John Tyler


John Tyler Famous memorial

Death 18 Jan 1862 (aged 71)
Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA
Burial Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA
Plot Section Mount, Plot 4/5
Memorial ID 1331 View Source

23rd Governor of Virginia, US Congressman, US Senator, US Vice President and US President. A member of the Whig Party, he served as the 10th President of the US from April 1841, upon the death of President William Henry Harrison, until March 1845. Harrison's death made him the first vice president to succeed to the presidency without being elected to the office. Born into an aristocratic family, his father served in the Virginia House of Delegates before becoming a state court judge, Virginia governor, and as a judge on the US District Court at Richmond, Virginia. He grew up on the family plantation where his mother died when he was seven years old. Initially tutored at home, at the age of twelve he entered the preparatory branch of the elite College of William and Mary, graduating in 1807. He then studied law with his father, who was a state judge at the time. He was admitted to the bar at the age of 19, in violation of the rules because the judge who examined him neglected to ask his age. In 1809 he began a law practice in Richmond and in 1811 he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, serving five successive one-year terms, and sat on the Courts and Justice Committee. After the British capture of Hampton, Virginia in the summer of 1813, he organized a small militia company of county residents to defend Richmond, but no attack came, and he dissolved the company two months later. The death of US Representative John Clopton in the fall of 1816 left a vacancy in the 23rd district and he was elected to fill the position as a Democrat-Republican by a slim margin and served in this capacity until March 1821. As a slaveholder, he voted against the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free one and forbade slavery in states formed from the northern part of the territories. In 1820 he elected not to run for another term and returned to his private law practice. Two years later he ran for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates and won. In 1825 he was nominated for the Governor of Virginia and won and was elected to another term in December 1826. In 1827 he was elected to the US Senate by the Virginia legislature and he resigned his governorship. In 1834 he began to align himself with the Whig Party and March 1835 he was elected President pro tempore of the Senate, the only US President to have held this office. In February 1836 he resigned from the US Senate and that same year he was considered as a vice presidential candidate but received an insufficient amount of electoral votes among the candidates and Martin Van Buren was elected President. In 1837 he successfully sought election to the Virginia House of Delegates, taking his seat in 1838 and was unanimously chosen as Speaker. When William Henry Harrison gained the Whig nomination for US President in 1840, he received the required majority to become Harrison's running mate and they won the election by an easy electoral margin and with 53 percent of the popular vote. After becoming ill in March 1841, Harrison died and Tyler became President. At first he was in accord with the new Whig Congress in signing into law such measures as a preemption bill granting "squatters' sovereignty" to settlers on public land, a Distribution Act, new bankruptcy law, and the repeal of the Independent Treasury enacted under Van Buren. However, when it came to the great banking question, he was soon at odds with the Congressional Whigs. Twice he vetoed Clay's legislation for a national banking act and in September 11, 1841 his cabinet members all resigned with the exception of Daniel Webster. Two days later, when he did not resign the presidency, he was expelled from the Whig Party. He dedicated his last two years in office to the annexation of Texas. He initially sought election to a full term, but had lost the support of both Whigs and Democrats, and he withdrew. Although he faced a stalemate on domestic policy, he had several foreign-policy achievements, including the Webster-Ashburton Treaty with England and the Treaty of Wanghia with Qing dynasty of China. In the last days of his term, Congress passed the resolution authorizing the Texas annexation, which was carried out by Tyler's successor, President James K. Polk. After his presidential term was over, he retired to his Virginia plantation, Sherwood Forest and withdrew from politics, rarely receiving visits from his friends. On the eve of the American Civil War, he re-entered public life as sponsor and chairman of the Virginia Peace Convention, held in Washington, DC, in February 1861 as an effort to devise means to prevent a war. The convention sought a compromise to avoid civil war even as the Confederate Constitution was being drawn up at the Montgomery Convention. When the convention's proposals were rejected by Congress, he abandoned hope of compromise and saw secession as the only option, predicting that a clean split of all Southern states would not result in war. When the war broke out in April 1861, he sided with the Confederate government, and won election to the Confederate House of Representatives but did not live long enough to see the opening sessions. Throughout his life, he had to deal with poor health and as he grew older, he suffered more frequently from colds during the winter. On January 12, 1862, after complaining of chills and dizziness, he vomited and collapsed. He was treated, but his health did not improve, and he made plans to return to his home about a week later. As he lay in bed the night before he was to leave, he began suffocating, and died shortly thereafter at the age of 71, most likely due to a stroke. His death was the only one in presidential history not to be officially recognized in Washington, because of his allegiance to the Confederacy. Although some have praised his political resolve and advances in foreign policy, his presidency is generally held in low esteem by historians. Today he is considered an obscure president, with little presence in the American cultural memory.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


1841 1845
MARCH 29 1790
JANUARY 18 1862

BORN JULY 29 1820
DIED JULY 10 1889


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1331
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Tyler (29 Mar 1790–18 Jan 1862), Find a Grave Memorial ID 1331, citing Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .