Today I purchased a bottle of OJ and when I got my change it included a one dollar coin. I thought, “Oh, a one dollar coin, that’s interesting, don’t see too many of those in circulation…oh well.” and I continued on my way. When I got back to my desk I looked at the coin and saw that instead of Sacagawea, John Tyler was on the coin! I had no idea that John Tyler was on any currency, let alone a one dollar coin! For those of you not acquainted with the late, great John Tyler, allow me to capture his rather amazing life in a few short pithy sentence. John Tyler was our 10th president, and the first person to reach the position without being elected. That’s right, John Tyler was the Vice President to William Henry Harrison, who famously died after only 30 days in office. Tyler, who is forever referred to as ‘our accidental president,’ rushed back to Washington on hearing the news, an action he immediately regreted. At that point in time our Consitutions wasn’t really clear on the whole line of succession thing, so it wasn’t clear whether the VP would simply become the President, of if he was still the VP filling in for the President until new elections could be held. Tyler, in a bold and daring move that set a precedent for how VPs should act when their President dies, made it abundantly clear that he was the President and that anyone not happy with that could go screw. All seemed to be resolved when it suddenly occurred to everyone in Tyler’s party (Whig) that no one really knew what Tyler stood for. Rightfully concerned, Henry Clay (a Whig, and big one at that) confronted Tyler demanding to know his position on the major issues of the day, such as Tarrifs, Banks, and other such sexy topics, and quickly realized that Tyler oppossed everything that Harrison had been elected to do. Awkward. And so the next few uneventful years were spent with the Whigs in Congress continually submitting new pieces of legislation for the President’s approval, and the President routinely vetoing them. (He did however annex Texas, something the rest of the U.S. is still pissed about.) Once election time came around Tyler was swiftly voted out of office. After a couple failed attempts to get back in the game, Tyler figured northern politics were for suckers and sided with the Confederacy where he became a representative in the Confederate congress, thus making him the only President to ever secede from his own country. Put that in your history books and smoke it!
All of this is a long winded way of saying, “What the hell is he doing on my one dollar coin!”