Review of “John Tyler: The Accidental President” by Edward Crapol

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

John Tyler: The Accidental President” was published in 2006 and is Edward Crapol’s third book. Crapol is a retired Professor of American History at the College of William and Mary where he began working in 1967 (and from which John Tyler himself graduated in 1807).

Crapol’s biography began as a book focused on the foreign policy of the Tyler administration. But after commencing research, he decided to expand the scope to a broader swath of Tyler’s life. While few readers will find it an ideal full-scale biography, equally few will be surprised at its origin since one of its strengths lies in its discussion of foreign affairs (the annexation of Texas, in particular).

The author’s central premise is immediately apparent: although Tyler was not a great president, he was often a bold and effective leader and was certainly “less bad” than history remembers. Of course when the bar…

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