Tyler, Julia Gardiner, 1820-1889

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The darling of the capital, Julia Gardiner Tyler was the second wife of the tenth President, John Tyler. She became First Lady from 1844 to 1845 after their secret engagement and wedding.

Daughter of Juliana McLachlan and David Gardiner, descendant of prominent and wealthy New York families, Julia was trained from earliest childhood for a life in society; she made her debut at 15. A European tour with her family gave her new glimpses of social splendors. Late in 1842 the Gardiners went to Washington for the winter social season, and Julia became the undisputed darling of the capital. Her beauty and her practiced charm attracted the most eminent men in the city, among them President Tyler, a widower since September.

Tragedy brought his courtship poignant success the next winter. Julia, her sister Margaret, and her father joined a Presidential excursion on the new steam frigate Princeton; and David Gardiner lost his life in the explosion of a huge naval gun. Tyler comforted Julia in her grief and won her consent to a secret engagement.

The first President to marry in office took his vows in New York on June 26, 1844. The news was then broken to the American people, who greeted it with keen interest, much publicity, and some criticism about the couple’s difference in age: 30 years.

As young Mrs. Tyler said herself, she “reigned” as First Lady for the last eight months of her husband’s term. Wearing white satin or black lace to obey the conventions of mourning, she presided with vivacity and animation at a series of parties. She enjoyed her position immensely, and filled it with grace. The Tylers’ happiness was unshaken when they retired to their home at Sherwood Forest in Virginia. There Julia bore five of her seven children; and she acted as mistress of the plantation until the Civil War. As such, she defended both states’ rights and the institution of slavery. She championed the political views of her husband, who remained for her “the President” until the end of his life.

