MANIFEST DESTINY AND ITS LEGACY
1. Explain the phrase “Tyler became a president without a party, and the Whigs lost the presidency without losing an election.” Tyler’s enemies accused him of being a Democrat in Whig clothing, but this charge was only partially true. The Whig party, like the Democratic party, was something of a catchall, and the accidental president belonged to the minority wing, which embraced a number of Jeffersonian states’ righters. Tyler had in fact been put on the ticket partly to attract the vote of this fringe group, many of whom were influential southern gentry.
2. What were the main planks of the Whig platform?
Although the dominant Clay-Webster group had published no platform, every alert politician knew what the unpublished platform contained. And on virtually every major issue, the obstinate Virginian was at odds with the majority of his adoptive Whig party, which was pro-bank, pro–protective tariff, and pro–internal improvements. “Tyler too” rhymed with “Tippecanoe,” but there the harmony ended. As events turned out, President Harrison, the Whig, served for only 4 weeks, whereas Tyler, the ex-Democrat who was still largely a Democrat at heart, served for 204 weeks.
3. What did Tyler do with the bill to establish a BUS?
When the bank bill reached the presidential desk, Tyler flatly vetoed it on both practical and constitutional grounds. A drunken mob gathered late at night near the White House and shouted insultingly, “Huzza for Clay!” “A Bank! A Bank!” “Down with the Veto!” What was the response of his cabinet?
His entire cabinet resigned in a body, except Secretary of State Webster, who was then in the midst of delicate negotiations with England. 4. Why did Tyler veto the proposed Whig tariff?
Tyler appreciated the neces- sity of bringing additional revenue to the Treasury. But old Democrat that he was, he looked with a frosty eye on the major tariff scheme of the Whigs because it provided, among other features, for a distribution among the states of revenue from the sale of public lands in the West. Tyler could see no point in squandering federal money when the federal Treasury was not over- flowing, and he again wielded an emphatic veto. What provisions did the Clayites make which enabled Tyler to finally sign the bill? Chastened Clayites redrafted their tariff bill. They chopped out the offensive dollar-distribution scheme and pushed down the rates to about the moderately protective level of 1832, roughly 32 percent on dutiable goods. Why did Tyler sign the tariff bill? Tyler had no fondness for a protective tariff, but realizing the need for additional revenue, he reluctantly signed the law of 1842. 5. What was the Caroline affair?
A provocative incident on the Canadian frontier brought passions to a boil in 1837. An American steamer, the Caroline, was carrying supplies to the insurgents across the swift Niagara River. It was finally attacked on the New York shore by a determined British force, which set the vessel on fire. Lurid American illustrators showed the flaming ship, laden with shrieking souls, plummeting over Niagara Falls. The craft in fact sank short of the plunge, and only one American was killed. This unlawful invasion of American soil—a counter- violation of neutrality—had alarming aftermaths. Wash- ington officials lodged vigorous but ineffective protests. Three years later, in 1840, the incident was dramatically revived in the state of New York. A Canadian named McLeod, after allegedly boasting in a tavern of his part in the Caroline raid, was arrested and indicted for murder. The London Foreign Office, which regarded the Caroline raiders as members of a sanctioned armed force and not as criminals, made clear that his execution would mean war. Fortunately, McLeod was freed after establishing an alibi. It must have been airtight, for it was good enough to convince a New York jury....