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John Tyler
10th U.S. President
John Tyler was the tenth President of the United States. He was elected vice president on the 1840 Whig ticket with William Henry Harrison, and became president after his running mate's death in April 1841.
Born: March 29, 1790, Charles City County, Virginia, VA
Died: January 18, 1862, Richmond, VA
Succeeded by: James K. Polk
Children: Lyon Gardiner Tyler, David Gardiner Tyler, More
Political parties: Democratic-Republican Party, Whig Party
Spouse: Julia Gardiner Tyler (m. 1844–1862), Letitia Christian Tyler (m. 1813–1842)

John Tyler (1790-1862) served as America’s 10th president from 1841 to 1845. He assumed office after the death of President William Henry Harrison (1773-1841), who passed away from pneumonia after just a month in the White House. Nicknamed “His Accidency,” Tyler was the first vice president to become chief executive due to the death of his predecessor. A Virginian, he was elected to the state legislature at age 21 and went on to serve in the U.S. Congress and as governor of Virginia. A strong supporter of states’ rights, Tyler was a Democratic-Republican; however, in 1840, he ran for the vice presidency on the Whig ticket. As president, Tyler clashed with the Whigs, who later tried, unsuccessfully, to impeach him. Among his administration’s accomplishments was the 1845 annexation of Texas. Before he died, Tyler voted for Virginia’s secession from the Union and was elected to the Confederate Congress.

The Harrison-Tyler ticket won the White House with an electoral vote of 234-60 and approximately 53 percent of the popular vote. The 68-year-old Harrison was inaugurated on March 4, 1841. He died a month later, on April 4, from pneumonia.

In the immediate aftermath of Harrison’s death, there was confusion about whether Tyler would assume the full powers and salary of the presidency as if elected to the office, or remain vice president acting as president. The U.S. Constitution was unclear on the matter of presidential succession; however, Tyler moved into the White House and was sworn into office on April 6. At 51 years old, the man dubbed “His Accidency,” was younger than any previous president. (The ambiguity surrounding the order of succession issue was officially clarified with the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified in 1967 and states that if the president dies or resigns, the vice president becomes president.)

In his new role, Tyler soon found himself in opposition to the Whigs’ legislative agenda. He had kept Harrison’s cabinet in place; however, all but one of them resigned after Tyler vetoed bills designed to create a new national bank. The president was disavowed by the Whigs, who in 1843 tried–but failed–to impeach him. Despite the fact that he was a man without a party, Tyler was still able to rack up a list of achievements as chief executive.

In 1841, he signed the Pre-Emption Act, which spurred Western settlement by allowing a person to stake a claim on 160 acres of public land and purchase it from the government. In 1842, Tyler’s administration ended the Seminole War in Florida and settled a dispute between the U.S. and British North American colonies over boundary issues (including the Maine-Canada border) with the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. In 1844, the U.S. signed the Treaty of Wanghia with China, giving America access to Asian ports. In March 1845, shortly before Tyler left office, he signed a bill annexing Texas (which officially joined the Union as the 29th state in December of that year). On his final full day as president, Tyler signed a bill making Florida the 27th state.

During the presidential election of 1844, Tyler made a brief attempt to run as a third-party candidate before dropping out due to lack of support. Democratic candidate James Polk (1795-1845) won the election and became the 11th U.S. president.

After departing the White House, Tyler moved to his 1,200-acre plantation, Sherwood Forest, on the James River between Williamsburg and Richmond, Virginia, and raised his family with his second wife. In 1861, with America on the brink of civil war, he chaired a peace conference in Washington, D.C., to preserve the Union. The conference failed to meet its objective, and after war had broken later that same year, Tyler voted for Virginia seceding from the United States. He was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives, but before he could take his seat, Tyler died at age 71 on January 18, 1862, in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy.

President Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) and the U.S. government did not publicly acknowledge Tyler’s death, as the Virginian was seen as a traitor to the Union. Tyler was buried at Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery, which is also the resting place of James Monroe (1758-1831), America’s fifth president, and Jefferson Davis (1808-89), president of the Confederacy.