10-John Tyler

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10-John Tyler

Editado: Jun 12, 2012, 5:26 pm

John Tyler: the American President series by Gary may
John Tyler, the Accidental President by Edward Crapol
John Tyler. Champion of the Old South by Oliver Chitwood
The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler by Norma Lois Peterson

Assumed Presidency on death of Harrison - no direct election

Tyler was playing marbles when he learned that he was to be President.
Tyler was the first President to have a veto overridden.
John Tyler was the President to have the most children. He had 15.
He made the most cabinet changes of any single-term President.
John Tyler joined the Confederacy twenty years after he was in office and became the only President named a sworn enemy of the United States.
Tyler didn't make an Inaugural Address.
Tyler was a great-uncle of Harry S Truman.
Tyler's second wife initiated the practice of playing "Hail to the Chief" whenever a president appears in public.

Out 18, 2009, 2:53 pm

John Tyler, the Accidental President by Edward P. Crapol

Before picking up John Tyler: The Accidental President, I didn't know much about Tyler - after all, he's generally considered a less than spectacular President and his main claim to fame is being the first Vice President to take over after the death of a President. Well, that and being the only "traitor President" given his involvement with the Confederacy later in life. After reading it, I still don't know all the much about Tyler. Instead of giving us a sense of the man, Crapol chose to present the development of the major political issues and how Tyler responded to them. That's fine, but the discussion of a chapter per issue really missed the interconnections between the issues and became really repetitive. For instance, Crapol attempted to make similar points about Tyler's actions in say, the annexation of Texas just after addressing the same points in discussing relations with Hawaii. These two issues developed simultaneously, and a different presentation of events and Tyler's actions may well have resulted in a deeper understanding of the man.

I'll give Crapol this: he genuinely wants to give Tyler credit where it's due. I hadn't realized that he was so heavily involved in the opening of Asia and the expansion of US influence in the Pacific. I also didn't realize how much he was driven by preservation of the Union over the issue of slavery - as much as previous, more highly regarded Presidents such as Madison. And yet, he remained a slave owner and when the time came, supported the secession of VIrginia from the Union.

Honestly, part of the problem with Crapol's book may be the subject. I get the feeling that there's just not that much of Tyler worth writing about. Yes, he led the country, but that doesn't mean he was that difficult to understand or that there was much beyond what's presented here. He strikes me as a politician mostly concerned about preserving his way of life as a Southern gentleman farmer and his reputation in history. It may simply be that Tyler was no Lincoln and Crapol ran out of things to say about him. I suspect that I need to get another biography to find out.

Editado: Nov 6, 2009, 1:13 pm

"Go you now, then, Mr. Clay, to your end of the avenue, where stands the Capitol, and there perform your duty to the country as you shall think proper. So help me God, I shall do mine at this end of it as I think proper."
This was a statement to an imperiously stubborn Henry Clay after he had refused to accept the President's plan for a national bank. I think it shows that John Tyler was no pushover. He was chosen by Whigs to be running mate for William Henry Harrison so that they might successfully court the Virginia vote. When Harrison died so quickly after inauguration, Mr. Tyler bucked some opinions about whether or not the Vice President should be sworn in as President or perform the duties as Acting President and he chose the former. I don't think he was ever expected to achieve much as he was not held in high esteem by many in congress at the time, especially after his veto of the Whigs' bank bill. But - the Government's credit had been restored, its coffers had been replenished, the value of American currency was restored, the north-east boundaries were set and Texas was offered annexation.
The book I gleaned this appreciation of Mr. Tyler from is John Tyler. Champion of the Old South by Oliver Perry Chitwood. It is written in scholarly style and reads better the second time around. The first time I found it to be a bit like a high school history text - tough for a kid and dull. But, its worth three stars I think. Mr. Tyler is too.

