standing boundary dispute. Tyler's final Cabinet was composed mainly of Southerners, including John C. Calhoun as secretary of state.

The latter part of Tyler's tenure was dominated by the Texas question. After Texas won its independence from Mexico, the Jackson and Martin Van Buren administrations refrained from annexation because of the position of the North, which opposed incorporating more slave territory into the United States. Rejecting this opposition, Calhoun negotiated a treaty of annexation. This was turned down by the Senate in 1844. The question played a part in the election of 1844, after which the administration pushed a joint resolution through Congress providing for the incorporation of Texas. It was passed on the last day of Tyler's administration.

As Tyler had had little hope of renomination by the Whigs in 1844, he had sought to build a third party composed of dissident Democrats and Whigs but soon abandoned his efforts. Tyler remained active in national politics. He supported the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. After South Carolina seceded in 1860, Tyler participated in the Washington Peace Convention that met early in 1861. When Virginia seceded, he supported his state. He was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives, but he died on Jan. 18, 1862, a month before that body held its first session.

Further Reading

Several good works deal with Tyler's life: Oliver Perry Chitwood, John Tyler: Champion of the Old South (1939), is a sympathetic portrait by a major historian, and Robert Seager, And Tyler Too: A Biography of John and Julia Gardiner Tyler (1963), is a warm portrait, which also includes much social history of the period. A good account of the politics of Tyler's administration is in Robert J. Morgan, A Whig Embattled: The Presidency under John Tyler (1954). The campaign of 1840 is detailed in Robert G. Gunderson, The Log-cabin Campaign (1957), and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., History of American Presidential Elections, vol. 1 (1971). For biographies of persons who were important in the Tyler administration see Glyndon G. Van Deusen, The Life of Henry Clay (1937); Charles M. Wiltse, John C. Calhoun (3 vols., 1944-1951); and Richard N. Current, Daniel Webster and the Rise of National Conservatism (1955). □

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Tyler, John

TYLER, JOHN

John Tyler served as the tenth president of the United States from 1841 to 1845. A political maverick and a proponent of states' rights, Tyler was the first vice president to succeed to the office because of the death of a president. Rejecting the concept of an acting president, Tyler established the right of the vice president to assume the powers and duties of president.

"The great primary and controlling interest of the American people is union—union not only in the mere forms of government… but union founded in an attachment of… individuals for each other."
—John Tyler

Tyler was born into a politically active family on March 29, 1790, in Greenway, Virginia. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1807 and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1809. He began his political career in 1811 when he was elected as a member of the democratic party to the Virginia legislature. In 1817 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he remained until 1821. During his years in the House, he was a consistent supporter of states' rights, believing that the role of the federal government should be limited. Tyler, who owned slaves, objected to the missouri

compromise of 1820, which placed restrictions on the expansion of slavery to new states.

In 1823 Tyler returned to the Virginia legislature, where he served two years. In 1825 he was elected governor of Virginia, and in 1827 he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

During his nine years in the Senate, Tyler opposed several of President Andrew Jackson's policies though he and Jackson were both Democrats. In 1832 South Carolina issued its nullification policy, declaring its right as a state to reject federal tariff regulations. Jackson, in retaliation, initiated the Force Act of 1833 (4 Stat. 633), which permitted the president to use the military, if necessary, to collect tariff revenues. Tyler did not agree with South Carolina's actions, but he vehemently opposed Jackson's use of federal power to bring the state to heel.

Tyler lost the support of Virginia Democrats when he refused to reverse his 1834 vote of censure against Jackson for removing deposits from the bank of the united states. In 1836, when the Virginia legislature gave him a direct order to change his vote, Tyler resigned from the Senate rather than obey. He returned to Virginia, where he was elected again to the Virginia legislature in 1838.

In the presidential election of 1840, the whig party sought to broaden its northern political base by selecting a vice presidential candidate who could attract southern voters. Accordingly, Tyler was chosen to be the vice presidential candidate to run with william henry harrison, known as "Tippecanoe" from the battle where he had defeated Chief Tecum-seh of the Shawnee tribe. In a campaign devoid of political ideas, the political slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" popularized the two Whig candidates, who won the election.

The elderly Harrison died thirty-one days after becoming president, and Tyler assumed the presidency on April 4, 1841. As the first vice president to become president because of the death of the chief executive, Tyler rejected the idea that he serve as acting president. Though the U.S. Constitution was silent on the matter of succession, Tyler announced that he would assume the full powers and duties of the office, setting a precedent that would be followed by other vice presidents. (Procedures for presidential succession were added to the Constitution by the twenty-fifth amendment in 1967.)

