spacer John Tyler John Tyler (1790-1862)
Tenth President (1841-1845)

In rallying to the cry of "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" in 1840, voters had their eyes fixed on the Whig White House contender referred to in the first half of that catchy slogan William Henry Harrison, hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe. For most, his vice-presidential running mate, John Tyler, represented merely a poetically fortunate afterthought. Within a month of his inauguration, however, Harrison was dead, and Tyler became the first Vice President to be made President upon the death of his predecessor.

Tyler claimed the full powers of the presidency on taking office and thereby set a valuable precedent for future Vice Presidents who faced his situation. But Tyler's White House tenure was tempestuous. When his belief in the limited powers of federal government led him to veto a measure of his fellow Whigs for reestablishing a national bank, he found himself deserted by his cabinet, formally read out of his party, and branded "His Accidency" by former allies.

Tyler sat for this portrait by George P. A. Healy at his plantation home in Virginia. Although he was nearing seventy, still apparent was the proud stubbornness that he had brought to bear in his struggle with the Whigs during his White House years.

George P. A. Healy (1813-1894)
oil on canvas, 1859
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
transfer from the National Museum of American Art;
gift of the Friends of the National Institute, 1859


Enlarged image