Dez 20, 2009, 9:02 pm

Author: Gary May
Read: Dec 15 - Dec 20
Source: Public Library
Pages: 208

John Tyler became the 10th President of the United States upon the death of William Henry Harrison having been in office for only 1 month.

Tyler's time in office was filled with firsts of all kinds - he was the first man to take office after the death of his predecessor, first President married while in office, first President to have his entire cabinet resign because they disagreed with his policies, first President to be abandoned by the party that he represented at election. He was known for the numerous vetoes that he exercised and after leaving office, for voting for Secession and supporting the Confederate States of America.

John Tyler was not a popular President with either the people or the politicians of the day. His time in office was marked by the death of his first wife as well as constant battles with the Congress regarding policies. He was extremely proud of the fact that his administration was responsible for finally settling the border issues between Maine and Canada so that that the threat from Britain was eliminated.

This book wasn't very large but it did give sufficient information so that I can move on to the next president.

Fev 24, 2010, 3:50 pm

Mar 4, 2010, 12:25 pm

I read John Tyler by Gary May. The book was well written and focuses on Tyler's political career. As mentioned in other reviews, he was not a well liked President. At times as I read the book, I did not think that his biographer much liked him either. Overall, the book left me with a negative impression of Tyler.

Abr 11, 2010, 9:29 am

John Tyler by Gary May **** 4/10/10

Tyler, our 10th President, had an interesting life but a disappointing presidency. He was a Virginian, slave holder, devoted states' rights enthusiast, and the first person to be elevated from Vice President following the death of a sitting President. He married twice, the second time to a woman 30 years his junior, and in all had 15 legitimate children. Although he tried to add his weight to those fighting against a Civil War, he voted for succession in the Virginia Legislature and supported the Confederacy. He is the only President not officially mourned in the Capital, because he was considered a traitor.

This particular biography is part of Schlesinger's American Presidents series, and it is one of the better ones. I recently read the volume on Martin Van Buren, which left me completely in the dark about him as a person. This volume, only 151 pages, gave me a good sense of the person and was a real pleasure to read. The author weaves the personal and political together to give the reader a good idea of what was going on at the time, how it affected Tyler and his family, and how he balanced the two. A very well-done overview.

Editado: Abr 29, 2010, 8:56 pm

The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler by Norma Lois Peterson **** 4/29/10

I ended up reading two books on Tyler, of all people, because of the difficulty in finding works on Harrison. It was well worth the time.

The two books are an interesting contrast. Gary May provides a mix of personal and political information on Tyler, whereas Peterson is all business, giving so little on Harrison's and Tyler's personal lives one might think they were bachelors if not paying attention. The first 50 pages provide a quick overview of recent administrations, to show where these two fit in, as well as a chapter on Harrison's brief tenure. The rest is a detailed account of Tyler's difficult administration, followed by copious primary and secondary source footnotes, a bibliographical essay, and an index.

Tyler began his presidency by setting a precedent: that a vice president, stepping in for a dead president (or for one removed for other reasons), inherits not only the duties and powers but the title of president, instead of being known as an "acting president". Tyler worked hard to protect the independence of the presidency rather than allowing it to become a tool of Congress as planned by his nemesis, Henry Clay. Clay, and later the Whigs, blocked most of Tyler's domestic initiatives, but he had several successes in foreign policy, including important treaties, expansion of trade in the Pacific and Far East, and the annexation of Texas just 3 days before leaving office.

The narrative ends abruptly with Tyler accompanying Polk to his inauguration, followed by a brief analysis of the Tyler presidency. It's an unfortunate place to stop, given Tyler's later involvement in trying to stop the oncoming war and then supporting the Confederacy. For this reason, I can't suggest this book as the only one someone reads on Tyler, but I found it an excellent companion.

Abr 29, 2010, 9:00 pm

He not only supported the Confederacy, he was the only former president elected to office in the government of the Confederacy during the Civil War, though he died before he assumed the office.

