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tv   The Presidency Christopher Leahy President without a Party  CSPAN  October 19, 2022 8:40am-9:36am EDT

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president who died in office and was ejected from his own political party. >> hello again everyone. welcome to another at home edition of our lecture series i'm vice president for collections and exhibitions at the museum of history and culture. so glad you could join us today. as always like to start rethinking our members who made this program possible. your support is essential for making these events happen so
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we deeply appreciate that. and onto today's speaker, they were very pleased to have with this doctor christopher leahy who is professor college of new york. he will be talking to us about his book president without a party the life and john tyler. john tyler is the nation's own president to be kicked on his own political party. tyler's use of the veto destroyed the legislative chances to win the election in 1844. trade by his contemporaries in many historians as an idea devotion to state with
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construction on the constitution compromise, doctor lengthy instead argues tyler largely added bipartisan approach to nation problems. it was his status as a president without a party injection of legs and democrats museum of music industry especially grammar for giving us the opportunity to speak before you today. i also want to thank the guest of the virginia museum for their interest in john tyler currently at my life's work. i do have slides to accompany the lecture, which always makes my students happy to
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find out. so, i will hook up the slideshow right now. so, many years ago when i was deciding upon a dissertation topic i came upon john tyler. of course i had a little bit of knowledge about tyler has a history major in college i became fascinated by how someone could actually get kicked out of their own political party. what did someone have to do too have his political party resort to the very drastic very extreme measure of kicking him out of the ranks. that became the animating aspect of why i was interested in him. my dissertation dealt with his
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life and political rear career before he became president. certainly keeping an eye on him being a president without a party really guided my research and my writing for much of the last several years before the book got published. so when tyler was banished from the ranks of the whigs in september 1841, he really established henry clay shown here on the left as his number one enemy. clay was essentially the senate majority leader that title did not yet exist is essentially the senate majority leader for half of tyler's presidency. you see on the right here a political cartoon going back to the corrupt bargain election of 1824 work clay is selling jackson's lips shut so he will shut up about clays involvement. he had a long career and
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presidential politics, and congressional politics he had been speaker of the house but he had come into office in the senate before tyler became president. really determined to shift to the course of the society and in fact had persuaded president william henry harrison to call a special session of congress to deal with the financial panic that had been going off and on since 1837. clay really became his chief enemy. it was clay who had apparently coined the phrase to describe john tyler and mark how he ended up in the white house. this slide i think hence at least the ability of a man that one female visitor to the white house said possess none of the condescension one
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usually expected in the virginia gentlemen debonair swab there showing himself when he wanted to tyler could be charming and gracious. but his relationship with henry clay often put him in a foul mood. i detailed several instances in the book where a lot of this graciousness and affability really disappeared as tyler attempted with dealing as a president without a party. the title of the book indicates my focus on tyler as the tenth president revolves around his banishment from the whigs. i spent a significant amount of time examining what happened, how it happened and why it mattered. today however i want to focus our attention on one of the themes of the book, john tyler's addiction to politics. this is an important aspect of his life and career that is been overlooked by biographers
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and other historians. this is not to say other politicians either in tyler's era or our own have failed to demonstrate a virtual addiction to politics, success in the political arena after all particularly at the national level necessitates a public official give their all to their career if they hope to have staying power. this is also not to say tyler's addiction to politics involved in addiction in the clinical sense of the term although i did have moments during the course of my research and writing when i thought this might be true. but my book shows is that tyler calculated his self worth and his masculinity but success in the political arena particularly in the national arena. once you've been bitten by the politics bug he could never give it up. even when he realized it was harming his marriage, his relationships with his children and his finances.
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also failed to realize how much addiction to politics tarnishes historical reputation which is particularly ironic given ultimately chose a career in politics because it offered him the best chance to achieve historical renowned and leave a lasting mark. looking at tyler's addiction to politics also allows us to calibrate the impact of his father on his life and career. his father was the most important person in his life. judge tyler shown here on the right was a minor figure in the founding of the nation played a significant role as a federals at the virginia convention called in 1788 of the ratification of the constitution. judge tyler had served in the virginia house of delegates and had even been elected speaker on several occasions.
