-John Tyler (1790-1862), was the first vice president to become president because his predecessor died. He succeeded William Henry Harrison, who died a month after taking office.
-John Tyler was born at Greenway estate in Charles City County, Virginia, on March 29, 1790.
-State legislator. At the age of 21, Tyler won election to the Virginia House of Delegates. He became a captain of volunteers in the summer of 1813, during the War of 1812. But his company saw no action. Tyler resigned and returned to the legislature after a month.
-Tyler's family. On March 29, 1813, Tyler married Letitia Christian (Nov. 12, 1790-Sept. 10, 1842). She was the daughter of a Virginia planter. The Tylers had five daughters and three sons. Letitia Tyler died during her husband's presidency. Tyler remarried 22 months later.
-Congressman. Tyler ran for a vacant seat in the United States House of Representatives in 1816. He won an easy victory. He then was elected to a full term.
-Governor and senator. Tyler served briefly as chancellor of William and Mary College. He then held office as governor of Virginia from 1825 to 1827. He was elected to the Senate in 1827.
-Tyler becomes a Whig. In 1840, the Whig Party was a loose coalition of groups. They had no agreed policies or political beliefs. In hope of luring Southern votes, the Whigs chose Tyler as the vice presidential running mate of William Henry Harrison. Tyler accepted. He believed that the Whigs had dropped their fight for a national bank and protective tariffs. Tyler opposed these measures. The Whigs barnstormed to victory, shouting the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler too." Harrison and Tyler defeated President Martin Van Buren by a huge majority.
-Tyler's accomplishments. In 1841, Tyler approved the Pre-emption Act. The act allowed a settler to claim 160 acres (64.7 hectares) of land by building a cabin on the property. This law sped settlement of Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Tyler brought an end to the Seminole War in Florida in 1842. That same year, a dispute with the United Kingdom over the boundary between Maine and Canada was settled. The settlement terms were set up by Webster. He had remained in the Cabinet for this purpose. The United States signed a treaty with China in 1844 that opened Asia to American traders for the first time.
-Life in the White House. Letitia Tyler had suffered a paralytic stroke when her husband became president. Her only public appearance in the White House was at the wedding of her daughter Elizabeth on Jan. 31, 1842. Mrs. Tyler died on Sept. 10, 1842. Tyler's daughter-in-law Priscilla Cooper Tyler served as White House hostess until the spring of 1844. Tyler's daughter Letitia Tyler Semple then served as hostess until June of that year.
In 1844, Tyler was cruising on the USS Princeton to watch the firing of a new naval gun. The gun exploded, killing eight people. The dead included David Gardiner, a former New York state senator. Tyler had been courting Gardiner's daughter Julia (1820-1889). She was also among the guests on the ship. The death brought Tyler and Julia closer. They married in New York City on June 26, 1844. Tyler was the first president to marry while in office. Julia was first lady for eight months. She delighted the capital with her brilliant entertaining. President Tyler and his second wife had seven children.
-Later years. Spurned by both Whigs and Democrats, Tyler retired to Sherwood Forest, his estate near Charles City, Virginia. He lived quietly until just before the American Civil War (1861-1865). Then, in February 1861, he headed a Southern peace mission to Washington seeking a compromise on the issues that threatened the Union. Congress rejected the Southerners' proposals. In April, at a Virginia secession convention, Tyler voted in favor of Virginia leaving the Union. He won election to the Confederate House of Representatives in November 1861. But he died on Jan. 18, 1862, before taking his seat. In 1915, Congress dedicated a monument to Tyler's memory in Hollywood Cemetery, at Richmond, Virginia. He is buried there beside his second wife.
Hubbell, John T."Tyler, John." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2013.