top of page

Professor Christopher Leahy – John Tyler

Noted Author & Lecturer

Professor of History Keuka College


President Without a Party: The Life of John Tyler

In what the Wall Street Journal calls the “most comprehensive [John] Tyler biography in 80 years,” Dr. Leahy’s book, President Without a Party: The Life of John Tyler, profiles a leader that historians have long viewed as one of the nation’s least effective heads of state. It’s the first full­-scale biography of Tyler in more than 50 years, and the first new academic study of him in eight decades.

Anchor 2

Episode #1

Q: Professor Christopher Leahy – John Tyler – Intro


  • Focus on Southern politics; ante-Bellum

  • Studied under William Cooper

  • Tyler 18th century

  • Tyler - Raised to become a politician, leader

Episode #2

Q: What were the Whigs?


  • Political party formed in 1834

  • Anti-Andrew Jackson

  • Tyler joins the Whigs

  • Ideology: Nationalism, Central Bank, Tariffs

Episode #3

Q: Could a Whig support States’ Rights?


  • Tyler was miscast as a Whig

  • Henry Clay was the Whig leader – nationalist

  • Some Whigs were States’ Rights Whigs!

Episode #4

Q: How do historians portray Tyler?


  • Historians cast Tyler as a rigid ideologue

  • Historians posit that Tyler’s presidency was doomed

  • Leahy: more nuanced approach

  • Middle of the road, bi-partisan

Episode #5

Q: What kind of a “person” was Tyler?


  • Well-deserved reputation: genial, affable

  • Family relationships suffered because of political career

  • Holds presidential record for most kids – 15

Episode #6

Q: What were Tyler’s main accomplishments?


  • Domestically Tyler was stymied as a man without a party

  • Main accomplishments were in foreign affairs

  • Annexation of Texas

  • Webster-Ashburton Treaty 1842 between USA and England

  • Opening to China

  • Staking USA claim to Hawaii in the Pacific

Episode #7

Q: Could Tyler have helped prevent the Civil War?


  • Annexation of Texas was a seminal event to road of Civil War

  • Historians debate if Civil War was inevitable

  • Tyler acted true to who he was; could not have done differently

Episode #8

Q: What was Tyler’s view on slavery?


  • Jeffersonian notion that slavery was a necessary evil

  • Blamed British for slavery

  • At times, took a somewhat pro-slavery stance

Episode #9

Q: Who was Mordecai Noah?


  • Prominent New York politician inn 1830s, 1840s

  • Jacksonian Democrat, ran Tammany Hall

  • Strong supporter of Tyler, head of NY campaign

  • Represented Tyler in dealings in south

Episode #10

Q: Was Tyler’s letter to Jacob Ezekiel significant?


  • Tyler was a religious pluralist, not a regular Church goer

  • Enlightened view of other religions

  • Letter to Jacob Ezekiel regarding America as a Christian country

Episode #11

Q: What was behind naming Warder Cresson consul to Palestine?


  • Cresson was a Quaker who converted Judaism

  • Family tried to have him committed to an insane asylum

  • Appointment actually came from Secretary of State Calhoun

bottom of page