Inauguration of John Tyler - Inauguration of John Tyler

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Presidential Inauguration of
John Tyler
TYLER, John-President (BEP engraved portrait).jpg
John Tyler
DateApril 6, 1841; 179 years ago (1841-04-06)
LocationBrown's Indian Queen Hotel,
Washington, D.C.
ParticipantsJohn Tyler
10th President of the United States
— Assuming office

William Cranch
Chief Judge of the United States Circuit Court of the District of Columbia
— Administering oath

The inauguration of John Tyler as the tenth President of the United States was held on Tuesday, April 6, 1841, at the Brown's Indian Queen Hotel in Washington, D.C., following the death of President William Henry Harrison two days earlier. This inauguration marked the commencement of the only term of John Tyler (a partial term of 3 years, 334 days) as President. William Cranch, Chief Judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of the D.C., administered the presidential oath of office to Tyler. This was the first non-scheduled, extraordinary inauguration to ever take place in American history.


On March 26, 1841, President Harrison came down with a cold, then pneumonia and pleurisy set in. It was believed that his illness was directly caused by the bad weather at his inauguration on March 4; however, Harrison's illness did not arise until more than three weeks after the event.[1]

On April 1, Secretary of State Daniel Webster sent word of Harrison's illness to Tyler, who was at his home in Williamsburg, Virginia. Two days later, Richmond attorney James Lyons wrote with the news that the president had taken a turn for the worse, remarking that "I shall not be surprised to hear by tomorrow's mail that Gen'l Harrison is no more."[2] Tyler determined not to travel to Washington, not wanting to appear unseemly in anticipating the president's death. At dawn on April 5, Webster's son Fletcher, Chief Clerk of the State Department, arrived at Tyler's plantation with a letter from Webster, informing the new president of Harrison's death the morning before.[2]

An illustration:Tyler stands on his porch in Virginia, approached by a man with an envelope. Caption reads "Tyler receiving the news of Harrison's death."
1888 illustration of President Tyler receiving the news of President Harrison's death from Fletcher Webster

April 4–6, 1841

President Tyler immediately packed a bag & with one of his sons, headed towards Washington via every form of conveyance then available (horse, steamboat, and train), arriving early in the morning of April 6. He was greeted by a bipartisan group of dignitaries, including the entire Cabinet. There followed a heated discussion as to what procedural steps to take in the aftermath of Harrison's death. While several sitting Presidents had experienced illness, none had previously died while in office. Some cabinet members held that no formal actions needed to be taken, as Tyler's right to take over as Acting President was virtually undisputed. During Harrison's illness, the executive branch was ruled by majority vote of cabinet officials. Tyler discontinued this practice, contending that taking the oath of office would ensure his authority as the tenth president of the United States.[3]

Taking oath of office

On April 6, 1841, Chief Judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of the D.C.William Cranch administered the oath to President Tyler at the lobby in the Brown's Indian Queen Hotel, making this the first extraordinary presidential inauguration in history.[4]

On April 9, Tyler published an inaugural message to a special session of Congress that Harrison had called.[5] Later presidents would do the same under similar circumstances.

Establishing precedent

Tyler's defense of his title was unyielding.[3] Letters addressed to the “vice president” or “acting president” were returned unopened. The “Tyler precedent” subsequently endured through the next seven presidential deaths, four after assassinations, until it was codified in 1967 when the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified.


  1. ^ Cleaves, Freeman (1939). Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time. New York, NY: C. Scribner's Sons.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ a b Crapol, Edward P. (2006). John Tyler, the Accidental President. University of North Carolina Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-8078-3041-3.
  3. ^ a b Pusey, Allen (April 1, 2019). "April 6, 1841: John Tyler inaugurates precedential succession". ABA Journal.
  4. ^ "The Swearing In of John Tyler, April 06, 1841". United States Senate. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  5. ^ "April 9, 1841: Address Upon Assuming the Office of President of the United States". Miller Center. October 20, 2016.

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