It’s necessary to understand that Trump isn’t — but — the worst ex-president in U.S. historical past. Trump has made a severe effort to dishonor his post-presidency, in fact. He probably has inspired future insurrections by vowing to pardon the rioters who sacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. And he’s stashed packing containers of high secret paperwork at his residence at Mar-a-Lago, elevating severe nationwide safety considerations.
However John Tyler, a Whig who held workplace from 1841 to 1845, was even worse. Tyler really tried to destroy the Union by becoming a member of the Confederacy’s conflict of treason in protection of slavery. Tyler’s treachery is value remembering as a warning about the actual hazard a former president can pose.
Tyler’s treachery is value remembering as a warning about the actual hazard a former president can pose.
However this historical past can also be a great instance of how principled political leaders can stand as much as a rogue president, even on the threat of damaging their events’ prospects. Throughout Tyler’s presidency, the Whigs really expelled him from the celebration when he violated Whig rules. After the celebration finally splintered over the difficulty of slavery, Abraham Lincoln and William Seward stood quick for the Union that Tyler betrayed.
Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took a small step of their path when he introduced Tuesday that he would again the Electoral Rely Reform and Presidential Transition Enchancment Act, which goals to stop future efforts to subvert elections like these on the coronary heart of the Jan. 6 riot. The choice put him at odds with Trump however strengthened the possibilities that the invoice will cross.
Sadly, it’s not clear that each one Republican lawmakers will observe McConnell’s lead. And past that laws, Republican leaders have principally continued to allow Trump’s reckless conduct, as they appear unwilling to defend democracy in opposition to his “huge lie.”
Though Trump might by no means shame the presidency as completely as Tyler did, the stain of his actions will mar the legacy of all of his fellow Republicans in the event that they don’t attempt to cease him earlier than he comes nearer. Members of the celebration of Lincoln would serve themselves and their nation greatest by demonstrating allegiance to democracy fairly than to Trump.
Tyler, like Trump, was a considerably sudden president who didn’t initially belong to the celebration that elected him. A slaveholder from a distinguished Virginia household, Tyler started as a Jacksonian Democrat. He broke with the Democrats through the nullification disaster of 1832-33, when President Andrew Jackson threatened to forcibly impose tariffs on the state of South Carolina. In a portent of his later conduct, Tyler believed that so-called states’ rights took priority over federal regulation.
Tyler was nominated for vice chairman on the Whig ticket in 1840 to offer regional and political steadiness for Ohioan William Henry Harrison, who was generally suspected of abolitionist sympathies.
With the Democrats in disarray after the financial panic of 1837, the Whigs handily defeated the incumbent, Martin Van Buren. However Harrison died one month after his inauguration, making Tyler the primary vice chairman to succeed to the presidency.
Though there was severe doubt about Tyler’s exact constitutional standing — Article II says solely that the “powers and duties” of the president “shall devolve on the vice chairman” — he didn’t anticipate clarification. Tyler instantly took the oath and declared himself president of the U.S.
The grandees of the Whig Occasion, together with Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, believed they’d exert nice affect over the brand new chief govt, whom many had taken to calling His Accidency. They had been rapidly dissatisfied. Like Trump, Tyler had little respect for the celebration institution that put him in energy. His vetoes of nationwide financial institution laws led to clashes along with his Cupboard members, who had anticipated to be the adults within the room.
Tyler’s vetoes led to his expulsion from the Whigs, who nominated celebration loyalist Henry Clay in 1844. Tyler gracefully retreated to his Virginia plantation, managing his intensive properties and perpetuating the approach to life of the Southern gentry whereas summering at a seaside compound not known as Mar-a-Lago.
In 1860, Lincoln received a strong majority of the electoral vote. However many Southerners believed his election was illegitimate and started selling resolutions of secession. Tyler returned to public life in February 1861 as chairman of the Washington Peace Convention, which was held in a last-ditch effort to keep away from disunion. Together with different Southern delegates, Tyler opposed the convention’s remaining resolutions as a result of there was no provision for increasing enslavement into federal territories, though they included a proposed constitutional modification to guard slavery the place it existed.
Tyler’s disloyalty turned clear whilst he presided over the peace convention; he was concurrently a delegate to Virginia’s secession conference. After Accomplice forces fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, he voted in favor of disunion after which chaired the committee negotiating Virginia’s entry into the Confederacy. He was elected first to the provisional Accomplice Congress after which to the precise Accomplice Home of Representatives. His treason ended solely along with his loss of life just some days earlier than the Accomplice legislature convened for the primary time in Richmond, Virginia.
The political points within the mid-Nineteenth century had been far completely different from as we speak’s, however the Whigs’ response to Tyler’s presidency nonetheless reveals that it’s potential to put rules forward of expediency. Reasonably than recast themselves in Tyler’s picture, all however one member of his Cupboard resigned in protest of his desire for states’ rights over nationwide coverage. Whigs within the Senate, in the meantime, declined to verify lots of his appointments, together with a number of nominees to the Supreme Court docket. Lower than six months after he assumed workplace, the Whigs expelled him from the celebration.
A celebration’s complete repudiation of its personal sitting president was unprecedented on the time, and it has by no means been repeated. (In 1974, a majority of Republicans on the Home Judiciary Committee voted in opposition to impeaching Richard Nixon.) The Whigs would elect just one extra president — Zachary Taylor, in 1848, who additionally died in workplace. Figures reminiscent of Lincoln had been finally unable to cohabit with Southerners like Alexander Stephens, who could be the vice chairman of the Confederacy, and the celebration imploded forward of the 1856 election.
Lincoln, Seward and different anti-slavery Whigs quickly fashioned the core of the brand new Republican Occasion, which led the Union to victory within the Civil Warfare. The Whigs’ refusal to embrace Tyler’s presidency, at the price of splitting their celebration and dropping future elections, turned out to be a small step towards defeating a prison riot and abolishing slavery. At this time’s Republicans would do properly to take observe.