What You Didn’t Learn: John Tyler Edition

For anyone that missed the first blogs in this series which covered the first eight United States Presidents, you can check them out here. For a quick summary of what these are and will continue to be is every Monday, I'm running through what we collectively didn't learn in school about United States presidents, starting with Washington and working my way toward now. This isn’t at all about policy or politics or what laws and bills they did or did not approve of. The goal here is simply to provide you with some more information on some of the most powerful dudes to ever walk this planet that our educations left out. Maybe that will be enough, maybe it will send you on a journey to discover even more on your own time. I think I am just going to include this beginning paragraph every time for clarity, and those who have tuned in (and continue to do so thank you for your support) will know to skip it. Regardless, I’m happy you're here. 

John Tyler! Number 10! The guy who this series would not exist without. Why is that? The first history/president blog that I ever wrote for Barstool was about him. I'm going to include that in the "what we didn't learn" section and give you guys that blog here since it is far and away the most interesting thing about him and was pretty short to begin with. Let's just dive right into this relatively unknown fella.

What we learned:

He was the 10th President of the United States - I honestly can't promise you I heard this guy's name more than a handful of times in my entire education, but I just know we had to have

He was the first president to serve without being elected to office - We know why this is. William Henry Harrison didn't wear a coat, got a bunch of diarrhea from getting poop water shot up his butt and died almost immediately. For Tyler, this was pretty cool because he got to serve nearly an entire presidential term. 

He annexed Texas, making it a state - This is the main thing I remember learning about Tyler in school. Obviously a significant deal for the United States.

What we didn't learn: 

He has a living grandchild. Still alive now. John Tyler, who was born in 1790, has a living grandchild - To be fair, there is not really any reason that any educational curriculum would teach us this, so it is much more a fun fact rather than an omission, but it is still both fascinating and mind-blowing. 

John Tyler was born in 1790. SEVENTEEN NINETY. A mere 14 years after the entire United States of America was officially formed. Then that horny son of a bitch has a kid named Lyon SIXTY THREE years later at that age. This child was apparently also gifted with that horny gene because HE then has two children at the ages of SEVENTY ONE (Lyon 2.0) and SEVENTY FIVE (Harrison). A casual 138 years over two generations. Let's put this all in a timeline to make it a bit easier to digest.

1790: John Tyler is born

1841: John Tyler becomes POTUS (JT Age 51)

1853: John Tyler's wife pops out Lyon (JT Age 63)

1862: John Tyler croaks (Age 72)

1924: Lyon's wife pops out Lyon 2.0 (LT Age 71)

1928: Lyon's wife pops out Harrison (LT Age 75)

2020 (October): Lyon dies (Age 95)

2020: Harrison (Still alive at 92!)

That is absolutely BONKERS. Imagine you're Harrison Ruffin Tyler, kicking around at the ripe age of 92 and someone says "Oh what was your grandpa like?" and answering "Well I'm not really sure because he died 66 years before I was born, but he was the TENTH President of the United States." 

I tried to find statistical data on how rare it is for back-to-back generations to have kids that old, but there was barely anything available. BUT, to put things in slight perspective, Abraham Lincoln who was president six terms later, had his final grandchild die in 1937, 84 years ago.

I wrote that blog months ago and I would be lying if I didn't still think about this multiple times a week. Is it unfathomable? No. Is it still staggering to think about? Yes. My grandfather was born in the 1940s. Wild.

He was not popular and pretty much everyone, even his own party, disliked him:

- I briefly mentioned last week how he had the nickname "His Accidency," which is just a really tough nickname to begin with. The fact that he was never elected never really escaped him and his entire presidency was marred by this fact. This came to a head when Tyler vetoed a national banking act that Henry Clay, who seems to show up in these blogs nearly every week, (idea for a later blog: the most important Americans to never be president) was desperately trying to pass twice. The Whig Party went ahead and completely expelled him from their ranks, which was the first time this ever happened to a sitting president. After this, his entire cabinet, minus his Secretary of State Daniel Webster, resigned. Not ideal. Think that is the worst of it? Sure isn't. His own former constituents then raised an impeachment resolution against him, another presidential first, led by John Quincy Adams (remember him?). The resolution was unsuccessful, but Congress continued to just make this guy's life miserable by making Tyler the first president to have his veto overridden by the legislature, which Congress did just to spite him on a minor ship-building bill on his last day in office. Just a really tough run for a guy that didn't even run for president in the first place.

He died (kind of) a traitor:

Another presidential first for John Tyler. Tyler was the only POTUS who sided with the secessionists. After he left office, Tyler vocally and openly opposed any sort of limitations on the expansion of slavery. After Abraham Lincoln was elected, Tyler wrote, “The day of doom for the great model republic is at hand.” As southern states started to secede, Tyler chaired an unsuccessful peace conference in a last-ditch attempt to "preserve the Union." Spoiler: The Union was not preserved and the Civil War began. He then led the committee negotiating Virginia’s entrance into the Confederacy and even won an election to the Confederate House of Representatives. He never got to do too much in this regard, though, since he died before taking his seat. This series of choices by Tyler was in glaring opposition to any actions taken by a POTUS and Tyler was seen as a traitor, with the federal government not officially recognizing his death for 63 years.

John Tyler was by no means a popular president, not particularly favored by the people, his own party, his cabinet or pretty much anyone else professionally. His nickname of "His accidency," while pretty mean, seems to suit his time in office quite well. With that being said, these are by no means worthy of their own whole bullet point and description, but I want to acknowledge he did do some things outside of Texas' annexation. Tyler signed a major treaty with China that gave the United States access to Asian ports, setting up that relationship we still use today and on his last day in office signed a bill that made Florida the 27th state.