Harrison's death while in office was an unprecedented event that caused considerable uncertainty regarding presidential succession. "Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the United States Constitution, which governed intra-term presidential succession at the time (now superseded by the "Twenty-fifth Amendment), states that:
In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President....
Interpreting this Constitutional prescription led to the question of whether the actual office of president devolved upon Vice President Tyler, or merely its powers and duties. The Cabinet met within an hour of Harrison's death and, according to a later account, determined that Tyler would be "Vice-President acting President". Tyler firmly asserted that the Constitution gave him full and unqualified powers of office and had himself sworn in immediately as President, setting a critical precedent for an orderly transfer of power following a President's death. The "presidential oath was administered by Judge "William Cranch in Tyler's hotel room. He considered the oath redundant to his oath as vice president, but wished to quell any doubt over his accession.
Fearing that he would alienate Harrison's supporters, Tyler decided to keep the dead President's entire cabinet even though several members were openly hostile to him and resented his assumption of the office. At his first cabinet meeting, Webster informed him of Harrison's practice of making policy by a majority vote. The Cabinet fully expected the new president to continue this practice. Tyler was astounded and immediately corrected them:
I beg your pardon, gentlemen; I am very glad to have in my Cabinet such able statesmen as you have proved yourselves to be. And I shall be pleased to avail myself of your counsel and advice. But I can never consent to being dictated to as to what I shall or shall not do. I, as president, shall be responsible for my administration. I hope to have your hearty co-operation in carrying out its measures. So long as you see fit to do this, I shall be glad to have you with me. When you think otherwise, your resignations will be accepted.
Tyler delivered an inaugural address before the "Congress on April 9, in which he reasserted his belief in fundamental tenets of "Jeffersonian democracy and limited federal power. Tyler's claim to be president was not immediately accepted by "opposition members of Congress such as "John Quincy Adams, who felt that Tyler should be a "caretaker under the title of ""Acting President", or remain vice president in name. Among those who questioned Tyler's authority was Clay, who had planned to be "the real power behind a fumbling throne" while Harrison was alive, and intended the same for Tyler. Clay saw Tyler as the "vice-president" and his presidency as a mere ""regency".
Ratification of the decision by Congress came through the customary notification that it makes to the president, that it is in session and available to receive messages. In both houses, unsuccessful amendments were offered to strike the word "president" in favor of language including the term "vice president" to refer to Tyler. Mississippi Senator "Robert J. Walker, in opposition, stated that the idea that Tyler was still vice president and could preside over the Senate was absurd.
Tyler's opponents never fully accepted him as president. He was referred to by many mocking nicknames, including "His Accidency". However, Tyler never wavered from his conviction that he was the rightful president; when his political opponents sent correspondence to the White House addressed to the "vice president" or "acting president", Tyler had it returned unopened.
Economic policy and party conflicts
Harrison had been expected to adhere closely to Whig Party policies and to defer to party congressional leaders, particularly Clay. When Tyler succeeded him, he at first was in accord with the new Whig Congress in signing into law such measures as a "preemption bill granting "squatters' sovereignty" to settlers on public land, a Distribution Act (discussed below), a new bankruptcy law, and the repeal of the "Independent Treasury enacted under Van Buren. But when it came to the great banking question, Tyler was soon at odds with the Congressional Whigs. Twice he vetoed Clay's legislation for a national banking act. Although the second bill supposedly had been tailored to meet his stated objections in the first veto, its final version did not. This practice, designed to protect Clay from having a successful incumbent president as a rival for the Whig nomination in 1844, became known as "heading Captain Tyler", a term coined by Whig Representative "John Minor Botts of Virginia. Tyler proposed an alternative fiscal plan to be known as the "Exchequer", but Clay's friends, who controlled the Congress, would have none of it.
On September 11, 1841, following the second bank veto, members of the cabinet entered Tyler's office one by one and resigned—an orchestration by Clay to force Tyler's resignation and place his own lieutenant, Senate President pro tempore "Samuel L. Southard, in the White House. The only exception was Webster, who remained to finalize what became the 1842 "Webster–Ashburton Treaty, and to demonstrate his independence from Clay. When told by Webster that he was willing to stay, Tyler is reported to have said, "Give me your hand on that, and now I will say to you that Henry Clay is a doomed man." On September 13, when the president did not resign or give in, the Whigs in Congress expelled Tyler from the party. Tyler was lambasted by Whig newspapers and received hundreds of letters threatening his assassination. Whigs in Congress were so angry with Tyler that they refused to allocate funds to fix the White House, which had fallen into disrepair.
Tariff and distribution debate
By mid-1841, the federal government faced a projected budget deficit of $11 million. Tyler recognized the need for higher tariffs, but wished to stay within the 20 percent rate created by the "1833 Compromise Tariff. He also supported a plan to distribute to the states any revenue from the sales of public land, as an emergency measure to manage the states' growing debt, even though this would cut federal revenue. The Whigs supported high protectionist tariffs and national funding of state infrastructure, and so there was enough overlap to forge a compromise. The Distribution Act of 1841 created a distribution program, with a ceiling on tariffs at 20 percent; a second bill increased tariffs to that figure on previously low-tax goods. Despite these measures, by March 1842 it had become clear that the federal government was still in dire fiscal straits.
The root of the trouble was an economic crisis—initiated by the "Panic of 1837—which was entering its sixth year in 1842. A "speculative bubble had burst in 1836–39, causing a collapse of the financial sector and a subsequent depression. The country became deeply divided over the best response to the crisis. Almost all of President Tyler's cabinet had resigned in September 1841, after he vetoed two successive attempts to re-establish a central bank for the United States. Conditions got even worse in early 1842 because a deadline was looming. A decade earlier, when the economy was strong, Congress had promised Southern states that there would be a reduction in hated federal tariffs. Northern states welcomed tariffs, which protected their infant industries. But the South had no industrial base and depended on open access to British markets for their cotton. In a recommendation to Congress, Tyler lamented that it would be necessary to override the Compromise Tariff of 1833 and raise rates beyond the 20 percent limit. Under the previous deal, this would suspend the distribution program, with all revenues going to the federal government.
