Tyler, John

Tyler, John

biographical name

(born March 29, 1790, Charles City county, Va., U.S.—died Jan. 18, 1862, Richmond, Va.) 10th president of the U.S. (1841–45). He practiced law before serving in the Virginia legislature (1811–16, 1823–25, 1839) and as governor of Virginia (1825–27). In the U.S. House of Representatives (1817–21) and Senate (1827–36), he was a supporter of states' rights. Though a slaveholder, he sought to prohibit the slave trade in the District of Columbia, provided Maryland and Virginia concurred. He resigned from the Senate rather than acquiesce to state instructions to change his vote on a censure of Pres. Andrew Jackson. After breaking with the Democratic Party, he was nominated by the Whig Party for vice president under William H. Harrison. They won the 1840 election, carefully avoiding the issues and stressing party loyalty and the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too!” Harrison died a month after taking office, and Tyler became the first to attain the presidency “by accident.” He vetoed a national bank bill supported by the Whigs, and all but one member of the cabinet resigned, leaving him without party support. Nonetheless, he reorganized the navy, settled the second of the Seminole Wars in Florida, and oversaw the annexation of Texas. He was nominated for reelection but withdrew in favour of James K. Polk and retired to his Virginia plantation. Committed to states' rights but opposed to secession, he organized the Washington Peace Conference (1861) to resolve sectional differences. When the Senate rejected a proposed compromise, Tyler urged Virginia to secede.

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