16 Aug: The First Accidental President

Angry protestors gathered outside The White House on 16th August, 1841, burning an effigy of President John Tyler, the first Vice-President to assume the Presidency (following the death of William Henry Harrison, just 31 days into his term). The mob, largely consisting of Tyler’s fellow Whigs, opposed his veto of a national banking bill. 

Although no serious scuffles or bloodshed occurred, the incident highlighted the vulnerability of the White House and the lack of a proper security detail during that era. Tyler and his family were at home during the protest, underscoring the absence of a secret service or presidential bodyguard. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca, and Oly explain why Tyler became so unpopular within his own party, and was eventually expelled from it; consider why Tyler hadn’t been the main name on the election ticket in the first place; and reveal an astonishing fact about the President’s family in the 21st century… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Looking back: One of the ugliest protests in White House history’ (Constitution Center, 2019): https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/looking-back-the-ugliest-protest-in-white-house-history

• ‘The Tyler Precedent: How John Tyler became president after William Henry Harrison in 1841’ (The Washington Post, 2019): https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/03/23/his-accidency-first-president-die-office-constitutional-crisis-that-followed/

John Tyler – Top 10 Forgettable Presidents – TIME: https://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1879648_1879646_1879658,00.html