Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Nickname: His Accidency
John Tyler was now the president after William Henry Harrison had died in office, or was he? The Constitution didn’t say anything about who would become president if they should die. All it said was the vice-president should take on the duties of the president, but not become the president. That seems like not much of a difference, but to everyone back then, that was really important. Tyler declared that he was president and the people of the U.S. better get used to it. Due to this question of power, Tyler received the names of “The Accidental President”, and “His Accidency.” Tyler refused to open any mail that said anything of that sort or “acting president.” Tyler laid the groundwork for future vice-presidents who would take over for their fallen leader.
The Whigs assumed that Tyler would act more as a figurehead, like Harrison, and let them do their thing. Tyler would have none of that and decided to take action. When Henry Clay pushed forward his plans to create a new Bank of the U.S., Tyler vetoed it. Everyone in his cabinet, of which were all Harrison’s choosing and not Tyler’s, resigned in protest except Daniel Webster. Webster would eventually leave, but not out of bitterness.Now, opposed by Both the Whigs and the Democrats, Tyler could not get anything through Congress. He was a lone wolf. Tyler however, got things done anyhow. Not wanting to miss out on the Manifest Destiny craze, he advocated for the annexation of Texas, which had been its own country for about eight years and wanted to be protected from Mexico. He also oversaw the opening of the first trading ports with China.
Fun Fact! John Tyler is the only president to swear his allegiance to another country! Later in his life he served on the Confederate House of Representatives. This fact diminished his status as a president and he was not given a typical presidential funeral.
I used to not like Tyler at all. The whole confederate thing is pretty lame, but that happened much later in life. Tyler was elected as vice president for his southern views and those made him alienated after Harrison’s death. He wasn’t able to get anything but the Texas annexation passed and made the mistake of not picking his own cabinet. Though he wasn’t the best president, I do admire his perseverance and bull-bullheadedness. If he had backed down about the presidency issue at all, he may have not been in that position. I have gained a little more respect for Tyler, but he still didn't go about all things the right way.