A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 06, 2008
“Tyler and Texas!”

President John Tyler tried to form a new party of Democratic Republicans, using “Tyler and Texas!” as its slogan. Tyler’s Texas annexation treaty was rejected by the Senate, 35-16, on June 8, 1844. However, Tyler was able to pass a Texas annexation bill that he signed into law on May 1, 1845, just three days before he would leave the office of the president.

The slogan “Tyler and Texas!” was popular from March-June 1844.


Wikipedia: John Tyler
John Tyler, Jr. (March 29, 1790 – January 18, 1862) was the tenth President of the United States (1841-1845). A long-time Democrat-Republican, he was elected Vice President on the Whig ticket and on becoming president in 1841, broke with that party. His term as Vice President began on March 4, 1841 and one month later, on April 4, incumbent President William Henry Harrison died of what is today believed to have been viral pneumonia. Harrison’s death left Tyler, the federal government, and the American nation briefly confused on the process of succession. Opposition members in Congress argued for an acting caretaker that would continue to use only the title Vice President. The act of taking over as official president, rather than as acting president, came from the influence of the Harrison cabinet and some members of Congress. Members of Harrison’s cabinet feared an acting leader would compromise the ability to successfully run the country. Tyler took the presidential oath of office on April 6, 1841, initiating a custom that would govern future successions, and became the first U.S. vice president to assume the office of president upon the death of his predecessor. It was not until 1967 that Tyler’s action of assuming full powers of the presidency was legally codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment. His most famous achievement was the annexation of the Republic of Texas in 1845. Tyler was the first president born after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution.
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Annexation of Texas
Tyler advocated annexation of Texas to the Union. Many Whigs opposed this expansion because it would upset the balance between North and South and risked war with Mexico. However the Whigs lost the 1844 election to James K. Polk, who favored annexation. When the Senate blocked a treaty (which needed a 2/3 vote), Tyler pushed Congress to annex Texas through an adopted joint resolution. The tactic worked and it passed the House 132-72 and the Senate 27-25. The Missouri Compromise helped to promise security to the west of the United States with the line of 36°30’N. Such meant that any states north of the line would be free and those south of the line would be open to slavery. The option to potentially have four more states south of the line, left the House ready and willing to pass the bill. On March 3, Tyler sent instructions to his representative in Texas, Andrew Jackson Donelson, to announce the annexation. The next day, he left office. Even with a brief period of skeptical instinct, Polk told Donelson to carry out the orders of Tyler. Texas formally joined the Union on December 29, 1845, when James K. Polk was President.

American President: An Online Reference Resource
John Tyler (1790-1862) - Domestic Affairs
John Tyler’s very first presidential decision was his wisest and most far-reaching. He waved off all talk of his being a “temporary” President, claimed that the Constitution gave him the full and unqualified powers of the office, and had himself sworn in immediately. Though he drew wide criticism for this, it was by far his greatest contribution to the nation. His assertion set a critical precedent and paved the way for future orderly transfers of power after the deaths of Presidents Taylor, Lincoln, McKinley, Franklin Roosevelt, and Kennedy. Enemies might sneer at Tyler as “His Accidency,” supposed Whig allies might snarl at his usurpation, letters might flood the White House addressed to “Acting President Tyler”—all were returned unopened—but his famous stubborn streak held firm. He was President.
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Annexation of Texas
Texas had declared its independence from Mexico five years before Tyler came to power. The President hoped to draw support for a new political party that he was attempting to form by leading a drive to annex Texas and make it a state. Mexico, however, still considered Texas its own and threatened war if the United States interfered. Also troubling to many Americans was the prospect of yet another slave state upsetting the sectional balance in Congress. But Tyler—slave owner, states’ rights champion, and man without a party—saw Texas as his ticket back to political respectability. His new party, the Democratic Republicans, used “Tyler and Texas!” as their slogan.

