This chapter describes how John Tyler spent much of his public career defending slavery from its enemies at home and abroad. This was especially apparent during his presidency, when the aristocratic, slaveholding Virginian unwaveringly guided the nation's diplomacy in support of the South's peculiar institution. In adopting a proslavery course in foreign relations, Tyler placed himself within a prevailing national tradition and he became part of a continuum in foreign policy that extended back to George Washington's administration. Slavery was supported diplomatically by all presidents who preceded him and later critics of this strange “species of property,” such as John Quincy Adams and Martin Van Buren. In fact, despite evolving private doubts expressed in his diary, Adams publicly defended the peculiar institution from foreign infringement for twelve years, eight as secretary of state and four as the republic's chief executive.
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