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President John Tyler’s first message nominating Caleb Cushing as Secretary of the Treasury, March 2, 1843

On the last day of the 27th Congress (1841–1843), President John Tyler ensconced himself at the Capitol in a room adjacent to the Senate chamber. He nominated Representative Caleb Cushing of Massachusetts, a Harvard-educated lawyer and mathematician, as secretary of the treasury. Cushing’s strong support for the president, however, provoked opposition. The Senate voted 10–27 not to confirm Cushing.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

President John Tyler’s first message nominating Caleb Cushing as Secretary of the Treasury, March 2, 1843 President John Tyler’s first message nominating Caleb Cushing as Secretary of the Treasury, March 2, 1843

President Tyler Strikes Out

President John Tyler’s presidency set a record for unsuccessful nominations for the cabinet (four) and Supreme Court (eight). Elected vice president, Tyler succeeded to the presidency when President William Henry Harrison unexpectedly died. Tyler had a contentious relationship with Congress, and his positions on tariffs and the national bank particularly alienated powerful senators. On the final day of the 27th Congress (1841–1843), the Senate rejected Tyler’s choice of Caleb Cushing for secretary of the treasury three times.

A president cannot assume the Senate’s deference to nominations to executive offices. In 1843 the Senate rejected President John Tyler’s efforts to make Caleb Cushing secretary of the treasury through repeated nominations.