The President, however, made a serious tactical error that ruined the scheme. In 1844, for his new secretary of state, he appointed John C. Calhoun, the South Carolina firebrand who had led his state’s secession movement over the tariff question during the Jackson years. Since Texas was still another nation, negotiations to secure its statehood fell to Calhoun, and his blatant proslavery views made abolitionists uneasy. His message to Congress contained a long, eloquent defense of slavery. Martin Van Buren, eager to avenge his loss to “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too,” deployed his patented skills at backstage political maneuvering to doom the annexation treaty. The proposal for statehood failed to pass in the Senate, even with Andrew Jackson’s vocal support. Tyler was determined to make the Texas question the focus of his reelection bid and submitted an annexation bill which needed only a majority vote in the House and Senate, which it got. Tyler signed the Texas statehood bill into law on the first day of March 1845, just three days before leaving office.

Texas State Library & Archives Commission
Hard Road to Texas
Texas annexation 1836-1845


Part 4: A Treaty of Annexation
Tyler’s Failed Gamble

Months before, the two leading presidential candidates, Martin Van Buren of New York for the Democrats and Henry Clay of Kentucky for the Whigs, had agreed privately that Texas annexation would tear the country apart. A cool, elegant political trickster, Van Buren was a former president who opposed the expansion of slavery. Clay was a senior statesman and the architect of the landmark Missouri Compromise. Both men were certain of getting their party’s nominations and wanted to conduct a high-minded and intellectual campaign. They had decided to take the ugly and divisive Texas issue off the table as a campaign issue.

The treaty for the annexation of Texas to this Union was this day sent in to the Senate; and with it went the freedom of the human race.
—John Quincy Adams, former president and Representative from Massachusetts

John Tyler had no such compunctions. On April 22, 1844, the president sent the annexation treaty to the United States Senate for ratification. Although he claimed to want a reasoned debate free from partisanship, Tyler’s own machinations made that impossible from the beginning. Tyler had engineered the treaty specifically to boost his own long-shot hopes for another term. Now, the Texas issue exploded into election-year politics with consequences that neither Tyler nor anyone else could control.

Hoping to deny Van Buren and win the Democratic nomination for himself, Tyler tried to sell annexation in terms of its benefits to the nation as a whole. Tyler pointed out that under British auspices Texas could become a serious rival to the United States, endangering American prosperity. Better to grab Texas now than to sit back and let Britain have a free hand.

Opponents of annexation countered that any benefits would be outweighed by the likelihood of war with Mexico. Texas claimed the territory all the way to the Rio Grande and much of present-day New Mexico, including a 2000-mile border and more than 30,000 Mexican nationals. In an attempt to neutralize this line of opposition, Tyler offered to forgive six million dollars in Mexican debt in exchange for Texas and the port of San Francisco.

In terms of international relations, this was a mistake on Tyler’s part. By implying that Texas was Mexico’s to take or give, he undermined Texas’s position as an independent republic. In any case, the Mexican chargé d’affaires in Washington, Juan Almonte, swiftly rejected the offer. He pressed Secretary of State Calhoun for nothing less than a cash indemnity and a guarantee of the border at the Nueces River.

Tyler also played with the fire of sectionalism. He knew that fears of British abolitionist influence made the Texas issue a powerful one in the South. In private gatherings, campaign operatives like Duff Green showed prominent Southerners how “Tyler and Texas” would add a huge new slave territory to the United States, in effect making the American South a world power in its own right.

John C. Calhoun went much further. Once he had dreamed of becoming president himself, but he knew that his many controversies had probably ended his prospects. Still, Calhoun wanted to shape the 1844 campaign his own way with a popular issue that would unite the South and marginalize Van Buren or any other contenders who might tamper with slavery. Without regard for Tyler’s hopes, he made public a lengthy letter he had written to Lord Aberdeen, the British Foreign Secretary, in which he wrote passionately of Texas annexation in terms of the preservation of slavery and the extension of Southern power.

In the letter, Calhoun brought his powerful intellect to bear in an argument that was later summarized in the campaign slogan, “Texas or Disunion.” As far back as 1831, Southern radicals like Calhoun had spoken of seizing Texas and making it part of the great cotton kingdom. Now, Calhoun wrote, it was going to happen—one way or the other. If Texas annexation were rejected, the South would not stand by and allow Texas to come under the domain of Great Britain. Rather than let that happen, the Southern states would secede and join with Texas in a new Confederacy.

