John Tyler was born in Virginia in 1790. His father was an American Revolution patriot who served three terms as governor of Virginia. He grew up believing that the constitution must be strictly construed. He never wavered from this conviction. He went to college to study law. When he completed college he entered politics and was devoted to Thomas Jefferson's principles of states' rights and strictly limited power for the federal government.
At the age of 21 he was elected to the Virginia legislature and in 1816 was chosen for the U.S. House of Representatives where he served for four years. In 1825 he became governor of Virginia. Two years later he was elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1836 he resigned from the senate because he opposed President Jackson's leadership.
The Whig party chose Tyler , an independent-minded Democrat as William Henry Harrison's running mate in the presidential election of 1840. They never dreamed of what would follow. After winning, President Harrison gave the longest inaugural speech ever on a cold rainy day in March. He caught pneumonia and died one month later. Tyler was the first Vice-President ever to come to office due to the death of the President.
Soon the Whig party found that Tyler was not accepting of their program. His core belief in states' rights led him to veto a bill for a federal Bank of the United States, which the Whig majority in Congress favored. Every member of Tyler's original Cabinet except Secretary of State Daniel Webster resigned in protest. The only thing that Tyler and the Whigs agreed on was the annexation of Texas in 1845. As a result, the Whigs had no control over the man they had put in the White House.
Despite their differences, President Tyler and the Whig Congress enacted much positive legislation. The "Log-Cabin" bill enabled a settler to claim 160 acres of land before it was offered publicly for sale, and later pay $1.25 an acre for it. In 1842 he...