A Civil War Biography
In November 1861 JOHN TYLER, the 10th President of the United Sates,
at the age of 72, was elected to the Confederate House of
Representatives but died before taking his seat.
Tyler was born on 29 March 1790 in Charles City County, Virginia. He
was educated in private schools then at the College of William and
Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia from which he graduated in 1807. He
studied the law and was admitted to the bar in 1809 then commenced
practicing in Charles City County. He was elected to the Virginia
State House of Delegates in 1811 and served until 1816 except while
he was serving in the US Army as a captain during the War of 1812.
He was elected to the US House of Representatives from Virginia's
23rd District in 1816 to fill the vacancy created by the death of
John Clopton. Tyler would be reelected in 1816 and 1818, serving in
the US Congress until 3 March 1821 after deciding not to seek
reelection in 1820 due to poor health. He returned to the state
house of delegates in 1823 and stayed until being elected Governor
of Virginia in 1825. He remained governor until elected to the US
Senate taking his seat on 4 March 1827.
He was a member of the Virginia state constitutional conventions in
1829 and 1830. Tyler remained in the US Senate until 29 February
1836 when he resigned after failing to follow the state
legislature's instructions to vote to expunge the censure of
President Andrew Jackson for his removal of federal funds from the
Bank of the United Sates. US Senators were elected by the State
Legislatures in the 1800s and Tyler felt it proper to resign instead
of following the legislature's guidance. Tyler ran for the vice
presidency in 1836 but lost to Richard M. Johnson. In 1839 Tyler
returned to the state house of delegates. In 1840 he mounted a new
campaign for the vice presidency and was elected on the Whig ticket
with William Henry Harrison. Harrison and Tyler were inaugurated on
4 March 1841. When Harrison died a month later on 4 April, Tyler
became the 10th President taking the oath of office on 6 April 1841
after both the House and Senate passed resolutions recognizing Tyler
After vetoing bills that would establish a National Bank based on
his belief in states rights Tyler was expelled from the Whig party.
When he vetoed a tariff bill, the first impeachment resolution
against a president was introduced in the House of Representatives.
A committee headed by Representative and former President John
Quincy Adams reported that the President had misused the veto power.
The resolution failed, however. As the presidential election of 1844
approached Tyler wavered between establishing a new party and
throwing himself at the Democrats as their candidate. After neither
option appeared to lead back to the white house he considered
running as an independent hoping to get the election into the House.
When the Democrats nominated James K. Polk, Tyler decided not to
seek reelection. He left the presidency when Polk was inaugurated on
3 March 1845 and retired from public life to his Virginia
In February 1861 Tyler returned to public life as chairman of the
peace convention held in Washington, D.C. in an effort to devise
means to prevent the impending war. Once Virginia seceded Tyler
served as a Virginia delegate to the Confederate Provisional
Congress. He was elected to the Confederate States House of
Representatives in November 1861 but died on 18 January 1862 before
the Congress had assembled.
Return to Biography Index