A Whig Party Not Sabotaged By John Tyler

Joshism

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William Henry Harrison recovers from his post-inauguration bout of ill health and serves out his term. He defers most decision to his Whig all-star cabinet. The Whig majority in both houses passes the same Whig platform legislation as they did historically, and Harrison signs it all into law. A national bank bill is also passed.

Webster argues strongly against admitting Texas as a state and it remains independent until at least after a new administration takes office in 1845.

The 1844 Whig nomination is contested between perpetual candidate Henry Clay, lately a senator, and Secretary of State Daniel Webster. Clay has spearheaded most of the Whig legislation in the Senate, especially the national bank bill, but had a distant relationship with Harrison and is jealous/resentful of Harrison's close relationship with Webster. Webster has not only been Harrison's chief advisor, but also successfully negotiated the border issues with Canada. This includes not only eastern border issues he negotiated historically, but also a treaty splitting Oregon by extending the existing border westward, signed in 1844. This last point is actually a mixed blessing for Webster due to a loud public interest in parts of the North in taking all of Oregon up to 54'40. Southerners also distrust Webster, especially because of his opposition to Texas. Clay privately supported the Oregon split and not admitting Texas, but publicly avoided taking a stance on either issue.

John Tyler gets into a political row with Harrison's cabinet and resigns as Vice President, throwing his hat in the ring for the 1844 Democrat presidential nomination. He loudly decries the Whigs as the party of unconstitutional laws, and favors Texas annexation. Anti-annexationists Lewis Cass and Martin Van Buren seem the lead candidates. James Buchanan and Richard Mentor Johnson are the lead pro-annexation candidates. pro-annexation dark horse James Polk lurks in the background. Tyler, Johnson, and Polk are also eager to destroy the National Bank while Cass and Buchanan are more neutral.

Who is nominated in 1844 and who wins the presidency? How does the effect the growing slavery issue and the potential road to civil war?
 

jgoodguy

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I think the slavery issue effects everything, not the other way around.
 

5fish

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I do not think Tyler sabotage the Whig party. If you read Harrison's writing he was going to have a weak presidency. He said he would follow the first branch "Congress" lead. I think it would have been interesting if he had lived because he was going to take a back seat to Congress.

Here is the link on Harrison domestic policies...

 

jgoodguy

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I do not think Tyler sabotage the Whig party. If you read Harrison's writing he was going to have a weak presidency. He said he would follow the first branch "Congress" lead. I think it would have been interesting if he had lived because he was going to take a back seat to Congress.

Here is the link on Harrison domestic policies...

As long as the Slave Power was in charge, not much would happen.
 

Joshism

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I do not think Tyler sabotage the Whig party.
Whigs had a majority in both houses. They kept passing legislation in line with the Whig platform and Tyler kept vetoing it. His entire cabinet ended up resigning in protest. Tyler was elected on the Whig ticket, but was never actually a Whig. He was an anti-Jackson Democrat and picked as Harrison's VP for basically the same reason Andrew Johnson was Lincoln's running mate: to attract Democrats who opposed the Democrat nominee.

The Whig party never recovered. Taylor was elected as a Whig, but he was by no means a party stalwart (he had been largely apolitical up to seeking the presidency). His presidency was dominated by one issue and his VP/successor (Fillmore) broke off to join the Know Nothings. Taylor's "betrayal" of the South doomed Winfield Scott's chances in 1852 (he was also a Whig Southern with federal/national loyalty over sectional loyalty due to his Army career - in other words, Zachary Taylor 2.0).
 

5fish

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As long as the Slave Power was in charge, not much would happen.
Harrison would have perpetuated it...


Slavery had already become his nation's most hotly debated issue. A slaveowner himself, Harrison supported the right of states to make their own decisions in the matter. With regard to slavery, the President said, "The lines, too, separating powers to be exercised by the citizens of one state from those of another seem to be so distinctly drawn as to leave no room for misunderstanding . . . The attempt of those of one state to control the domestic institutions of another can only result in feelings of distrust and jealousy, the certain harbingers of disunion, violence, and civil war, and the ultimate destruction of our free institutions." He criticized antislavery elements as endangering states' rights.
 

5fish

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His entire cabinet ended up resigning in protest
The cabinet were puppets to Clay...


