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John Tyler Biography

10th President of the United States

Years Served as President: 1841-1845

Vice President: None

Party: Whig

Age at Inauguration: 51

Home State: Virginia

John Tyler portrait

Date of Birth: March 29, 1790

Died: January 18, 1862

Married: Letitia Christian, Julia Gardiner

Children: Mary, Robert, John, Elizabeth, Letitia, Tarwell, Alice, David, John, Julia, Lachlan, Lyon, Robert, Pearl

Nickname: His Accidency

What is John Tyler known for?

John Tyler was the first president to serve without actually being elected to office. He was the vice president of William Henry Harrison, who died just 32 days into his term.

John served the rest of Harrison’s term and was popularly known as “His Accidency.”

He was a strong supporter of states’ rights and began his career as a Democratic-Republican. He ran for the vice presidency on the Whig ticket and later clashed with the Whig Party as president.


Early Life

John was born on his family’s plantation in Charles City County, Virginia. His parents were Mary and John Tyler Sr., a wealthy planter.

He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1807. After graduating, he studied law under private tutors.

In 1811, John was elected to the Virginia legislature at just 21-years-old.

Family Life

At the age of 23, John Tyler married Letitia Christian. The couple had eight children together.

In 1839, Letitia had a stroke and became partially paralyzed. She had another stroke in 1842 and died at age 51.


John married Julia Gardiner in 1844, becoming the first president to marry while in the White House. Julia and John had seven children.

Political and Military Career

John served in the Virginia legislature from 1811 to 1816. He was a member of the House of Representatives from 1817 to 1821.

He returned to the Virginia legislature for several years, then became the governor of Virginia in 1825. Next, John Tyler represented Virginia in the U.S. Senate until 1836.

While in the Senate, John Tyler became unhappy with the policies of U.S. President Andrew Jackson. He resigned from the Senate when the Virginia legislature wanted him to vote in favor of some of Jackson’s policies.

Andrew Jackson portrait
Andrew Jackson

John then joined the Whig Party, which opposed Jackson. In 1840, the Whigs chose William Henry Harrison to run for president and selected John Tyler as the vice-presidential candidate.

Harrison won the presidency. 32 days later, he died of either pneumonia or typhoid fever.

During this time, the Constitution was unclear about presidential succession. Was John Tyler now the president?

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There was some debate about what to do after Harrison died. Still, John Tyler moved into the White House and was sworn in as president on April 6, 1841.

Since he had never been officially elected, people called him “His Accidency.”

When John Tyler vetoed bills to create a new national bank, all but one of his cabinet members resigned. The Whig Party tried (and failed) to have him impeached. They then kicked him out of the party.

Still, John Tyler had several achievements during his time as president. He signed bills that helped settlers move West and expand the country.

He worked for the annexation of Texas so that it could become part of the United States, and he ended the Seminole War in Florida.

John Tyler also settled disagreements between the United States and British North American colonies over boundary issues.

He signed a treaty with China that gave the United States access to Asian ports. On his last day as president, he signed a bill that made Florida the 27th state.

After the Presidency

John Tyler briefly attempted to run for re-election as a third-party candidate. However, he had very little support and dropped out of the race.

He and his family moved to his plantation, Sherwood Forest, in Virginia.

In 1861, as America approached a Civil War, John Tyler chaired a peace conference in Washington D.C. When war broke out later that year, John voted in favor of Virginia seceding (breaking away) from the United States.

He was later elected to the Confederate House of Representatives. Before he could take up his seat, John passed away at age 71.

He had been sickly for many years, and it’s believed that a stroke may have caused his death.

House of Representatives
House of Representatives

Fun Facts About John Tyler

With a total of 15 children from his two marriages, John Tyler had more children than any president in U.S. history. He had two sons named John, one with each wife.

While he was the governor of Virginia, John Tyler delivered the state’s official eulogy for Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States.

At age 51, John Tyler was younger than any president who had served before him.

The 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution eventually cleared up the confusion about presidential succession.

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The U.S. government and President Abraham Lincoln did not officially acknowledge John Tyler’s death, since he was seen as a traitor to the Union.

John Tyler is buried at Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery, along with America’s fifth president James Monroe and Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy.

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