Year
1841
Month Day
April 06

John Tyler is inaugurated as 10th president

On April 6, 1841, John Tyler is sworn in as president. Tyler was elected as William Harrison’s vice president earlier in 1841 and was suddenly thrust into the role of president when Harrison died one month into office. He was the first vice president to immediately assume the role of president after a sitting president’s untimely exit and set the precedent for succession thereafter.

READ MORE: Why John Tyler May Be the Most Reviled U.S. President Ever

Tyler was a proponent of states’ rights and the perpetuation of slavery, and as such was a threat to his own political party, the Whigs, who advocated a strong federal system. When Tyler vetoed his fellow Whigs’ attempt to reestablish the National Bank, most of his cabinet resigned and he was thrown out of the Whig Party. As he had previously alienated the support of the Democrats by denouncing Andrew Jackson’s policies, Tyler became a president without a party who received death threats from both sides and earned the enmity of Congress. His four years in office were contentious, though he is credited with settling Canadian border disputes with Britain and beginning the annexation of Texas.

In 1844, during a cruise down the Potomac aboard the newly commissioned steam frigate USS Princeton, Tyler himself narrowly escaped death. The ship’s state-of-the-art cannon, called the Peacemaker, exploded when the crew fired a celebratory salute, killing several people aboard, including two members of Tyler’s cabinet and his future wife’s father. Tyler’s unexpected ascendance to the presidency and the near-miss aboard the Princeton earned him the nickname of His Accidency.

After leaving the White House, Tyler tried to broker a peace convention between the North and South on the eve of the Civil War, but failed to reach an agreement with Abraham Lincoln on key issues. Denounced as a traitor by the North, Tyler fell in line with southern secessionists and, in 1861, was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives. He died in 1862.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Germany invades Yugoslavia and Greece

The German air force launches Operation Castigo, the bombing of Belgrade, on April 6, 1941, as 24 divisions and 1,200 tanks drive into Greece. The attack on Yugoslavia was swift and brutal, an act of terror resulting in the death of 17,000 civilians—the largest number of civilian ...read more

Robert Peary almost reaches the North Pole

On April 6, 1909, American explorer Robert Peary accomplishes a long elusive dream, when he, assistant Matthew Henson and four Eskimos reach what they determine to be the North Pole. Decades after Peary’s death, however, navigational errors in his travel log surfaced, placing the ...read more

Mormon Church established

In Fayette, New York, Joseph Smith, founder of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, organizes the Church of Christ during a meeting with a small group of believers. Born in Vermont in 1805, Smith claimed in 1823 that he had been visited by a Christian angel named ...read more

The United States officially enters World War I

Two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I. When World War I erupted in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality ...read more

First modern Olympic Games

On April 6, 1896, the Olympic Games, a long-lost tradition of ancient Greece, are reborn in Athens 1,500 years after being banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I. At the opening of the Athens Games, King Georgios I of Greece and a crowd of 60,000 spectators welcomed athletes from ...read more

Black Hawk War begins

Determined to resist the growing presence of Anglo settlers on traditional tribal lands, the Sauk warrior Black Hawk is drawn into war with the United States. Called Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak by his people, Black Hawk was born in 1767 in the village of Saukenuk in the present-day ...read more

Writer Oscar Wilde arrested in England

Writer Oscar Wilde is arrested after losing a libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry. Wilde had been engaged in an affair with the marquess’s son since 1891, but when the outraged marquess denounced him as a homosexual, Wilde sued the man for libel. However, he lost his ...read more

“2001: A Space Odyssey” released in theaters

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey debuts in theaters on April 6, in 1968. Kubrick, whose 1964 Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove had been popular with audiences and critics alike, was intrigued by science fiction but felt the genre rarely produced interesting films. He became ...read more

Sam Sheppard, the inspiration for “The Fugitive,” dies

On April 6, 1970, Sam Sheppard, a doctor convicted of murdering his pregnant wife in a trial that caused a media frenzy in the 1950s, dies of liver failure. After a decade in prison, Sheppard was released following a re-trial. His story is rumored to have loosely inspired the ...read more

Battle of Shiloh begins

The Civil War explodes in the west as the armies of Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston collide at Shiloh, near Pittsburgh Landing in Tennessee. The Battle of Shiloh became one of the bloodiest engagements of the war, and the level of ...read more