John Tyler, the 10th President of the United States was a bit of a political maverick. Although he originally aligned with President Jackson and the Democratic Party by 1840 he was on the Whig ticket with William Henry Harrison with the campaign slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” prevailing over the incumbent Democratic candidate, Martin Van Buren. Then just a month after the inauguration Harrison became the first US President to die in office setting off a political crisis. There was no constitutional provision for succession by the Vice President but Tyler quickly took the oath of office, moved into the White House, and assumed the responsibilities of president all the while being referred to by his detractors as “His Accidency.” As his term proceeded, it became apparent that he was neither Whig nor Democrat but politically independent to the extent that the Whig leaders threatened impeachment and a strong states rights advocate. During his presidency Tyler became the first president to be widowed during his term then the first president to marry while in office. Between his two wives, the second being thirty years his junior, Tyler fathered fifteen children. When he purchased this piece of property in Charles City, Virginia as a retirement home for himself and his family, he named it Sherwood Forest Plantation as a nod to his reputation as a political outlaw. Today it remains in the possession of his descendants, including his 91 year old grandson Harrison Ruffin Tyler who just last year lost his brother, 95 year old Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. Since the plantation is open for self-guided grounds tours, we wandered and pondered the life of an early president that although not well remembered did make impact on the history of the United States. And we just enjoyed the beauty of the longest frame house America, the lovely wooded grounds, and a peek into mid-Nineteenth Century life.

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2 Comments

  1. Amanda

    So interesting. Love that it’s still in his family!

    Reply
  2. Steve and Karen

    Such amazing family story. The grandson of a man who was born in 1790 is still among us in 2021. Those three generations have spanned nearly the entire history of our republic!

    Reply

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