Tuesday, March 23, 2010

John Tyler: Bad President!

April 4, 1841 – March 4, 1845, one term

Can you name a U.S. President who was not given a national day of mourning when he died? I couldn’t, but it turns out there was one: “His Accidency” John Tyler of the proud state of Virginia, home of the capitol of the Confederate States of America! Tyler was so loyal to the state (where he had been Governor) that when he died in Virginia in 1862, right in the middle of the Civil War, (it was considered “foreign soil” btw) and he was honored not one little bit in Washington.

Tyler was the Tyler in the oft-quoted campaign slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too”. “Tippecanoe” was William Henry Harrison, who dropped Tyler into the presidency when he died after only a month in office. Tyler hadn’t been elected President, but there he was, surprise surprise, moving on up to the White House. Now, because the Constitution was a bit fuzzy here, he caught a lot of flack from skeptics who believed he had legally assumed the duties of the Presidency, but not the office.

Tyler however, had no doubts about his hold on the Presidency, and he instantly broke from the Whigs in Congress, (who had propelled Harrison into the White House) which of course irked them no end, so the rest of his term in office was spent in pitched battle with them. They expelled him from the party, and most of his cabinet resigned. They tried to pass a resolution to impeach him, but that failed. He was just not a popular guy.

As President, Tyler did get some things done – for example, he helped solidify the agreement with the Brits firmly establishing the boundary between Canada and Maine. He also began the process of annexing Texas, which wasn’t completed during his term because his enemies in Congress blocked forward progress until after he left office.

After his Presidency he moved back to his 1200 acre estate in Virginia, unsuccessfully attempted to broker a peaceful settlement between the North and the South, and ended up serving as a member of the Provisional Congress of the Confederacy. Hoo Dawgies! That didn’t sit well with the Yankees, as you might imagine!

Fun Facts: Tyler may have been a “shy, dignified” man, but apparently his sperm were more like drunken rugby players. Tyler was bold enough that he was able to marry twice and father a total of fifteen children during his life. Come to think of it, that’s more than enough for a rugby team right there.

The first White House security force was created for Tyler – four plainclothes officers - essentially because he was so stunningly unpopular.

Tyler was almost blown to bits by a huge gun the Navy was demonstrating aboard the U.S.S. Princeton – he escaped unscathed, six others on the ship weren’t so lucky, including two of his cabinet members (who had been appointed to replace the cabinet members who had resigned – did Tyler have bad luck with cabinets or what?) the father of Tyler’s wife-to-be Julia.

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