The defiant Whig Congress would not raise tariffs in a way that would affect the distribution of funds to states. In June 1842 they passed two bills that would raise tariffs and unconditionally extend the distribution program. Believing it improper to continue distribution at a time when federal revenue shortage necessitated increasing the tariff, Tyler vetoed both bills, burning any remaining bridges between himself and the Whigs. Congress tried again, combining the two into one bill; Tyler vetoed it again, to the outrage of many in Congress, who nevertheless failed to override the veto. As some action was necessary, Whigs in Congress, led by the "House Ways and Means chairman, "Millard Fillmore passed, in each house by one vote, a bill restoring tariffs to 1832 levels and ending the distribution program. Tyler signed the "Tariff of 1842 on August 30, "pocket vetoing a separate bill to restore distribution.
Shortly after the tariff vetoes, Whigs in the House of Representatives initiated American history's first "impeachment proceedings against a president. This was not only a matter of the Whigs' support of legislation Tyler vetoed; until the presidency of the Whigs' arch-enemy Andrew Jackson, presidents rarely vetoed bills, and then, generally only on the grounds of whether or not something was unconstitutional. Tyler's actions opposed the Whigs' opinion that the presidency should allow Congress to make decisions regarding policy. Congressman "John Botts, who opposed Tyler, introduced a resolution on July 10, 1842. It levied several charges against Tyler and called for a nine-member committee to investigate his behavior, with the expectation of a formal impeachment recommendation. Clay found this measure prematurely aggressive, favoring a more moderate progression toward Tyler's "inevitable" impeachment. The Botts resolution was tabled until the following January, when it was rejected, 127−83.
A House "select committee, headed by John Quincy Adams, condemned the president's use of the veto and assailed his character. Adams, an ardent abolitionist, disliked the fact that Tyler was a slaveholder. While the committee's report did not formally recommend impeachment, it clearly established the possibility. In August 1842, by a vote of 98–90, the House endorsed the committee's report. Adams sponsored a constitutional amendment to change both houses' two-thirds requirement (for overriding vetoes) to a simple majority, but neither house passed such a measure. The Whigs were unable to pursue further impeachment proceedings in the subsequent "28th Congress, as in the elections of 1842 they retained a majority in the Senate but lost control of the House. Near the end of Tyler's term in office, on March 3, 1845, Congress overrode his veto of a minor bill relating to "revenue cutters. This was the first overriding of any presidential veto in US history.
Administration and cabinet
|The Tyler Cabinet|
|"Secretary of State||"Daniel Webster "(W)||1841–1843|
|"Abel P. Upshur "(W)||1843–1844|
|"John C. Calhoun "(D)||1844–1845|
|"Secretary of Treasury||"Thomas Ewing, Sr. "(W)||1841|
|"Walter Forward "(W)||1841–1843|
|"John C. Spencer "(W)||1843–1844|
|"George M. Bibb "(D)||1844–1845|
|"Secretary of War||"John Bell "(W)||1841|
|"John C. Spencer "(W)||1841–1843|
|"James M. Porter "(W)||1843–1844|
|"William Wilkins "(D)||1844–1845|
|"Attorney General||"John J. Crittenden "(W)||1841|
|"Hugh S. Legaré "(D)||1841–1843|
|"John Nelson "(W)||1843–1845|
|"Postmaster General||"Francis Granger "(W)||1841|
|"Charles A. Wickliffe "(W)||1841–1845|
|"Secretary of the Navy||"George E. Badger "(W)||1841|
|"Abel P. Upshur "(W)||1841–1843|
|"David Henshaw "(D)||1843–1844|
|"Thomas W. Gilmer "(D)||1844|
|"John Y. Mason "(D)||1844–1845|
The battles between Tyler and the Whigs in Congress resulted in a number of his nominees being rejected. He received little support from Democrats and, without much support from either major party in Congress, a number of his nominations were rejected without regard for the qualifications of the nominee. To reject a president's nominees for his Cabinet was unprecedented, though in 1809, "James Madison had withheld the nomination of Treasury Secretary "Albert Gallatin as Secretary of State because of opposition in the Senate. A Cabinet nominee would not fail of confirmation, after Tyler's term, until "Henry Stanbery's nomination as Attorney General was rejected by the Senate in 1868.
Four of Tyler's Cabinet nominees were rejected, the most of any president. These were "Caleb Cushing (Treasury), "David Henshaw (Navy) "James Porter (War), and "James S. Green (Treasury). Henshaw and Porter served as recess appointees before their rejections. Tyler repeatedly renominated Cushing, who was rejected three times in one day, March 3, 1843, the last day of the 27th Congress.
Foreign and military affairs
Tyler's difficulties in domestic policy contrasted with notable accomplishments in foreign policy. He had long been an advocate of "expansionism toward the Pacific and "free trade, and was fond of evoking themes of national destiny and the spread of liberty in support of these policies. His policies were largely in line with Jackson's earlier efforts to promote American commerce across the Pacific. Eager to compete with Great Britain in international markets, he sent lawyer "Caleb Cushing to China, where he negotiated the terms of the "Treaty of Wanghia (1844). The same year, he sent "Henry Wheaton as a minister to "Berlin, where he negotiated and signed a trade agreement with the "Zollverein, a coalition of German states that managed tariffs. This treaty was rejected by the Whigs, mainly as a show of hostility toward the Tyler administration.
In an 1842 special message to Congress, the president also applied the "Monroe Doctrine to Hawaii (dubbed the "Tyler Doctrine"), told Britain not to interfere there, and began a process that led to the eventual annexation of Hawaii by the United States.
In 1842 Secretary of State Daniel Webster negotiated with Britain the "Webster–Ashburton Treaty, which concluded where the border between Maine and Canada lay. That issue had caused tension between the United States and Britain for decades and had brought the two countries to the brink of war on several occasions. The treaty improved Anglo-American diplomatic relations. However, Tyler was unsuccessful in concluding a treaty with the British to fix the boundaries of Oregon. On Tyler's last full day in office, March 3, 1845, Florida was admitted to the Union as the 27th state.
