William Tyler Davis Biography & Facts
John Tyler (March 29, 1790 – January 18, 1862) was the tenth president of the United States, serving from 1841 to 1845 after briefly holding office as the tenth vice president in 1841; he was elected vice president on the 1840 Whig ticket with President William Henry Harrison. Tyler succeeded to the presidency after Harrison's death in April 1841, only a month after the start of the new administration. He was a stalwart supporter and advocate of states' rights, and he adopted nationalistic policies as president only when they did not infringe on the powers of the states. His unexpected rise to the presidency posed a threat to the presidential ambitions of Henry Clay and other politicians, and left Tyler estranged from both major political parties.
Tyler was born to a prominent Virginia family. His family, like many prominent white Southern families in the U.S. at the time, were slaveholders. He became a national figure at a time of political upheaval. In the 1820s, the nation's only political party was the Democratic-Republican Party, and it split into factions. Tyler was initially a Democrat, but he opposed Andrew Jackson during the Nullification Crisis, seeing Jackson's actions as infringing on states' rights, and he criticized Jackson's expansion of executive power during the Bank War. This led Tyler to ally with the Whig Party. He served as a Virginia state legislator, governor, U.S. representative, and U.S. senator. He was put on the 1840 presidential ticket to attract states' rights Southerners to a Whig coalition to defeat Martin Van Buren's re-election bid.
President Harrison died just one month after taking office, and Tyler became the first vice president to succeed to the presidency without election. He served longer than any other president in U.S. history not elected to the office. To forestall constitutional uncertainty, Tyler immediately took the oath of office, moved into the White House, and assumed full presidential powers—a precedent that governed future successions and was codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Tyler signed into law some of the Whig-controlled Congress's bills, but he was a strict constructionist and vetoed the party's bills to create a national bank and raise the tariff rates. He believed that the president should set policy rather than Congress, and he sought to bypass the Whig establishment, led by Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky. Most of Tyler's Cabinet resigned soon into his term, and the Whigs dubbed him His Accidency and expelled him from the party. Tyler was the first president to see his veto of legislation overridden by Congress. He faced a stalemate on domestic policy, although he had several foreign-policy achievements, including the Webster–Ashburton Treaty with Britain and the Treaty of Wanghia with Qing China.
The Republic of Texas separated from Mexico in 1836. Tyler was a firm believer in manifest destiny and saw its annexation as providing an economic advantage to the United States, so he worked diligently to make it happen. He initially sought election to a full term as president, but he failed to gain the support of either Whigs or Democrats and withdrew in support of Democrat James K. Polk, who also favored the annexation of Texas. Polk won the election, Tyler signed a bill to annex Texas three days before leaving office, and Polk completed the process. When the American Civil War began in 1861, Tyler sided with the Confederacy and won election to the Confederate House of Representatives shortly before his death. Some scholars have praised Tyler's political resolve, but historians have generally given his presidency a low ranking. Today, he is seldom remembered in comparison to other presidents and maintains only a limited presence in American cultural memory.
Early life and education
John Tyler was born on March 29, 1790 to a slave-owning Virginia family. Like his future running mate, William Henry Harrison, Tyler hailed from Charles City County, Virginia, and was descended from the First Families of Virginia. The Tyler family traced its lineage to English emigrants and 17th century colonial Williamsburg. His father, John Tyler Sr., commonly known as Judge Tyler, was a friend and college roommate of Thomas Jefferson and served in the Virginia House of Delegates alongside Benjamin Harrison V, William's father. The elder Tyler served four years as Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates before becoming a state court judge and later Governor of Virginia and a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at Richmond. His wife, Mary Marot (Armistead), was the daughter of prominent New Kent County plantation owner and one-term delegate, Robert Booth Armistead. She died of a stroke in 1797 when her son John was seven years old.With two brothers and five sisters, Tyler was reared on Greenway Plantation, a 1,200-acre (5 km2) estate with a six-room manor house his father had built. Enslaved labor tended various crops, including wheat, corn and tobacco. Judge Tyler paid high wages for tutors who challenged his children academically. Tyler was of frail health, thin and prone to diarrhea throughout life. At the age of twelve, he continued Tyler family tradition and entered the preparatory branch of the College of William and Mary. Tyler graduated from the school's collegiate branch in 1807, at age seventeen. Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations helped form his economic views, and he acquired a lifelong love of William Shakespeare. Bishop James Madison, the college's president and namesake of the future president, served as a second father and mentor to Tyler.After graduation, Tyler read the law with his father, then a state judge, and later with Edmund Randolph, former United States Attorney General.
Planter and lawyer
Tyler was admitted to the Virginia bar at the age of 19 (too young to be eligible, but the admitting judge neglected to ask his age). By this time, his father was Governor of Virginia (1808–1811), and the young Tyler started a legal practice in Richmond, the state capital. According to the 1810 federal census, one “John Tyler” (presumably his father) owned eight slaves in Richmond, and possibly five slaves in adjoining Henrico County, and possibly 26 slaves in Charles City County.In 1813, the year of his father's death, the younger Tyler purchased Woodburn plantation, where he lived until 1821. As of 1820, Tyler owned 24 enslaved persons at Woodburn, after having inherited 13 enslaved persons from his father, although only eight were listed as engaged in agriculture in that census.
Start in Virginia politics
In 1811, at age 21, Tyler was elected to represent Charles City County in the House of Delegates. He served five successive one-year terms (the first alongside Cornelius Egmon and later with Benjamin Harrison). As a state legislator, Tyler sat on the Courts and Justice Committee. The young politician's defining positions were on display by th.... Discover the William Tyler Davis popular books. Find the top 100 most popular William Tyler Davis books.