Portraits: John Tyler   Leave a comment

John Tyler (1790 – 1862)John Tyler circa 1850 Daguerreotype

The 10th President of the United States, 1841 – 1845

AKA: His Accidency (from his opponents; he was the first President be elevated to the office after the death of his predecessor)

From: Virginia

College: The College of William & Mary

Married to: Letitia Christian, Julia Gardiner

Children: Mary, Robert, John Jr, Letitia, Elizabeth, Anne Contesse, Alice, Tazewell, David Gardiner, John Alexander, Julia Gardiner, Lachlan, Lyon Gardiner, Robert Fitzwalter, Pearl

Party: Independent, 1841 – 1862; Whig, 1834 – 1841; Democratic, 1824 – 1834; Democratic-Republican, before 1825

Previous Jobs: lawyer, Chancellor of the College of William & Mary, US Congressman, Governor of Virginia, US Senator, President pro tempore of the US Senate, Vice President

In His Words: “Popularity, I have always thought, may aptly be compared to a coquette – the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace.”

“I can never consent to being dictated to as to what I shall or shall not do. I, as President, shall be responsible for my administration. I hope to have your hearty co-operation in carrying out its measures. So long as you see fit to do this, I shall be glad to have you with me. When you think otherwise, your resignations will be accepted.”

“So far as it depends on the course of this government, our relations of good will and friendship will be sedulously cultivated with all nations.”

“For how can the example of a democratic America be resisted? Do you not perceive that a light is breaking forth everywhere? That this same free America has already civilized a continent, which when we were boys was almost all in a wilderness state?”

“In 1840 I was called from my farm to undertake the administration of public affairs and I foresaw that I was called to a bed of thorns. I now leave that bed which has afforded me little rest, and eagerly seek repose in the quiet enjoyments of rural life.”

“If the tide of defamation and abuse shall turn, and my administration come to be praised, future Vice-Presidents who may succeed to the Presidency may feel some slight encouragement to pursue an independent course.”

Not true: Tyler is now a US citizen, but was not when he died!  After leaving office in 1845, Tyler worked to resolve the differences between the North and the South, but when he could not get Virginia to compromise, he supported secession.  He was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives, but died before taking his seat.  He’s often thought of as a traitor, and was actually not a citizen when he died.  He’s the first President whose death was not recognized by the US government.  His citizenship was restored over 100 years later by President Carter.

True: Tyler was vehemently against the slave trade, but was supportive of slavery itself.  He believed in the ascendancy of the white man over the black man.

After he did not support key Whig policies after he assumed the Presidency, the Whigs dropped this sitting President from their party!

President Tyler would often play his violin at White House parties. At one time he wanted to be a concert violinist.

During his Presidency, Florida was admitted as a state, Texas was annexed and Tyler extended Monroe Doctrine protection to Hawaii.

Tyler was one of two Presidents widowed while in office (Wilson was the other).

When President Harrison died in 1841, our country faced for the first time the transition for the elected Vice President to assume the office of the Presidency.  It was no certain thing, with all of the turmoil of the mid-19th century.  President Tyler asserted himself immediately and properly, ensuring future generations could count on a smooth transition of power.

President Tyler would often play his violin at White House parties. At one time he wanted to be a concert violinist.

Tyler would return unopened any mail – any mail – that failed to address him properly as president.

The Official Portrait: One of several presidential portraits painted by George P. A. Healy.  This painting is dated 1859, and was displayed in the White Blue Room as recently as 2009.

I am fascinated with the contempt for journalism shown in this portrait!


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