His second decision was as ill-advised as his first had been inspired. Fearful of appearing disrespectful to Harrison, Tyler retained the dead man's entire cabinet, including several jealous Whigs who openly seethed at Tyler's takeover. The party's real leader, Henry Clay, had been the power behind the Harrison throne, and Clay assumed Tyler would allow the same. Clay was mistaken. When he told Tyler that Harrison had let major policy decisions be resolved by cabinet vote, Tyler would have none of it and offered to accept the resignations of any secretaries who couldn't accept his leadership. "I, as president, shall be responsible for my administration," he told the cabinet. "I shall be glad to have you with me. When you think otherwise, your resignation will be accepted." Clay, who had unsuccessfully sought the presidency on several occasions, was furious. The new President had no allies in the cabinet.
 

5fish

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aylor was elected as a Whig, but he was by no means a party stalwart
True but he governed as a Democrat...


Except for Secretary of State Daniel Webster, the entire cabinet resigned in protest. Enraged Whig leaders denounced the President as a traitor and expelled him from the party two days later in a declaration published in newspapers throughout the nation. Tyler stood alone. The Whigs demanded that he resign, to be succeeded by the Whig President Pro Tem of the Senate under existing succession law.
 

5fish

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I think the Whigs were right on the issues...


Ironically, Tyler demonstrated that a President without popular or party support could exercise Jacksonian types of exclusive powers and privileges. The Whigs could not get their national bank, their high tariff, or their distribution bill to give the proceeds of the sale of public lands to the states for internal improvements. Henry Clay proposed a constitutional amendment so that Congress could override the President's vetoes by a majority vote. Neither this amendment nor proposals to impeach Tyler could pass Congress. Tyler could not set domestic policy, but he demonstrated that a President willing to exercise his constitutional powers could block a congressional majority from doing so as well.
 

jgoodguy

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I think the slavery issue effects everything.

 

Joshism

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True but he governed as a Democrat
Yes, which is why I said...
Tyler was elected on the Whig ticket, but was never actually a Whig. He was an anti-Jackson Democrat


I think the slavery issue effects everything.
Well, yeah.

Are you suggesting a pro-annexation Democrat candidate still wins in 1844 and, despite policy changes by four solid Whig years, we still get a Mexican War, Mexican secession debate, Compromise of 1850, etc?
 

jgoodguy

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IMHO if the Whigs went antislavery, there would be no Whig party in power. Yes we get the Mexican war, etc no matter what.
 

5fish

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Here is Tyler efforts for Texas...


  • 1836: Texas became an independent republic.
  • 1836–1840: Texas lobbied to join the Union. Both Presidents Jackson and Van Buren were opposed, believing bringing Texas in as a slave state could upset the careful slave state/free state balance established by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. It also could bring war with Mexico, which still did not recognize Texas’s independence.
  • 1841: Tyler became President upon Harrison’s death.
  • 1841–1843: Texas pursued relations with Great Britain. Britain would provide military protection to Texas while limiting American expansion. The courtship of Britain and Texas created fear in the United States. Former President Jackson was concerned enough about this to write a letter in 1843 describing the possibility of a British two-pronged invasion of America from Texas and Canada.
  • 1843: Tyler supports Texas annexation. He was a supporter of Manifest Destiny, the belief that American was destined to settle North American from coast-to-coast. He also wanted an accomplishment to support his re-election in 1844. Opponents were strongly opposed to adding a new slave state. Texans were more interested in joining the United States than an alliance with Britain, as most of them were Americans. By early 1844, Secretary of State Abel Upshur negotiated a treaty with Texas to join the Union.
  • 1844: The treaty was sent to the Senate for ratification but the Senate rejected the treaty. Bringing Texas into the Union became a major issue of the 1844 Presidential campaign. Senator Clay, the Whig Party nominee for President, opposed admitting Texas. James Polk, the Democratic Party candidate, supported a balanced admission scheme: admit Texas as a slave state and Oregon as a free state. Polk defeated Clay by only 40,000 votes, one of the tightest elections in history.
  • 1845: While the treaty to annex Texas had been rejected by the Senate in June 1844 Tyler had a Plan B. The Constitution allows Congress to admit new states into the Union. This requires only a majority vote in the House and Senate, instead of the two-thirds vote needed in the Senate to approve a treaty. Constitutional? Unclear. In January 1845, while Tyler was still President, a bill to annex Texas under Plan B passed the House easily. However, the Senate vote was very close, 27 to 25. Three days before leaving office, Tyler signed it into law.
 
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