Tyler advocated an increase in military strength. His administration drew praise from naval leaders, who saw a marked increase in warships. Tyler brought the long, bloody "Second Seminole War to an end in 1842, and expressed interest in the forced cultural assimilation of the "Native Americans. He also advocated the establishment of a chain of American forts from "Council Bluffs, Iowa, to the Pacific.
In May 1842, when the "Dorr Rebellion in "Rhode Island came to a head, Tyler pondered the request of the governor and legislature to send federal troops to help it suppress the Dorrite insurgents. The insurgents under "Thomas Dorr had armed themselves and proposed to install a new state constitution. Before such acts, Rhode Island had been following the same constitutional structure that was established in 1663. Tyler called for calm on both sides, and recommended that the governor enlarge the franchise to let most men vote. Tyler promised that in case an actual insurrection should break out in Rhode Island he would employ force to aid the regular, or Charter, government. He made it clear that federal assistance would be given, not to prevent, but only to put down insurrection, and would not be available until violence had been committed. After listening to reports from his confidential agents, Tyler decided that the 'lawless assemblages' had dispersed and expressed his confidence in a "temper of conciliation as well as of energy and decision." He did not send any federal forces. The rebels fled the state when the state militia marched against them, but the incident led to broader suffrage in Rhode Island.
|"E.D.Va.||"James D. Halyburton||1844–1861|
|"D. Ind.||"Elisha M. Huntington||1842–1862|
|"Theodore H. McCaleb||1841–1861[g]|
Two vacancies occurred on the Supreme Court during Tyler's presidency, as Justices "Smith Thompson and "Henry Baldwin died in 1843 and 1844, respectively. Tyler, ever at odds with Congress—including the Whig-controlled Senate—nominated several men to the Supreme Court to fill these seats. However, the Senate successively voted against confirming "John C. Spencer, "Reuben Walworth, "Edward King and "John M. Read (Walworth was rejected three times, King rejected twice). One reason cited for the Senate's actions was the hope that Clay would fill the vacancies after winning the 1844 presidential election. Tyler's four unsuccessful nominees are the most by a president.
Finally, in February 1845, with less than a month remaining in his term, Tyler's nomination of "Samuel Nelson to Thompson's seat was confirmed by the Senate. Nelson, a Democrat, had a reputation as a careful and noncontroversial jurist. Still, his confirmation came as a surprise. Baldwin's seat remained vacant until "James K. Polk's nominee, "Robert Grier, was confirmed in 1846.
Tyler was able to appoint only six other federal judges, all to "United States district courts.
Annexation of Texas
Tyler made the annexation of the "Republic of Texas part of his platform soon after becoming president. Texas had declared independence from "Mexico in the "Texas Revolution of 1836, although Mexico still refused to acknowledge it as a sovereign state. The people of Texas actively pursued joining the Union, but Jackson and Van Buren had been reluctant to inflame tensions over slavery by annexing another Southern state. Tyler, on the other hand, intended annexation to be the focal point of his administration. Secretary Webster was opposed; he convinced Tyler to focus on Pacific initiatives until later in his term. Although Tyler's desire for western expansionism is agreed upon by historians and scholars, views differ regarding the motivations behind it. Biographer Edward C. Crapol notes that during the presidency of "James Monroe, Tyler (then in the House of Representatives) had suggested slavery was a "dark cloud" hovering over the Union, and that it would be "well to disperse this cloud" so that with fewer blacks in the older slave states, a process of gradual emancipation would begin in Virginia and other upper Southern states. Historian William W. Freehling, however, wrote that Tyler's official motivation in annexing Texas was to outmaneuver suspected efforts by "Great Britain to promote an emancipation of slaves in Texas that would weaken the institution in the United States.
In early 1843, having completed the Webster–Ashburton treaty and other diplomatic efforts, Tyler felt ready to pursue Texas. Now lacking a party base, he saw annexation of the republic as his only pathway to independent re-election in 1844. For the first time in his career he was willing to play "political hardball" to see it through. As a "trial balloon he dispatched his ally "Thomas Walker Gilmer, then a U.S. Representative from Virginia, to publish a letter defending annexation, which was well received. Despite his successful relationship with Webster, Tyler knew he would need a Secretary of State who supported the Texas initiative. Recognizing this shift in the president's focus, and with his work on the British treaty now completed, he forced Webster's resignation and installed "Hugh S. Legaré of South Carolina as an interim successor.
With the help of newly appointed Treasury Secretary "John C. Spencer, Tyler cleared out an array of officeholders, replacing them with pro-annexation partisans, in a reversal of his former stand against patronage. He elicited the help of political organizer "Michael Walsh to build a "political machine in New York. In exchange for an appointment as "consul to Hawaii, journalist Alexander G. Abell wrote a flattering biography, Life of John Tyler, which was printed in large quantities and given to postmasters to distribute. Seeking to rehabilitate his public image, Tyler embarked on a nationwide tour in the spring of 1843. The positive reception of the public at these events contrasted with his ostracism back in Washington. The tour centered on the dedication of the "Bunker Hill Monument in Boston, Massachusetts. Shortly after the dedication, Tyler learned of Legaré's sudden death, which dampened the festivities and caused him to cancel the rest of the tour.
Tyler appointed "Abel P. Upshur, a popular "Secretary of the Navy and close adviser, as his new Secretary of State, and nominated Gilmer to fill Upshur's former office. Tyler and Upshur began quiet negotiations with the Texas government, promising military protection from Mexico in exchange for a commitment to annexation. Secrecy was necessary, as the Constitution required congressional approval for such military commitments. Upshur planted rumors of possible British designs on Texas to drum up support among Northern voters, who were wary of admitting a new pro-slavery state. By January 1844 Upshur told the Texas government that he had found a large majority of senators in favor of an annexation treaty. The republic remained skeptical, and finalization of the treaty took until the end of February.
USS Princeton disaster
A ceremonial cruise down the "Potomac River was held aboard the newly built "USS Princeton on February 28, 1844, the day after completion of the annexation treaty. Aboard the ship were 400 guests, including Tyler and his cabinet, as was the world's largest naval gun, the "Peacemaker." The gun was ceremonially fired several times in the afternoon to the great delight of the onlookers, who then filed downstairs to offer a toast. Several hours later, Captain "Robert F. Stockton was convinced by the crowd to fire one more shot. As the guests moved up to the deck, Tyler paused briefly to watch his son-in-law, William Waller, sing a ditty.
