John Tyler, the Accidental President

John Tyler, the Accidental President

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by Edward P. Crapol

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John Tyler, the Accidental President

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The best study yet of Tyler's presidency and his important legacies. . . . Any study of late Jacksonian America must now include Crapol's brilliant study.--Pacific Historical Review

Publishers Weekly
Most historians have dismissed John Tyler as an inept failure. In this remarkable study, Crapol, professor emeritus at the College of William and Mary, argues that Tyler was in fact a terrifically strong president who helped strengthen the executive branch. Tyler was William Henry Harrison's vice president. Before Harrison's death in 1841, presidential succession was murky: did the vice president become president, or was he merely a temporary stand-in until an emergency election could be held? Tyler decisively seized the office, setting a precedent that is followed to this day (and was codified in 1967 in the 25th Amendment to the Constitution). Yet Tyler's story, argues Crapol, is ultimately a "tragedy." Tyler's commitment to territorial expansion, which found its keenest expression in the annexation of Texas, was driven in part by his contorted thinking about slavery. The to-the-Virginia-manor-born president believed the contradictions of slavery would be best resolved not by abolition but by extending it into new territories, thus diffusing the slave population. That Tyler died a traitor to the Union, just about to assume his seat in the Confederate Congress, is the final, sad irony. This balanced, fascinating volume will introduce a new generation of readers to an oft-ignored president. (Oct. 9) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
John Tyler who became president after William Henry Harrison died after one month in office remains one of our most obscure chief executives, still seen by most historians as hapless and ineffective. Now Crapol (American history, emeritus, Coll. of William and Mary; James G. Blaine: Architect of Empire) has written a revisionist history of Tyler's presidency, arguing that Tyler was a strong leader who set important precedents, some of which we take for granted (e.g., that the vice president should become president after the death of the chief executive and that he take a separate oath of office). Crapol contends that Tyler was the main architect behind the Texas annexation at the end of his term, his final anti-Whig act that propelled North-South party alignments, and that it was he who pushed for a great American empire in the Pacific with American influence in Hawaii and trade with China. His gravest flaws: his support of slavery and his belief that additional American territory would diffuse the slave population. Crapol's claims seem balanced because he makes them based on the historical record. This book is important in crediting Tyler with the ways in which he imbued the presidency and American expansion with greater power; it will compete with the projected Tyler entry in Times Books' "American Presidents" series. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. Bryan Craig, Jefferson Madison Regional Lib., Charlottesville, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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The University of North Carolina Press
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6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Written clearly and concisely . . . provides a superb examination of Tyler's life and the legacies of his foreign policy initiatives.--Virginia Quarterly

Well researched and well written, this fine volume adds to the growing literature on John Tyler, successfully linking his republican views with slavery, expansion, and national destiny.--Journal of American History

Crapol is to be congratulated for giving us a concise scholarly discussion of a forgotten president.--Virginia Magazine

A masterful and mostly sympathetic study of the 10th president. . . . A fascinating and lively read.--Virginia Pilot

Highly readable.--Virginia Gazette

[A] well-written, enlightening biography. . . . A balanced view of a neglected U.S. President.--CHOICE

This revelatory study adds a welcomed fresh dimension to the history and historiography of antebellum expansion and diplomacy.--Journal of Southern History

In this remarkable study, Crapol . . . argues that Tyler was in fact a terrifically strong president who helped strengthen the executive branch. . . . This balanced, fascinating volume will introduce a new generation of readers to an oft-ignored president.--Publishers Weekly, starred review

A commendable study that judiciously measures Tyler's qualities and real accomplishments while acknowledging his personal faults and policy mistakes. . . . A fine study of the enigmatic career of John Tyler.--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

A good book about an obscure, but important president.--Nymas Review


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