Did the annexation of Texas lead to the Civil War?
Calhoun intended to scare off the opposition by threatening to wreck the country if Texas annexation was defeated. (He would not live to see the Confederacy become a reality 17 years later.) Instead, he ignited a firestorm. Texas annexation was no longer a mere question of expansion, something the United States had been doing since the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Nor was it only a partisan issue involving the election hopes of an unpopular president. Now it was a dispute about the very permanence of the American Union itself.

Debate began in May on the Senate floor. Opposition to annexation was led not by a Yankee abolitionist like John Quincy Adams, but by Thomas Hart Benton, the Missouri senator who was a well-known expansionist. As a westerner from a slave state, Benton might have been expected to support annexation. Instead, the brawny, verbose Benton was so offended by the cynical maneuvering of Tyler and Calhoun that he marshaled the arguments against the measure. The Texas debt, high risk of war with Mexico, the threat of disunion, and distaste for imperialism all came into play.

Supporters countered with a sensational letter from the beloved and ailing former president Andrew Jackson. With the fervor of a holy warrior, Jackson wrote from the Hermitage that “men who would endanger, by a postponement, such great benefits for our country, for political objects, have no patriotism or love of country, and ought to be publicly exposed—the people of the South and West will withdraw all confidence from them, and send them to their own native dunghills, there to rest forever.”

As debate raged on, the Democratic convention was held in Baltimore. Forced to take some kind of stand on Texas, Van Buren tried to straddle the fence, saying he believed that annexation would come “some day,” but that it was not worth a war. This equivocal stance was unacceptable to a large percentage of the delegates, particularly those from the South. What was to have been a coronation for the former president became a circus of confusion and hostility. James K. Polk, the governor of Tennessee who had been considered the leading candidate for vice-president on a Van Buren ticket, noted that “Fortune is a frolic and there is no telling what may happen.”

Polk’s words were more prophetic than he knew. A thousand Tyler supporters converged on the city and held their own rival convention, convinced that the deadlocked Democrats would turn to the president to unite the party. They were dreaming—the bitterness against Tyler ran too deep for that. Eventually, it was Polk himself who emerged as a compromise candidate.

The hard-working and dedicated Polk lacked the personal charm of Van Buren or Clay, but he was known as a cool and competent politician with close ties to Andrew Jackson. Many historians believe that the nomination of James K. Polk saved the Democratic Party from complete destruction in 1844. (Like Calhoun, Polk would not live to see the party and the nation dissolve in the cauldron of the Civil War.) On sectional issues, there was still room for compromise: to please the southern wing, the convention adopted a plank favoring Texas annexation along with that of the Oregon country, a move calculated to please western voters. As for John Tyler, he was on the outside looking in.

In the wake of this political maelstrom, it came as no surprise on June 8, 1844, when the Senate rejected the annexation treaty 35-16. The needs and desires of the people of Texas never even entered into the debate. It must have been hard for Sam Houston not to say, “I told you so.”

22 November 1843, Ohio State Journal, pg. 2:
TYLER AND TEXAS.
The late rumor of difficulties in the Tyler Cabinet are said to have grown out of the desire of the President to recommend in his Message to the next Congress, the annexation of Texas to the United States.

30 March 1844, Daily Atlas (Boston, MA), pg. 2:
TYLER AND TEXAS.

19 April 1844, Madisonian for the Country, pg. 2:
NEW YORK IN MOTION,
FOR TYLER AND TEXAS!

22 April 1844, Madisonian for the Country, pg. 2:
CLEAR THE TRACK FOR TYLER AND TEXAS.

26 April 1844, Madisonian for the Country, pg. 2:
TYLER AND TEXAS.
PHILADELPHIA, April 24, 1844.
To the Editor of the Madisonian:
DEAR SIR: The cause of “Tyler and Texas” was never more prosperous or more certain of success than at the present moment.

6 May 1844, Madisonian for the Country, pg. 2:
TYLER AND TEXAS TOO!

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