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As the first president elevated due to a presidential death, his detractors said John Tyler became His Accidency! Tyler became the first vice president elevated to the presidency when William Henry Harrison died after serving for 32 days as President. After a bitter battle for the vice-presidential candidate, the party picked Tyler as a compromise candidate. He appeased southern voters as well, coming from Virginia. Here’s a link to the overall Presidential post.
John Tyler Became His Accidency but…
Sherwood Forest, pictured above, became the “Virginia White House.” More on Sherwood Forest in a bit. Tyler, teamed with Harrison, used the campaign slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too.” Harrison served as a general in the army in the war of 1812 and with “Indian Wars” after that. The Battle of Tippecanoe became his crowning military achievement.
Tyler grew up in Virginia, attended the College of William and Mary, and practiced law. He served in the US House of Representatives, as Governor of Virginia, and as a Senator from Virginia. Tyler supported Andrew Jackson, who he considered the lesser of two evils. During Jackson’s first term, he worked with Henry Clay and Daniel Webster and joined the newly formed Whig Party, opposing Jackson. Here’s a link to John Tyler’s presidency.
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John Tyler Became His own worst enemy at times!
When the party leadership failed to reach a consensus on the Vice Presidential pick in 1840, they grudgingly turned to Tyler. Of course, no one expected Harrison to die 32 days after the inauguration. So, John Tyler Became His Accidency! Then, Clay, Webster, and other party stalwarts found they couldn’t control Tyler. After Tyler vetoed Clay’s bill to establish a National Bank, the Whig Party expelled Tyler from the party. A House committee developed an impeachment resolution against him. It was a first in US history. The committee claimed misuse of veto power. The resolution failed.
Despite a battle with his party, his cabinet all resigning, and the attempted impeachment, Tyler accomplished a few good things as well. Tyler and the Whig Congress passed the “Log-Cabin” bill, enabling settlers to claim 160 acres of land and pay later. A treaty with England ended a Canadian border dispute, The US annexed Texas, and it became a US State. He declined to run in 1844. Although, he didn’t have a party to support him!
As a result of Tyler’s rebellious ways, he named his plantation Sherwood Forest. He considered himself a political outlaw like Robin Hood. Only the first floor of the center section of the building made up the original house. This unique home measures over 300 feet in length! Additional rooms sprouted as needed after adding a second floor to the main building!
But, one reason for the large house could be that Tyler’s first wife died in 1842 after having eight children. He married Julia, his second wife, in 1844 and had seven more children. Tyler fathered more children than any other president.
He had dropped out of politics for a time. And the plantation ran better when he was there to provide hands-on management. Of course, he didn’t like to be away from his family.
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John Tyler Became His Own Boss as well
Tyler said he didn’t personally approve of slavery. But he enslaved people. And he believed the slavery decision was a states’ rights issue.
Sherwood Forest remains in the Tyler descendants family. Tyler bought the plantation in 1840 and lived there until his death. But, he was born and had lived just a few miles away. Above are pictures of the property as it stands today. It is the only residence owned by two former unrelated US Presidents. William Henry Harrison held it for three years but never lived there. (Harrison moved to Indiana, which now claims him as their own.)
The family restored some of the buildings. And the family continuously maintained other buildings. Tyler’s grandson, 93-year-old Harrison Ruffin Tyler, owns Sherwood Forest. As of April 2022, he has dementia and lives in a nursing home. His son maintains the property. Therefore, Tyler is the earliest president to have living grandchildren!
And the property holds a pet cemetery! Tyler’s horse, “General,” remains buried here. Of course, the family buried other pets as well.
After his presidency John Tyler stayed in politics until his death
After 1845, Tyler managed his plantation, spent time with his large family, and continued activity in Virginia politics. When the first states seceded in 1861, he attempted to broker a compromise. When that failed, he joined the Confederacy. He served in the Confederate States of America House of Representatives until he died in 1862.
Historians mostly overlook him when considering presidents. Those who spend any time with his presidency rank him as a poor president. His Accidency!
Classic Rock Recollection
“Livin’ on the Edge” by Aerosmith
There’s something wrong with the world today
The light bulb’s getting dim
There’s meltdown in the sky
If you can judge a wise man
By the color of his skin
Then mister you’re a better man than I, oh
Living on the edge
(You can’t help yourself from falling)
Written by: Steven Tyler / Mark Jeffrey Hudson / Anthony Perry
(Steven TYLER was the lead singer of Aerosmith)