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His Accidency, John Tyler

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    America had never had a Presidential succession in her short history until President William Henry Harrison died in office and John Tyler found himself as President of the United States. Was Mr. Tyler an acting President until there was another election held? Was he going to be addressed as President or Acting President still? No where in the Constitution did it state how a Presidential succession is to be handled. Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the Constitution states: In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

    No one knew what was going to happen until Tyler asserted his authority and proclaimed that he was now President of the United States. He refused to be called Acting President and stated that he was now the President until the term is concluded. He set up a precedent for Presidential secession until the passage of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, which finally clarified the ambiguous wording in the Constitution.

    It is taken for granted today, but President Tyler's assertiveness was unprecedented at the time. Many in Congress thought that he was an illegitimate President and he inevitably struggled with Congress throughout his term. There are not many other Presidents that are thought of as negatively as President Tyler, but he does have a place in history as the first person to ascend to the Presidency instead of earning it outright.