At once an explosion was heard from above: the gun had malfunctioned. Tyler was unhurt, having remained safely below deck, but a number of others were killed instantly, including his crucial cabinet members, Gilmer and Upshur. Also killed or mortally wounded were "Virgil Maxcy of Maryland, Rep. "David Gardiner of New York, Commodore Beverly Kennon, Chief of Construction of the "United States Navy, and Armistead, Tyler's black slave and body servant. The death of David Gardiner had a devastating effect on his daughter, "Julia, who fainted and was carried to safety by the president himself. Julia later recovered from her grief and married President Tyler.
For Tyler, any hope of completing the Texas plan before November (and with it, any hope of re-election) was instantly dashed. Historian Edward P. Crapol later wrote that "Prior to the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln," the Princeton disaster "unquestionably was the most severe and debilitating tragedy ever to confront a President of the United States."
In what the "Miller Center of Public Affairs considers "a serious tactical error that ruined the scheme [of establishing political respectability for him]", Tyler appointed former Vice President "John C. Calhoun in early March 1844 as his Secretary of State. Tyler's good friend, Virginia Representative "Henry A. Wise, wrote that following the Princeton disaster, Wise went on his own to extend Calhoun the position through a colleague, who assumed that the offer came from the president. When Wise went to tell Tyler what he had done, the president was angry but felt that the action now had to stand. Calhoun was a leading advocate of slavery, and his attempts to get an annexation treaty passed were resisted by abolitionists as a result. When the text of the treaty was leaked to the public, it met political opposition from the Whigs, who would oppose anything that might enhance Tyler's status, as well as from foes of slavery and those who feared a confrontation with Mexico, which had announced that it would view annexation as a hostile act by the United States. Both Clay and Van Buren, the respective frontrunners for the Whig and Democratic nominations, decided in a private meeting at Van Buren's home to come out against annexation. Knowing this, when Tyler sent the treaty to the Senate for ratification in April 1844, he did not expect it to pass.
Following Tyler's break with the Whigs in 1841, he had begun to shift back to his old Democratic party, but its members, especially the followers of Van Buren, were not ready to receive him. He knew that, with little chance of election, the only way to salvage his presidency and legacy was to move public opinion in favor of the Texas issue. He formed a third party, the Democratic-Republicans, using the officeholders and political networks he had built over the previous year. A chain of pro-Tyler newspapers across the country put out editorials promoting his candidacy throughout the early months of 1844. Reports of meetings held throughout the country suggest that support for the president was not limited to officeholders, as is often inferred. The Tyler supporters, holding signs reading "Tyler and Texas!", held their "nominating convention in "Baltimore in May 1844, just as the Democratic Party was holding its presidential nomination. With their high visibility and energy as they gave Tyler their own nomination. His new Democratic-Republican Party renominated Tyler for the presidency on May 27, 1844.
Regular Democrats were forced to call for annexation of Texas in their platform, but there was a bitter battle for the presidential nomination. Ballot after ballot, Van Buren failed to win the necessary super-majority of Democratic votes, and slowly fell in the rankings. It was not until the ninth ballot that the Democrats turned their sights to "James K. Polk, a less prominent candidate who supported annexation. They found him to be perfectly suited for their platform, and he was nominated with two-thirds of the vote. Tyler considered his work vindicated, and implied in an acceptance letter that annexation was his true priority rather than election.
Tyler was unfazed when the Whig-controlled Senate rejected his treaty by a vote of 16–35 in June 1844, as he felt that annexation was now within reach. He called for Congress to annex Texas by joint resolution rather than by treaty. Former President Andrew Jackson, a staunch supporter of annexation, persuaded Polk to welcome Tyler back into the Democratic party and ordered Democratic editors to cease their attacks on him. Satisfied by these developments, Tyler dropped out of the race in August and endorsed Polk for the presidency. Polk's "narrow victory over Clay in the November election was seen by the Tyler administration as a "mandate for completing the resolution. Tyler announced in his annual message to Congress that "a controlling majority of the people and a large majority of the states have declared in favor of immediate annexation." In late February 1845, the House by a substantial margin and the Senate by a bare 27–25 majority approved a joint resolution offering terms of annexation to Texas. On March 1, three days before the end of his term, Tyler signed the bill into law. After some debate, Texas accepted the terms and entered the union on December 29, 1845, as the 28th state.
Family and personal life
Tyler fathered more children than any other American president. His first wife was "Letitia Christian (November 12, 1790 – September 10, 1842), with whom he had eight children: Mary (1815–1847), "Robert (1816–1877), John (1819–1896), Letitia (1821–1907), Elizabeth (1823–1850), Anne (1825–1825), Alice (1827–1854) and Tazewell (1830–1874).
Tyler's first wife Letitia died of a stroke in the White House in September 1842. His second wife was "Julia Gardiner (July 23, 1820 – July 10, 1889), with whom he had seven children: "David (1846–1927), "John Alexander (1848–1883), Julia (1849–1871), Lachlan (1851–1902), "Lyon (1853–1935), Robert Fitzwalter (1856–1927) and Pearl (1860–1947).
Although Tyler's family was dear to him, during his political rise he was often away from home for extended periods. As a Southern gentleman, duty was important to Tyler, including his duties to his family. When Tyler chose not to seek re-election to the House of Representatives in 1821 because of illness, he wrote that he would soon be called upon to educate his growing family. It was difficult to practice law while away in Washington part of the year, and his plantation was more profitable when Tyler was available to manage it himself. By the time he entered the Senate in 1827, he had resigned himself to spending part of the year away from his growing family. Still, he sought to remain close to his children through letters.
In December 1841, Tyler was attacked by abolitionist publisher "Joshua Leavitt, who alleged that Tyler had fathered several sons with his slaves, and later sold his offspring. A number of African American families today have an oral tradition of descent from Tyler, but no firm evidence of such a link has ever surfaced.
