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John Tyler the Accidental President$
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Edward P. Crapol

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780807872239

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807882726_crapol

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Forewarned, Forearmed

Forewarned, Forearmed

(p.7) 1 Forewarned, Forearmed
John Tyler the Accidental President

Edward P. Crapol

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter talks about President William Henry Harrison's death due to pneumonia after just a month in office. Popular legend has it that Vice President John Tyler was momentarily stunned when Fletcher Webster, a State Department official and son of the secretary of state, pounded on the door of his Williamsburg, Virginia, home at sunrise on April 5 to awaken him with the news of President Harrison's death. Another tale about that momentous day, delightful for its rustic simplicity and republican innocence, had the fifty-one-year-old aristocratic Virginian playing marbles with his sons in front of his home when the young Webster arrived from Washington. Tyler initially may have been startled by the dispatch from Harrison's cabinet announcing the president's death, but surely the marbles tale is apocryphal. It surfaced decades later in the early twentieth century, long after the principal parties involved had died, in a breezy and unreliable collection of personal reminiscences about former presidents.

Keywords:   President William Henry Harrison, pneumonia, Vice President John Tyler, Fletcher Webster, State Department official, secretary of state

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