Wednesday, March 26, 2014

John Tyler / Dirty Old Man

John Tyler

Julia Gardiner Tyler
 My family is related to at least two presidents. John Tyler and Zachary Taylor. My grandmother's maiden name was Ella Belle Frogge and through the Frogge family we are related to William Dabney Strother who was my grandfather with a bunch of greats in front of his name. He had a daughter born in 1719 by the name of Alice who would be John Tyler's grandmother. She was by his first wife. William's second wife produced Sarah Dabney Strother who was Zachary Taylor's mother. She was born in 1760 and died in 1822. Today I want to talk about John Tyler. Tyler has been rated as a slightly below average president. He was a one term president and is recognized for at least two major accomplishments. He was a Democrat elected as Vice President under William Henry Harrison who was a Whig. Even though he was a Democrat he was thought to agree with Whig policies. Harrison's famous campaign slogan was "Tippecanoe and Tyler too". Until Ronald Reagan Harrison was the oldest president ever elected to office at 69 years old. He gave his inaugural address bareheaded on a cold and rainy day in March 1843 and died of pneumonia one month later. Tyler became president but the Constitution wasn't clear on what a vice-presidents real role was. Many people at that time thought that the vice-president was to fill in as a temporary president until a special election could be held. One of Tyler's accomplishments was that he was adamant about his role as president and he would not relinquish power thereby setting the precedent that whenever a president dies in office the vice-president automatically assumes the office of the president. 

  Tylers second accomplishment was the annexation of Texas in 1845. Tyler disappointed the Whigs by pursuing Democratic policies rather than Whig policies. His whole cabinet at one point resigned in disgust. Critics of Tyler called him "His Accidency". John Tyler's first wife Letitia Christian Tyler died in the White House in September 1842 after suffering several strokes. That same year he had met the beautiful and young Julia Gardiner whose father David was from a prominent and wealthy New York family. In 1843 President Tyler began courting Julia who was thirty years younger than Tyler. At first she wasn't interested in Tyler. She had refused his first proposal. Her father wasn't too keen on his daughter dating an old man, even if he was the president. Then on February 29, 1844 a large group of government dignitaries along with Tyler, Julia and her father David boarded a new warship named the U.S.S. Princeton for an excursion down the Potomac River. The group had watched a demonstration of the ships big guns being fired from the deck. Some of the party, including the president and Julia went below deck. The rest of the party stayed on deck, including Julia's father for a second firing. One of the big guns exploded showering shrapnel everywhere. The explosion killed eight people and wounded twenty. David Gardiner and the Secretary of the Navy were among the killed. Julia in her grief for her father became closer to Tyler because he was a comfort to her. They married on June 26, 1844. Not until Grover Cleveland would another president marry while in office.
Explosion On The U.S.S. Princeton
          

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