". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, September 21, 2008

John Tyler, 10th POTUS, the Nixon of His Day

What a hypocritical, nasty creep, he was (1841-1845).

Tyler was called the 'accidental president' because he came in as William H. Harrison's VP, and Harrison died a month into office. As Harrison's illness (probably pneumonia, which he came down with at his inauguration) hung on for a month, and his death was determined very likely, if not inevitable, Tyler had a goodly span of time to strategize how to take the presidency for himself. Tyler was ANOTHER Virginian ....

At that time no POTUS had died while in office. There were no procedures in place as to what to do. The question had come up among the power players at times: hold another election was favored at least as much as any other procedure. What Tyler did then, became precedent for all other presidents who died while in office. If I were in the Senate or the House right now, I'd be studying what Tyler did very carefully.

Tyler's regime was a disaster, one of the long string of presidential disasters since the 1830's, as slavery became an ever more distasteful and every growing blockade to union and solutions to all sorts of other problems the nation faced.

What, if anything, people remember about Tyler, along with being the first president to take office because the elected president died, is manifest destiny and expansionism, the lead-up to the Mexican American War, which war was conducted under the administration of Tyler's successor, James K. Polk.

Tyler's justification for expanionism went like this: Slavery is a problem, but the problem is that there are so many slaves in our southern states we don't know how to deal with them. If we have more! new! territories into which to expand! slavery! then the population of slaves in the older slaveholding states like Viriginia! will be thinned as the slaves are taken away to open the new territories. This is a good and grand solution to everything.

The farkin' hypocritical, lying, sleazy bastard from Virginia didn't mention that slaveholders like himself made so much income from selling slaves that expansion meant expanding that market for their slavebreeding industry.

He was a vocal early proponent for secession. When he died in 1862 he was a seated member of the confederate congress. So much for his sincerity to preserve the union and end slavery.


The recent (2006) John Tyler: The Accidental President, by Edward P. Crapol (University of North Carolina Press) provides a well-written, readable discussion and analysis of his character and presidency.


Frank Partisan said...

Really interesting post.

Your post should be printed as a blurb for the book.

Foxessa said...


Also for the record, which I'll get to later, that Mexican American War waged in Polk's administration? He was swept into office on the idea of that invasion.

But -- it was very much like Vietnam. The war went on far longer than anyone had imagined, and kept costing more and more, in terms of the economy and of lives. It got less and less popular. Thus Polk got a single term.

All these dorks were single term presidents. All of them from 1840 to 1861 lied about about their sincerity for preserving the union, while caving and catering and actively furthering the interests of the large southern slaveholders: Harrison (a Virginian elected on the basis of his fame as an Indian killer), Tyler, Polk, Taylor (born in Virginia, raised on a plantation in Kentucky, living in Louisiana and owner of a Mississippi plantation -- how many slaves died, do you think, clearing the Mississippi land to make ready for cotton? -- and another Indian killer), Fillmore (one of the primary architects of the Missouri Compromise that the southern slaveowners flouted immediately, beginning what the North labeled the War of Southern Aggression), Pierce (his political career was mentored by Scott), Buchanan (who was an out-and-out traitor to the U.S., giving aid and assistance to the south, transferring military supplies to them -- and in love with at least two of the scions of southern slaveholders). All of them were far better at playing politics than actually administering anything, except catering to the south.

Thereby, the resentment and anger of the North grew justifiably greater over all those terms. The south ever more arrogant and convinced they were always going be able to get their way. Very like the neoCONS and xtians rapturests of today -- they employ very much the same rhetoric too. They care as little for rationality, facts, fair play, honesty and justice as the southern slaveholders did.

Love, C.

K. said...

One of the amazing things about this country has been it's ability to survive and thrive despite a lot of mediocre and poor leadership. If you assigned letter grades to presidents, who would get the A's? Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt for sure, but anyone else is arguable. Johnson, Eisenhower, Truman, Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt were capable to brilliant but all had flaws. Jefferson, and Jackson were certainly important. Monroe I think has a good rep, but I don't know much about him. I think Clinton might have accomplished some great things with a better Congress, but that's moot. Otherwise, you're looking at the mediocre, the weak, and the dangerous.