Skip to content

Tyler and Webster

April 5, 2017

John Tyler was not the sort of man who would have been elected President in the first place.  He became President only after William Henry Harrison’s untimely death.  Daniel Webster was just the sort of man who might become President someday.  He was the leading Constitutional scholar of his day.  He had served in the U.S. Senate for many years.  His “Reply to Hayne” is generally regarded as one of the greatest speeches ever delivered in Congress.

Webster was Secretary of State when President Harrison died.  He and the rest of the Cabinet sided with Tyler in declaring him to be President and not merely “Acting President.”  Since Tyler had already taken an oath as Vice President, he resisted the idea of being sworn in as President.  Webster disagreed and convinced Tyler to take the Presidential oath.

Webster was an antislavery Massachusettsan.  Tyler owned slaves but believed that slavery was a doomed institution.  Together they worked to involve the United States in the international effort to stop the African slave trade.  When the Cabinet resigned en masse due to Tyler’s vetoes of the bills that would have created a national bank, Webster stayed on.  But when Tyler pushed for annexation of Texas, Webster resigned.  It was an amicable parting by two men of principle.  There can be no doubt that Tyler had great respect for Webster.  In 1843 he told him: “You have manifested powers of intellect of the highest order, and in all things a true American heart.”

Seven years later another Vice President would become President upon the death of his predecessor.   Once again Daniel Webster would be called upon to serve as Secretary of State, an office which he held until his death in 1852.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: