John Tyler - Short biography from the Hall of "Forgotten" Presidents. Actually, I have heard of him but he does seem to be rather obscure. I guess he is best known for actually betraying the USA as an Ex-President and serving in the Confederate government.
From the site:
Tippecanoe and Tyler, too !!
That seems to be the beginning and the end of the American public's awareness of President John Tyler. Which is a shame, because this tall Virginia gentleman has much to teach us about how to serve as President with integrity and principles. And couldn't we use a little more of that these days ?
Born in Charles City County, Virginia in 1790, John Tyler served as Congressman, Senator and Governor of Virginia before being chosen as William Henry Harrison's Vice Presidential running mate in 1840. General Harrison had won the Battle of Tippecanoe against Tecumseh's impressive Native American forces, and the "Tippecanoe" slogan became the centerpiece of the Whigs' 1840 campaign. Tyler had actually been a member of the Democrat party until 1833, when he had to leave the party because he dared to oppose Andrew Jackson's programs. For whatever reason, the Whigs chose the independent Tyler to run with "Ol' Tippecanoe", never dreaming of what would follow.
After winning the election, President Harrison gave a long-winded inaugural speech (the longest ever) in a cold March rain, caught pneumonia and died exactly one month later, after having served the shortest time of any President before or since. The Whigs were now stuck with Tyler, the first President ever to come to office by constitutional succession, who had not exhibited any deep allegiance to Whig principles. Almost immediately, things began to unravel.
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. Incredibly, every member of Tyler's original Cabinet except Secretary of State Daniel Webster resigned in protest (and Webster stayed on only because he was deeply involved in settling a major border dispute with Great Britain at the time, and felt he could not resign under the circumstances). Tyler also alienated the Whigs by repudiating their spoils system and refusing to appoint Whigs to replace certain Democrat ministers serving abroad. Clearly, Tyler was no "party animal", and believed in making decisions based on an idea's merit and impact on what he perceived to be the nation's best interests, without regard to politics. In fact, about the only thing 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, and it came as no surprise when they failed to re-nominate him in 1844. President Tyler decided to withdraw from the race before the election and left office a President without a party - the only President ever to have had that dubious distinction.