John Tyler was born in 1790 to a family of Virginia planters. Trained as a lawyer, he served as a state delegate and governor of Virginia, as a Congressman, and as vice president for one month under President William Henry Harrison.
When Harrison died after just one month in office, Tyler became the first vice president to assume the presidency on the death of the elected president, as the US Constitution required. Yet the Constitution didn’t give many details about how this was to be done. This made many people wonder whether Tyler was a full-fledged president or not.
Some called Tyler “His Accidency” and considered him only an acting president with limited powers. But Tyler was ready to take on all the duties and powers of an elected president, and he did so.
His party became unhappy with Tyler, however, when they saw how independently he tended to act. When he vetoed a national bank bill that the Whigs favored, almost his entire cabinet resigned in protest. He was also in favor of Texas becoming a state, which was a hotly debated topic at the time. Just three days before leaving office, he signed the bill that annexed Texas.
He was defeated in the 1844 election, which would have granted him a second term. He retired to his estate in Virginia, which he had renamed “Sherwood Forest” because the break with his party had made him a political outlaw. He died in Richmond, Virginia, in 1862.
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