John Tyler: Biography
John Tyler became president in 1841, due to the death of William Henry Harrison. He served until 1845, losing the election to James Polk.
John Tyler was born in Charles City County, Va. on March 29,1790. He became president in 1841 and served until 1845. Because William Henry Harrison was the first president to die in office, his death caused much confusion. Vice president John Tyler's transition to power should have been simple, but it wasn't.
Tyler's largest problems was that he had been nominated to balance the Whig ticket, but he had never really accepted the Whig's nationalist policies. As a result, the Whig party leaders, especially Senator Henry Clay, did not trust him. Clay was a nationalist, which meant that he wanted to use the federal government to build a strong, unified country.
Unlike Clay, Tyler was an advocate of states' rights. He believed, as many Southerners did, that strengthening the federal government threatened individual freedom. Southerners worried that a strong national government would attempt to outlaw slavery.
To the south, Tyler took up the matter of Texan statehood, which had been pending since the Van Buren administration. By 1843, Texans had grown tired of waiting. They began talking with Britain about the possibility of remaining independent under British protection. Tyler began his own secret talks with Texas, which led to a treaty rejected by the Senate in June 1844. That fall, however, James Knox Polk, was elected president because he favored expansion of the nation. Polk's victory convinced Congress that the public wanted Texas to be annexed. Three days before Tyler left office, he signed a joint resolution of Congress admitting Texas to the Union.