The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler

Norma Lois Peterson

Wearied by the hotly contested "Log Cabin and Hard Cider" campaign that unseated the Democratic incumbent, Martin Van Buren, Harrison succumbed to pneumonia after only one month in office, the first chief executive to die in the White House. His death precipitated a governmental crisis, which Vice President John Tyler promptly resolved—to the consternation of his Whig Party—by claiming the office and title of president, thus setting a precedent that only later was codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

Instead of the pliable Harrison, the Whigs confronted in Tyler a tenacious defender of presidential prerogative and a formidable foe of their plan to establish congressional supremacy over the executive branch. Threatened with impeachment, repeatedly exhorted to resign, banished from the Whig Party, abandoned by his cabinet, and burned in effigy, Tyler stood firm and maintained the integrity of the presidential office.

“Peterson has rendered a balanced, highly readable, and enjoyable account of presidential politics during the terms of Harrison and Tyler. She has brought life and meaning to a period frequently thought of as a void in American political history.”

Journal of Southern History

“Peterson has worked her way through the tangled skein of the Harrison-Tyler presidencies with clarity and authority. . . . A worthy addition to the successful American Presidency Series, Peterson’s study will become a standard account of these hitherto neglected years.”

Journal of the Early Republic
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Peterson argues that the Tyler administration deserves more credit than it has received for what was accomplished—and preserved—under difficult circumstances.

About the Author

Norma Lois Peterson is Emeritus Professor of History at Adams State College of Colorado.

Additional Titles in the American Presidency Series Series