#10: John Tyler: The Southern Strategy

We all know one of the most famous slogans in American Presidential Politics, Tippecanoe and Tyler too- but how did we get to the point that this became such an iconic slogan? The answer is old fashioned message control and ticket management behind one of the country's first national opposition parties, the Whig party.

I spoke before about how in the late 1830's and early 1840's, the country was largely divided into three sections, The North, The South and The West (although this meant mostly what we would call the Midwest today).

The Whig party put a candidate in the field (Harrison) with a lot of things going for him, War Hero that killed Tecumseh and his 'nation of tribes', executive experience being the Governor of the Indiana territory and someone that didn't have a lot of dirt on him (not much was known of him nationally other than that he was a war hero). He was also a Virginian, even though he left his home state at a young age.

Harrison had the West (Ohio, Indiana, Michigan etc) locked up, he had a small contingent in the North tired of what they viewed as Jackson and Van Buren's populist policies and he had a fair showing in the South. Harrison needed to do something to win over either the North or South to really lock up the presidency.

They opted to nominate John Tyler, the tried and true Southerner that was really more of an old time republican than a Whig, but they were willing to compromise.

The move paid off in that the Whigs won the election of 1840 but would come back to haunt them a month later when Tyler expectantly stepped into the power vacuum as president when Harrison became the first president to die in office.

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