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you can see judge tyler supported a rather prominent nose but she passed on to his son the future president. anyone who tried to describe john tyler usually began by noting his prominent nose variously referred to aquiline a lot of the sources. john quincy adams notes john tyler's nose and a couple of his entries in fact you could even say at some point john quincy adams almost became obsessed with john tyler's nose among other things about the accidental president of the present without a pardon. but judge tyler passed on much more than his physical characteristics. key to understanding him and key to understanding how his addiction to pollock six developed. tyler it was very close to his father. his mother died when he was seven years old and the young boy took it hard as you might expect. he developed >> ailments and
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his father worried about him both because he was sickly and a nervous child small and frail. the turning point of sorts occurred when the future president was about ten years old the story at the very least it's probably embellished. i kept it out of the book critic edited out of the book the incident involved a scottish schoolmaster taught john tyler and several other boys in the neighborhood school not far from greenway seemed to take special delight and wrapping his students in knuckles when they forgot their lessons for tyler and fax it later in life it was a wonder he did not with all the sense out of his scholars. one day the boys in school had enough john tyler led the
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others and tripping and tying them up with rope. on the left-hand side of the slide is with the scene may have looked like before the boys got the better of mcmurdo. this is a great image it's not exactly mcmurdo with john tyler and his fellow students. i think it captures the spirit of what the schoolhouse must have looked like. after tying their nemesis up the boys exited the school in triumph leaving the schoolmaster writhing on the floor. two hours later he was freed by a passerby and immediately stomped toward the tyler home fully expecting to told judge tyler about the role his son played in the event he would receive swift punishment. instead mcmurdo arrived at the house, knocked on the door, spoke with judge tyler told him what happened whereupon judge tyler banished him from the house screaming as he
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kicked them out the door the state motto of virginia that's always the tyrants. we can assume the incident with mcmurdo happened as i described it here. judge tyler was pleased because it's sickly, frail, nervous son had asserted himself and shed the residence he had exhibited since the passing of his mother. in any event john tyler's relationship with his father grew stronger they grew very close. in fact tyler was apparently closer to his father than any of his siblings. tyler was one of eight children's had five sisters and two brothers. he was the sixth in line he was the sixth unborn child for the relationship with his father nurtured a burgeoning interest in politics judge tyler schooled his son the limited government ideals of thomas jefferson as well as the virginia and kentucky resolutions were passed in 1798 proposed in 1798 by thomas jefferson and james
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mattis in an effort to try to prevent the federalist from trampling on the rights of the states in the run-up to a possible war with france. the ideals of thomas jefferson and limited government and really relayed to him and talk to him often about the republican american revolution for judge tyler also instilled a belief in the virtue of public service. it's also a bit associated with this, one point judge tyler had written to jefferson saying good and able men had better govern and be covered. so certainly judge tyler and later john tyler took at the heart members of their society men who were occupying their place in society had an obligation to be the ones who led the political system.
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i like the left-hand side of this slide county election it really shows the hurly-burly of politics. use eat drink being applied to see the rough-and-tumble of politics. very masculine very mail dominated context. it's interesting for all of his gentility tyler did take pride in cultivating the gentility father had deemed important throughout his life that despite this tyler found himself quite comfortable in the round of the nitty-gritty of politics. by the time tyler entered the preparatory division the college of william and mary at the age 12 he fully expected politics to be his calling. this slide shows on the left of the wren building at william and mary which is i believe the oldest college building still in existence today.