As of February 2017[update], Tyler has two living grandsons through his son Lyon Gardiner Tyler, making him the earliest former president with living grandchildren. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr. was born in 1924, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler was born in 1928. Lyon Tyler Jr. resides in "Franklin, Tennessee, and Harrison Tyler maintains the family home, "Sherwood Forest Plantation, in "Charles City County, Virginia.
Post-presidency and death
Tyler retired to a Virginia "plantation, originally named Walnut Grove (or "the Grove"), located on the "James River in Charles City County. He renamed it "Sherwood Forest, in a reference to the folk legend "Robin Hood, to signify that he had been "outlawed" by the Whig Party. He did not take farming lightly and worked hard to maintain large yields. His neighbors, largely Whigs, appointed him to the minor office of overseer of roads in 1847 in an effort to mock him. To their displeasure he treated the job seriously, frequently summoning his neighbors to provide their slaves for road work, and continuing to insist on carrying out his duties even after his neighbors asked him to stop. He withdrew from politics, rarely receiving visits from his friends. He was asked to give an occasional public speech, but was not sought out as an adviser. One notable speech was at the unveiling of a monument to Henry Clay; acknowledging the political battles between the two, he spoke highly of his former colleague, whom he had always admired for bringing about the Compromise Tariff of 1833. The former president's time was spent with the doings of the Virginia aristocracy, including parties, visiting or being visited by prominent families, and summers at the family seaside home, "Villa Margaret".
After "John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry ignited fears of an abolitionist attempt to free the slaves, or an actual rebellion by the slaves, several Virginia communities organized militia units, or reenergized existing ones. Tyler's community organized a cavalry troop and a home guard company; Tyler was chosen to command the home guard company with the rank of captain.
On the eve of the "Civil War, Tyler re-entered public life as a participant in the Virginia Peace Conference held in Washington, D.C., in February 1861 as an effort to devise means to prevent a war. The convention sought a compromise to avoid civil war even as the "Confederate Constitution was being drawn up at the "Montgomery Convention. Despite his leadership role in the Peace Conference, Tyler opposed the convention's final resolutions. He felt that they were written by the free state delegates, did not protect the rights of slave owners in the territories, and would do little to bring back the lower South and restore the Union. He voted against the conference's seven resolutions, which the conference sent to Congress for approval late in February 1861 as an amendment to the Constitution.
On the same day the Peace Conference had started, Tyler was elected to the "Virginia Secession Convention and presided over the opening session on February 13, 1861, while the Peace Conference was still under way. Tyler abandoned hope of compromise and saw secession as the only option, predicting that a clean split of all Southern states would not result in war. In mid-March he spoke against the Peace Conference resolutions, and on April 4 he voted for secession when the convention rejected it. On April 17, after the attack on Fort Sumter and Lincoln's call for troops, Tyler voted with the majority for secession. He headed a committee that negotiated the terms for Virginia's entry into the Confederate States of America and helped set the pay rate for military officers. On June 14, Tyler signed the Ordinance of Secession, and one week later the convention unanimously elected him to the "Provisional Confederate Congress. Tyler was seated in the Confederate Congress on August 1, 1861, and he served until just before his death in 1862. In November 1861, he was elected to the "Confederate House of Representatives but he died in his room at the Ballard House hotel in Richmond before the first session could open in February 1862.
Throughout Tyler's life, he suffered from poor health. As he aged, he suffered more frequently from colds during the winter. On January 12, 1862, after complaining of chills and dizziness, he vomited and collapsed. He was treated, but his health did not improve, and he made plans to return to Sherwood Forest by the 18th. As he lay in bed the night before, he began suffocating, and Julia summoned his doctor. Just after midnight, Tyler took a last sip of "brandy, and told his doctor, "I am going. Perhaps it is best." He died shortly thereafter, most likely due to a stroke.
Tyler's death was the only one in presidential history not to be officially recognized in Washington, because of his allegiance to the "Confederacy. He had requested a simple burial, but Confederate President "Jefferson Davis devised a grand, politically pointed funeral, painting Tyler as a hero to the new nation. Accordingly, at his funeral, the coffin of the tenth president of the United States was draped with a "Confederate flag; he remains the only U.S. president ever laid to rest under a foreign flag.
Tyler is buried in "Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, near the gravesite of former President "James Monroe. Tyler has since been the namesake of several U.S. locations, including the city of "Tyler, Texas, named for him because of his role in the annexation of Texas.
Tyler's presidency has provoked highly divided responses among political commentators. It is generally held in low esteem by historians; Edward P. Crapol began his biography John Tyler, the Accidental President (2006) by noting: "Other biographers and historians have argued that John Tyler was a hapless and inept chief executive whose presidency was seriously flawed." In The Republican Vision of John Tyler (2003), Dan Monroe observed that the Tyler presidency "is generally ranked as one of the least successful". Seager wrote that Tyler "was neither a great president nor a great intellectual," adding that despite a few achievements, "his administration has been and must be counted an unsuccessful one by any modern measure of accomplishment". A survey of historians conducted by "C-SPAN in 2017 ranked Tyler as 39th of 43 men to hold the office.
Tyler's assumption of complete presidential powers "set a hugely important precedent", according to a biographical sketch by the "University of Virginia's "Miller Center of Public Affairs. Tyler's successful insistence that he was president, and not a caretaker or acting president, was a model for the succession of seven other presidents over the 19th and 20th centuries. Tyler's action of assuming both the title of the presidency and its full powers would be legally recognized in 1967, when it was codified in the "Twenty-fifth Amendment.
Some scholars in recent years have praised Tyler's foreign policy. Monroe credits him with "achievements like the Webster–Ashburton treaty which heralded the prospect of improved relations with Great Britain, and the annexation of Texas, which added millions of acres to the national domain." Crapol argued that Tyler "was a stronger and more effective president than generally remembered", while Seager wrote, "I find him to be a courageous, principled man, a fair and honest fighter for his beliefs. He was a president without a party." Author "Ivan Eland, in an update of his 2008 book Recarving Rushmore, rated all 44 US presidents by the criteria of peace, prosperity, and liberty; with the finished ratings, John Tyler was ranked the best president of all time. Louis Kleber, in his article in "History Today, pointed out that Tyler brought integrity to the White House at a time when many in politics lacked it, and refused to compromise his principles to avoid the anger of his opponents. Crapol argues that Tyler's allegiance to the Confederacy overshadows much of the good he did as president: "John Tyler's historical reputation has yet to fully recover from that tragic decision to betray his loyalty and commitment to what he had once defined as 'the first great American interest'—the preservation of the Union."
