Knowing the Presidents: John Tyler

John Tyler

Tenth President, 1841-1845


When John Tyler assumed the presidency upon the death of William Henry Harrison, critics referred to him as “His Accidency.” At fifty-one, Tyler was the youngest man yet to become president.

Tyler, who supported states’ rights over federal power, was largely at odds with the nationalistic policies of his adopted Whig Party. He was rejected as the party’s candidate in 1844.


John Tyler was determined to be the president and not just a stand-in. Although Henry Clay controlled the Whig Party, Tyler refused to allow him to dominate the presidency.

Philosophically, Tyler wrestled with members of his own Whig Party in Congress. When he vetoed a bill to establish a National Bank, Whigs expelled him from their party. The rest of his presidency was characterized by ongoing clashes with Congress.

Major Acts:

The Webster–Ashburton Treaty of 1842, negotiated by Secretary of State Daniel Webster, settled a contentious border dispute in the northeast with Canada.

The Log Cabin bill allowed settlers to acquire western lands at reduced rates.

John Tyler annexed Texas into the Union, signing the statehood bill into law three days before he left office.


As vice president, John Tyler set the example for a seamless and immediate succession of presidential power when an incumbent president dies.

Tyler demonstrated how a president who was willing to use the veto could block Congress. He vetoed a bill resurrecting the Bank of the United States (which Jackson had dismantled). He also vetoed bills calling for high tariffs.