John Tyler, the Accidental President

By Edward P. Crapol

With a New Foreword by the Author

360 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 9 illus., 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-7223-9
    Published: January 2012
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-8272-6
    Published: January 2012

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The first vice president to become president on the death of the incumbent, John Tyler (1790-1862) was derided by critics as "His Accidency." In this biography of the tenth president, Edward P. Crapol challenges depictions of Tyler as a die-hard advocate of states' rights, limited government, and a strict interpretation of the Constitution. Instead, he argues, Tyler manipulated the Constitution to increase the executive power of the presidency. Crapol also highlights Tyler's faith in America's national destiny and his belief that boundless territorial expansion would preserve the Union as a slaveholding republic. When Tyler sided with the Confederacy in 1861, he was branded as America's "traitor" president for having betrayed the republic he once led.

About the Author

Edward P. Crapol is William E. Pullen Professor of American History, Emeritus, at the College of William and Mary. He is author of James G. Blaine: Architect of Empire and editor of Women and American Foreign Policy: Lobbyists, Critics, and Insiders.
For more information about Edward P. Crapol, visit the Author Page.


"The best study yet of Tyler's presidency and his important legacies. . . . Any study of late Jacksonian America must now include Crapol's brilliant study."--Pacific Historical Review

"This revelatory study adds a welcomed fresh dimension to the history and historiography of antebellum expansion and diplomacy."--Journal of Southern History

"A commendable study that judiciously measures Tyler's qualities and real accomplishments while acknowledging his personal faults and policy mistakes. . . . A fine study of the enigmatic career of John Tyler."--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Crapol is to be congratulated for giving us a concise scholarly discussion of a forgotten president."--Virginia Magazine

"[A] well-written, enlightening biography. . . . A balanced view of a neglected U.S. President."--CHOICE

"A masterful and mostly sympathetic study of the 10th president. . . . A fascinating and lively read."--Virginia Pilot