Norma Lois Peterson, in her book on Tyler's presidency, suggested that Tyler's general lack of success as president was due to external factors, that would have redounded upon whoever was in the White House. Chief among them was Henry Clay, who was determined to realize "the vision he had for America, and who would brook no opposition. In the aftermath of Jackson's determined use of the powers of the Executive Branch, the Whigs wanted the president to be dominated by Congress, and Clay treated Tyler as a subordinate. Tyler resented this, leading to the conflict between the branches that dominated his presidency. Pointing to Tyler's advances in foreign policy, she deemed Tyler's presidency "flawed ... but ... not a failure".
While academics have both praised and criticized Tyler, the general American public has little awareness of him at all. Several writers have portrayed Tyler as among the nation's most obscure presidents. As Seager remarked: "His countrymen generally remember him, if they have heard of him at all, as the "rhyming end of a catchy campaign slogan."
- Formally, only the house was named Greenway.
- Senators were elected by state legislatures until 1913, and some legislatures sought to instruct their senators on certain issues. Some senators treated these instructions as binding, others did not.
- Contemporaries generally called this the Republican Party, but modern political writers use Democratic-Republican to distinguish it from the modern-day "Republican Party.
- At the end of the speech, Tyler briefly lauded President "John Adams of Massachusetts, who had died the same day.
- Tyler's name does not appear in the Senate voting records until late January of the following year, likely due to illness.
- McCaleb was assigned as the judge for both the Eastern and Western Districts of Louisiana, a common practice at the time.
- On February 13, 1845, the two districts of Louisiana were combined one; McCaleb was a judge of that court by "operation of law; on March 3, 1849, the district was again split, and McCaleb was assigned to the Eastern District only.
- Chitwood, Oliver Perry (1964) [Orig. 1939, Appleton-Century]. John Tyler, Champion of the Old South. Russell & Russell. "OCLC 424864.
- Crapol, Edward P. (2006). John Tyler, the Accidental President. University of North Carolina Press. "ISBN "978-0-8078-3041-3.
- Freehling, William W. (1991). The Road to Disunion: Volume I: Secessionists at Bay. 1776–1854. Oxford University Press. "ISBN "978-0-19-507259-4.
- Hatch, Louis C. (1970) [Orig. 1934, The New York Historical Society]. A History of the Vice-Presidency of the United States. Greenwood Press Publishers. "ISBN "978-0-8371-4234-0.
- Kruman, Marc W.; Brinkley, Alan (eds.) (2004). The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency: John Tyler. Houghton Mifflin. "ISBN "978-0-395-78889-9.
- Lambert, Oscar D. (1936). Presidential Politics in the United States, 1841–1844. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. "OCLC 5575260.
- Macmahon, Edward B.; Curry, Leonard (1987). Medical Cover-Ups in the White House. Farragut Publishing Company. "ISBN "978-0-918535-01-6.
- May, Gary (2008). Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr.; Wilentz, Sean, eds. John Tyler. Times Books (Henry Holt and Company). "ISBN "978-0-8050-8238-8.
- Monroe, Dan (2003). The Republican Vision of John Tyler. Texas A&M University Press. "ISBN "1-58544-216-X.
- Morgan, Robert J. (1954). A Whig Embattled: The Presidency Under John Tyler. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. "OCLC 1717505.
- Peterson, Norma Lois (1989). The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. University Press of Kansas. "ISBN "978-0-7006-0400-5.
- Pulliam, David Loyd (1901). The Constitutional Conventions of Virginia from the foundation of the Commonwealth to the present time. John T. West, Richmond. "ISBN "978-1-2879-2059-5.
- Roseboom, Eugene H. (1970). A History of Presidential Elections. Macmillan Publishers. "ISBN "978-0-02-604890-3.
- "Schouler, James (1917). History of the United States of America: Under the Constitution vol. 4. 1831–1847. Democrats and Whigs. New York City: Dodd, Mead and Company. "OCLC 60721697.
- Seager, Robert, II (1963). And Tyler Too: A Biography of John and Julia Gardiner Tyler. New York: McGraw-Hill. "OCLC 424866.
- "Wise, Henry A. (1872). Seven Decades of the Union: The Humanities and Materialism Illustrated by a Memoir of John Tyler, with Reminiscences of Some of his Great Contemporaries. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. "OCLC 17829001.
- "The Presidents: John Tyler". "The White House. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- "Bybee, Jay S. (Winter 1997). "Ulysses at the Mast: Democracy, Federalism, and the Sirens' Song of the Seventeenth Amendment". Northwestern University Law Review. 91 (2): 500–72. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Crapol, Edward P. (1997). "John Tyler and the Pursuit of National Destiny". "Journal of the Early Republic. 17 (3): 467–91. "doi:10.2307/3123944. "ISSN 0275-1275. "JSTOR 3123944.
- Dinnerstein, Leonard (October 1962). "The Accession of John Tyler to the Presidency". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 70 (4): 447–58. "JSTOR 4246893.
- "Freehling, William W. (cons. ed.). "American President: John Tyler". "Miller Center of Public Affairs (University of Virginia). Retrieved November 16, 2008.
- Kleber, Louis C. (October 1975). "John Tyler". History Today. 25 (10): 697–703.
- Leahy, Christopher (2006). "Torn Between Family and Politics: John Tyler's Struggle for Balance". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 114 (3): 323–55.
- McCormick, Richard P. "William Henry Harrison and John Tyler" in Henry Graff, The Presidents: A Reference History 2d ed. (1996) pp 143-54.
- Varon, Elizabeth R. (September 1995). "Tippecanoe and the Ladies, Too: White Women and Party Politics in Antebellum Virginia". The Journal of American History. 82 (2): 494–521. "doi:10.2307/2082184. "JSTOR 2082184.