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the only college building still standing in the united states. it was here were john tyler took his college courses. william and mary became a formidable place for you to go to study politics and political economy. by the time tyler graduated at age 17 there was no doubt he would enter the realm of politics. now it's interesting if you read the few letters that survived between judge tyler and john tyler while he was a student at william and mary you really get a sense and appreciate how seriously tyler took his education. the two men, tyler and his father passed letters back and forth it talked about the bill of rights constitutional debates and the things his father had experienced firsthand in virginia. you really get a picture of a precocious young man who is doing everything he possibly
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could to set himself up for a political career. bishop madison was a firm believer in the jeffersonian government is his duty to impart to the jeffersonian lessons onto the students who were under his direction. john tyler became a favorite of bishop madison. bishop madison asked young john tyler to read one of the graduation orations on the day he graduated in july of 1807. the other thing that comes out of tyler's relationship with his father at this time it comes out of his relationship with bishop madison and william he was brimming with self
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confidence, almost full of himself. he was very confident. he had certainly moved past the reticence and the attributes that he had had when he was ten, 11 or 12 years old. it was very much confident in himself, confident in his ability, confident in his intellect. he had been largely classically trained. trained in subjects like greek and latin, ancient history, politics, political economy. this is the young man who was very well equipped both with when he got at home and also when he got in college to pursue the career and politics or earnestly wanted. his father was good for his self esteem, as was bishop madison, in other words. tyler once had dinner with thomas jefferson not long after he graduated from william and mary. and jefferson impressed upon him that a successful politician, particularly in virginia, needed to establish himself in
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the legal profession. in fact, a legal career jefferson said to the young man, was a virtual prerequisite to a political career. so, much like there was really no doubt that he would attend william and mary like his father, like jefferson, like james monroe, he was one of three presidents to have attended william and mary, it became pretty apparent that he was going to pursue a legal career. shortly after he graduated from the college of william and mary, his father and another tyler relative took him on as a legal apprentice. a little bit later when judge tyler was elected governor of virginia, it could no longer supervise his sons legal studies, edmund randolph stepped in. randolph had been attorney general under george washington, and really presented young tyler with a very challenging way to approach the law. tyler passed the bar in 1809 at the age of 19. now this is interesting because in virginia the law at
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the time said they had to be at least 21 years of age to pass the bar exam. to even sit for the bar exam. but apparently the examiner did not ask tyler how old he was. perhaps as fathers connections allowed them to look the other way. but in any event he was 19. tyler passed the bar exam -- did not set a practice right away. kind of took some time to develop further habit, study habits he participated in some moot court proceedings around richmond, honing the oratorical skills he would need in the courtroom. he was still thinking really in terms of politics. the picture here, the image on the right-hand of the slide shows tyler at approximately age 21 when he won his first political office, a seat in the virginia house of delegates. right away, tyler threw himself into the
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fray. he was not content to be a backbencher, he did not want to build on some sort of political apprenticeship. he did not want to defer to his betters and his elders who had been in the legislature for sometime. he immediately jumped in with an issue that he thought could allow him to build a name and a reputation. what he did was he introduced the resolution centuring virginia senators, richard brent and william grant's child, because that disobeyed the virginia legislature which had instructed them to vote against the recharter of the national bank. this is an interesting episode in tyler's life. he graduated from college. he was full of him himself. brimming with self confidence. but his resolutions failed. the legislature immediately tabled the resolutions, which in effect killed them and later adopted another set of resolutions. they adopted
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someone else's resolution. tyler realized at that time that his colleagues did not care too much who his daddy was, they did not care that he was full of himself. he had a lot of self confidence, and really for the first time in his life, tyler had been told that something he had done did not pass muster. he wasn't crushed by it, but it did take him aback. it didn't make him think that maybe this political life is going to be a little more difficult than i thought at the outset. in 1813, tyler took another step in the phase of his political life, his political rise. he married well. because this is a young woman who tyler had married on his 23rd birthday, march 29th, 1813. judge tyler had actually died a few months before, which really made it easier for tyler
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to get married. he inherited some property from his father. he also inherited deaths from his father, but he inherited property. eventually he would end up living in this house here. green way. the house where john tyler had been born. i hope i'm back. we had some technical difficulties. i apologize for that. i think we left off with my analysis of john tyler's marriage to leticia christian from new kent county. i made the point, this is another step in his political process. because i'm marrying well to the political standing, get the sense of
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tyler, even at the early stage of his political career, he has wrestles -- he must get along joint national political career. he's like the person we're talking to scanning the room for someone more important to talk to. so maybe that's what happens to me when i met parties. there was a sense he wanted to surpasses fathers example. but he was motivated by his example -- he was using the law as a steps onto his political career he wanted to surpasses bother him becoming figure of master now.
