John Tyler ( March 29 , 1790 - January 18 , 1862 ) of Virginia was the tenth ( 1841 ) Vice President of the United States , and the tenth ( 1841 - 1845 ) President of the United States . He was the second President born after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the first to assume the office of President following the death of his predecessor.
Drawn into the newly-organized Whig Party , Tyler was elected Vice President in 1840 as running mate to William Henry Harrison , on the slogan "Tippecanoe—and Tyler too!" and assumed the presidency upon Harrison's death a month into his term.
Tyler was the first Vice President to assume the Presidency in this manner. On April 6 , 1841 , he took the Presidential oath of office as specified by the Constitution. The Cabinet and Congress agreed with Tyler that he was President and not merely Acting President, and as the Constitution was not explicit on that aspect of succession (until the 1967 ratification of the 25th Amendment ), both the House and Senate passed resolutions recognizing Tyler as President.
For two years Tyler struggled with the Whigs, but when he took John C. Calhoun as Secretary of State, to 'reform' the Democrats, the gravitational swing of the Whigs to identity with 'the North' and the Democrats as the party of 'the South,' led the way to the sectional party politics of the next decade.
May 1842, when the Dorr Rebellion in Rhode Island
came to a head, John Tyler declined to use Federal
troops to suppress the rioting adherents of a new
state constitution, which extended Rhode Island's
restricted franchise. Tyler was of the opinion that
the 'lawless assemblages' were dispersing, and
expressed his confidence in a 'temper of
conciliation as well as of energy and decision:'
"I freely confess that I should experience great reluctance in employing the military power of Government against any portion of the people; but however painful the duty I have to assure your Excellency, that if resistance is made to the execution of the laws of Rhode-Island, by such force as the civil peace shall be unable to overcome, it will be the duty of this Government to enforce the Constitutional guarantee-- a guarantee given and adopted mutually by all the original States, of which Rhode-Island was one."
Tyler's later career may be seen in the light of his
actions at this turn of events. His letter declined
to offer an opinion on the internal affairs of Rhode
Island: "They are questions of municipal regulation,
the adjustment of which belongs exclusively to the
people of Rhode Island." It was the first occasion
in U.S. history where the question had arisen,
according to Tyler, who was overlooking Shay's
Rebellion . He ended his published letter
"The people of the State of Rhode Island have been too long distinguished for their love of order and of regular government, to rush into revolution, in order to obtain a redress of grievances, real or supposed, which a government under which their fathers lived in peace, would not in due season redress. No portion of her people will be willing to drench her fair fields with the blood of their own brethren, in order to obtain a redress of grievances which their constituted authorities cannot, for any length of time resist, if properly appealed to by the popular voice. None of them will be willing to set an example, in the bosom of this Union, of such frightful disorder, such needless convulsions of society, such danger to life, liberty and property, and likely to bring so much discredit on the character of popular governments. My reliance on the virtue, intelligence and patriotism of her citizens, is great and abiding, and I will not doubt but that a spirit of conciliation will prevail over rash counsels, that all actual grievances will be promptly redressed by the existing Government, and that another bright example will be added to the many already prevailing among the North American Republics, of change without revolution and a redress of grievances without force or violence."
Tyler's last act in office was perhaps the most significant: he signed the bill annexing Texas , which had formerly been part of Mexico , thus extending the territory of slave-holding states and unbalancing the Missouri Compromise . The consequences of this act, which triggered war with Mexico , Tyler left to his successor, James K. Polk .
In February 1861, Tyler re-entered public life to sponsor and chair the Washington peace convention. The Washington peace convention sought a compromise to avoid civil war, while the Confederate Consitution was being drawn up at the Montgomery Convention . When the Senate rejected his plan, Tyler urged Virginia 's immediate secession. Having served in the provisional Confederate Congress in 1861, he was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives but died before he could take office.