- Crapol, pp. 2–3:
- "John Tyler is not one of the famous or better-known American presidents. ... Other biographers and historians have argued that John Tyler was a hapless and inept chief executive whose presidency was seriously flawed. Although acknowledging that Tyler was not a great president, I believe he was a stronger and more effective President than generally remembered."
- "By claiming the right to a fully functioning and empowered presidency instead of relinquishing the office or accepting limits on his powers, Tyler set a hugely important precedent. ... Unfortunately, Tyler proved much better at taking over the presidency than at actually being President."
- "In sharp contrast to his domestic policies, John Tyler's foreign policy decision making went much more smoothly. ... Overall, Tyler could claim an ambitious, successful foreign policy presidency, due largely to the efforts of Secretary of State Webster, who served from 1841 to 1843."
- "The vicious political infighting that characterized his term probably accounts for the low regard with which the Tyler presidency has been held by historians. His presidency is generally ranked as one of the least successful, despite achievements like the Webster–Ashburton treaty which heralded the prospect of improved relations with Great Britain, and the annexation of Texas, which added millions of acres to the national domain."
- "Yet John Tyler has become one of America's most obscure Chief Executives. His countrymen generally remember him, if they have heard of him at all, as the rhyming end of a catchy campaign slogan."
- "Yet I find him to be a courageous, principled man, a fair and honest fighter for his beliefs. He was a President without a party."
- "True, he was neither a great President nor a great intellectual. ... Save for the success of his Texas policy and his Maine Boundary treaty with Great Britain, his administration has been and must be counted an unsuccessful one by any modern measure of accomplishment."
- Chitwood, pp. 4–7, 12; Crapol, pp. 30–31.
- Chitwood, pp. 10–11; Crapol, p. 30.
- Leahy, pp. 325–26.
- Seager, p. 48.
- Chitwood, pp. 14–18; Crapol, pp. 31–34; Seager, p. 50.
- Chitwood, pp. 20–21; Crapol, pp. 35–36.
- Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff (April 1977). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Woodburn" (PDF). p. 3. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Bybee, pp. 517–28.
- Chitwood, pp. 26–30.
- May, Gary (2008). The American Presidents Series: John Tyler, The 10th President, 1841-1845. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company. p. 17. "ISBN "978-0-8050-8238-8.
- Chitwood, pp. 26–30; Crapol, p. 35.
- Nelson, Lyle Emerson (2008). John Tyler: A Rare Career. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers. p. 13. "ISBN "978-1-60021-961-0.
- Crapol, p. 61.
- Seager, p. 60.
- Chitwood, pp. 31–34.
- Chitwood, pp. 35–40.
- May, pp. 22–24; Seager, pp. 300–01; Chitwood, p. 143.
- Chitwood, pp. 47–50; Crapol, pp. 37–38.
- Seager, p. 69.
- Chitwood, pp. 58–59; Crapol, p. 39.
- Leahy, pp. 339–40.
- Chitwood, pp. 60–62.
- Chitwood, p. 76.
- Chitwood, pp. 64–67; Crapol, pp. 39–40.
- Chitwood, pp. 67–69.
- Chitwood, p. 72.
- Pulliam 1901, p. 68, 70
- Chitwood, pp. 73–81.
- Chitwood, pp. 83–84; Crapol, p. 41.
- Chitwood, pp. 86–88.
- Kleber, p. 698.
- Chitwood, pp. 86–87, 99–106.
- Crapol, p. 41.
- Chitwood, pp. 99–100; Crapol, p. 41.
- Chitwood, pp. 105–06.
- Chitwood, pp. 124–25.
- Chitwood, pp. 112–20.
- Chitwood, pp. 120–23.
- Chitwood, pp. 125–28.
- Chitwood, p. 132.
- U.S. Senate. "President pro tempore". Retrieved April 27, 2014.
- Chitwood, p. 138.
- Chitwood, p. 134.
- Chitwood, pp. 147–51.
- Seager, pp. 119–21.
- Hatch, p. 189.
- Chitwood, pp. 88–98.
- Chitwood, pp. 152–53.
- Chitwood, pp. 157–63.
- Seager, pp. 132–33.
- Peterson, pp. 26–27.
- Hatch, p. 192.
- Seager, pp. 134–35.
- Seager, p. 140.
- Peterson, p. 27.
- Leahy, p. 350.
- Seager, pp. 137–39.
- Rives, pp. 496, 498.
- Seager, p. 135.
- Crapol, pp. 17–19.
- Rives, p. 506.
- Hatch, p. 193.
- Seager, p. 141.
- Peterson, pp. 29–30.
- Peterson, p. 34.
- Seager, p. 143.
- Seager, p. 144.
- Chitwood, pp. 200–02; Seager, pp. 144–45.
- Chitwood, pp. 201–02; Seager, pp. 142–47.
- Crapol, p. 8.
- "U.S. Constitution: Article II". Cornell University Law School. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
- Chitwood, pp. 202–03.
- Dinnerstein, p. 447.
- "John Tyler: Life in Brief". Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
- Chitwood, p. 270, Seager, p. 149.
- Chitwood, pp. 203–07.
- Seager, pp. 142, 151.
- Dinnerstein, pp. 451–53.
- "'His Accidency', John Tyler, Jokes of 'Being an Accident Himself'". Shapell Manuscript Collection. Shapell Manuscript Foundation. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
- Crapol, p. 10.
- Chitwood, pp. 217–51 and appendices which compare the structure of the different bank bills prepared by the Congress.
- Roseboom, p. 124.
- Kleber, p. 699.
- Chitwood, pp. 249–51.
- Solman, Paul – "Lessons from the Political Gridlock of 1842". PBS Newshour, 28 February 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
- Chitwood, pp. 293–97; Seager, pp. 166–67.
- Chitwood, pp. 297–300; Seager, p. 167.
- Peterson, pp. 103–08.
- The Presidents: A Reference History, edited by Henry F. Graff, 2nd edition (1996), pg. 115 (essay by Richard B. Latner).
- Chitwood, p. 303; Seager, p. 169.
- Chitwood, pp. 300–01; Seager, pp. 167–68.
- Seager, p. 283.
- Harris, Joseph Pratt (1953). The Advice and Consent of the Senate: A Study of the Confirmation of Appointments by the United States Senate. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp. 48, 66. "OCLC 499448.
