The tenth president of the US was John Tyler. He served Americans for four years from 1841 to 1845. He briefly served as the tenth vice president in 1841 and was made the acting president following the death of the then president; William Henry Harrison one month into his administration. Tyler became the first vice president to ascend to the presidency without an election. Moreover, he served longer than any other president who was not elected to the office. However, his presidency is held has been credited by some historians. He was even referred to as “His Accidency.”
Tyler was born in Charles City, Virginia on March 29, 1790. His family was aristocratic and politically entrenched. He lived with his family on Greenway Plantation. In his childhood, Tyler was unhealthy, thin and prone to diarrhea, which also affected him in his later life too. He joined college of William Mary at twelve years and enjoyed reading Adam Smith and Shakespeare’s books. He was admitted to Virginia bar at nineteen years of age contrary to the requirements as the judge who interviewed him did not consider his age.
Tyler was a qualified lawyer who engaged in politics for most part of his life. Tyler was elected as a Democrat-Republican in the Fourteenth Congress by the residents of Charles City County in 1811. He was a slaveholder for the rest of his life. In 1841 he was elected vice president through the Whigs party with Harrison as the president. One month into the new administration, President Harrison died of pneumonia. Tyler was to be the vice president acting president as was agreed by the cabinet. However, Tyler interpreted the constitution to have given him the full powers of the presidency. He had himself sworn in, in his hotel room and ascended to the presidency.
Contributions and Challenges
Tyler is considered one of the most unpopular presidents in the history of America. Even so, he accomplished a lot within his four-year tenure. He improved relations with Great Britain with the signing of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. Moreover, he annexed Texas, adding millions of acres to the national domain. Louis Kleber in his article, “History Today,” credited him as the author of integrity in the White House at a time when it lacked. Tyler was also faced with several challenges chief of which came from Henry Clay. Henry was determined to realize the vision of America, hence treated Tyler as a subordinate. Clay termed Tyler’s presidency as flawed but not a failure.
Later Life and Death
After departing the White House, Tyler retired to Sherwood Forest where he raised his family and worked as farmer. His neighbors appointed him as overseer of roads in 1847 to make fun of him. However, to their surprise, Tyler worked wholeheartedly in this position. In April 1861, Tyler voted in favor of Virginia seceding from the US and in November he was elected to Confederate House of Representatives. Unfortunately, he passed on before the first session could open, on January 18, 1863, in Richmond, at the age of 71.