From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and
Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing
Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 60-63, a reprinted by Stevens
Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County
Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
JOHN TYLER, the tenth President of the United States, was born in
Charles City County, Virginia, March 29, 1790. His father, Judge John
Tyler, possessed large landed estates in Virginia, and was one of the
most distinguished men of his day, filling the offices of Speaker of
the House of Delegates, Judge of the Supreme Court and Governor of the
At the early age of twelve young John entered William and Mary
College, and graduated with honor when but seventeen years old. He then
closely applied himself to the study of law, and at nineteen years of
age commenced the practice of his profession. When only twenty- one he
was elected to a seat in the State Legislature. He acted with the
Democratic party and advocated the measures of Jefferson and Madison.
For five years he was elected to the Legislature, receiving nearly the
unanimous vote of his county.
When but twenty-six years of age he was elected a member of
Congress. He advocated a strict construction of the Constitution and
the most careful vigilance over State rights. He was soon compelled to
resign his seat in Congress, owing to ill health, but afterward took
his seat in the State Legislature, where he exerted a powerful
influence in promoting public works of great utility.
In 1825 Mr. Tyler was chosen Governor of his State a high honor,
for Virginia had many able men as competitors for the prize. His
administration was signally a successful one. He urged forward internal
improvements and strove to remove sectional jealousies. His popularity
secured his re-election. In 1827 he was elected United States Senator,
and upon taking his seat joined the ranks of the opposition. He opposed
the tariff, voted against the bank as unconstitutional, opposed all
restrictions upon slavery, resisted all projects of internal
improvements by the General Government, avowed his sympathy with Mr.
Calhoun's views of nullification, and declared that General Jackson, by
his opposition to the nullifiers, had abandoned the principles of the
Democratic party. Such was Mr. Tyler's record in Congress.
This hostility to Jackson caused Mr. Tyler's retirement from the
Senate, after his election to a second term. He soon after removed to
Williamsburg for the better education of his children, and again took
his seat in the Legislature.
In 1839 he was sent to the National Convention at Harrisburg to
nominate a President. General Harrison received a majority of votes,
much to the disappointment of the South, who had wished for Henry Clay.
In order to conciliate the Southern Whigs, John Tyler was nominated for
Vice-President. Harrison and Tyler were inaugurated March 4, 1841. In
one short month from that time President Harrison died, and Mr. Tyler,
to his own surprise as well as that of the nation, found himself an
occupant of the Presidential chair. His position was an exceedingly
difficult one, as he was opposed to the main principles of the party
which had brought him into power. General Harrison had selected a Whig
cabinet Should he retain them, and thus surround himself with
councilors whose views were antagonistic to his own? or should he turn
against the party that had elected him, and select a cabinet in harmony
with himself? This was his fearful dilemma.
President Tyler deserves more charity than he has received. He
issued an address to the people, which gave general satisfaction. He
retained the cabinet General Harrison had selected. His veto of a bill
chartering a new national bank led to an open quarrel with the party
which elected him, and to a resignation of the entire cabinet, except
Daniel Webster, Secretary of State.
President Tyler attempted to conciliate. He appointed a new
cabinet, leaving out all strong party men, but the Whig members of
Congress were not satisfied, and they published a manifesto September
13, breaking off all political relations. The Democrats had a majority
in the House; the Whigs in the Senate. Mr. Webster soon found it
necessary to resign, being forced out by the pressure of his Whig
April 12, 1844, President Tyler concluded, Through Mr. Calhoun,
a treaty for the annexation of Texas, which was rejected by the Senate;
but he effected his object in the closing days of his administration by
the passage of the joint resolution of March 1, 1845.
He was nominated for the Presidency by an informal Democratic
Convention, held at Baltimore in May, 1844, but soon withdrew from the
canvass, perceiving that he had not gained the confidence of the
Democrats at large.
Mr. Tyler's administration was particularly unfortunate. No one
was satisfied. Whigs and Democrats alike assailed him. Situated as he
was, it is more than can be expected of human nature that he should, in
all cases, have acted in the wisest manner ; but it will probably be
the verdict of all candid men, in a careful review of his career, that
John Tyler was placed in a position of such difficulty that he could
not pursue any course which would not expose him to severe censure and
In 1813 Mr. Tyler married Letitia Christian, who bore him three
sons and three daughters, and died in Washington in 1842. June
26, 1844, he contracted a second marriage with Miss Julia Gardner, of
New York. He lived in almost complete retirement from politics until
February, 1861, when he was a member of the abortive "peace
convention," held at Washington, and was chosen its President. Soon
after he renounced his allegiance to the United States and was elected
to the Confederate Congress. He died at Richmond, January 17, 1862,
after a short illness.
Unfortunately for his memory the name of John Tyler must forever
be associated with all the misery of that terrible Rebellion, whose
cause he openly espoused. It is with sorrow that history records that a
President of the United States died while defending the flag of
rebellion, which was arrayed against the national banner in deadly