Friday, September 30, 2011

Pre-Presidency Tyler

I found this site which covers Tyler before his Presidency. As a Southerner, much of his time was spent on issues leading into the Civil War:
The House of Representatives, 1815–1820

Tyler embarked on his long public career in December 1811 when he began the first of five consecutive one-year terms representing Charles City County in the House of Delegates. Despite his youth, on 8 December 1815 the General Assembly elected him to the Council of State. In November 1816 Tyler won a special election to a vacant seat in the House of Representatives from the district that included the city of Richmond and Charles City, Hanover, Henrico, and New Kent Counties. He won election to full terms in 1817 and 1819. A Democrat-Republican supporting states' rights, limited government, and a strict interpretation of the Constitution, Tyler opposed rechartering the Bank of the United States, increasing protective tariffs, appropriating federal funds for internal improvements, and Andrew Jackson's military campaigns during the First Seminole War.

Tyler initially opposed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, because he viewed it as unconstitutional and thought that new states should decide for themselves whether to permit slavery. A lifelong slaveholder, he believed the institution was a necessary evil and that it needed to expand into the western territories to disperse the slave population, which would ease problems of slave management and allow for better treatment of bondspeople because of increased demand for their labor. Tyler also argued that the political viability for eventual emancipation could be strengthened if the slave population of the older southern states was thinned out. He eventually voted for the compromise but later regretted his decision because he believed that it contributed to sectional discord in subsequent decades.

Poor health prohibited him from seeking another term in 1821, but two years later Charles City County voters returned him to the House of Delegates, where he served three consecutive one-year terms. The General Assembly elected him to a one-year term as governor on 10 December 1825. Tyler busied himself with the routine duties of the chief executive, which often related to state appointments, public improvements, the penitentiary, the militia, and military bounty claims. The assembly reelected him to another term in December 1826, but on 13 January 1827 it elected him to the United States Senate. Tyler's resignation as governor took effect on 4 March, the day the congressional term began. Elected as a Jacksonian, Tyler objected to funding internal improvements, raising tariffs, and rechartering the Bank of the United States.

The Convention of 1829–1830

Tyler was one of four delegates elected to represent Richmond and Williamsburg and the counties of Charles City, Elizabeth City, James City, Henrico, New Kent, Warwick, and York in a convention that met in Richmond from 5 October 1829 to 15 January 1830 to revise the state constitution. He voted with the eastern members against most of the proposed democratic changes. Tyler supported slight modifications in legislative apportionment, but he opposed wholesale changes that would have resulted in a more-equitable distribution of power between the eastern and western sections of Virginia. He also favored retaining the advisory Council of State on the grounds that executive powers should not be held by one official. On 14 January 1830 Tyler voted with the majority for the revised constitution that the voters later ratified but that did not contain any significant democratic reforms.

The United States Senate, 1827–1836

Reelected to the United States Senate on 15 February 1833, Tyler began to oppose Jackson's policies. He had questioned the constitutionality of rechartering the Bank of the United States but believed that the president's plan to remove the bank's deposits and place them in state banks signaled Jackson's attempt to increase his authority over the treasury to autocratic levels. Tyler split with the president during the Nullification Crisis and opposed Jackson's plan for military collection of duties in Charleston, South Carolina. Emphasizing states' rights and his trepidation about placing too much power in the presidency, Tyler was the only senator to vote against the so-called Force Bill that would have empowered Jackson to take additional measures to enforce federal law in South Carolina. In February 1836 Tyler resigned from the Senate rather than obey the General Assembly's instructions to introduce and vote for a resolution to expunge an 1834 senatorial censure of Jackson that had been passed following the president's dismissal of the treasury secretary and removal of Bank of the United States deposits.

After his break with Jackson and the Democrats, Tyler gravitated toward the Whig Party and in 1836 ran for vice president on an unsuccessful Whig ticket with Tennessee senator Hugh Lawson White. The three Whig presidential candidates divided the vote that year, enabling the Democrat Martin Van Buren to win the election, but Tyler received forty-seven electoral votes from Georgia, Maryland, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

In January 1839 Tyler returned to the House of Delegates representing Williamsburg and James City and York Counties and late that same year became the compromise nominee of the Whig Party for vice president on the ticket with William Henry Harrison. Nominated to draw states' rights southerners who did not support Jacksonian Democracy, Tyler never fully embraced the Whig ideology and was not comfortable during the campaign with its Tippecanoe and Tyler Too slogan that combined Harrison's nationalism with Tyler's southern sectionalism.

Tyler would, of course, go on to serve in the Confederate Congress, after his Presidency.

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