Tyler, John

Tyler, John

John Tyler US President – 1841-45 Courtesy of the National GuardDubbed “His Accidency” by his detractors, John Tyler was the first Vice President to be elevated to the office of President by the death of his predecessor. Born in Virginia in 1790, he was raised believing that the Constitution must be strictly construed. He never wavered from this conviction. He attended the College of William and Mary and studied law. Serving in the House of Representatives from 1816 to 1821, Tyler voted against most nationalist legislation and opposed the Missouri Compromise. After leaving the House he served twice as Governor of Virginia. As a Senator he reluctantly supported Jackson for President as a choice of evils. Tyler soon joined the states’ rights Southerners in Congress who banded with Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and their newly formed Whig party opposing President Jackson. The Whigs nominated Tyler for Vice President in 1840, hoping for support from southern states’-righters who could not stomach Jacksonian Democracy. The slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” implied flagwaving nationalism plus a dash of southern sectionalism. Clay, intending to keep party leadership in his own hands, minimized his nationalist views temporarily; Webster proclaimed himself “a Jeffersonian Democrat.” But after the election, both men tried to dominate “Old Tippecanoe.” Suddenly President Harrison was dead, and “Tyler too” was in the White House. At first the Whigs were not too disturbed, although Tyler insisted upon assuming the full powers of a duly elected President. He even delivered an Inaugural Address, but it seemed full of good Whig doctrine. Whigs, optimistic that Tyler would accept their program, soon were disillusioned. Tyler...
Johnson, Andrew

Johnson, Andrew

Andrew Johnson US President – 1865-69 Born: December 29, 1808 Biography of Andrew Johnson Courtesy of the Library of Congress With the Assassination of Lincoln, the Presidency fell upon an old-fashioned southern Jacksonian Democrat of pronounced states’ rights views. Although an honest and honorable man, Andrew Johnson was one of the most unfortunate of Presidents. Arrayed against him were the Radical Republicans in Congress, brilliantly led and ruthless in their tactics. Johnson was no match for them. Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1808, Johnson grew up in poverty. He was apprenticed to a tailor as a boy, but ran away. He opened a tailor shop in Greeneville, Tennessee, married Eliza McCardle, and participated in debates at the local academy. Entering politics, he became an adept stump speaker, championing the common man and vilifying the plantation aristocracy. As a Member of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the 1840’s and ’50’s, he advocated a homestead bill to provide a free farm for the poor man. During the secession crisis, Johnson remained in the Senate even when Tennessee seceded, which made him a hero in the North and a traitor in the eyes of most Southerners. In 1862 President Lincoln appointed him Military Governor of Tennessee, and Johnson used the state as a laboratory for reconstruction. In 1864 the Republicans, contending that their National Union Party was for all loyal men, nominated Johnson, a Southerner and a Democrat, for Vice President. After Lincoln’s death, President Johnson proceeded to reconstruct the former Confederate States while Congress was not in session in 1865. He pardoned all who would take an...
Jackson, Andrew

Jackson, Andrew

Andrew Jackson US President – 1829-37 Birthdate: March 15, 1767   Born in a backwoods settlement in the Carolinas in 1767, he received sporadic education. But in his late teens he read law for about two years, and he became an outstanding young lawyer in Tennessee. Fiercely jealous of his honor, he engaged in brawls, and in a duel killed a man who cast an unjustified slur on his wife Rachel.More nearly than any of his predecessors, Andrew Jackson was elected by popular vote; as President he sought to act as thedirect representative of the common man. Jackson prospered sufficiently to buy slaves and to build a mansion, the Hermitage, near Nashville. He was the first man elected from Tennessee to the House of Representatives, and he served briefly in the Senate. A major general in the War of 1812, Jackson became a national hero when he defeated the British at New Orleans. In 1824 some state political factions rallied around Jackson; by 1828 enough had joined “Old Hickory” to win numerous state elections and control of the Federal administration in Washington. In his first Annual Message to Congress, Jackson recommended eliminating the Electoral College. He also tried to democratize Federal officeholding. Already state machines were being built on patronage, and a New York Senator openly proclaimed “that to the victors belong the spoils. . . . ” Jackson took a milder view. Decrying officeholders who seemed to enjoy life tenure, he believed Government duties could be “so plain and simple” that offices should rotate among deserving applicants. As national politics polarized around Jackson and his opposition, two parties...
Pierce, Franklin

Pierce, Franklin

Franklin Pierce US President – 1853-57 Birthdate: November 3rd, 1804 Courtesy of the Library of Congress Franklin Pierce became President at a time of apparent tranquility. The United States, by virtue of the Compromise of 1850, seemed to have weathered its sectional storm. By pursuing the recommendations of southern advisers, Pierce–a New Englander–hoped to prevent still another outbreak of that storm. But his policies, far from preserving calm, hastened the disruption of the Union. Born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, in 1804, Pierce attended Bowdoin College. After graduation he studied law, then entered politics. At 24 he was elected to the New Hampshire legislature; two years later he became its Speaker. During the 1830’s he went to Washington, first as a Representative, then as a Senator. Pierce, after serving in the Mexican War, was proposed by New Hampshire friends for the Presidential nomination in 1852. At the Democratic Convention, the delegates agreed easily enough upon a platform pledging undeviating support of the Compromise of 1850 and hostility to any efforts to agitate the slavery question. But they balloted 48 times and eliminated all the well-known candidates before nominating Pierce, a true “dark horse.” Probably because the Democrats stood more firmly for the Compromise than the Whigs, and because Whig candidate Gen. Winfield Scott was suspect in the South, Pierce won with a narrow margin of popular votes. Two months before he took office, he and his wife saw their eleven-year-old son killed when their train was wrecked. Grief-stricken, Pierce entered the Presidency nervously exhausted. In his Inaugural he proclaimed an era of peace and prosperity at home, and vigor in...