Little Rock Look Back: John Tyler

640px-WHOportTylerOn March 29, 1790, future US President John Tyler was born.

Upon the death of President William Henry Harrison, as Vice President he assumed the office of President.  The language in the U.S. Constitution was open to interpretation as to whether he was President or merely acting as President.  He insisted he was President which established the precedent (until a subsequent amendment formalized the procedure he had put into place).  His detractors, including many in his own Whig Party, referred to him as “His Accidency.”

Tyler was a strong proponent of Manifest Destiny and westward expansion.  He actively sought to bring the Republic of Texas into the U.S.  Because of his interest in this, the Tyler Administration was a benefit to Arkansas. As the western border of the US (and a neighbor to Texas), Arkansas was an important stop for commercial and political leaders on the road to and from Texas.

He is memorialized in Little Rock with Tyler Street.  An easy way to remember which street is Tyler and which is Taylor (a couple of blocks away): Tyler Street has Saint John’s Seminary as a terminus. So the street named after John Tyler, ends at the Saint John’s campus.

As of this writing, two of his grandsons are still alive.  Born in 1924 and 1928, they make Tyler the earliest U.S. President with living grandchildren.  Many of his successors do not have living grandchildren.