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American Rambler with Colin Woodward


Aug 8, 2020

Chris Leahy was a fellow traveler with Colin in his days at LSU. Since 2007, he's been a professor a Keuka College in upstate New York. He has a new book out, President without a Party: A Life of John Tyler (LSU Press, 2020). His biography began as a dissertation in Baton Rouge, where Chris studied under the imposing William J. Cooper (a previous podcast guest on American Rambler). Chris talks with Colin about his days at LSU as well as growing up in Baltimore and his time at Virginia Tech.

Chris has been working on his biography for more than 20 years. Born in the first years of the American republic into a Tidewater planter family, Virginia's John Tyler isn't one of the better known presidents. But his career in politics serves as an example of how a man can find himself accidentally put into a position of power and then find he doesn't really belong in any political camp.

Tyler might have been U.S. president, but he ended his life loyal to the Confederacy. He died in early 1862, just before taking his place in the Rebel Congress. Ultimately, what kind of a man was Tyler? And what can he tell us about the time in which he lived?