The presidency that lasted less than half as long as Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Khris Humphries was followed by one that would be messier than the drama surrounding that doomed union. That subsequent administration would then be followed by the apparent doom of the Union.
In April 1841, William Henry Harrison bit the dust. He was (barely) president at the time, having just moved into the White House, and his sudden change in livelihood proposed some major issues for the US government, which wasn’t exactly enjoying a peaceful era.
No president had died before. Well, most of the 9 previous presidents surely had died by 1841, but none of them had died while in office. No one knew what to do after Harrison died, and Article II Section I Clause 6 of the US Constitution didn’t clear up matters at all.
A debate ensued, and you can be sure that many men did their best to mention their name and “the president” in the same sentence as many times as possible. It must have been a free-for-all, with every Congressman of even meager repute desperately vying for their own candidacy.
Before long, John Tyler stepped in.
Tyler was the vice president before the vacancy above him opened up, and surely he felt he was the only one suited for the position. A month after Harrison’s administration had begun, John Tyler took an oath and assumed the role as head honcho.
Maybe Tyler got Harrison to stand outside in the cold after losing a bet, allowing pneumonia to do the dirty work for him, freeing his political ambitions. Surely that’s not the case, but we would be remiss if we didn’t dedicate a moment to considering whether or not a vice president ever wanted to get rid of the man at the top. Tyler might not have been the first, and surely not the last.
Okay, enough of silly conspiracies.
This new administration was a neat trick and one that all of Congress would soon regret.
The drawback to Tyer’s rise was that it enabled some wily jackass to run the country and he was so disagreeable that his party, the ol’ Whigs, kicked him out. The President of The United States. Gone.
Obviously, he only got the gig after William Henry Harrison died, but he didn’t seem all that grateful – just made a mess of things.
He was the first POTUS to be on the receiving end of a resolution for impeachment after he vetoed a bill; the resolution failed in the House, but it did nothing to hide the fact that he was a terrible president and that everyone hated his rude ass.
Tyler’s cabinet bailed when his presidency was still new as if that wasn’t a sign people hated the guy. He only got to the top of the food chain out of pure happenstance and misfortune (for everyone else, mostly WHH), likely twiddling his fingers out of dark delight when “His Accidency” first entered the White House.
The only good thing John Tyler did during his ascendence was point out a missing piece in the US Constitution; there was nothing in writing dictating what should be done when there no longer is an acting president.
Who would replace the president were they to die or be unable to perform their duties? What powers would they hold? Would it be like when the assistant coach gets the head coaching gig on an interim basis? Would the cabinet take over? Were Ross and Rachel on a break?
Well, John took things into his own hands, just walked around and acted like the president.
He took the oath and assumed presidential duties which basically settled it, but the Tyler administration went down like expired cough syrup; he and Congress hated each other so much that not much was accomplished.
He wanted to annex Texas (one his favorite initiatives) but failed to do so while at the White House.
That’s not surprising at all, and provides a half-baked summary of his time at the top; he wanted to do shit that no one else wanted to do and didn’t want to do what everyone else wanted to do, you know, as leader of the People and all. He stubbornly dove head first into his ideas and policies, much in the same way he became president.
As a result, we got the 25th Amendment (well, that was in 1967 but we can admit that Tyler got the ball rolling on presidential ascendency).
He couldn’t add Texas to the Union, but his actions lead to an important amendment being added to our Constitution, stabilizing extreme moments of crisis.