This chapter discusses John Tyler's accession to chief executive due to William Henry Harrison's untimely demise just a month into his term as president. This dismayed Whig leaders in Congress because most of them accepted Harrison as a “birthright” Whig whose other party loyalties were basically secure, despite his apostasy in many areas of Whig presidential doctrine. Tyler, a traditional states' rights Democrat who had joined the Whig ticket in the spirit of anti-Jackson coalition, did not inspire similar confidence among the Whigs. Many congressional Whig leaders immediately attempted to undermine his nascent presidency by advancing the textually plausible claim that the Constitution did not permit a vice president to actually become president but instead only allowed the vice president to adopt the role of “acting president” while continuing in the official title of vice president.
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