“His Accidency”, President John Tyler, Says He is a Creature of Accidents, “Being an Accident Himself.”

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When William Henry Harrison became the first president to die in office, it was unclear whether the Constitution meant for the Vice President to assume the full powers and duties of the office, or merely to act as a caretaker, regent, or Acting President. Harrison’s Vice-President, however, interpreted the text to mean that the full rights and privileges of the presidency were now his: John Tyler was, constitutional coup or no, the President. It  didn’t matter  that Harrison’s cabinet addressed him as Vice-President, or a quarter of the Senate voted to do the same, or that ex-President John Quincy Adams railed that no one ever thought of Tyler being in the executive chair. Dubbed by his detractors “His Accidency," Tyler boldly set a precedent which would govern presidential succession until the Twenty-Fifth Amendment formalized the practice in 1967. He did this, this note shows, with so much confidence, he could joke about it…
 
He can only accept an invitation to dine next Saturday conditionally, he says, as he is “so liable to be denied anticipated pleasures by the interposition of urgent matters admitting no postponement, that he can scarcely make an engagement.”  He is, he jests, “the creature of accidents being an accident himself.”

Autograph Note, as President, in the third person, 2 pages, recto and verso, octavo, no place or date. Replying to an invitation sent by Mr. & Mrs. Rosevelt.

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Transcript

The President can only give a conditional acceptance to the polite invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Rosevelt for dinner on Saturday next.  He is so liable to be denied anticipated pleasures by the interposition of urgent matters admitting of no postponement, that he can scarcely make an engagement.  He is the creature of accidents being an accident himself.  He can only therefore give the assurance that no slight circumstance will prevent him from availing himself of the pleasure of accepting Mr. & Mrs. Rosevelt's polite invitation.