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he was also quite adept to taking advantage of circuitous timing. in september 1816 a very popular congressman who represented his district died. tyler saw an opportunity and stood for election after election against the son of john clinton and another candidate named andrew stevenson who had become a legal, rival a friendly rival at the time tyler one the election. a close election. he was headed to washington. he had never been to washington before. and when he got there he was shocked by what he saw. washington still bore the effects of the way of 1812, with the british had done, to the capital building and to the executive mansion. and tyler was quite shocked at seeing what it looked like in the wake of the destruction that was wrought by the british during the war. the destruction that he saw reinforced something else that his father had
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instilled upon him as a young man. it was a dislike of all things british. tyler seemed to operate under the assumption of a congressman and president, that anything that was good for the british was not good for the united states. so he kind of nursed a grudge, if you will, looking at the destruction that the british had brought about during the war of 1812. he quickly got over that. he got over the initial shock of seeing the way the buildings looked. law the capital -- was not in the actual capital. the proceedings were held in another building. a much more cramped building across town. tyler, much like he had done in the virginia house of delegates, did not wait for an invitation to enter the fray. he did so immediately by pouncing on the conpensation issue. the previous session of congress
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law, before john tyler had gotten elected. congress had passed a compensation bill that provided a significant raise for congressmen. and once the word got out, the news of the compensation bill got out to communities all across the united states, the reaction was swift. people didn't like the fact that congressmen had decided to give himself a raise, particularly in the wake of the financial difficulties of the war of 1812. the hue and cry against the compensation bill, -- was deep and wide. tyler adopted the petition that he was going to take a stance best for the people. he thought the compensation bill -- he jumped right into the debate. he made two speeches on the compensation matter before congress. there was a sense that his colleagues were little bit taken aback by the fact that this guy had come in and
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instantly decided to take them to task for what they had done at the previous session. tyler got into a little verbal spat on the floor of congress, with the new york congressman, but all in all, tyler held his own. he was put in his place a little bit, recognized that he still had work to do to acquire the statute that would give him respect, but he also recognize that it probably changed at least a little bit of the tenor of the debate. the compensation act was repealed and tyler claimed his triumph when he went back to his constituents in virginia. during his congressional career, tyler sharpened his commitment free trade, which meant that he was anti protective tariff. he opposed the national bank and he opposed federally sponsored internal improvement. he is
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really crafting a persona for himself as a politician in the old republican tradition a virginia politics. old republicans favored limited government -- strict construction of the constitution. tyler was really crafting his persona and developing his reputation as an old republican in good standing. this was going to be the way that he would develop or allow himself to develop his political career. being in washington took a toll on his marriage. while he was in congress he had three young children at home. his wife never tired of reminding him how much she disliked his political career. how much she wanted him home. but at least for a time tyler did not want to give it up. but it was a crisis over slavery that will
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play a significant role in forcing tyler to retire from congress in 1821. in 1819 the territory of missouri had applied for statehood to the u. s. congress and a debate quickly developed over whether slavery would be allowed in the territory. now tyler did take part in some of this. it was actually quite shocking. he related to his confident, his brother-in-law, henry curtis, who became tyler's go-to confidant while he served in congress. the two men would have a falling out later over some very serious financial issues, among other things, but at the time he served in congress he really told curtis a lot of what he was thinking and a lot of what he thought about washington and politics. at one point as the missouri crisis over the missouri debates are occupying an ever more acrimonious place in washington politics, tyler was amazed that men were speaking of the dissolution of the union with perfect nonchalance. it appalled tyler that people were
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talking about breaking up the union rather than, southerners, rather than taking slavery out of missouri. tyler found all of this quite demoralizing. in the midst of the missouri debates, what would become the missouri compromise, in the midst of the debate he also suffered a debilitating illness. he took to his bed for about a week. he was quite shaken. he had never really felt anything like that before. he had sensations of paralysis in his arms, a tingling in his head and face. it really alarmed him that he was experiencing such devastating physical symptoms. the missouri crisis demoralized him politically. he had had a serious illness and he was also
