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Tyler, James Hoge, was born at his father's home, "Blenheim," Caroline County, Virginia, August 11, 1846, son of Hon. George Tyler and Elva (Hoge) Tyler, his wife. The father, oldest son of Henry and Lucy (Coleman) Tyler, owned the "Blenheim" estate and many others, and was known for his hospitality and generosity; he was a member of the Virginia legislature both before and after the civil war. His mother dying at his birth, James Hoge Tyler was brought up by his grandparents, Gen. and Mrs. James Hoge, at their home, "Belle Hampton," in Pulaski county, Virginia. When he was ten years old, his grandmother died, and his grandfather, stricken with paralysis, made him an assistant in his business affairs. To the age of fifteen he was instructed by private tutors and by his grandfather. After the death of Gen. Hoge, in 1861, he joined his father in Caroline county, and was sent to the school of Franklin Minor in Albemarle County. When Virginia seceded, he enlisted as a private in the Confederate army, and served throughout the war with characteristic courage and fidelity. After the surrender, he returned to Pulaski County, and took up farm work, but soon became interested in public-affairs, and wrote frequently for the press urging manufacturing and mining development.


In 1877 he was elected to the state senate, and proved himself a most efficient legislator. He urged the reduction of state taxes from fifty to forty cents. As a member of the commission which settled the state debt, his influence was potent in effecting a saving of interest. He was a member of the board of public buildings at Blacksburg and Marion, and the labors of that body received special commendation by the governor. He was made rector of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Virginia Polytechnic Institute), but resigned to enter upon his duties as lieutenant-governor, to which office he was elected in 1889. He was a member of the commission to examine into the disputed Virginia-Maryland boundary line, and was elected chairman of the joint committee of the two states. He gave earnest attention to the resources of the state, and in public addresses and letters to the press; he urged displays at the various fairs and expositions. In 1897, by acclamation he was made the Democratic candidate for governor, and was elected by a majority of more than 52,000 votes.


During his term of office he greatly contributed to the prosperity of the state. By careful economy, the state debt was reduced by more than a million dollars, nor was this done at the expense of any public concern. Besides meeting the additional expense incident to an extra legislative session and a constitutional convention, the public school fund was increased by $21,000, and the literary fund by $68,000, while more than $800,000 remained in the public treasury, and the constitutional convention further reduced the tax rate from forty to thirty cents. He recommended a labor bureau, and the conditional pardon system, and these were established; the agricultural department was placed upon a sound practical basis; and all the state institutions received liberal and sympathetic support. During his term also the Virginia-Tennessee boundary dispute was settled.


In 1892 he was a delegate to the Pan Presbyterian Alliance at Toronto, Canada; and in 1896 went to Scotland as a representative of the Southern General Assembly at the Alliance meeting in Glasgow. He was a member of the board of trustees of Hamper en-Sidney College, of the Union Theological Board, and of the board of the Synodical Orphans' Home at Lynchburg. Since retiring from the governorship he has resided at East Radford, Virginia, where he has been active in various business enterprises. He was married, in 1868, to Miss Sue Montgomery Hammet. Gov. Tyler is descended from Richard Tyler, who settled in Essex County in the latter part of the seventeenth century (q. v. I, 346). He is a very happy and popular speaker and is distinguished for his genial and affable manners.

[Source: Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography; Edited by Lyon Gardiner Tyler; Publ. 1915; Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack.]



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