Presidents: John Tyler

posted in: Presidents | 0

John Tyler became the first Vice President to succeed as President. He also is the President with the most children and only 19th Century President to still have living grandchildren.

John Tyler

John Tyler was born on March 29, 1790 to an eminent Virginia family. He was the son of John Tyler, Sr. and Mary Marot Armistead Tyler.

His father, Judge John Tyler, Sr. was a roommate of Thomas Jefferson in college and also served in the House of Delegates and the Virginia General Assembly, alongside the father of William Henry Harrison.

Tyler had two brothers and five sisters, who were tutored had home. John Tyler, Jr. is described as “an unhealthy child” which would “burden him throughout his life.”

When he was seven years old his mother died of a stroke.

When he was 12, John Tyler entered the College of William and Mary, from which he would graduate five years later. He is said to have a lifelong love for Shakespeare. Upon graduation he studied law with his father. At the age of 19, he was admitted to the bar.

In 1811, twenty-one year old Tyler was elected to the House of Delegates. He would serve for the next five years.

John Tyler served during the War of 1812, gaining the rank of captain. He would receive a land grant near Sioux City, Iowa for his service.

John Tyler

In 1813, Tyler’s father died and he inherited his father’s plantation.

On March 29, 1813, Tyler’s 23rd birthday, he married Letitia Christian. By all accounts they had a happy marriage and would have seven children live to adulthood.

In December 1816, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served in that capacity until March 1821.

In 1823, he was again elected to the House of Delegates. In December 1825, he was appointed Governor of Virginia. During this time he provided the eulogy for former President Thomas Jefferson, who died on July 4, 1826. His “eloquent eulogy was well received”.

In 1827, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and resigned his governorship. He held his seat in the Senate, until he felt he had no choice but to resign over his “constitutional beliefs” on February 29, 1836. He broke with the Democratic party and became a Whig.

In 1836, Tyler was nominated by the Whig party as Vice President to William Henry Harrison. Martin Van Buren won the presidency.

Tyler longed for a private life, but could not stay away from his political career. He returned to the House of Delegates in 1838.

In 1839, Letitia Tyler had a paralytic stroke that left her an invalid for the remainder of her life.

John Tyler

In 1840, Tyler was again the Vice Presidency nominee to William Henry Harrison. The campaign slogan was the popular “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”.

Harrison won the election and took the oath of office on March 4, 1841. John Tyler also was sworn in as vice president that day in the Senate chamber. Following the inauguration, Tyler returned to the Senate to receive the President’s Cabinet nominations.

When he was finished he left Washington, D.C. to return home to Williamsburg, Virginia. He expected few responsibilities during his term as Vice President. One historian later wrote, “Had William Henry Harrison lived, John Tyler would undoubtedly have been as obscure as any vice-president in American history.

President Harrison became ill and Secretary of State Daniel Webster sent word of the illness to Tyler on April 1st. Tyler decided not to travel to Washington, DC because he did not want it to “appear unseemly in anticipating the president’s death”.

On April 5th, Fletcher Webster, Chief Clerk of the State Department {and son of Daniel Webster} arrived at Tyler’s plantation with a letter informing him of President Harrison’s death.

Harrison’s death was an unprecedented event and the meaning in the Constitution that the Vice President would assume the office, had to be decided upon.

President John Tyler

“Tyler firmly asserted that the Constitution gave him full and unqualified powers of office and had himself sworn in immediately as President, setting a critical precedent for an orderly transfer of power following a President’s death. The presidential oath was administered by Judge William Cranch in Tyler’s hotel room. He considered the oath redundant to his oath as vice president, but wished to quell any doubt over his accession.”

To appease Harrison’s supporters, Tyler kept his entire cabinet. That did not stop some of the cabinet from being resentful and openly hostile towards him.

John Tyler was left with the banking crisis that had been an issue since President Andrew Jackson and grown into the Panic of 1837, which was continuing some six years later. Tyler would sign the Tariff of 1842 to try and re-distribute the money and ease the situation.

Tyler also had to deal with tensions in his own party and when he would not bend to their will he was expelled from the Whig party on September 13, 1841. The party would later initiate the first impeachment proceedings against a president. They were unable to continue impeachment proceedings due to losing control of the House in the 1842 election.

In January 1842, Tyler’s daughter Elizabeth was married in the White House. This was the only time his wife, Letitia, left the upstairs living quarters.

John Tyler

On September 10, 1842, Letitia Tyler died peacefully from a stroke. She was the first First Lady {and only one of two} to died in the White House.

Tyler often vetoed congress and on March 3, 1845 congress overrode a presidential veto for the first time in U.S. History.

In 1842, Tyler began the annexation of Hawaii, which would lead to statehood over a 100 years later. He also fought for the annexation of the Republic of Texas.

After breaking with the Whigs in 1841, he shifted back toward his old Democratic party. But many were not ready to receive him yet. He formed a third party, Democratic-Republicans. Tyler knew he had little hopes of being elected, but longed to sway public opinion in favor of Texas annexation.

When former President Andrew Jackson, encouraged Democratic Polk to welcome Tyler back to the Democratic party, Tyler dropped out of the election and endorsed Polk for the presidency.

On February 22, 1843, Tyler proposed to Julia Gardiner,whom he’d met the year before. She turned him down but he continued to pursue her.

On June 26, 1844, President Tyler married Julia Gardiner in New York City. This was the first time a sitting President was married. The couple would have seven children together.

