John Tyler
Burial Location Visited Vice President Grave #
Richmond, Virginia
July 13, 2005 11th Visited

John Tyler, the first vice president
to become chief executive due to
a presidential death, is buried at
Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond,
Virginia. Another president, James
, is interred in a Gothic
cage twenty feet west of Tyler.

My lack of enthusiasm at Tyler's
monument stemmed from his
allegiance to the Confederacy
during the Civil War. The former
U.S. president was elected to
serve in the Confederate House
of Representatives, but he died
before he took his seat.

A patina-covered bust of Tyler
gazes from Presidents Circle out
toward the James River. Tyler's
grave was originally marked by
a far simpler tombstone.

Though the U.S. government did
not acknowledge Tyler's death,
CSA President Jefferson Davis
arranged for a burial ceremony
with lots of pomp. He was carried
to his final resting place with a
Confederate flag draped over his
casket. Davis himself was buried
at Hollywood Cemetery in 1893.

Fast Facts *

- Second Lady: Letitia Christian Tyler (1841-1842)
- Spouse: Letitia Christian Tyler (m. 1813-1842)
Julia Gardiner Tyler (m. 1844-1862)

- Political Party: Whig Party

- Term: 1841
- President: William Henry Harrison

- Born: March 29, 1790

- Died: January 18, 1862

- Age: 71

- Cause of Death: Bilious Fever

- Last Words: "Doctor, I am going... Perhaps it is best."

Cemetery: Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia
- GPS Coordinates: 37°32'01.5"N 77°27'22.9"W

* * * Background on John Tyler * * *

* On April 4, 1841, Vice President John Tyler was playing marbles with his children at their Virginia home when their game was interrupted: a messenger arrived with news of the early morning death of President William Henry Harrison. Tyler soon left for Washington, D.C., where he took the oath of office and assumed presidential responsibilities. At that time, there were no constitutional instructions about how a vice president filled a presidential vacancy. Congressman John Quincy Adams thought Tyler should be regarded merely as an acting president until a special election could be held, and Whig Party leader Henry Clay continued to refer to him as the vice president. In its first meeting after Harrison's death, the presidential cabinet asserted to Tyler that it would govern by consensus. Tyler responded that any cabinet members who did not recognize his authority would be asked to resign. The Virginian successfully fended off all threats to his claim to the presidency, but was derisively nicknamed "His Accidency."

* Even though Tyler consented to being paired with Harrison on the 1840 Whig ticket, his ideology did not exactly align with his running mate's views nor the Whig platform. The Whigs now controlled both bodies of Congress, and most of them wanted to restore the legislative supremacy that was diminished by Andrew Jackson. Yet in a statement issued within days of Harrison's passing, Tyler vowed to aggressively use veto power to stop what he viewed as unconstitutional legislation. Henry Clay hoped Tyler would not be an "obstacle to the success of Whig measures, including a Bank of the U.S.," but the new president confirmed Clay's fears. Whereas Harrison supported reestablishing a national bank, Tyler twice vetoed bank bills that passed through Congress. On August 16, 1841, the president rejected the first bill on the premise that it would try to usurp the power of states by forcing them to house branches of the bank. The following evening, a mob burned Tyler in effigy outside the Executive Mansion. After Tyler vetoed a second measure weeks later, all but one member of his cabinet resigned. Congressional Whigs held a vote that expelled the president from the party and demanded that he resign, but Tyler did not comply.

* Also unlike Harrison, Tyler desired to serve a second term as president. However, being elected president in his own right was going to be more difficult as someone unaffiliated with a political party. Tyler hoped advocating for Texas statehood would help his aspirations. Texas declared itself a nation independent from Mexico in 1836, but Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren were reluctant to annex the republic out of fear of deepening the divide between free states and pro-slavery states. Tyler, on the other hand, believed territorial expansion would help the U.S. economy. There was also a risk that Texas could fall into the hands of Great Britain, which Tyler and Secretary of State John C. Calhoun worried would erode the institution of slavery in the South. After negotiations, an annexation treaty between the two nations was announced in April 1844. Meanwhile, the president organized a new Democratic-Republican Party, which carried the slogan "Tyler and Texas!" Tyler's candidacy was short-lived, and he eventually threw his support to Democrat James K. Polk, who defeated Tyler's rival, Henry Clay. As for Texas, the Senate rejected the annexation treaty in June, but Congress later approved a joint resolution for annexation that President Tyler signed just days before he left office in March 1845. Texans then deliberated and approved the terms of the deal, and President Polk admitted Texas as the twenty-eighth state on December 29th.

Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     

Freehling, William. "John Tyler: Domestic Affairs." Miller Center. Accessed April 6, 2019.

Heidler, David S., and Jeanne T. Heidler. Henry Clay: The Essential American. New York: Random House, 2010.

Kruman, Marc W. "John Tyler." In The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, edited by Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer, 132-39. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

Lamb, Brian, and the C-SPAN Staff. Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000. Reprinted. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

The Presidents. "John Q. Adams to Polk (1825-1849)." History Channel, 2005.

"Things to See." Accessed March 25, 2019.

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