A Civil War Biography

John Tyler

In November 1861 JOHN TYLER, the 10th President of the United Sates, at the age of 72, was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives but died before taking his seat.

Tyler was born on 29 March 1790 in Charles City County, Virginia. He was educated in private schools then at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia from which he graduated in 1807. He studied the law and was admitted to the bar in 1809 then commenced practicing in Charles City County. He was elected to the Virginia State House of Delegates in 1811 and served until 1816 except while he was serving in the US Army as a captain during the War of 1812. He was elected to the US House of Representatives from Virginia's 23rd District in 1816 to fill the vacancy created by the death of John Clopton. Tyler would be reelected in 1816 and 1818, serving in the US Congress until 3 March 1821 after deciding not to seek reelection in 1820 due to poor health. He returned to the state house of delegates in 1823 and stayed until being elected Governor of Virginia in 1825. He remained governor until elected to the US Senate taking his seat on 4 March 1827.

He was a member of the Virginia state constitutional conventions in 1829 and 1830. Tyler remained in the US Senate until 29 February 1836 when he resigned after failing to follow the state legislature's instructions to vote to expunge the censure of President Andrew Jackson for his removal of federal funds from the Bank of the United Sates. US Senators were elected by the State Legislatures in the 1800s and Tyler felt it proper to resign instead of following the legislature's guidance. Tyler ran for the vice presidency in 1836 but lost to Richard M. Johnson. In 1839 Tyler returned to the state house of delegates. In 1840 he mounted a new campaign for the vice presidency and was elected on the Whig ticket with William Henry Harrison. Harrison and Tyler were inaugurated on 4 March 1841. When Harrison died a month later on 4 April, Tyler became the 10th President taking the oath of office on 6 April 1841 after both the House and Senate passed resolutions recognizing Tyler as president.

After vetoing bills that would establish a National Bank based on his belief in states rights Tyler was expelled from the Whig party. When he vetoed a tariff bill, the first impeachment resolution against a president was introduced in the House of Representatives. A committee headed by Representative and former President John Quincy Adams reported that the President had misused the veto power. The resolution failed, however. As the presidential election of 1844 approached Tyler wavered between establishing a new party and throwing himself at the Democrats as their candidate. After neither option appeared to lead back to the white house he considered running as an independent hoping to get the election into the House. When the Democrats nominated James K. Polk, Tyler decided not to seek reelection. He left the presidency when Polk was inaugurated on 3 March 1845 and retired from public life to his Virginia plantation.

In February 1861 Tyler returned to public life as chairman of the peace convention held in Washington, D.C. in an effort to devise means to prevent the impending war. Once Virginia seceded Tyler served as a Virginia delegate to the Confederate Provisional Congress. He was elected to the Confederate States House of Representatives in November 1861 but died on 18 January 1862 before the Congress had assembled.

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