Monday, March 22, 2010
John Tyler (1790-1862) became our tenth President upon the death of William Henry Harrison, the first Vice President to do so. Tyler was a Southern Democrat who left his party to run with Harrison on the Whig Party ticket. Harrison died thirty days after taking office, and Tyler became President. Tyler was born on March 29, 1790, at the Greenway estate in Charles City County, Virginia, the second son of John and Mary Armistead Tyler. His father served at various times as governor, speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, and a judge. Tyler went to William and Mary College in 1802 where he studied hard and became interested in politics. He enjoyed writing, poetry, and playing the violin. He graduated at age 17, studied law under his father's instructions and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1809. Tyler was only 21 when he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. During the War of 1812 he was captain of some volunteers for a month in the summer of 1813. His company saw no action so he returned to the legislature. Tyler married Letitia Christian, the daughter of a Virginia planter, on March 29, 1813 - his birthday. They had five daughters and three sons. Mrs. Tyler was suffering from a paralytic stroke when her husband became President and died on September 10, 1842. Twenty-two months after her death, Tyler married Julia Gardiner in New York City in 1844, making Tyler the first President to marry while in office. Tyler and Julia had seven children. Tyler served in the Virginia House of Delegates. He also served in United States House of Representatives. He fought for strict interpretation of the United States Constitution and opposed any measures that extended the powers of the federal government. He opposed the American System, an economic plan that called for increased federal spending on roads, etc. and high tariffs to aid American manufacturers. He also was opposed to the Bank of the United States. He resigned his seat in the House because of ill health in 1821. Tyler was elected as governor of Virginia in 1825. In 1827 he was elected to the United States Senate. In 1840 he was elected Vice President of the United States. On April 6, 1841, he was sworn in as President of the United States upon the death of William Henry Harrison. When Tyler left the White House he retired to Sherwood Forest, his estate near Charles City, Virginia. He lived quietly until the Civil War. He went to Washington seeking a compromise on the issues facing the nation in February 1861. At the Virginia secession convention in April, he voted in favor of Virginia leaving the Union. He was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives but died on January 18, 1862, before being seated there. He is buried beside his second wife in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. Facts and information for this blog post came from an article by John T. Hubbell, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 19, pp 532-535.