Tyler's maverick streak, which had once stung the Democrats, soon offended the Whigs. Still a staunch supporter of states' rights, Tyler twice vetoed a Whig-sponsored act establishing a national bank. As a result, his entire cabinet resigned, with the exception of the secretary of state, daniel webster. For the remainder of his term, Tyler was a chief executive without a political party. Consequently, his accomplishments were few. He did approve the annexation of Texas and he signed the Preemption Act of 1841 (5 Stat. 453), which gave squatters on government land the right to buy 160 acres of land at the minimum auction price without competitive bidding.

After leaving office in 1845, Tyler continued to defend states' rights. In 1861, before the out-break of the Civil War, Tyler directed the Washington conference, which was convened in a final attempt to avert war. When that meeting failed, Tyler favored secession and was elected as a member of the Confederate Congress. He died on January 18, 1862, in Richmond, Virginia, however, before he could take his seat in the secessionist Congress.

further readings

Monroe, Dan. 2003. The Republican Vision of John Tyler. College Station: Texas A&M Univ. Press.

Peterson, Norma Lois. 1989. The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison & John Tyler. Lawrence: Univ. Press of Kansas.

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Tyler, John

John Tyler, 1790–1862, 10th President of the United States, b. Charles City co., Va.

Early Career

Educated at the College of William and Mary, he studied law under his father, John Tyler (1747–1813), governor of Virginia from 1808 to 1811, and was admitted (1809) to the bar. A state legislator (1811–16, 1823–25) and U.S. Representative (1817–21), Tyler was an unswerving states' rights Democrat. He joined the condemnation of Andrew Jackson's actions in Florida and voted against the Missouri Compromise.

Governor of Virginia (1825–27) and a U.S. Senator (1827–36), Tyler reluctantly supported Jackson as the least objectionable of the presidential candidates in 1828 and 1832. Although he did not approve South Carolina's nullification act, he violently opposed Jackson's measures against it (see force bill). The President's fiscal policies further alienated him, so that he was eventually drawn to the new Whig party, joining its states' rights Southern wing, which differed with many of the nationalistic policies associated with the Clay leadership. He resigned from the Senate rather than abide by the instructions of the Virginia legislature to vote for the motion to expunge Henry Clay's censure of Jackson from the records.

Presidency

In 1840, Tyler was chosen running mate to the Whig presidential candidate, William Henry Harrison, and they waged their victorious "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" campaign. One month after his inauguration Harrison died, and on Apr. 4, 1841, Tyler became the first Vice President to succeed to the presidency. His antipathy toward many Whig policies soon became apparent (he had never concealed it), and a rift developed between him and Henry Clay, the party leader.

After his second veto of a measure creating a national bank with branches in the states (on the grounds that it violated the constitutional rights of the states), his cabinet, except for Daniel Webster, resigned (Sept., 1841). Webster stayed on as Secretary of State until the negotiations for the Webster-Ashburton Treaty with the British were completed (May, 1843). Bitterly denounced by the Whigs and with few friends among the Democrats, Tyler became a President without a party.

Nevertheless he accomplished much toward the annexation of Texas. Abel P. Upshur, Webster's successor, was killed when a gun on the U.S.S. Princeton blew up, and John C. Calhoun continued Upshur's negotiations for a treaty with Texas. The treaty was rejected by the Senate. Tyler then supported a plan for a joint resolution to annex Texas and had the satisfaction of seeing it accepted by Texas just before he left office in 1845. The completion of annexation was brought about under James K. Polk, Tyler's Democratic successor.

Later Career

Tyler, nominated by a small Democratic faction, had withdrawn from the 1844 election. In Feb., 1861, he presided over the unsuccessful conference at Washington that attempted to find some last-minute solution to avert the Civil War. Later, he served in the provisional Confederate Congress and was elected to the permanent Confederate Congress, but he died before he could take his seat.

Bibliography

See L. G. Tyler (his son), Letters and Times of the Tylers (3 vol., 1884–96, repr. 1970); biographies by O. P. Chitwood (1939, repr. 1964) and G. May (2008); studies by R. J. Morgan (1954) and N. L. Peterson (1989).

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Tyler, John

Tyler, John (1790–1862) Tenth US President (1841–45). He served in Congress (1811–16) and as governor of Virginia (1825–27). Tyler was a supporter of states' rights. The Whig Party chose him as vice presidential candidate with William H. Harrison, and he succeeded to the presidency on Harrison's death (1841). He came into conflict with the nationalistic Whigs in Congress, repeatedly vetoing legislation to create a national bank. His determination to annex Texas was realised only after he had left office.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents

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