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Collection John Tyler Papers

1846-1889

A chronology of key events in the life of John Tyler (1790-1862) from his post-presidential retirement and running of his plantation Sherwood Forest to his election as a member of the Confederate House of Representatives (1861), his death in 1862, and the death of his second wife Julia Gardiner Tyler in 1889.

  • 1845-1860

    Julia Gardiner Tyler planned extensions of Sherwood Forest, to include a ballroom. Tyler purchased additional enslaved laborers, bringing the plantation’s enslaved population to 70. Julia Gardiner Tyler gave birth to seven children; the eldest, a son, David Gardiner Tyler, born in 1846, was named for her father. The last child, a daughter, Pearl (d. 1947), was born in 1860. Between his first and second families, Tyler was father to fifteen children.

  • 1846, May

    Testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in defense of Secretary of State Daniel Webster’s 1842 actions regarding Maine. The corruption charges against Webster were dropped.

  • 1846-1848

    Mexican War.

  • 1850

    Supported Compromise of 1850.

  • 1854

    Supported Kansas-Nebraska Act.

    President-elect Abraham Lincoln.  Engraving P. Butler, Springfield, Ill., 1861. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.  LC-USZ62-6868
  • 1860, Nov.

    Republican Abraham Lincoln elected president of the United States.

  • 1861, Jan.

    Met with President James Buchanan in Washington. Called for leaders and border state representatives to attend a Peace Convention to seek resolution of political crisis between North and South.

  • 1861, Feb. 5-28

    Elected president of peace convention in Washington, tasked with crafting a bipartisan constitutional amendment intended to avert civil war. Delegates were contentious and representatives of the Deep South left the proceedings. Opposed measures of agreement that would ban slavery from expanding in Latin America and the West Indies. Encouraged secession of border states  in order to create a stronger confederacy to block incoming president, Abraham Lincoln, from pursuing war. Joined pro-secession southerners in voting against the peace convention amendment. The measure was nevertheless approved and delivered for consideration of Congress, which ignored it.

  • 1861, Feb. 28

    Encouraged Virginia to secede from the Union.

  • 1861, Mar. 4

    Abraham Lincoln inaugurated as president of the United States.

  • 1861, Apr. 17

    Voted with other delegates at Virginia convention to approve ordinance for secession. Compared Virginia’s action to the American Revolution and the nation’s declaration of independence from Britain.

  • 1861

    Helped Virginia join the Confederate States of America (CSA) and transfer the CSA capital from Montgomery, Ala., to Richmond, Va. Ran for, and was elected, as a member of the Confederate House of Representatives. 

  • 1861-1865

    Julia Gardiner Tyler supported the Confederacy in the Civil War (the War between the States), but spent most of the war years with family in New York. As a southern supporter living in the North, she was what was popularly known as a “Copperhead.” John Tyler, Jr., commissioned as a major in the Confederate Army. Robert Tyler worked for the Confederate treasury in Richmond.

  • 1862, Jan.

    After arrival in Richmond to begin duties in Confederate House of Representatives, fell violently ill.

  • 1862, Jan. 18

    Died with a physician and his wife Julia at his bedside.  Little public notice of the death of the former president appeared in Washington, nor was there any official announcement of mourning by President Lincoln.

  • 1862, Jan. 19-21

    Lay in state in coffin draped by Confederate flag in Hall of Congress in Richmond. Memorial service held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond.

    Grave and headstone of John Tyler. Photograph, Richmond, Va., c. 1908. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.  LC-USZ62-115421
  • 1880

    U.S. Congress voted a pension for former First Lady Julia Gardiner Tyler.

  • 1889

    Julia Gardiner Tyler died in Richmond, Va.  Buried next to her husband in Hollywood Cemetery.

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