The Accession of “Tyler Too”
The Whig leaders, namely Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, had planned to control newly elected President William H. Harrison, but their plans hit a snag when he contracted pneumonia and died—only four weeks after he came to the White House.
The new president was John Tyler, a Virginian gentleman who was a lone wolf.
He did not agree with the Whig party, since they were pro-bank and pro-protective tariff and pro-internal improvements, but he was not.
John Tyler: A President Without a Party
After their victory, the Whigs unveiled their platform for America:
Financial reform would come in the form of a law ending the independent treasury system; Tyler agreeably signed it.
A new bill for a new U.S. Bank was on the table, but Clay didn’t try hard enough to conciliate with Tyler and get it passed, and it was vetoed.
Whig extremists now started to call Tyler “his accidency.”
His entire cabinet resigned, except for Webster.
Also, Tyler vetoed a proposed Whig tariff.
The Whigs redrafted and revised the tariff, taking out the dollar-distribution scheme and pushing down the rates to about the moderately protective level of 1832 (32%), and Tyler, realizing that a tariff was needed, reluctantly signed it.
A War of Words with England.
At this time, anti-British sentiment was high because the pro-British Federalists had died out, there had been two wars with Britain, and the British travelers in America scoffed at the “uncivilized” Americans.
American and British magazines ripped each other’s countries, but fortunately, this war was only of words and not of blood.
In the 1800s, America with its expensive canals and railroads was a borrowing nation while Britain was the one that lent money, but when the Panic of 1837 broke out, the Englishmen who lost money assailed their rash American borrowers.
In 1837, a small rebellion in Canada broke out, and American furnished arms and supplies.
Tensions were high afterwards, but later calmed; then in 1841, British officials in the Bahamas offered asylum to some 130 revolting slaves who had captured the ship Creole.
Manipulating the Maine Maps
Maine had claimed territory on its northern and eastern border that was also claimed by England, and there were actually small skirmishes in the area, but luckily, in 1842 Britain sent Lord Ashburton to negotiate with Daniel Webster, and after talks, the two agreed to what is now called the Ashburton-Webster Treaty, which gave Britain their desired Halifax-Quebec route for a road while America go more land north of Maine as well as a readjustment of the U.S.-Canadian border which later yielded the priceless Mesabi iron ore of Minnesota.
The Lone Star of Texas Shines Alone
Ever since it had declared independence in 1836, Texas had built up reinforcements because it had no idea if or when Mexico would attack again to reclaim her “province in revolt,” so it made treaties with France, Holland, and Belgium.
America could not just boldly annex Texas without a war, and overseas, Britain wanted an independent Texas to check American expansionism—plus, Texas could be good for cotton.