- "Powers and Procedures: Nominations". Origins & Development of the United States Senate. "United States Senate. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Berkin, Carol; Miller, Christopher; Cherny, Robert; Gormly, James (2011). Making America: A History of the United States. Cengage Learning. "ISBN "978-0-495-90979-8.
- Crapol, pp. 41–43.
- Chitwood, pp. 330–32; Seager, pp. 210–11.
- "The Monroe Doctrine". google.com.
- Chitwood, pp. 332–34; Seager, p. 211.
- Chitwood, pp. 305–16; Seager, p. 212.
- Chitwood, pp. 335–36; Seager, p. 213.
- "Key Events in the Presidency of John Tyler" in Freehling, American President. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Chitwood, p. 330.
- "John Tyler: Foreign Affairs in Freehling, American President. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Chitwood, pp. 326–30.
- "Supreme Court Nominations, present–1789". United States Senate Reference. "United States Senate. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
- "Biographical Directory of Federal Judges". History of the Federal Judiciary. "Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
- Crapol, pp. 176–78.
- Crapol, 2006, p. 5: "Tyler's solution was a further expansion of slavery and the admission of Missouri as a slave state. He saw territorial expansion as a way to thin out and diffuse the slave population."
- Freehling, 1991, p. 398: "Tyler and [Secretary of State] Upshur opted for annexation only after a public parliamentary exchange confirmed...that England had 'earnestly' pressed Mexico to pressure Texas towards abolition [of slavery]."
- Crapol, pp. 180–83, 186.
- Crapol, pp. 183–85.
- Crapol, pp. 185–94.
- Crapol, pp. 194–97.
- Crapol, pp. 202–10.
- Crapol, pp. 207–09; Seager, pp. 204–06.
- Seager, p. 208.
- "John Tyler: Domestic Affairs" in Freehling, American President. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Crapol, pp. 212–17.
- Seager, p. 218.
- Crapol, p. 218; Seager, pp. 228–29.
- Crapol, pp. 218–20; Seager, pp. 236–41, 246.
- Crapol, p. 220; Seager, pp. 282–83.
- The Presidents: A Reference History, edited by Henry F. Graff, 2nd edition (1996), pg. 160–61 (essay by David M. Pletcher)
- "Joint Resolution of the Congress of the United States, December 29, 1845". "Yale Law School. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Crapol, p. 4.
- Chitwood, p. 478.
- Chitwood, p. 479.
- Leahy, pp. 323–24.
- Leahy, p. 340.
- Crapol, pp. 62–67.
- "Genealogy of John Tyler at Sherwood Forest Plantation". Sherwood Forest Plantation Foundation. Retrieved June 19, 2009.
- "A living history: Grandson of 10th US President John Tyler speaks to DAR". Dyersburg State Gazette. November 9, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
- Amira, Dan. "President John Tyler's Grandson, Harrison Tyler, on Still Being Alive". New York Magazine.
- Mikkelson, David. "FACT CHECK: Are John Tyler's Grandchildren Still Alive?". snopes.com. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
- Mills, Curt (2017-02-20). "President John Tyler Has 2 Living Grandsons". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
- Chitwood, pp. 408–10, uses "the Grove" as the original name; Seager, pp. 179–80, uses "Walnut Grove".
- Chitwood, pp. 414–15.
- Chitwood, p. 413; Seager, pp. 390–91.
- Chitwood, pp. 423–25.
- Kleber, p. 703.
- DeRose, Chris (2014). The Presidents' War: Six American Presidents and the Civil War That Divided Them. Guilford, CT: Lyons Press. pp. 98–99. "ISBN "978-1-4930-1086-8.
- Chitwood, pp. 435–47; Seager, pp. 449–61.
- Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861–1865 Volume 1. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1904. pp. 303, 658.
- Chitwood, pp. 460–64; Seager, p. 469.
- Seager, pp. 469–71.
- Jones, Jeffrey M.; Jones, Joni L. "Presidential Stroke: United States Presidents and Cerebrovascular Disease (John Tyler)". Journal CMEs. CNS Spectrums (The International Journal of Neuropsychiatric Medicine). Retrieved July 20, 2011.
- Seager, p. 472.
- "Tyler Texas – History". "City of Tyler, Texas. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
- Crapol, pp. 2–3.
- Monroe, p. 3.
- Presidential Historians Survey 2017: Total Scores/Overall Rankings, C-SPAN.
- Crapol, p. 13.
- Eland, Ivan (2009). Recarving Rushmore. Oakland, CA: The Independent Institute. pp. 14, 77–82. "ISBN "978-1-59813-022-5.
- Crapol, p. 283.
- Peterson, pp. 263–64.
- Peterson, p. 265.
- "Tyler Family Papers, Group A". Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
- "A Guide to the Governor John Tyler Executive Papers, 1825–1827". Virginia Heritage. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
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- John Tyler from the "White House
- John Tyler: A Resource Guide from the Library of Congress
- Biography by Appleton's and Stanley L. Klos
- U.S. Senate Historian's Office: Vice Presidents of the United States—John Tyler
- John Tyler in Union or Secession: Virginians Decide at the "Library of Virginia
- Biography at "Encyclopedia Virginia/"Library of Virginia
- POTUS – John Tyler
- Tyler's letters refusing government intervention, April and May 1842
- United States Congress. "John Tyler (id: T000450)". "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Works by John Tyler at "Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about John Tyler at "Internet Archive
- List of Descendants
- John Tyler's Health and Medical History
- Hollywood Cemetery – John Tyler's final resting place
- John Tyler's Grandson Still Does Tours in the Old Tyler Home
- Extensive essay on John Tyler and shorter essays on each member of his cabinet and First Lady from the Miller Center of Public Affairs
- Finding aid of the Tyler Family Papers, Group A
- A Guide to the Governor John Tyler Executive Papers, 1825–1827 at The Library of Virginia
- "Life Portrait of John Tyler", from "C-SPAN's "American Presidents: Life Portraits, May 17, 1999
- "John Tyler: The Accidental President", presentation by Edward Crapol at the "Kansas City Public Library, April 11, 2012