Abr 29, 2010, 9:31 pm

>9 Garp83: I found it pretty shocking, really.

Jul 21, 2010, 11:43 am

I would have to disagree that there isn't much interesting to write about Tyler. I think his may be THE MOST INTERESTING political presidency ever. First VP to succeed a dead Prez. First to lose wife as President, and to remarry as President. Was not really a Whig, and spent the early part of his Presidency vetoing the bills of HIS OWN PARTY, so he was banished from his own party. Yet he worked well with the famed Daniel Webster, a Whig through and through. Had almost his entire cabinet resign in the middle of his term, and had 18 different cabinet officers in less than four years. The House passed a resolution saying he should be impeached, but they did not do so. Annexed Texas on his last day of office. Basically ensured that Polk would be elected by throwing support his way. Then Tyler tried to avoid Civil War. only to join the Confederacy.

I read the Chitwood book, and enjoyed it thoroughly. May's work wasn't bad either, but you do get the sense that he didn't like Tyler. Peterson's work on Tyler was great.

Here's a fun story. I went to see President Obama on Memorial Day in Elmwood, IL at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Cemetery. I brought along the Chitwood book to read, since we went early to get a seat. Well, that was the day that we got caught in a horrendous storm, and the book got soaked. I sent it to the President, telling him I was an aspiring history teacher, along with a flier for the festivities in Elmwood. I asked him to sign it, because it would be a good continuum to show my students: from slave holding President to African American President. I sent it off a couple of days ago. I wonder if he'll see it.

Jul 21, 2010, 3:23 pm

>11 TedV: Did you dry the book out first?

Jul 21, 2010, 4:13 pm

Oh, yes. I had it for over a month.

Jul 22, 2010, 8:04 pm

I'm glad you liked Mr. Tyler too, Ted. Don't you think he would have been fun to have dinner with?

Jul 23, 2010, 9:23 am

>14 gmillar: Absolutely.

Set 28, 2010, 12:13 am

John Tyler, the Accidental President
by Edward P. Crapol

This one didn't quite fit the criteria for my presidential biography reading list. What I want is a complete biography that documents the person's entire life. Though Mr. Crapol does give the basic information of John Tyler's early life and career, this book focuses on the years of Tyler's presidency. But by the time I discovered it, I had already checked the book out, so I decided to forge ahead and read it. It's an interesting read, geared toward someone who has a basic knowledge of the era and Tyler's role in it. I really don't qualify for that, I suppose, but I was able to follow along. Mr. Crapol is trying to challenge the prevailing stereotypes of Tyler--a strict states' rights man, a conservative constitutionalist and an ineffective leader. He shows how, like many politicians, President Tyler's actions didn't always jibe with the ideals he proclaimed. Mr. Crapol also makes the case that while many have called Tyler ineffectual, he actually set many precedents that strengthened the clout of America's chief executive. (Don't know if that's a good thing necessarily....)

Jun 28, 2011, 7:25 pm

I also read the Gary May book and really enjoyed it. His personal life alone was interesting enough, but the numerous dubious firsts that he encountered during his presidency were remarkable. This book did what I needed it to - educate me on a little known president.

Fev 10, 2012, 12:18 pm

John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States, has two living grandchildren.

Tyler (1790-1862) was 63 when he fathered his seventh son, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, in 1853. And Lyon was in his 70s when he fathered two boys, Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. in 1924 and Harrison Ruffin Tyler in 1928. (Harrison, now 84, owns Sherwood Forest, the Virginia plantation that his grandfather purchased in 1842.)

This makes Tyler the oldest U.S. president with living grandchildren. Second place belongs to James Garfield, who was 41 years younger than Tyler.


Editado: Mar 23, 2012, 7:36 pm

I read John Tyler by Gary May (American Presidents Series). It was okay, but really short. I also have The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler by Norma Lois Peterson on my table to read. I just didn't really feel like I got much of a feel for these two.