Even as a refugee in New York, she devoted herself to volunteer work for the Confederacy. Its defeat found her impoverished. In December 1880 Congress voted her $1,200 a year — and after Garfield’s assassination it passed bills to grant uniform amounts of $5,000 annually to Mrs. Garfield, Mrs. Lincoln, Mrs. Polk, and Mrs. Tyler. Living out her last years comfortably in Richmond, Julia died there in 1889 and was buried there at her husband’s side.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Tyler, John, 1790-1862. Papers, 1691-1918 [microform]. Library of Congress
creatorOf Horsford, Eben Norton, 1818-1893. Horsford family papers, 1681-1954 1840-1893. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rensselaer Libraries
referencedIn Sylvester Manor Archive, 1649-1996 Fales Library & Special Collections
creatorOf Tyler, John, 1790-1862. John Tyler papers, 1691-1918 (bulk 1757-1918). Library of Congress
creatorOf Tyler family. Tyler family papers, Group A, 1716-1944. William & Mary Libraries
referencedIn Engravings, 1679-1880. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Portraits [manuscript], 1679-1893. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Benjamin Stoddert Ewell Papers, 1784-1934. Special Collections, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary
referencedIn Andrew Johnson Papers, 1783-1947, (bulk 1865-1869) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Johnson, Andrew, 1808-1875. Andrew Johnson papers, 1783-1947 (bulk 1865-1869). Library of Congress
referencedIn William Maxwell Evarts Papers, 1667-1918, (bulk 1877-1891) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Seager, Robert, 1924-2004. Diary and correspondence, 1840-1887 (bulk 1840-1860). Washington & Lee University, James G. Leyburn Library
creatorOf Ewell, Benjamin Stoddert, 1810-1894. Papers, 1784-1934, 1830-1894. William & Mary Libraries
referencedIn Gardiner-Tyler Family Papers, 1843-1898 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf SIGNATURES OF PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA from George Washington to Dwight David Eisenhower; 1776-aft. 1952. British Library
creatorOf Tyler, Julia Gardiner, 1820-1889. Papers, 1844-1946. Virginia Historical Society Library
referencedIn Lucretia Rudolph Garfield Papers, 1807-1958, (bulk 1844-1918) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Gardiner family. Gardiner-Tyler family papers, 1843-1898 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Tyler, Julia Gardiner, 1820-1889. Papers, 1864-1888. Virginia Historical Society Library
referencedIn Benjamin Stoddert Ewell Papers, 1784-1934. Special Collections, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary
referencedIn Sylvester Manor Archive, 1649-1996 Fales Library & Special Collections
referencedIn Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882. Letters to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1761-1904 (bulk 1820-1888) Houghton Library
referencedIn John Tyler Papers, 1691-1918, (bulk 1757-1918) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
Ritchie, Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt, 1819-1870. Papers of Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt Ritchie, 1842-1865. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Seager, Robert, 1924-2004. Correspondence, 1832-1875 (bulk 1840-1869). Washington & Lee University, James G. Leyburn Library
referencedIn Records of the National Park Service, 1785 - 2006. National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program Records, 2013 - 2017 National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration
referencedIn Evarts family papers, 1753-1960 (bulk 1798-1901) Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Tyler, Julia Gardiner, 1820-1889. Letter, 1869 August 6, Staten Island, New York to Elizabeth Dixon. Connecticut Historical Society
creatorOf Ritchie, Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt, 1819-1870. Papers of Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt Ritchie, 1842-1865. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Walker, Georgiana Freeman Gholson, 1833-1904. Private journal of Georgiana F. Walker [manuscript], n.d. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Wilson, James Southall, 1880-1963. Papers of James Southall Wilson [manuscript], 1908-1936. University of Virginia. Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith D. H. Mahan person
associatedWith Dixon, Elizabeth Lord Cogswell, 1819-1871. person
associatedWith Elizabeth S. Ewell, b. 1814? person
associatedWith Elizabeth S. Ewell Scott person
parentOf Ellis, Pearl Tyler, 1860-1947. person
associatedWith Evarts family family
associatedWith Evarts family. family
correspondedWith Evarts, William Maxwell, 1818-1901. person
associatedWith Ewell, Benjamin Stoddert, 1810-1894. person
associatedWith Ewell, Elizabeth Stoddert, 1794-1859 person
associatedWith Ewell family. family
associatedWith Fiske, Andrew, 1912-1992 person
associatedWith Francis Henney Smith person
childOf Gardiner, David, 1784-1844 person
memberOf Gardiner family. family
memberOf Gardiner family. family
memberOf Gardiner Family. family
childOf Gardiner, Juliana McLachlen, 1799-1864. person
associatedWith Gardiner, Samuel Smith, 1789-1859 person
correspondedWith Garfield, Lucretia Rudolph, 1832-1918 person
associatedWith Henry A. Wise. person
associatedWith Horsford, Eben Norton, 1818-1893. person
associatedWith Hugh Blair Grigsby person
correspondedWith Johnson, Andrew, 1808-1875. person
associatedWith John Tyler person
associatedWith Joseph E. Johnston person
associatedWith L'Hommedieu, Ezra, 1734-1811 person
correspondedWith Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882 person
associatedWith Louis Philippe, King of the French, 1773-1850. person
associatedWith Mahan, D. H. (Dennis Hart), 1802-1871 person
associatedWith Moses Drury Hoge person
associatedWith Richard Stoddert Ewell person
associatedWith Ritchie, Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt, 1819-1870. person
associatedWith Scott, Elizabeth S. Ewell, b. 1841 person
associatedWith Seager, Robert, 1924-2004. person
parentOf Spencer, Julia Gardiner Tyler, 1849-1871. person
associatedWith Stoddert, William. person
associatedWith Sylvester, Nathaniel, 1610-1680 person
associatedWith Tyler, D. Gardiner (David Gardiner), 1846-1927. person
associatedWith Tyler family. family
associatedWith Tyler family. family
associatedWith Tyler, John, 1790-1862 person
associatedWith Tyler, John, 1819-1896 person
parentOf Tyler, John Alexander, 1848-1883. person
associatedWith Tyler, Julia Gardiner, 1820-1889 person
parentOf Tyler, Lachlan, 1851-1902. person
parentOf Tyler, Lyon Gardiner, 1853-1935 person
associatedWith Tyler, Lyon Gardiner, 1853-1935. person
parentOf Tyler, Robert Fitzwalter, 1856-1927. person
associatedWith Walker, Georgiana Freeman Gholson, 1833-1904. person
associatedWith William Stoddert person
associatedWith Wilson, James Southall, 1880-1963. person
associatedWith Wise, Henry A. (Henry Alexander), 1806-1876 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
District of Columbia DC US
Richmond VA US
Charles City County VA US
Gardiners Island NY US
New York City NY US
Subject
Presidents' spouses--History--19th century
Women--Social life and customs--19th century
Women--Family relationships--History--19th century
Occupation
Presidents' spouses--United States
Function

Person

Birth 1820-05-17

Death 1889-07-10

Female

Americans

English

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