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broke, his financial difficulties that were coming out into the open with respect to his family. and leticia wanted him home. so he retired in 1821 at the age of 31. he went home to virginia, telling people that he would have no more to do with national politics. retirement for politicians in the early 19th century, especially for southern politicians, was itself a political act. it allowed politicians to portray themselves as disinterested statesman who could walk off the political stage at any time they saw fit. their principles demanded that they leave, even as he retired, though tyler was setting himself up for a return to politics. of course he kept this from letitia. this is where you really begin to see the addiction, the all-consuming desire for being
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in politics. one month after he returned home, one month after he retired, tyler was writing letters to political associates throughout virginia telling them that he would be willing to get back into the political battle if the occasion required it. so here he is using his retirement as a way, a political act to enhance and further his political career. even while he's telling leticia and portraying to his children that he's happy to be home, but he is still very restless. there's never any doubt, however, that he would return to politics. he won elections in the virginia house of delegates again, and that really seem to be the pattern for tyler. he is looking of course for more national political exposure. but he starts again with the virginia house of delegates. then in 1825 he was elected governor of the commonwealth of virginia. this had to have some important psychic meaning to john tyler. his father had been governor, this image here on the left, showing tyler at the age of 35 or 36 when he became governor of virginia. on the right is
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the governor's mansion in richmond. letitia actually liked this political office, because it allowed tyler to stay in virginia with her and the children. but tyler hungered for a return to national politics. in 1827, after his reelection as governor, he defeated the incumbent john randolph for a seat in the united states senate. john randolph shown here on the right, was a faithful adherence to the old republican principles of states rights but by the mid 18 20s, randolph and his erratic behavior had a lot of -- had caused a lot of people who follow virginia politics to become very nervous about him, very nervous about his future
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defending virginia and the south in the u.s. senate. there was a lot of support from around all 14 for virginia, and it's interesting when you look at the subtle campaign that tyler waged to unseat randolph, at one point he is declaring to support randolph for another term. behind the scenes he is scheming with other politicians from the western part of virginia to try to enhance his candidacy so he can supplant randolph, which he does. in 1827. during his senate career, the full impact of his addiction to politics is felt by his family. his children are growing up without their father. this affects them in different ways. tyler's oldest child, his daughter mary, had a pretty good relationship with her father. we see a lot of letters that passed between tyler and mary going back from virginia to washington, washington to virginia. tyler took a keen interest in what his daughter was reading. he recommended that she read as
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many newspapers as she could find. shakespeare, all the things that he had read when he was young. he definitely wanted her to develop a fertile mind. his oldest son, robert tyler, who was born in 1816 had a pretty decent relationship with john tyler. he was a student at william and mary like his father. he did well at william and mary, but there is still a distance between the two of them. a formality, almost. probably owing to the fact that they didn't see each other that much while robert was growing up. john tyler junior, who was born in 1819, no doubt was the one who took his father's absence the hardest. young john eventually became an alcoholic and suffered through a troubled marriage that was largely his doing. he really had a lot of troubles both before and after tyler's presidency, that john
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tyler really dispaired of. at one point, thinking that he would end up dead. that they would find out that his son and namesake would be dead. so there is a lot of contention within the relationships that tyler shared with his children. but it's letitia, especially who found it extremely difficult to deal with her husbands continuous absences. there is an anecdote from may of 1831 that i think is particularly telling in this regard. in may of 1831 after the congressional session had ended, john tyler returned home to virginia. he had barely put his bags down after being gone for five and a half months, he had barely put his bags down when he informed letitia that he had been invited to a political meeting in richmond, he would be leaving tomorrow and likely be gone a few days. well that night, letitia got
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very ill. so ill and fact, she could not get out of bed. tyler wrote the next day to his friend and fellow senator, virginia senator littleton caswell, who was supposed to meet him in richmond at the political meeting. he wrote, letitia was so very ill upon my receiving the invitation that i was left with one course to pursue, and that was to decline its acceptance. it seemed apparent from other letters from this one and others, that tyler had spoken to littleton taswell while they were together in washington about leticia's health situation. he variously referred to her health situation that it was delicate, troubling. it was clear that letitia suffered a marriage trauma, that developed because of the constant separation she faced with her husband being in washington for five or six months every year. tyler really obviously
