A longtime Democratic-Republican, Tyler was nonetheless elected Vice President on the Whig ticket. Upon the death of President William Henry Harrison on April 4, 1841, only a month after his inauguration, the nation was briefly in a state of confusion regarding the process of succession. Ultimately the situation was settled with Tyler becoming President both in name and in fact. Tyler took the oath of office on April 6, 1841, setting a precedent that would govern future successions and eventually be codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment.
Puzzle by Alex Fay, edited by Will Shortz
The interrelated group of this playfully torn-APART (9A. In pieces) Tuesday crossword are split, divided and broken:
SPLIT DECISION (20A. Outcome of many a boxing match … or 38- and 36-Down), refers to a split DECI (38D. Tenth: Prefix) and SION, 36D. Priory of SION (group in “The Da Vinci Code”).
DIVIDED HIGHWAYS (38A. Interstates … or 60-Down and 65-Across), a divided HIGH (60D. Daily temperature stat) and WAYS (65A. Partner of means).
BROKEN-HEARTED (57A. Crushed by sorrow … or 5-Across and 63-Down), a broken HEAR (5A. Try, as a case) and TED (63D. Slugger Williams).
The fraction and friction continues with a fictional would-be president played by ALAN ALDA (11D. “The West Wing” actor who played Arnold Vinick) crossing TYLER (16A. First unelected president) -- well, actually, Gerald R. Ford was the only president to serve unelected to either the position of president or vice president.
VAGABOND (40D. Tramp) leads the parade of the next longest entries, those of six letters -- ATTILA (9D. Fifth-century emperor remembered as the epitome of cruelty), BASICS (35A. It’s sometimes good to get back to them), COGENT (45A. Well-thought-out), HALLOW (33A. Venerate), IN A PET (2D. Peevish), LOSSES (1D. The second number in a record), NOOSES (46D. Hangmen’s tools), OBEYER (50D. One following directions); POTASH (49D. Soapmaking stuff), RED SEA (51D. Exodus locale), SCULLY (3D. Mulder’s “X-Files” partner), S’MORES (44A. Three-ingredient treats).
Five-letter -- AERIE, DERMA, EDDAS, EELER, HENNA, IRWIN, NIOBE (55A. Weeper of mythology), RESIN, SCHMO (32D. Ordinary schlub), Websters “shlub” \ˈshləb\ noun Yiddish zhlob, zhlub yokel, boor, 1950 slang : a stupid, worthless, or unattractive person, STOAS, TENSE, TRACE and TREAD.
Short stuff -- ACE and ASE and ASHE, ADZE, ALEC, BIDE, COZY, DECI, EARS, EGAD, ELIE and ELLE and ELSE, EWES, GRO, HELD, IGOR, IRA, ISEE, LIES, LISA, LAWS, MEGS, NAES, NHL and NHRA, OED, ONCE, “ON ON, you noblest English …!“: “Henry V”, POR, PYRO, RAIL (64A. Skateboard trickster‘s track), REC, SAUR, SHH, SION, STE and STY, TEK and TRE.