Jessica: John Tyler

John Tyler: Champion of the Old South, by Oliver Chitwood

John Tyler truly was the ‘accidental president’. He went to sleep one night knowing as Vice President that his role in the government was pretty minimum and woke up the next morning to find out that Harrison had died and boom, Tyler was President.

Apparently there was some hemming and hawing from certain government leaders as well as the public thinking that maybe Tyler shouldn’t be promoted to President upon the death of Harrison. As this was the first case of a President dying in office, there was some confusion as to how the Constitution dealt with the dilemma. Some thought the Constitution was too vague in its defining how a President that passes would be succeeded. Eventually though, the fuss died down and Tyler continued on as President.

This book gives the reader an opinion that Tyler had more enemies than friends in the government. He even was known a the president without a party because neither the Whigs or the Democrats wanted anything to do with him. It was almost as if he spent his entire Presidency fighting with all of Washington to be accepted.

Tyler’s private life was not a big focus in this book. He did have a lot of kids. It looks like there might have been 7 children total. He was also married twice. The author did not give the reader any insight as to which wife had which kids. I am still not sure if the kids were all from his first marriage or if they are from both marriages combined. I would have liked to have learned a bit more about Tyler’s private life.

Tyler was a man who did not write a lot of letters or keep a diary, unlike Adams or Jeffersn, so I can understand how writing a biography on him might be difficult. Because of this fact, I do appreciate the obstacles that the author must have been presented with to write this book. Granted the book is a bit dated as it was originally published in the 1930’s, and it did skip around during Tyler’s career which made it difficult to keep facts straight, but all and all it was an informative read on a little known president.

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