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recognized what was going on. he recognized that he was the cause of this marriage trauma. he recognized that his behavior, his political behavior was responsible for having his wife manifest symptoms of marriage trauma through illness. yet he still wanted to maintain his political career. he relied on his daughter mary to act as a caregiver in his absence to her mother. he instructed her to take care of her mother with warm baths and try to treat her migraines and all the things that he would have done had he been there, he make sure that he entrusted to his daughter mary. mary really became a very key figure, probably indispensable and making sure that john tyler maintained his political career. tyler resigned from the senate in
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february of 1836 rather than vote to expunge the censure of andrew jackson. the whig party, led by henry clay, in the senate had passed a resolution of censure that took andrew jackson, president jackson to task for removing the bank deposits that inaugurated the bank war in jackson's second term. when the democrats regained control of congress they pass what was known as the expunging resolution. -- what they aimed to do is expunged the censure from the senate journal to literally get it out of the record of the senate journal. tyler was instructed to vote for the expunging resolution by the virginia legislature. he refused, he resigned in february 1836 out of principle. but he returned to politics yet again a year and a half later. he was elected to the virginia legislature for the third time. again, we see a pattern of
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looking at a way to try to continue his political career by using the legislature as a springboard. he got himself nominated as vice president by the whigs at their convention, in december of 1839 their national convention. they nominated william henry harrison. and of course law -- defeated the incumbent martin van buren in november of 1840. harrison, as you know, died 32 days into his term. tyler became president, the image on the right is a romanticized picture of tyler receiving news of harrison's passing and his elevation to his presidency. harrison had declared his intention to serve only one
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term as president. tyler almost desperately wanted a second term. he did not make any claims that he would serve only one term, and after being banished from the whig ranks in september of 1841, he spent much of his time to try to put himself in a position to secure elections in his own right in 1844. -- he married a new yorker 30 years on her in a ceremony in new york city. to the wrath of the side of some of my favorite characters or political cartoons of the 1844 presidential campaign footrace pennsylvania avenue states the $25,000. $25,000 is the presidential salary at the time. we have tyler who said he would not run for president anymore. he would chase, what the farmer calls their, the gardeners daughter. marriage definitely became
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something that, in a way, took him out of politics for at least a brief period of time. march of 1845, john and julia tyler retired to sherwood forest us out of charles county, not far from tyler he grown-up. still, tyler thought about returning to politics. he toyed with the idea of running for the u.s. senate in 1848, if you can believe that. his correspondents indicate that he even entertained ideas about being the democratic nominee for president in 1856 in 1860. to put this into a little bit more context, at least at one point in the late 18 tyler's family thought he would die from one of his illnesses. here you have a man who is habitually unhealthy, still thinking that, at least at some level, he might be able to secure the democratic nomination for president. when abraham lincoln's election
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in november of 1860 brought secession and eventually civil war, tyler decided he had to get back into politics. i like this image on the left. it shows fortress monroe during the civil war. fortress monroe, the norfolk area, where john tyler and julia honeymooned in the summer of 1824. tyler became the chair of an ill-fated peace conference in washington in february of 1861. it was at this time, while he was in washington for the peace conference, the tyler met president elect, abraham lincoln. he came away from lincoln very unimpressed. lincoln was quite unimpressed with john tyler. he returned the favor. once virginia seceded from the union in april, 1861. tyler won election to the provisional confederate congress and eventually sought election to the permanent congress. he won. this is the best example of how politics retained its hold on
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him. how he was addicted to politics. he died before he could take a seat in the congress. he died january 18th, 1862. he should've stayed out of it. i am very critical of him for this decision to get back into politics. critical because it really tarnished his historical reputation beyond repair. he was starting to enjoy a little bit more of the statesman like sentiment that the american people had for him. a lot of the bad feelings that had developed over him being banished from the wig ranks while he served as president had preceded in historical memory a little bit. getting involved in politics again, coming out of retirement and being part of the confederate government ruined all of that. he essentially renounced his citizenship. he renounced his dedication to the constitution that he had been sworn to uphold and defend while he was president. more importantly, i think, his decision to re-enter politics under the confederate