On March 1, 1845, Tyler signed the annexation of Texas bill into law. Texas would join the union in December of that year.

John Tyler

Florida was admitted to the Union on March 3, 1845, Tyler’s last day in office.

Upon leaving office, John Tyler retired to his Virginia plantation, Walnut Grove, which he later renamed Sherwood Forest. He watched his second family grow and probably had much more time to spend with them than his oldest set of children. He also saw the death of three daughters from his first marriage to Letitia.

He spent much time on his plantation and overseeing the roads in his area.

On the eve of the Civil War, he presided over the opening session of the Virginia Secession Convention on February 13, 1861. He voted for secession and was elected a seat in the Confederate Congress on August 1, 1861.

In November 1861, he was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives, but died before the first session opened.

John Tyler

On January 12, 1862, his health, which had always been poor, took a turn for the worse. He planned to return to Sherwood Forest, but before that happened Tyler took a last sip of brandy, and told his doctor, “I am going. Perhaps it is best.” He died a short time later on January 18, 1862. He was 71 years of age.

His death is the only one in presidential history not officially recognized in Washington, D.C. because of his allegiance to the Confederacy. Confederate President Jefferson Davis made him a hero and draped is flag with the Confederate flag. He is the only U.S. President to be laid to rest under a “foreign flag”.

He is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

Tyler was President during a difficult time when factions were high and congressman such as Henry Clay insisted that their ideals be followed. His later support of the Confederacy, overshadowed much of the good he did.

However, Tyler, Texas is in honor of his support of the annexation of Texas.


10th President of the United States
(April 6, 1841 to March 3, 1845)Nicknames: “Accidental President”; “His Accidency”

Born: March 29, 1790, in Greenway, Virginia
Died: January 18, 1862, in Richmond, Virginia

Father: John Tyler
Mother: Mary Marot Armistead Tyler
Married: Letitia Chrisitan (1790-1842), on March 29, 1813; Julia Gardiner (1820-1889), on June 26, 1844
Children: Mary Tyler (1815-48); Robert Tyler (1816-77); John Tyler (1819-96); Letitia Tyler (1821-1907); Elizabeth Tyler (1823-50); Anne Contesse Tyler (1825); Alice Tyler (1827-54); Tazewell Tyler (1830-74); David Gardiner Tyler (1846-1927); John Alexander Tyler (1848-83); Julia Gardiner Tyler (1849-71); Lachlan Tyler (1851-1902); Lyon Gardiner Tyler (1853-1935); Robert Fitzwalter Tyler (1856-1927); Pearl Tyler (1860-1947)

Religion: Episcopalian
Education: Graduated from the College of William and Mary (1807)
Occupation: Lawyer
Political Party: Whig

  • Member of Virginia House of Delegates, 1811-16
  • Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1816-21
  • Virginia State Legislator, 1823-25
  • Governor of Virginia, 1825-26
  • United States Senator, 1827-36
  • Vice President, 1841
  • Member of Confederate States Congress, 1861-62

Presidential Salary: $25,000/year

  • 1841
    • Tyler’s cabinet resigned after he vetoed banking bills supported by the Whigs.
  • 1844
    • Far East opened to U.S. traders after a treaty with China signed.
  • 1845
    • Texas annexed followed by war with Mexico.

1790 Born on March 29, 1790 in Charles City County, Virginia an d was well educated at William and Mary College. John Tyler was the great-uncle of President Harry S Truman.

1813 John Tyler was married twice. His first wife was Letitia Christian with whom he had 8 children.

1811 Member of Virginia House of Delegates, 1811-16

1812 The War of 1812 which has also been called the second War for Independence, between the United States and Great Britain

1814 Treaty of Fort Jackson ends Creek War

1813 John Tyler married Letitia Christian on March 29, 1813

1816 Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1816-21

1823 Virginia State Legislator, 1823-25

1825 Governor of Virginia, 1825-26

1827 United States Senator, 1827-36

1830 Indian Removal Act
Oregon Trail opens

1832 Black Hawk War
Seminole War begins
Department of Indian Affairs established

1835 Texas War for Independence begins

1837 Battle of the Alamo

1838 1838-1839: The Trail of Tears

1841 Vice President, 1841 (under W. H. Harrison)

1842 The Second Seminole War ended (1842)

1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty with Britain in 1842 resolving frictions in Anglo-American relations.

1844 John Tyler married his second wife, Julia Gardiner, on June 26, 1844

1845 John Tyler was the first president to have his veto overridden by Congress on March 3, 1845

1845 Florida admitted (1845)

1845 In 1845 U.S. annexes Texas by joint resolution of Congress (March 1st)

1846 Mexican-American War begins and ends in 1848

1848 Gold discovered in California
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican-American War

1859 Harper’s Ferry Raid

1860 Pony Express begins

1861 The American Civil War, also called the War between the States, was waged from April 1861 until April 1865 and led by Abraham Lincoln. John Tyler joined the Confederacy when the Civil War started. The four year war was between the federal government of the United States and 11 Southern states that asserted their right to secede (withdraw) from the Union.

1861 – 1862 Member of Confederate States Congress, 1861-62. John Tyler had lived in retirement until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 when he returned to Washington as chairman of a peace convention.

1862 John Tyler died during the Civil War of a bilious fever & respiratory failure. He died on January 18, 1862 in his rooms at the Exchange Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. He was buried on January 21, 1862, in Hollywood Cemetery.






This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.