POTUS Fact 10: First unelected President and the first without a Vice President

His Accidency“, “Ex-Vice President“, “Acting President“, were some of the numerous nicknames given to the 10th President of America, John Tyler, who was the first Vice President to succeed the Presidency without being elected.

John Tyler (March 29, 1790 – January 18, 1862) was the tenth President of the United States, serving from 1841 to 1845 after briefly being the tenth Vice President (1841); he was elected to the latter office on the 1840 Whig ticket with President William Henry Harrison. Tyler ascended to the presidency after Harrison’s death in April 1841, a mere month after the start of the new administration.

Image of President John Tyler
John Tyler (1790 – 1862), 10th President of the United States (April 4, 1841 – March 4, 1845)/Thought Co.

He gave his inaugural address on April 6, 1841, sworn himself in and gave a precedent for future Vice Presidents to ascend the Presidency on their own terms.

After Harrison’s one-month term, Tyler served longer than any U.S. President in history that was not elected to the office.

Tyler became the first President without a Vice President and was also younger, at 51, than all his predecessors before him.

Tyler fathered more children than any other American president. He fathered 15 children; eight from his first wife and seven from his second wife, after the death of his first wife.

He remains the only President to be expelled from his party-the Whig party, after just five months in office. The Whigs were so angry with Tyler that they refused to allocate funds to fix the White House, which had fallen into disrepair.

Image of First Lady Letitia Christian Tyler
Letitia Christian Tyler (1790 – 1842), first wife of John Tyler, First Lady of the United States (April 4, 1841 – September 10, 1842) until her death/Britannica.

When Tyler took over the presidency, many people believed that he should act simply as a figurehead, completing projects that would have been on Harrison’s agenda. However, he asserted his right to rule in full. He immediately met with resistance from the cabinet he inherited from Harrison. When a bill reauthorizing a new national bank came to his desk, he vetoed it despite the fact that his party was for it, and his cabinet asked him to allow it to pass. When he vetoed a second bill without their support, every member of the cabinet except Secretary of State Daniel Webster resigned.

Near the end of Tyler’s term in office, on March 3, 1845, Congress overrode his veto of a minor bill relating to revenue cutters—the first override of a presidential veto.

President John Tyler was a great-uncle to President Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President.

Tyler fathered more children than any other American president. He fathered 15 children; eight from his first wife and seven from his second wife, after the death of his first wife. He was 30 years older than his second wife.

His first wife, Letitia, became the first First Lady to die in the White House and Tyler became the first President to marry while in office when he married his second wife, Julia, who was five years younger than his eldest daughter.

Image of Priscilla Cooper Tyler
Priscilla Cooper Tyler (1816 – 1889), John Tyler’s daughter-in-law, acted as First Lady (September 10, 1842 – June 26, 1844) after the death of Letitia/Presidential Power.

Two of his grandchildren are still alive. As of September 2018, Tyler has two living grandsons through his son Lyon Gardiner Tyler, making him the earliest former president with living grandchildren. Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. was born in 1924, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler was born in 1928. Lyon Tyler Jr. resides in Franklin, Tennessee, and Harrison Tyler maintains the family home, Sherwood Forest Plantation, in Charles City County, Virginia.

Tyler was a slaveholder, at one point keeping forty slaves. Although he regarded slavery as an evil, and did not attempt to justify it, he never freed any of his slaves. Tyler considered slavery a part of states’ rights, and therefore the federal government lacked the authority to abolish it. The living conditions of his slaves are not well documented, but historians surmise that he cared for their well-being and abstained from physical violence against them.

“Whether I float or sink in the stream of fortune, you may be assured of this, that I shall never cease to love you.” – John Tyler (1790 – 1862), 10th President of the United States (April 4, 1841 – March 4, 1845).

He died as a traitor to the United States by supporting the Confederacy, that when he died in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln did not reckon with his death. In fact, his death was not officially announced by the U.S until 63 years later. He was the only President who supported the secessionists.

Portrait Of Julia Gardiner Tyler
Julia Gardiner Tyler (1820 – 1889), second wife of President John Tyler and First Lady (June 26, 1844 – March 4, 1845)/TIME.

His presidency is generally held in low regard by historians. He is considered an obscure President, with little presence in American cultural memory.

Tyler was the only former President that was buried without the flag of the United States of America.

On his deathbed, Tyler took a sip of brandy, and uttered his last words to his doctor, “I am going. Perhaps it is best.”


Thought Co.

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Ayomide Akinbode

Ayomide Akinbode holds a degree in Chemistry but has a passion for History and Classics. When he is not writing, he’s either sleeping or playing Scrabble.

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