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 Julia <I>Gardiner</I> Tyler

Julia Gardiner Tyler

Original Name Gardiner
East Hampton, Suffolk County, New York, USA
Death 10 Jul 1889 (aged 69)
Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA
Burial Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 19598 · View Source
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Presidential First Lady. She was born Julia Gardiner on Staten Island to very wealthy parents. She was well educated in the social graces at a private finishing school. By fifteen, she was already seeking an advantageous marriage which would provide her with social standing and grace. She was pursued by a string of suitors and found her ideal match when she was introduced to widowed President John Tyler who purposed marriage even though thirty years her senior. They were secretly married in New York at her parents' home, then belatedly informed the American public. With less than eight months remaining in the Presidential term, Julia became the First Lady. Though Julia did not have long in the White House, she made a real impact. She considered herself royalty. It was Julia who had "Hail to the Chief" played for the President at state functions. She even had a "court" of ladies in waiting. She introduced both the polka and the waltz to White House balls. She and the President loved to dance. A press agent was hired to sound her praises fair and wise. Some made fun of the Tylers noting the old adage, "No Fool, like an old fool" and Julia was often called "Lady Presidentress." Leaving the White House, they retired to Sherwood Forest where Julia became the mistress of the plantation until the Civil War. Here she bore five of her seven children. She supported the Confederacy and in response to ending slavery, praised it as a civilizing influence and noted their slaves lived better than the poor of London. When Virginia seceded, the Tylers went with it. With John Tyler's death at the start of the Civil War at the Exchange Hotel in Richmond, Julia became a widow at 41. Tyler's body lay in state in the Confederate Congress wrapped in a Confederate flag. His funeral was in St. Paul's Episcopal Church and a large procession of 150 carriages including Confederate President Jefferson Davis escorted him to Hollywood Cemetery. Ironically, he was buried next to President James Monroe who was a staunch Federalist. Julia fled to her family at Staten Island, New York to wait out the war. Sherwood Forest was captured by Union forces. It was turned over to the slaves who ransacked the plantation. It was returned to the family after the war but, due to the damage, Julia was never able to inhabit the plantation. She spent her last years living in Richmond opposite St. Peter's Roman Catholic Cathedral where she had become a member. She lived to see Sherwood Forest gradually returned to its original condition and often visited the plantation. She died at the age of sixty nine while staying at Richmond's Exchange Hotel, just a few doors down the hall from where her husband had died 27 years earlier. She was interred beside him.

Bio by: Donald Greyfield




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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 18 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 19598
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Julia Gardiner Tyler (17 May 1820–10 Jul 1889), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19598, citing Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .