Abbildungen der Seite

Vice President, then at Williamsburg, Va. By extraordinary means he reached Washington at five o'clock on the morning of the 6th, and at twelve o'clock the Heads of Departments waited upon him, to pay their official and personal respects. After signifying his deep feeling of the public calamity sustained by the death of President Harrison, and expressing his profound sensibility of the heavy responsibilities so suddenly devolved upon himself, he made known his wishes that the ser. eral Heads of Departments would continue to fill the places which they then respectively occupied, and his confidence that they would afford all the aid in their power to enahle him to carry on the administration of the government successfully. Mr. Tyler afterwards took and subscribed the following oath of office:

“I do solemnly swear, that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

JOHN TYLER. " APRIL 6, 1841."

Pursuant to the proclamation of President Harrison, Congress met on the 31st of May, and continued in session until the 13th of September. On the 27th of July a bill for the establishment of “The Fiscal Bank of the United States," passed the Senate by a vote of 26 to 23, and was concurred in by the House of Representatives on the 6th of August—128 to 91. President Tyler, however, returned the bill on the 16th, with his objections, and it was lost for lack of a constitutional majority. But the friends of a national bank were not to be deterred from their purpose by a single repulse: another bill (about the same in substance) was immediately hurried through both Houses, under the title of “The Fiscal Corporation of the United States," but this shared the fate of its predecessor.

A Senate bill for the establishment of a uniform system of bankruptcy throughout the United States, was concurred in by the House on the 18th of August, and became a law; but, meeting with very general condemnation, it was soon after repealed.

A bill was also passed at this extra session for the distribution of the proceeds of the sales of the public lands among the several States, in proportion to population.

In 1842 an important treaty, adjusting the north-eastern boundary of the United States, was negotiated at Washingtun between Mr. Webster, on the part of this country, and Lord Ashburton, on the part of Great Britain.

During the last year of Mr. Tyler's administration much excitement nrevailed on the proposed annexation of Texas to the Union, which was strongly resisted at the North, on the ground that the South and southern institutions would thereby gain increased power

in the national councils. A treaty of annexation, signed by the President, was rejected by the Senate, but measures were taken by which Texas was admitted the yeur following.



Was born at Williamsburg, Virginia, March 29, 1790, and at the age of twelve years entered William and Mary's College, where he graduated with distinguished merit five years afterward. Few have commenced life at so early a period as Mr. Tyler--he having been admitted to the bar when only nineteen, and elected to the Virginia Legislature before attaining his twenty-second year. In 1816, he was sent to Congress; in 1825, elected Governor of Virginia; and in 1827, became United States Senator; in which capacity he firmly supported the administration of General Jackson-voting against the tariff bill of 1828, and against rechartering the United States Bank. Notwithstanding this last vote, the friends of the bank, presuming upon his well-known conservatism, at the special session of Congress called by his predecessor, introduced a bill for the establishment of the “Fiscal Bank of the United States," which passed both Houses by small majorities, and which Mr. Tyler felt bound to veto. But this did not dishearten the friends of the measure, who modified and rechristened their financial plan, which, under the name of “ Fiscal Corporation of the United States," again passed both houses of Congress, and was again vetoed by the President. Of course, a large portion of the party that elected him were greatly dissatisfied with his course, and their denunciation of bis alleged faithlessness were “ loud and deep." To add to the embarrassments which were accumulating around him, all the members of his Cabinet, with the exception of Mr. Webster, resigned their places; but even this implied rebuke did not shake his integrity of purpose. An equally efficient phalanx of talent was called to his aid, and he had the satisfaction of seeing that his views were indorsed by a large number of leading statesmen. It has often been asserted that Mr. T. had pledged himself to sustain the financial schemes of the bank and its friends ; but this has always been denied, and circumstances certainly warrant the conclusion that the assertion is unfounded. So gross and bitter were the assaults made upon him, that he felt called upon to defend himself from their violence; and, after declaring his determination to do his duty, regardless of party ties, he said, "I appeal from the vituperation of the present day to the pen of impartial history, in confidence that neither my motives nor my acts will bear the interpretation which, for sinister motives, has been placed upon them." On the expiration of his official term, he retired to his estate at Williamsburg.



Was born at Mecklenberg, North Carolina, November 2, 1795, and there received the rudiments of his early education. In 1806, his father removed to Nashville, Tennessee, taking his family with him, and here it was that Mr. Polk pursued those preliminary studies which were requisite to qualify him for the legal profession. After due preparation, he entered the office of Hon. Felix Grundy, under whose able instruction he made such rapid progress, that he was admitted to practice in 1820. His duties at the bar did not prevent him from taking part in the political affairs of the day, and in this sphere his comprehensive views and zealous devotion to Democracy soon secured him a widely-extended popularity, which resulted in his election to the Legislature of Tennessee, in 1823. In 1825, while yet in his thirtieth year, he was chosen a member of Congress, in which body he remained fourteen years—being honored with the Speakership for several sessions. So well satisfied were his constituents with his congressional consge, that he was elected Governor by a large majority, but some questions of local policy subsequently defeated his reëlection.

In 1844, he was unexpectedly nominated for the office of President of the United States by the Democratic Convention at Baltimore; and, having received sixty-five electoral votes more than his rival candidate, Mr. Clay, he was inaugurated on the 4th of March, 1815.

Soon after Mr. Polk assumed the reins of government, the country became involved in a war with Mexico, which was little more than a series of victories wherever the American banner was displayed, and which resulted in important territorial acquisitions. The ostensible ground for this war, on the part of Mexico, was the admission of Texas into the Union, which was one of the firs, acts of Mr. Polk's administration. The Mexicans, however, paid dearly for asserting their frivolous claim to Texas as a revolted province, and the prompt and energetic course pursued by Mr. Polk was sanctioned and sustained by a large majority of the people.

But notwithstanding the advantageous issue of the war, the acquisition of Texas, and the satisfactory settlement of several vexed questions of long standing, Mr. Polk was not nominated for a second term-various extraneous matters leading to the selection of another candidate. Perhaps it was fortunate for the country and for himself that he was permitted to retire to the more congenial enjoyment of private life; for his health had become very much innpaired, and he did not long survive after reaching his home in Nashville. He died June 15, 1849.

« ZurückWeiter »