And why all of a sudden do none of these biographies have pictures? I enjoy being able to visualize the people I read about. It seems that once photography became popular, they stopped taking pictures. (grumble)

Maio 5, 2012, 9:07 pm

I finished The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler by Norma Lois Peterson. I felt like I learned a lot more about the presidency of Tyler from this book than from the American Presidents book. But the AP book told more about his personal life. I sure didn't come away with much of an opinion of Henry Clay, though.

Editado: Jul 30, 2013, 7:33 pm

Just finished And Tyler Too: A Biography of John and Julia Gardiner Tyler by Robert Seager II. It is as the title says, a biography of John and his second wife Julia Gardiner Tyler.

Hit or miss on the politics and policies of the times. Pretty interesting though. Can read it via the Internet Archives at archives.org http://archive.org/details/andtylertooabiog013722mbp

Also, doubles as a book about First Ladies, as there is as much information/bio on Julia Tyler as there is on John Tyler.

Oh, and this book debunks the "playing marbles" myth. Says it isn't true, for what ever it is worth


Bill Masom

Dez 22, 2013, 8:43 am

John Tyler: The Accidental President by Edward P. Crapol

Well, this book was highly recommended, but was quite a disappointment. While I appreciated how well-researched it was there were many flaws, most of which are probably just subjective criticisms. First, the book was organized topically and not chronologically. The first and last chapters were chronological, but nothing in the middle was. There was much tumult in Tyler's cabinet and it would have been helpful to be able to place when everything was happening. Instead, each chapter just seemed to be cyclical and kept referring to upheaval, but I could never figure out when in his term things were actually happening. Along the same lines, parts of each chapter were repetitive. For instance, Crapol would reference in each chapter about Daniel Webster being Tyler's Secretary of State. I began to feel that each middle chapter would have made a better journal article than part of a book.

Also, while I greatly appreciated the endnotes which pointed to copious research, there were two problems I had with them. First, at the bottom of each page was the title of the chapter, not the actual chapter number; however, the endnotes were organized by chapter number, not the title of the chapter. This was extremely frustrating when I went to look at a particular endnote as it meant that I would first have to figure out the number of the chapter before I could reference the note. Too much work! Second, many notes I felt were incomplete. In several places, Crapol would reference "other historians" or "more recently, historians. . ." but when I went to look at the endnote to try to figure out which historians, Crapol only pointed to the primary sources (i.e. Tyler's letters or other official papers). Thus, other than relying on his word, I could never figure what other historians really felt or believed about Tyler, his presidency or legacy.

Jan 29, 2014, 11:27 pm

John Tyler by Gary May. He really became an island in his presidency. They picked him never imagining he'd be president. He became isolated from his party, his cabinet and the people he served.

Mar 25, 2020, 6:20 pm

Finished John Tyler by Gary May. This was a good short biography of a president who consistently places very low when historians rate presidents, essentially a 'historical dwarf'. One the positive side, his relatively unchallenged ascent to the presidency upon Harrison's death helped pave the way for future VPs to have smooth takeovers. He had some good foreign policy successes with Great Britain and China. He also stood up to Henry Clay and didn't let Clay try to run the government, thereby weakening the presidency. On the negative side - Texas and his vote to approve the succession of Virginia. His push to preserve and extend a slave-holding America with the annexation of Texas accelerated the US on the path to the civil war.

One thing that I was totally clueless about and was a bit eye-opening was Tyler's pursuit and eventual marriage to Julia Gardiner, 30 years his junior. It was evidently a happy marriage and produced seven children, giving Tyler 15 children in total - wow!

Before I started this book, I was reading The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler, but I found that to be more of a detailed history of those two presidencies than a biography of either one (just like the title says, I guess!). I will still finish that book, but wanted to finish a biography first.

Abr 10, 2020, 1:20 pm

Finished The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler this morning, which gave a lot more detail on the inner workings of Tyler's presidency.