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government had negative repercussions for his family. particularly julia. later in her life julia sought a pension from the federal government as a presidents widow during her campaign to secure the pension, which was very difficult. acquired a law of legal maneuvering, a lot of help, a lot of aid from politically well connected individuals in washington, newspapers never seem to tire of reminding everyone that julia tyler was married to the traitor president. i think it is right to be very hard on john tyler for this decision to enter politics, one last time, late in 1861. i think there is an anecdote from a later president that really speaks to what politician like tyler thought about. how politics really consumed them. the later president's john f. kennedy. in 1963 as he was sizing up his
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potential rivals for the presidency, potential republican nominee for president in 1964, he talked about barry goldwater whose name was being mentioned significantly. he talked about nelson rockefeller. he thought about rockefeller, he couldn't really understand what rockefeller was doing. about a year earlier, rockefeller had left his wife to marry a much younger woman. a woman who, it was said in the press, who he stole from her husband. there were young children involved. rockefeller seemingly sacrificed everything to be with the woman he loved. he probably for stalled any chance he had winning the republican nomination in 1964 because of the scandal that ensued because he was marrying the woman that he loved. kennedy was thinking about this, he declared that no man would ever love love more than politics. i think john tyler probably
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would've understood exactly the sentiment that kennedy mentioned at that time. i appreciate your attention today. if you have not bought my book, i want this slide burned into your memory. this is the title of the book. this is the cover of the book. before i go i just wanted to make sure that i gave you an indication of coming attractions. my wife and i have a book, a biography of julia gardner tyler which is under contract of the university press of kansas. our manuscript is due in october just a few months away i will be happy to take any questions that you might have. i appreciate your attention. >> thanks, chris. apologies for the brief delay due to technical difficulties. we have received a couple questions so -- either from facebook or
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youtube. submit your questions for chris. one thing that comes to mind, obviously, we have seen other figures in politics historically and in contemporary times be driven by the same thing as tyler. one thing that is fascinating as a historian is they worked it understands -- i wonder what you might have uncovered in your research that gave you some clue to this? maybe more importantly was there anything that he left in his own hand, his own writing, which may have revealed what drove him? >> he does refer to his father, particularly early in his political career. emulating his father. how he had in effect set him on
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this course. i think the situation after he retired in 1821 where he is talking about the way he put it was he owed a duty to his family to retire. to return to virginia to try to earn more money as a practicing attorney. even as he is saying that, within a very short period of time after he returns home he is writing political associates in effect repudiating his retirement. in effect saying i don't really mean it i don't really want to stay out of politics. there is a sense you get when you read the letters, particularly the letters that pertain to politics that, this is something that tyler thinks about, constantly! he has money problems. significant money problems. he certainly does worry about his children. he worries about his wife. it's not to say that he is completely unfeeling about those things but reading his
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correspondence you really get a sense that this is a man who defines himself by his political career. and his success in the political arena. whether it was unwittingly or not, he really does reveal himself as he is talking about, as he is writing about what he intends to do with his political career. >> you mentioned perhaps facetiously, perhaps not, that he had a political addiction. you mentioned his son had difficulties with alcohol. any evidence to believe he might have some sort of clinical addiction? >> no, i don't think so. he wasn't much of a drinker. he would drink champagne in modest amounts which usually gave him a headache the next day. kind of a funny thing, after a white house party and what not. other than his near compulsion
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to be in the political game, he certainly does not exhibit more of the clinical aspects of addiction that his son would later. i think, obviously, he didn't know -- he doesn't have the language of the 21st century to try to characterize what he is doing or how he is acting, or even how his son is acting. i don't think that he necessarily, tyler himself, necessarily does exhibit any kind of clinical sign. >> you mentioned, briefly, about his role in annexing texas. i wonder if you might expand on that a little bit more. what his driving or motivating factor was with that? it appears we might have technical difficulties again on christmas and. folks, i apologize for that. so we might need to wrap up
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